Mikaela Rabinowitz is a Senior Researcher at the Possibility Lab and a long-time applied social
science researcher who believes that rigorous research can help drive more equitable public
policies and practices. Prior to joining the Lab, Dr. Rabinowitz held a number of policy, research,
and advocacy positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
Most recently, she served as the Director of Data, Research and Analytics for the San Francisco
District Attorney’s Office under DA Chesa Boudin. In this role, she was responsible for
establishing a research agenda aligned with the office’s strategic priorities and policy initiatives,
and overseeing the implementation of this agenda through internal research projects and
partnerships with academic and nonprofit research organizations. As part of the DA’s senior
leadership team, Dr. Rabinowitz was part of an unprecedented effort to reduce the footprint of
the criminal justice system in San Francisco, while increasing the infrastructure for diversion
and restorative justice.
Dr. Rabinowitz is also an advocate for improving the quality and uniformity of criminal justice
data and increasing public access thereto. Toward this end, she has been involved in local,
state, and national criminal justice data transparency efforts, including the BJA-sponsored
Justice Counts initiative and the recently signed Justice Data Accountability and Transparency
Act in California.
In 2021, she published her first book, Incarceration without Conviction: Pretrial Detention and
the Erosion of Innocence in American Criminal Justice with Routledge Press. Based on the results
of a mixed methods analysis of pretrial detention in Cook County, IL, she argues that the
Supreme Court’s increasingly narrow interpretations of the presumption of innocence and due
process protections for pretrial defendants, and the corresponding increase in pretrial
detention, have fundamentally undermined the meaning and value of innocence in the criminal
Dr. Rabinowitz has. PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University and a BA with honors in
African American Studies from Columbia University.