Elena Vanko

As program associate for Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Elena has been working primarily on the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative since its launch in 2015, partnering with corrections departments to find ways to safely reduce the use of segregation (also known as restrictive housing or solitary confinement) in their prison facilities. Elena was a member of the Vera teams that worked with the corrections agencies of Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia. She also previously completed a project supporting the Governor of Tennessee’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism. Before coming to Vera, Elena conducted research for the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, examining the effects of national and international drug control policies. Elena also spent three years with the US Program of Human Rights Watch, supporting their research and advocacy on abuses in the United States—including in criminal and juvenile justice systems and immigration enforcement. For three years, Elena was a corps member with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program that trains college students to help underserved preschoolers develop the language and literacy skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Elena holds a BA in international relations from Tufts University and an MA with distinction in human rights from the University of Essex.