Deitch, Michelle | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • M.Sc. in Psychology, Oxford University
  • B.A., Amherst College
Research Areas
  • Correctional oversight and prison and jail conditions
  • Juveniles in the adult criminal justice system
  • Management of youth in custody
Teaching Areas
  • Social Policy

Michele Deitch holds a joint appointment as a distinguished senior lecturer at the LBJ School and the Law School, and is an attorney with over 30 years of experience working on criminal justice and juvenile justice policy issues with state and local government officials, corrections administrators, judges and advocates. She specializes in independent oversight of correctional institutions, prison and jail conditions, managing youth in custody and juveniles in the adult criminal justice system. Deitch co-chairs the American Bar Association's Subcommittee on Correctional Oversight, and helped draft the ABA's Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners. Her numerous articles about correctional oversight include a 50-state inventory of prison oversight models and many reports on juvenile justice that have received national attention. Her TEDx talk, "Why are we trying kids as adults?" was named a TEDx Editor's Pick in January 2015.

Deitch brings criminal justice policy issues to a broader audience through her frequent commentary in national and local media, and has significantly impacted public policy through legislative testimony and work with key legislators, including on Texas's Sandra Bland Act. She also chaired the Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Advisory Committee on the Women's Jail, which proposed a reimagined, gender-responsive facility for women.

Prior to entering academia, Deitch served as a federal court-appointed monitor of conditions in the Texas prison system, policy director of Texas's sentencing commission, general counsel to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and consultant to justice system agencies around the country.

She has won numerous teaching awards, including being named to the 2019 Texas 10 list of the most inspiring professors at The University of Texas at Austin. She has been a Soros Senior Justice Fellow, and is the recipient of the 2019 NACOLE Flame Award for significant contributions to correctional oversight.

Courses Taught
Media Expertise
  • Children
  • Judiciary
  • Crime & Criminal Justice


Media MentionAugust 15, 2020
N.J. prison watchdog just got new powers to curb abuse. Advocates fear they won’t be used.

Months before New Jersey prisoners began dying with the coronavirus at the highest rate in the country, lawmakers quietly beefed up oversight of state prisons. Under a law sgned earlier this year, the ombudsman overseeing state prisons in New Jersey gets broad investigatory powers, making the official one of the strongest in the United States, said LBJ's Michele Deitch.

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Media MentionAugust 11, 2020
Breaking out with a bar of soap

Prisoner advocates and policy experts like LBJ's Michele Deitch have been pushing for years for the creation of an independent oversight body to monitor and prevent recurring problems in state prisons, including poor conditions, medical care and security.

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Media MentionAugust 9, 2020
The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what's credited with protecting it.

LBJ's Michele Deitch talks with the Texas Tribune about the protocols and policies enforced by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the Roach Unit, a state-run prison that is the only one in Texas that has reported no coronavirus cases.

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