Elena Vanko, a senior program associate in Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, has been working on Vera’s segregation reduction work since 2015. She works on the Safe Prisons, Safe Communities project, leading the partnerhsip with Washington State Department of Corrections. She previously worked on Vera’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative, serving on the teams that partnered with 5 state systems: the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, the Nevada Department of Corrections, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the Oregon Department of Corrections, and the Virginia Department of Corrections. She also co-authored the initiative’s 2018 report, Rethinking Restrictive Housing: Lessons from Five U.S. Jail and Prison Systems, and contributed to Vera’s Reimagining Prison Project as well as a project supporting the Tennessee Governor’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. She also spent three years with the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch, supporting their research and advocacy on numerous issues related to the criminal justice system, including sentencing laws and policies, prison conditions, and victims’ rights. Elena holds a BA from Tufts University and an MA with distinction from the University of Essex.