Dr. Lionel Smith is a Research Associate within the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice. His professional work focuses on issues such as expanding access to educational opportunities for justice-involved people and investigating the lived experiences of those impacted by the criminal justice system. At Vera, Lionel has conducted research on the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the country and has worked with various corrections departments to reform and reduce the use of this practice. Further, he has conducted evaluations of programs that impact justice-involved people that have returned to the community after incarceration, such as a family reunification pilot program enacted by one of the nation’s largest public housing agencies as well as an evaluation of a series of community-based programs designed to provide supportive services to justice-involved college students.

Lionel’s scholarly work has appeared in outlets such as Criminal Justice and Behavior, American Academic, and the Albany Law Review. He received his Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Delaware. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Services Administration from Cleveland State University and a Master of Arts in Social Sciences (concentration in Demographic & Social Analysis) from the University of California, Irvine.

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Lionel has made Baltimore, Maryland his home after living in many parts of the country. He is fascinated by the city’s local culture, and he sees so much potential among the city’s residents -- particularly Black males, who often lack access to many of the resources and avenues that could pave the way for them to carry out that potential. Lionel is committed to advancing this work. He volunteers with local organizations such as DewMore Baltimore, and he is becoming actively involved in the Prison-To-Professionals (P2P) organization.