John S. Cooper, Executive Director
John S. Cooper is the executive director of Safe & Just Michigan, and is responsible for the organization’s strategic vision and direction. He joined Safe & Just Michigan in 2017 as policy director after serving as a criminal justice policy advisor to State Representative David LaGrand (D – 75th, Grand Rapids).
“We are working to strengthen communities through smart criminal justice reforms,” says Cooper. “Lansing’s political landscape is always changing, but we have a compelling message, and the work couldn’t be more worth the effort.”
Cooper’s research and advocacy is focused on Michigan’s adult criminal legal system, with an emphasis on strategies to reduce Michigan’s prison and jail populations, remove barriers to successful reentry, and shift resources into programs and services that promote public safety and health.
During his tenure at Safe & Just Michigan, Cooper has led several successful legislative campaigns to reform Michigan’s criminal legal system, including the campaign to enact “objective parole,” 2018 PA 339, and the Michigan “Clean Slate” Campaign, 2020 PA 187-193.
Before he joined Rep. LaGrand’s office, Cooper spent seven years as a litigator in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP. He also served as a law clerk to Hon. Boyce F. Martin, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
Cooper obtained his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law after graduating with honors from Calvin College.
He lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids.