As a research associate for Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Kelsie Chesnut works primarily on the initiative Safe Prisons, Safe Communities: From Isolation to Dignity and Wellness Behind Bars, which partners with correctional agencies to design and implement creative strategies to safely reduce their use of segregation. Kelsie is a member of the teams working with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Prior to joining Vera, Kelsie was pursuing her doctorate at the University of California, Irvine, where she conducted research on solitary confinement reform in Washington State prisons. Earlier in her graduate career, Kelsie spent two years researching the illegal gun market in Los Angeles, CA, through in-depth qualitative research with incarcerated individuals within the Los Angeles County Jail system and gang-involved residents of Southern California. Originally from the Bay Area, Kelsie earned a BA from San Francisco State University; a master’s in social ecology; and is currently a PhD candidate in Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine.