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).