Legal Director, Criminal Justice
Theshia Naidoo is the legal director of criminal justice with the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of legal affairs and an expert and strategist in the area of criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy. In her role as an attorney and as a member of the San Francisco Sentencing Commission, Naidoo has pushed for the creation and adoption of innovative criminal justice reforms, including playing a pivotal role in the advancement and implementation of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in a number of jurisdictions across the country.
Naidoo drafts criminal justice reform legislation across the country related to areas such as reducing criminal penalties for drug offenses, protecting immigrants from deportation based on drug offenses, asset forfeiture reform, and minimizing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Naidoo’s work also focuses on ballot initiatives, including playing a key role in the drafting of California’s Proposition 5 (the Non-Violent Offenders Rehabilitation Act of 2008), Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in 2012, and California’s Proposition 47 (the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014), which reduced numerous felony offenses to misdemeanors.
Naidoo presents regularly on drug policy reform issues across the country and internationally, including presenting at a White House convening on LEAD. She has testified before state legislatures and other government bodies on criminal justice reform and drug policy and often serves as a guest speaker at law schools, universities and other institutions.
Naidoo received her B.A. in political science from the University of California Berkeley and she received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. Prior to joining DPA, she worked in private legal practice for four years representing clients in employment law and commercial litigation matters. She left private practice to join the struggle to make drug laws and policies more just, more compassionate, and more effective.