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Udi Ofer

John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor and Lecturer of Public and International Affairs
347.1 Wallace Hall
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Udi Ofer is the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs and Co. Visiting Professor and Lecturer of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is the founding Director of the Policy Advocacy Clinic at Princeton University, a highly intensive one year program that immerses students in the policymaking process. His primary research areas include studying the problem of mass incarceration and devising bipartisan solutions to safely reduce incarceration while advancing equity. He teaches courses on civil rights, policing, criminal justice reform and policy advocacy. He is an elected member of the Council on Criminal Justice. He is also Chair of the International Advisory Council of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and often lectures and writes about civil rights issues in Israel.

Ofer has more than 20 years of experience as a civil rights lawyer working on issues related to criminal justice reform, national security, free speech and racial justice. For two decades, Ofer worked as an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he helped to transform the organization, expanding its work into new issue areas and tactics. Ofer's work has led to passage of hundreds of laws and policies across the nation.

From 2016-2022, Ofer was the Deputy National Political Director of the ACLU and the founding Director of the ACLU’s Justice Division, leading the ACLU’s advocacy on criminal justice reform, including before the White House and Congress, and securing policy victories in states across the nation, including in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Michigan, and more. He is best known for building the ACLU's Campaign for Smart Justice, an unprecedented 50-state strategy to end mass incarceration. 

From 2013-2016, Ofer served as Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. Under his leadership the organization achieved historic victories on a range of issues, including overhauling New Jersey’s broken cash bail system, launching a successful bipartisan campaign to legalize marijuana, winning in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, prohibiting local police from enforcing federal immigration laws, launching a campaign for marriage equality, and creating one of the nation's strongest civilian complaint review boards in Newark.

From 2003-2013, Ofer worked at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he began as the founding Director of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, which focused on national security issues, including challenging the USA PATRIOT Act and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2008, he founded the Advocacy Department, where he challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices and spearheaded the successful effort to pass legislation banning racial profiling by the NYPD and creating an NYPD Inspector General’s office. Ofer was also a co-founder of Communities United for Police Reform in New York City. He also worked on issues related to the school-to-prison pipeline, and led the efforts to pass the Student Safety Act, which requires the NYPD and Department of Education to report on school suspensions and arrests.  

Ofer began his legal career in 2001 as a Skadden Fellow at My Sisters’ Place, a domestic violence organization. He was an adjunct professor at New York Law School from 2009-2012, and has published widely including in the Seton Hall Law Review, Columbia Law School Journal of Race and Law, New York Law School Law Review, and Fordham Urban Law Journal. Ofer’s work and commentary have been featured in hundreds of national and local news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Hill, The Atlantic, NBC News, The American Prospect, Newsweek, POLITICO and Vox. He has testified before many legislatures, including the United States Senate, and is frequently cited as an expert on civil rights and criminal justice matters. His work and research have been cited in legal opinions issued by numerous courts, including the New Jersey Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Tenth Circuit, as well as in more than 100 law review articles.

Ofer is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Graduate Award from Fordham Law School, a presidential award from the Open Society Foundations, and a proclamation from the New York City Council for contributions made by his work to the city and state. He is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Recent Publications and Media Appearances:

2/23/24 - Biden Has New Authority To Stop Israeli Settler Violence. His Choices May Shape Palestine's Future. (Huffington Post)

1/26/24 - Why Israel's Supreme Court Must Remain a Strong Check on Power—Especially Now (Newsweek)

12/22/23 - Biden Commutes Drug Sentences for 11 and Expands Marijuana Pardons (The New York Times)

12/12/23- N.J. Lawmakers move bill forward to give some civilian review boards subpoena power (New Jersey Monitor)

11/10/23 - Israeli Civil and Human Rights Degrade in a Time of War (The American Prospect)

10/29/23 - ‘This is our 9/11': The words are like alarm bells for some New Yorkers (Gothamist)

9/14/23 - The Case for Marijuana Legalization (Newsweek)

7/17/23 - 'Anti-Fusion Voting' Laws and the Problem with a Two-Party System (New Jersey Law Journal)

6/8/23 - It's Time to Decriminalize Personal Possession of All Drugs. Yes, All of Them. (Newsweek)

5/16/23 - Two Decades of Prison Did Not Prepare Me for the Horrors of County Jail (The New York Times)

2/9/23 - 3 Proposals to Prevent Police Violence and Build Accountability (The Hill)

11/3/22 - Politicians' Tough-on-Crime Messaging Could Have Devastating Consequences (TIME Magazine)

10/6/22 - Biden Pardons Thousands Convicted of Marijuana Possession Under Federal Law (The New York Times)

9/20/22 - There's No Excuse for Allowing the Savage Cocaine Injustice to Persist (The Washington Post)