Vanessa Akins is the Legislative Bill Tracker 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. While finishing her graduate studies at Texas State University, Vanessa joined Texas NORML as a Research Intern focusing on marijuana possession arrests. 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. Vanessa graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In December 2020, Vanessa graduated with a Master of Arts in Legal Studies from Texas State University.