Vanderbilt Law School Announces Launch of Vanderbilt Project on Prosecution Policy

Vanderbilt Law School has established a new criminal justice policy hub that will primarily focus on prosecution in the South.

Dean Chris Guthrie announced the creation of the Vanderbilt Project on Prosecution Policy (VPOPP), a nonpartisan network of prosecutors, researchers, students, and other stakeholders dedicated to improving individual and collective outcomes in the criminal justice system. The Project is being launched to support communities that traditionally have been overlooked by national policy centers.

“Vanderbilt Law has a long tradition of academic excellence in Criminal Justice,” said Dean Guthrie. “VPOPP presents an exciting opportunity to leverage that tradition in new and innovative ways.”

Through trainings, research, conferences, and technical assistance, VPOPP will engage criminal justice leaders, particularly prosecutors in the South, to develop and implement policies and programs that reduce unnecessary incarceration and promote public safety.

The Project will be led by its founding Director and Research Professor Alissa Marque Heydari, a former prosecutor who has extensive experience working with prosecutors and other stakeholders from around the country.

Alissa Heydari
Alissa Heydari

“I am excited and honored to launch VPOPP,” said Heydari. “Traditionally, criminal justice policy leaders have focused on large cities, mostly on the coasts, at the cost of leaving out communities that face different challenges and exist in politically different environments. We strive to fill this gap by providing an inclusive environment in which network members can speak freely, withhold judgment of others, and explore new ideas.

“We strongly believe that criminal justice actors on both sides of the political aisle have more in common than not, and we look forward to working with a diverse range of stakeholders starting with those right here in Tennessee.”

The Vanderbilt Project on Prosecution Policy is housed in Vanderbilt Law’s Criminal Justice Program and will be collaborating closely with highly experienced and respected Vanderbilt Law faculty members affiliated with the program.

VPOPP is planning an event in the spring to bring together Southern criminal justice stakeholders, academics, and directly impacted people. The Project will also recruit law school students into prosecution as career paths, a desperately needed measure to combat recruitment and retention challenges in prosecutors’ offices nationwide.

The Project will be announcing additional upcoming programs in the new year. If you’d like to learn more about VPOPP, please email