Laura Ridolfi is a Racial Justice and Well-Being Strategist with the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). Laura has over fifteen years of experience at BI challenging racial hierarchies in the administration of justice. Laura works at the local, state and national level changing policy and practice to promote equity and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities.
Laura partners with community-rooted organizations and advocacy groups on policy change in California that invest resources into community alternatives to the legal system and reduce the harms of system involvement on the lives of people of color. The direction of Laura’s policy work is guided by those closest to the harms of the legal system and centers the voice and experience of directly impacted youth and families. The policy advocacy has resulted in numerous changes in California law, including: eliminating a prosecutor’s ability to directly file a young person’s case in adult court; eliminating the prosecution of 14- and 15-year-old children in adult court; setting the minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 12, with limited exception; eliminating “voluntary probation supervision;” and closing California’s state prison for children.
Laura advocates for democratizing youth justice data and promoting data transparency in service of system change and promoting equity. She is the author of numerous BI reports that highlight inequities in the criminal legal system and advocate for change.
Prior to joining Burns Institute, Laura worked for several youth and criminal justice organizations and was a Fulbright Fellow in Kenya, where she studied the youth justice system. Laura is a graduate of UC Berkeley, School of Law.