MEET THE TEAM
The Faces of Our Organization
JOHANNA JENNINGS (SHE/HER)
Founder and Executive Director
Johanna is the Founder and Executive Director of The Decarceration Project. In that role, she engages in projects to alleviate systemic racial inequity, represents individuals directly in strategic litigation, and advocates for policies to reduce mass incarceration. Johanna was inspired to start The Decarceration Project after witnessing countless injustices over her career as an indigent defense attorney and finding that the injustices were so often a result of racism and bias. Whether it's tackling excessive sentences, pushing for fair and racially equitable policies, or envisioning a different system entirely, Johanna is compelled and energized to bring all she can to the decarceration movement.
Prior to starting TDP, Johanna was a Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, an Assistant Public Defender in Guilford County, and a J. Kirk Osborn Fellow at the Fair Trial Initiative. She began pursuing her passion for indigent defense as an undergraduate at Rice University in Houston. After graduating from Rice magna cum laude, Johanna returned to her hometown of Durham and graduated from Duke University School of Law cum laude. Johanna has represented clients at every stage of the criminal legal process including the trial level, direct appeal, state post-conviction, and in federal habeas. In addition, she serves on the Forensic Resource Counsel Advisory Board, is a member of the North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity, and is a member of the statewide Racial Equity Network. Johanna has developed expertise in issues related to race and jury selection and forensic science defense. She has presented at various trainings on topics including litigating Batson v. Kentucky, raising race in jury selection, and challenging forensic evidence.