Staff Biographies and Contact information

Brenda V. Smith, J.D.
Professor
Project Director
The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW Y110C
Washington, DC 20016
202-274-4261 (Phone)
202-274-4182 (Fax)
bvsmith@wcl.american.edu



Brenda V. Smith
is a Professor at the Washington College of Law at American University where she co-teaches in the Community Economic Development Law Clinic. Professor Smith is also the Project Director for the United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections Cooperative Agreement on Addressing Staff Sexual Misconduct with Offenders. In November, 2003, Prof. Smith was appointed to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission by the United States House of Representatives Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D. CA). Prior to her faculty appointment at the Washington College of Law, Prof. Smith was the Senior Counsel for Economic Security at the National Women's Law Center and Director of the Center's Women in Prison Project and Child and Family Support Project. Prof. Smith is a 1984 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and a magna cum laude graduate of Spelman College in 1980.

Prof. Smith is an expert on issues affecting women in prison and has published and spoken widely on those issues. Recent publications include: Battering, Forgiveness and Redemption: Exploring Alternative Models for Addressing Domestic Violence in Communities of Color, in Domestic Violence at the margins : Readings on Race, Class, Gender, and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2004); Watching You, Watching Me, 15 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 225 ( 2003); Battering, Forgiveness and Redemption, 11 American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and the Law 921, Volume 2 (2003); An End to Silence: Prisoners--Handbook on Identifying and Addressing Sexual Misconduct, (2d Ed., Washington College of Law, 2002); A Sexual Abuse Against Women in Prison, @ American Bar Association Criminal Justice Magazine, Vol. 16. No. 1, Spring, 2001; An End to Silence: Women Prisoners--Handbook on Identifying and Addressing Sexual Misconduct (National Women's Law Center: April, 1998); A Incarceration," in Women's Health Across the Lifespan: A Comprehensive Perspective (Lippincott: 1997); A Vision Beyond Survival: A Resource Guide for Incarcerated Women (National Women's Law Center: Fall, 1995); and Female Prisoners and AIDS: On the Margins of Public Health and Social Justice, 9 AIDS & Public Policy Journal 78 (Summer, 1994).

Prof. Smith has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Kellogg National Fellowship in 1993. Professor Smith was inducted into the D.C. Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 for her work on behalf of low-income women in the District of Columbia. Most recently, Professor Smith was awarded the Emalee C. Godsey Research Award for her article, Battering, Forgiveness and Redemption.



Jaime M. Yarussi, M.S.

Senior Cooperating Consultant
The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW Y110C
Washington, DC 20016


Jaime M. Yarussi received a dual Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Justice and a Masters of Science from American University's School of Public Affairs in Justice Law and Society with a specialization in corrections and public policy.

Jaime has helped to accomplish the publication of a handbook for correctional staff on identifying and addressing staff sexual misconduct. She also worked to complete the core curricula for the Project’s training program and worked to publish research for the Project. Jaime's on-hand correctional experience comes from core curricula as a graduate student focusing on work in various correctional facilities and the completion of work in the field of community corrections during her master's program. She has been involved with resident supervision, disciplinary hearings, recreational trip supervision, urinalysis collection and testing, as well as treatment and crisis intervention for offenders.

Jaime devotes her spare time to being a rape crisis counselor. She counsels men and women, children, gay, lesbian, and trans-gendered members of the community. She is also a counselor for rape victims through the S.A.N.E. Programs, offering counseling and advice during the evidence process, police interviews, and the legal process. Jaime also trains rape crisis counselors on the particular needs of people victimized in correctional settings.


Image of Michelle Bonner

Michelle Bonner
Executive Director, DC Corrections Information Council
Cooperating Consultant, The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW Y110C
Washington, DC 20016


Michelle Bonner is the Executive Director of the DC Corrections Information Council (CIC) and a US Department of Justice-certified Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Auditor. Michelle has audited and inspected prisons, jails, and halfway houses as CIC Director, as a PREA Auditor, PREA Field Training Auditor, and as former Board Chair of the CIC.

Michelle recently served as Chief Counsel of the Defender Legal Services (DLS) Division of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA).  As Chief Counsel, Michelle was responsible for the management of DLS projects, initiatives, and staff. Prior to joining NLADA, Michelle was Director of Legal Services at Our Place DC, which served incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in Washington, DC.  She and her team provided criminal and civil legal services to incarcerated and returning residents. She also represented clients charged with criminal offenses in the District of Columbia in private practice as an appellate defense attorney, as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and as a Prettyman /Stiller Fellow at theCriminal Justice Clinic at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Michelle served as a Co-Chair of the Reentry and Collateral Consequences Committee of the American Bar Association. She has also provided deposition testimony and reports as a corrections sexual safety expert in litigation involving conditions of confinement.

Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Michelle is a member of the District of Columbia and Maryland State Bars, as well as the United States District Courts for the District of Columbia and Maryland.  She resides in Washington, DC.


Kathleen M. Dennehy
Former Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Correction
Cooperating Consultant, The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW Y110C
Washington, DC 20016


Kathleen M. Dennehy
currently sits on the Board of Directors of the National Forensic Science Technology Center. Over the course of Ms. Dennehy’s career in the field of corrections she has worked in a wide range of custody settings and has been a warden in both male and female facilities. In 2004 she was appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction by Governor Romney and held the position until 2007. As Commissioner, she testified before the National Commission on Safety and Abuse in American Prisons as well as the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC).

From 2011-2016 Kathleen was a Senior Program Specialist at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and worked as part of the PREA Resource Center (PRC) team on the implementation of national standards to prevent, detect, and respond to prison-based sexual victimization. As a consultant, she worked with the Vera Institute of Justice to support the work of NPREC and the development of the draft standards. As a consultant, she instructed training modules for American University Washington College of Law's Project on Addressing Prison Rape's Investigator Training, and provided technical assistance in the development of PREA-related policy guides for correctional agencies.

As an independent consultant, she has also worked with the National Institute of Corrections and the Bureau of Justice. She was the 2002 recipient of the Correctional Association of Massachusetts’ annual “Jim Justice Award”, given in recognition of professional performance and sustained excellence in the field of criminal justice.  Ms. Dennehy is a founding member of the Association of Women Executives in Corrections (AWEC) and was the 2007 recipient of AWEC’s Susan Hunter Endowment Award. In 2004, she was elected to the National Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and she also served on the American Correctional Association’s National Standards Committee. Ms. Dennehy

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wheaton College, Ms. Dennehy received a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University and a Masters of Arts in Social Policy from Brandeis University. She completed her course work and exams as a doctoral student at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management and is currently working on her dissertation.


Lillian L. Bales, J.D.
Research Fellow
The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
202-274-4403 (Phone)
202-274-4373 (Fax)
lillian.bales@american.edu