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Matthew Mizel

Director of Criminal Justice Research (he/him)

Headshot of Matthew Mizel

Matthew is responsible for developing and managing an inventive and rigorous research agenda examining criminal legal system policies and programs. He seeks to advance policy change that will reduce unnecessary incarceration, improve racial equity, increase community and individual well-being, and enhance public safety.

Before joining Arnold Ventures, Matthew worked at the RAND Corporation, where his research focused on racial equity in systems — primarily the criminal legal but also in health care and education. Among his research projects, he led studies on mental health diversion, mens rea reform and reducing prosecution and incarceration, racial bias in quality of healthcare, and racial bias in school discipline. Within the criminal legal system, Matthew has also worked on projects related to youth and young adults, reentry, criminal desistance, prosecutorial discretion, and policing. His research contributed to California in 2018 becoming the first state to set age 12 as the minimum age for juvenile court eligibility; prior to this law, California had no minimum age. He has expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods, collaborating with community groups and affected communities, interfacing with a wide range of criminal legal system stakeholders, and translating research evidence into policy and practice.

From 2003 to 2021, Matthew taught over 2,000 weekly creative writing classes to incarcerated teens in the Los Angeles juvenile system through the nonprofit InsideOut Writers and also served as a guest instructor in California state prisons. He continues to mentor youth and young adults during and after their incarceration through both InsideOut Writers and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Matthew has a Ph.D. and master’s in social welfare from UCLA and a bachelor’s in psychology with honors from Stanford University. He currently lives in Washington, D.C., but in his prior career he produced movies in Los Angeles, such as A Walk to Remember, and worked as the vice president of a Disney-based production company.

Headshot of Matthew Mizel
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Criminal Justice