James Bell

Founding President

James Bell is the Founding President of the W. Haywood Burns Institute. The Burns Institute has worked in over 200 counties in 23 states to engage justice stakeholders and communities across the country to build equity in the administration of justice.  He has trained and addressed thousands of human services professionals and community members on race, ancestry and inclusion as a necessary and vital component of the delivery of safety for all communities. He is currently working with San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Paul MN and Toledo OH in reimagining services for families and communities impacted by the justice sector.

James has appeared on numerous national television shows, conducted several radio interviews and written blogs and articles for a variety of platforms.  He has authored sections of published anthologies on intersections of justice and education, health and family disruption.   He is currently working on a manuscript to be released soon.

James has extensive experience in the international justice arena: he assisted the African National Congress in the administration of the youth justice system in South Africa and consulted with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Most recently he was in Holland and England where he advised on emerging issues of racial, ethnic and religious minorities being over-represented in the justice system. In that context he gave an address at the House of Lords to a wide range of stakeholders responsible for justice. He recently visited Norway and Holland to observe their prisons and justice philosophy.  He attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Hastings College of Law.

James can be reached at