Laura Magnani is Assistant Regional Director for AFSC’s West Region, and has been working on criminal justice issues since the 1970s. She served as the lobbyist for the Friends Committee on Legislation in Sacramento, California, working on a broad range of issues including equal rights, housing, criminal justice, and militarism. Her work with AFSC began in 1989, where she has continued her healing justice work.
Laura is author of America’s First Penitentiary: A Two Hundred Year Old Failure, (1990) and co-author, along with Harmon Ray, of Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System, (2006). Written as part of her work with AFSC, Beyond Prisons is a comprehensive analysis of the racial, social and economic underpinnings of the criminal justice system. She also authored the 2008 report Buried Alive: Long-term Isolation in California’s Youth and Adult Prisons.
Over the years, Laura has used art to educate the public on prison issues, convened a women’s group at the federal women’s prison in Dublin on Women Healing from Violence, and spent decades organizing against solitary confinement. She also serves on the mediation team for hunger strikers at the Pelican Bay state prison that began with massive hunger strikes that swept the California prison system.
Laura has appeared in numerous media outlets, including AP, Friends Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Colorlines, Southern California Public Radio, KQED, the Guardian, and others. She also appears in the documentary film Breaking Down the Box.
She holds an MA from the Pacific School of Religion (1982) in Religion and Society. She is a Quaker, and a member of the Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting.