Vanessa Akins is the Legislative Analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization as a Policy Associate in September 2020. In her previous role, she provided data-driven policy recommendations and research on juvenile probation reform and Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) facilities as part of TCJC’s Spend Your Values, Cut Your Losses portfolio. After working in education and corporate communications, Vanessa followed her passion for advocacy to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP). As Communications Coordinator, she gained a deeper understanding of the inherent flaws of our justice system and its arbitrary use of the death penalty. As TCJC’s Legislative Analyst, Vanessa provides quality research and analysis to support the Policy Team’s advocacy, and makes legislation accessible for all individuals impacted by the justice system. Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from St. Edward’s University and, in December 2020, she graduated with a Master of Arts in Legal Studies from Texas State University.