Deitch, Michele | 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
  • Youth in the adult criminal justice system
  • Management of youth in custody
Teaching Areas
  • Criminal Justice Policy
  • Youth Justice Policy
  • Policy Development
  • Advanced Research

Michele Deitch holds a joint appointment as a distinguished senior lecturer at the LBJ School and the Law School, and she directs LBJ's Prison and Jail Innovation Lab (PJIL), a policy resource center focused on the safe and humane treatment of people in custody. She is an attorney who has worked for over 35 years 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 youth 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 publications include a report on the status of correctional oversight in the United States; a report about COVID deaths in custody in Texas; a report on COVID's effects on women in prisons and jails; and many reports on juvenile justice that have helped change the treatment of youth tried as adults.

Deitch's work has impacted public policy through legislative testimony and work with key legislators, including on Texas's Sandra Bland Act. Prior to entering academia, she 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. Her TEDx talk, "Why are we trying kids as adults?" was named a TEDx Editor's Pick in January 2015.

Her teaching awards include being named to the 2019 Texas 10 list of the most inspiring professors at UT Austin. She has been a Soros Senior Justice Fellow, and recieved the 2019 Flame Award from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE).

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


Media MentionMay 9, 2022
Two men have died in Texas prison cell fires after warnings of broken alarms were ignored

"Fire safety is one of the things that is so fundamental for prison officials," said Michele Deitch, a senior lecturer in criminal justice at University of Texas at Austin. "You’ve got a trapped population with no ability to get them out quickly or easily."

Read More
Media MentionMay 9, 2022
Texas juvenile justice leader departs with state agency at critical juncture

Cain was appointed in 2018 by Gov. Greg Abbott and was tasked with resolving staffing and violence issues that have plagued the org for more than a decade. But like her predecessors she saw mixed results.

"Camille Cain was deeply invested in trying to reform the agency and turn it into a trauma-informed environment for youth in a way that met their needs," said Michele Deitch, director of the Jail and Prison Innovation Lab at UT-Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Read More
Media MentionMay 4, 2022
President Biden Taps Nationally Renowned Criminal Justice Researcher Nancy La Vigne to Lead National Institute of Justice

LBJ School alumna Nancy La Vigne ('91), was appointed by President Biden as the director of the National Institute of Justice, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read More