Executive Director, ALIGHT Justice
Billie Mizell has been working directly with people incarcerated in California since she moved to the Bay Area from her home state of Alabama in 1999. For two years, she visited all of California’s 30-plus prisons while representing incarcerated people with disabilities and advocating broad prison reform. In 2001, Billie became a regular at San Quentin when she began representing people sentenced to Death Row. Often specializing in mitigation evidence, Billie was charged with investigating not just what happened at the crime scene, but why it happened. Looking beyond one event — and speaking with everyone impacted and all the issues, histories, and lives involved — she witnessed the cycle of crime and the dire need for healing and transformation within the criminal justice system. This led Billie to transform her own career to focus on bringing healing and restorative opportunities into prisons.
In 2014, Billie became the Executive Director of Insight Prison Project, which grew nationally under her leadership, and she remains Chair Emeritus of that organization. She also helped found the groundbreaking program Acting with Compassion & Truth, the first-ever program created inside a prison to explore the social justice intersections of mass incarceration, race, gender, and LGBTQ+ identity.
Billie is currently the founding director of ALIGHT Justice, which has a mission of “transforming trauma into purpose.” Along with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated members of ALIGHT, Billie develops programs and trainings for prisons, courts, social justice organizations, nonprofits, for-profit corporations, schools, and universities.
Billie is also a founding organizer of the Transformative Prison Workgroup collective, which is now a statewide coalition of over 50 Community-Based Organizations offering trauma-informed healing programs in California and New York prisons. For more than 25 years, Billie has advocated for healing, transformation, and equity – from Death Row to the White House. She continues to write and speak nationally about issues of injustice and inequity in hopes of shining a light on what is possible when we work together on matters of humanity, public safety, and equal justice.