Senior Research Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Location: New York, NY

Department: Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Experienced

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. We work with others who share our vision to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. Vera has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Its projects and reform initiatives, typically conducted in partnership with local, state, or national officials, are located across the United States and around the world. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.

Vera is hiring a Senior Research Associate to support research in the Center on Sentencing and Corrections — specifically its bail reform and jail reduction projects — and to lead quantitative and qualitative analysis for a path-breaking new project to assist reform-minded prosecutors. 

 

Center on Sentencing and Corrections

The Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) is a group of dynamic and diverse staff who share a passion for social justice and a commitment to excellence in all of our work.  CSC has a staff of 33 with expertise in law, corrections, social science research, cost-benefit analysis, family engagement, reentry, education, and other topics. They work in nearly a dozen active projects spanning sentencing and correctional policy and practice reform, including projects focused on jail and pre-trial reform, reductions in prison and jail populations, expanding access to higher education during incarceration, reentry and public housing, reducing solitary confinement and restrictive housing in correctional facilities, and international comparative prison practices. See Vera’s website for more information on CSC’s projects.

CSC researchers collaborate with government to use local data to study bail, fines and fees, and jail usage. In 2017, Vera conducted a first-in-kind analysis of bail, fines, and fees in New Orleans, and provided analysis to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform that served as the foundation of the commission’s recommendation to reduce the jail population by half and close the jails on Rikers Island. CSC researchers also worked with three counties in Oklahoma—Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City), Tulsa County (Tulsa) and Rogers County (Claremore)—as well as Whatcom County (Bellingham) in Washington to conduct jail population analysis to diagnose what has driven jail growth, and target recommendations for reform. The Senior Research Associate will support Vera’s future work in New York, Oklahoma, and beyond.

 

Data-Driven Prosecutorial Reform Project

Vera’s project on Data-Driven Prosecutorial Reform is primarily focused on helping reform minded – mostly newly elected – prosecutors in multiple jurisdictions transform their ambitions and campaign promises into concrete, data-informed and implementable policies. Policies that limit incarceration, strengthen racial fairness and equal justice, which in turn, increase legitimacy and trust. This new project builds on close to a decade of work at Vera focused on enabling prosecutors to be agents of change and racial justice.

Through this groundbreaking new project, Vera will assess prosecutorial office practices and help lead prosecutors identify changes that are rooted in data and evidence. First, the project will help them make change spurred by a commitment to innovation, informed by values and that contribute to a shift in prosecutorial culture. Second, the project will document the work of the prosecutors with whom it partners – in the form of case studies, briefs blogs and articles – in order to build a literature and reference points for the field, peers, media and other stakeholders. Third, the project will work closely and in collaboration with other organizations committed to encouraging greater justice, fairness, transparency and legitimacy in prosecution.

 

Responsibilities

Reporting directly to the CSC Research Director, the Senior Research Associate will support the center’s bail, fines and fees, and jail research; and develop and manage research activities for the Data-Driven Prosecutorial Reform project.

In particular, the Senior Research Associate will:

  • Manage and conduct bail, fines and fees, and jail population research, in partnership with government agencies and in collaboration with center staff;
  • Develop and manage research engagements with chief prosecutors—and other local justice agencies (courts, district attorneys, public defenders, police, and jails)—to identify, support implementation of, and assess outcomes of reform initiatives in their offices;
  • Develop quantitative and qualitative research designs, conduct and supervise analysis, and document methods and findings, for public consumption, as well as internal materials; 
  • Develop research projects that explore the how certain prosecutorial practices (e.g., bail recommendation, plea bargaining, diversion) affect case outcomes; and
  • Mentor and supervise research staff; review all project work.

 

Qualifications

The successful candidate will bring the following skills and experience:

  • You need to have extensive experience conducting research in partnership with criminal justice agencies and be comfortable with the realities of applied research: limited (and often “dirty”) data and short timelines. It is our presumption that a PhD, or other graduate training plus extensive relevant experience, is required in order to credibly lead this research.
  • You need to have experience designing both quantitative and qualitative research studies; experience writing for a general audience; and presenting analysis to both academics and practitioners.
  • You need to be skilled with a range of data tasks, from cleaning administrative database files to quantitative analysis, and you need to be comfortable making things work in a range of tools, such as SQL for databases, and R, Stata, or Python for analysis. You should know the strengths and weaknesses of administrative data. Experience with outcome evaluation is preferred, but not required.
  • You need to love teaching—and learning. It is expected that you will share your technical expertise with Vera staff, and communicate the results of your work to practitioners. And that you will draw on the knowledge and technical capacity at Vera, as well as the practitioners you work with in the field.
  • You need to be deeply committed to the missions of racial justice and ending mass incarceration. You need to be knowledgeable about and fluent in discussing and advancing both, and their relationship to community/public safety.

There is a strong preference for this position to be based at Vera’s New York City Office.

 

Salary

Based on experience, and including excellent benefits, Vera believes in compensating its staff members at or above market.

 

How to apply

Please submit cover letter and resume. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until position is filled.

Online submission in PDF format (through Vera’s careers page) is preferred.

If necessary, materials can be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / CSC Senior Research Associate Recruitment

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10279

Fax: (212) 941-9407

Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.

No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.

 

Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.

Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.

 

For more information about Vera’s work, please visit www.vera.org.

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