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About Right On Crime

Right on Crime is a national campaign of the Texas Public Policy Foundation that supports conservative solutions for reducing crime, restoring victims, reforming offenders, and lowering taxpayer costs. The movement was born in Texas in 2007, and in recent years, dozens of states such as Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, have led the way in implementing conservative criminal justice reforms.

Accomplishments:

With 18 policy analysts, researchers, and law experts working across the nation, Right on Crime has advocated for proven reforms in 38 states. We’ve helped state legislatures pass comprehensive juvenile justice reform bills, overhaul civil asset forfeiture laws, establish oversight committees to ensure results and properly manage taxpayers’ money, close prisons, and divert savings back to the taxpayers and to recidivism-reducing programs.

Goals:

Right on Crime insists that public safety policies, as any government service, should be evaluated on whether they produce the best possible results at the lowest possible cost. In contradiction to that principle, until recently the criminal justice system had expanded to become the second-fastest growing area of state budgets—trailing only Medicaid.

We demand cost-effective approaches that also enhance public safety. We want a prison system that incapacitates dangerous offenders and career criminals but which is not used in such a way that makes nonviolent, low-risk offenders a greater risk to the public upon release than before they entered.

A well-functioning criminal justice system enforces order and respect for every person’s right to property and life, and ensures that liberty does not lead to license. Right on Crime believes the criminal justice system should conform to the following principles.

Meet Our Team

Brett Tolman
Executive Director for Right on Crime and former U.S. Attorney
Brett Tolman
Executive Director for Right on Crime and former U.S. Attorney

He was a leading figure in the drafting and passage of the First Step Act, one of the most sweeping reforms of the federal criminal justice system in decades. Tolman continues to advise the White House and many members of Congress on such issues. He is an attorney and founder of the Tolman Group focusing on public policy and government reform. Previously, he was a shareholder at Ray Quinney and Nebeker and served as chair of the firm’s White Collar, Corporate Compliance, and Government Investigations section. For the past 10 years, Tolman has defended corporations and executives in all manner of state and federal criminal and regulatory actions across the country.

Prior to entering private practice, Tolman was appointed by President George Bush in 2006 as the United States Attorney for the District of Utah and held that office for nearly 4 years from 2006-2009. As U.S. Attorney, he was responsible for cutting-edge cases addressing such issues as international adoption fraud, mortgage fraud, international marriage fraud, sex and human trafficking, terrorism, and breaches of national security. In 2009 he handled the prosecution of Brian David Mitchell, the alleged kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart. From 2008-2009 he was selected by Attorney General Michael Mukasey to serve as special advisor to the attorney general on national and international policy issues affecting United States attorneys and the Department of Justice. Prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney, Tolman served as chief counsel for crime and terrorism to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.

During his career, Tolman has testified multiple times in the United States Congress and assisted in drafting and passing many pieces of legislation affecting state and federal criminal justice systems. These include the First Step Act of 2018, the Corrections Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, the Justice for All Act of 2004, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (2005), the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act (2006). He is a frequent contributor on Fox News andNo Spin News with Bill O’Reilly.

Julie Warren
 Deputy Director and Tennessee State Director for Right on Crime
Julie Warren
 Deputy Director and Tennessee State Director for Right on Crime

Julie is a graduate of Marshall University and of Regent University School of Law. She also attended Georgetown Law Center as a visiting student. While in law school, she clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Julie served four years at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. After a few years in private practice as a civil defense litigator, Julie returned to public service and began her work in the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General where she primarily served as an appellate advocate for the State of West Virginia and as legislative counsel to the Attorney General.

Lars Trautman
National Director and West Virginia State Director for Right on Crime
Lars Trautman
National Director and West Virginia State Director for Right on Crime

He brings a decade of experience as a prosecutor, Capitol Hill staffer, and public policy expert to his work shaping and advancing smart criminal justice policies and practices. He has particular expertise relating to prosecution, diversion and crisis response strategies, and pretrial justice.

Previously, Trautman worked for over three years as a resident senior fellow of criminal justice and civil liberties policy at the R Street Institute. In this role, he researched and wrote on a variety of criminal justice issues and provided expert advice and consultation to legislators, prosecuting attorneys, and other criminal justice stakeholders. Prior to his work at R Street, Trautman served as counsel for the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lars began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Essex County, Massachusetts. In two and a half years as a prosecutor, he handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony cases, including conducting dozens of trials.

Trautman earned his B.A. in political science from Johns Hopkins University, his M.A. in politics and international studies from Uppsala University in Sweden, and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife and two children.

Kurt Altman
Prosecutorial Reform Director, and Arizona and New Mexico State Director for Right on Crime
Kurt Altman
Prosecutorial Reform Director, and Arizona and New Mexico State Director for Right on Crime

Kurt became a signatory for Right on Crime in early 2016. In 2017, he joined the reform movement, promoting Right on Crime’s policies in the State Houses of Arizona and New Mexico. And in 2021, he took on the added role of Director of Prosecutorial Reform, where his decades of experience as a state and federal prosecutor could be put to use.

He has nearly 27 years of criminal law and constitutional litigation experience. As a former Deputy Maricopa County Attorney and Assistant United States Attorney, Kurt has conducted hundreds of felony jury trials and led investigations of criminal conduct ranging from homicide and capital cases to complex white-collar matters. As a former member of the Department of Justice, Kurt earned the Director’s Award, the highest honor bestowed upon Department of Justice lawyers, and has twice received the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director’s Award for his tireless efforts on behalf of FBI-conducted investigations. Since 2008, Kurt has operated his own legal and lobbying practice, defending the accused in various criminal matters and helping private and non-profit groups advance policy objectives in Arizona and throughout the United States. For more information about Kurt, please visit the Altman Law & Policy website (www.altmanaz.com).

Marilyn Davidson
Oklahoma State Director for Right on Crime
Marilyn Davidson
Oklahoma State Director for Right on Crime

While a student at the University of Central Oklahoma Marilyn accepted a job at the Oklahoma House of Representatives, then moved into an internship in the Lt. Governor’s office. This jump-started a more than 17-year career working in politics in Oklahoma. Marilyn Davidson serves as President of Davidson Consulting. A public affairs and lobbying firm headquartered in Oklahoma City.

Her unique background has taken her from working at the local level with private companies in a variety of fields, to the state legislature, to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., and the U.S. Supreme Court. Early in her career she did fundraising and executed grassroots strategies for political campaigns. It was this experience that ignited her passion for the community and her desire to work in the advocacy field. Her next step led to the Oklahoma State Senate working as a legislative aide. A job that grew her curiosity and fascination with policy and the political process.

The American Heart Association hired Marilyn as Government Relations Director where she was given the responsibility of performing the organization’s media outreach, grassroots strategy development and deployment, volunteer recruitment and management, and government affairs operations to advance the policy goals set forth by the national board of directors. From there the communications firm Saxum recruited her for their public affairs division. This job afforded her the ability to work in many different industries and with a variety of individuals. From 2014-2018 she worked on criminal justice reform and further corrections issues with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as their legislative liaison.

Marilyn lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and son, along with their two rescue dogs. She is an avid reader, a sports lover, and enjoys searching antique stores for treasures. She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with her B.A. in Public Relations, where she currently serves on their alumni board, and Oklahoma City University with her Master’s in Business Administration.

Chelsea Murphy
Florida State Director for Right on Crime
Chelsea Murphy
Florida State Director for Right on Crime

Chelsea has been immersed in Florida politics for the past decade, and advocated on behalf of various clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, non-profits, to local governments. More specifically to justice reform she represented the largest and oldest private provider for re-entry programming in the state of Florida. She helped start two smart justice coalitions, and she’s represented a variety of mental and behavioral health stakeholders.

Chelsea is based in Tallahassee where she lives with her husband and two children.

Scott Peyton
Louisiana and Mississippi State Director for Right on Crime
Scott Peyton
Louisiana and Mississippi State Director for Right on Crime

He has over 12 years of work experience with the State of Louisiana: first as a child welfare specialist, then as a juvenile probation and parole officer. Prior to joining Right on Crime, he worked in adult probation and parole as a specialist supervising violent offender caseloads. Peyton has spent time as both a volunteer and reserve deputy sheriff, as well as providing as-needed support to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center working as a correctional officer. As a former instructor with Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, he taught at the Probation and Parole Police Academy. Peyton has witnessed firsthand the need for criminal justice reform, the impacts of rehabilitation and re-entry programs, and the inner workings of the Louisiana Probation and Parole system.

Peyton graduated from Louisiana State University at Shreveport with a Master’s in nonprofit administration and from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a BS in criminal justice. Peyton served in the Louisiana National Guard before being honorably discharged. He is an ordained deacon in the Catholic church and resides in Louisiana with his wife and six children.

Nikki Pressley
Texas State Director for Right on Crime
Nikki Pressley
Texas State Director for Right on Crime

Nikki is a native Texan, currently based in Austin. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Science, and an M.S. in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in Family Policy and Program Administration. While pursuing her graduate degree, she began interning at the Foundation to work on the child and family policy team. After interning, she continued her work as a Policy Analyst, focusing on various issues including child welfare, human trafficking, and juvenile justice.

Zoe Taylor
Kentucky State Director for Right on Crime
Zoe Taylor
Kentucky State Director for Right on Crime

She previously worked at the Nolan Center for Justice at the American Conservative Union Foundation in Washington, D.C., and for other D.C. think tanks. Taylor was the vice president of the national nonprofit Students for Free Expression and served on their board.

Taylor has a B.A. in political theory and legal studies from American University. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, punditing on Twitter, and taking care of her God-rabbit, Acorn.

Mary Katherine McNabb
Development Manager for Right on Crime
Mary Katherine McNabb
Development Manager for Right on Crime

MK was raised in Boerne, Texas, and is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in International Studies, focusing on foreign policy. During the summer of 2015, she worked as a research intern for the Center for Fiscal Policy and has returned to TPPF since her graduation to work as the development manager for Right on Crime. Passionate about the outdoors and conservation, MK is also currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Texas Brigades, a program that seeks to educate and empower youth to become conservation ambassadors.

Tonya Kerr
Communications Director for Right on Crime
Tonya Kerr
Communications Director for Right on Crime

Kerr worked for the ABC network in London, Washington, D.C., and nationwide, producing and reporting national and regional news. She was a television anchor, reporter, and producer for ABC and NBC affiliates in Lubbock, Houston, and Austin, covering local news and political policy. She was also the press secretary for a U.S. House representative.

 

A native Texan, Kerr has a B.A. in Journalism and minor in Political Science from Texas Tech University, and she’s the proud parent of three grown daughters.

Zach McCue
Digital Marketing Manager for Right on Crime
Zach McCue
Digital Marketing Manager for Right on Crime

McCue has extensive political campaign experience and most notably worked as deputy campaign manager for the late Foster Friess during his gubernatorial race in Wyoming. He was Speaker of the Student Senate in college, among other senatorial roles. He is a founder of the Student Government Association’s mentorship organization, Aggies & Mentors.

McCue has a B.A. in political science and communications from Texas A&M University and is pursuing a graduate degree from Liberty University in strategic communications.

McCue spends time with family and friends, reading, and running and has three half-marathons under his belt.

 

Derek M. Cohen, Ph.D
Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Derek M. Cohen, Ph.D
Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation

Cohen graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University. He went on to complete an M.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, where he also recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the long-term costs and outcomes associated with correctional programming. His academic work can be found in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management and the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology and The Oxford Handbook on Police and Policing, and has scholarly articles currently under review. He has presented several papers to the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the American Evaluation Association on the implementation and outcomes of various criminal justice policy issues.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Cohen was a research associate with University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Crime Science. He also taught classes in statistics, research methods, criminal procedure, and corrections.

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