In 2017, Vera and The Graduate Center launched the Applied Justice Research (AJR) pre-doctoral fellowship. This fellowship is an opportunity to spend time at the Vera Institute and work with Vera research staff on ongoing projects related to the institute’s core areas of focus. There are a number of opportunities to join ongoing projects, listed below. Fellows will work with a Vera research team for one academic year, participate in applied research, and potentially test new ideas and research approaches to Vera’s existing work.
Students should submit:
- A 2 page proposal narrative that addresses, under specific headings, the “project of interest” and short descriptions describing “goals for the fellowship”, “relevant experience” (including specific methodological expertise) and “potential research questions” that the student is interested in addressing.
- Letter of support from faculty advisor
- Including recognition that the faculty advisor should meet once a semester with the fellow and their Vera supervisor
- Up-to-date resume or CV
- Signed letter of academic standing (from applicant’s Executive Officer)
Students interested in more than one project should submit one application per project. If you are applying to more than one project, please fill out the last page of this document, indicating the projects to which you are applying in order of preference, and include it with the rest of your application materials. Selected applicants will be asked to interview with Vera staff, depending on their project of interest, and additional materials may be requested.
Fellowship Details and Deadlines
The Fellow will be expected to spend three days per week at Vera’s offices during the 2020-2021 academic year. Over this period, they will be embedded within a research team and will contribute to Vera work products. AJR Fellows will be encouraged to identify opportunities to publish and otherwise disseminate products from Vera projects and to explore opportunities to expand Vera’s work in new directions. Fellows must currently hold a Graduate Center Fellowship (GCF), the student will continue to receive the GCF funding, but will be permitted to substitute the work at Vera for their normal GCF service. Vacation and time off will be discussed with each applicant but will not follow the academic calendar.
Applications are due on February 21, 2020
Email any questions to Charlotte Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applied Justice Research (AJR) Fellowship Projects:
1) Center on Youth Justice, Restoring Promise
Restoring Promise is an initiative across 2 organizations, MILPA and Vera, radically transforming the living and working conditions inside jails and prisons, with an initial focus on young adults. The initiative aims to end mass incarceration, advance race equity, eliminate violence in corrections, and ensure success for young adults. We select corrections agencies to work with through a competitive application process. We open new housing units within 6-9 months of starting a partnership. The transformation process is:
- Human dignity is first and foremost… from how people are treated, to the design of spaces, to the daily schedule
- Daily life is productive with young adults attending school, work, or activities that are designed by their peers, mentors, or corrections officers/counselors
- Staff are agents of change- they go through intensive training on restorative justice, development, and family engagement
- Mentors give support
- Family are partners- staff and mentors hold orientations for family members, they are called on to help when young adults are struggling, and they are kept updated on young adults’ progress in their activities and education
All of our work is done in collaboration with those most impacted by the problems we are addressing- the folks who live and work in prisons.
- Incarcerated people are on our workgroups that lead the change effort
- Before any decisions are made, Restoring Promise staff learn about how young adults and corrections officers experience the prison culture by collecting information through surveys. Data is then brought back to those same people to analyze the data together and create a set of recommendations for what would have to be different if we wanted to see changes in the data
- Those recommendations become the roadmap for the change process and signal to the corrections agencies that nothing will happen without first hearing from the people who have the most to lose and gain from reform
The fellow who joins the Restoring Promise team may analyze data from partner facilities, administer surveys to young adults and corrections staff, analyze survey results, and assist with a NIJ funded randomized control trial. The fellow will learn about collaborative research techniques and how to effectively partner with the communities most impacted by our research.
2) Center on Sentencing and Corrections, In Our Backyards
A little known fact imperils our nation’s collective efforts to end mass incarceration: Major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are no longer bearing the heaviest burden. Instead, thousands of smaller cities and towns are now grappling with the nation’s highest incarceration rates. Vera’s In Our Backyards initiative employs both quantitative and qualitative analysis to uncover what’s causing this trend so that we can drive reform in places that have long been under-studied.
Vera is seeking a research fellow that will support the work of the In Our Backyards research team and also develop a qualitative or quantitative study to contribute to the emerging body of literature on incarceration.
Students from all academic disciplines with demonstrated experience studying incarceration are encouraged to apply.
For more information on the county-level historical jail and prison data that the fellow can leverage, see https://github.com/vera-institute/In-Our-Backyards-Symposium. For more information on In Our Backyards, see https://www.vera.org/projects/in-our-backyards.
3) Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Solitary Confinement
Incarcerated people placed in segregation (or ‘solitary confinement’) are held in isolating conditions, often restricted to a small cell for 22 or more hours per day and denied access to programs and activities. Citing the potential psychological and physiological impacts of this practice, a diverse range of advocates, policymakers, and corrections practitioners have called for prisons and jails to reform their use of segregation. However, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge relating to how segregation is used across the country.
With funding from the National Institute of Justice, Vera has embarked upon a comprehensive research endeavor designed to (1) document policies governing segregation across the U.S.; (2) analyze administrative data from multiple state departments of corrections to identify who is placed in segregation(and why); and (3) evaluate the impact of working in these conditions on corrections officers’ wellbeing.
Vera seeks a summer fellow who will use data collected from this project to write a manuscript testing an empirical question about segregation. In addition to the administrative data described above, the Fellow will have access to data from a national survey about the use of restrictive housing in prisons and jails. These data can be merged with other state-level political and social data to test a variety of questions about the political, social, and economic correlates of segregation use. Students from all social science backgrounds, including criminal justice, sociology, economics, political science, and social welfare – are encouraged to apply. For more information on Vera’s solitary confinement research, see https://www.vera.org/blog/revealing-the-prisons-within-prisons
4) Center on Immigration and Justice
In the face of stepped-up immigration enforcement, millions of non-citizens are at risk of extended detention and permanent separation from their families and communities. The Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ) is helping to build a movement toward universal legal representation for immigrants facing deportation. CIJ is launching an emerging project that aims to increase government transparency, create data-driven tools for advocates, and shape an understanding of mass detention as an extension of mass incarceration.
Vera seeks a fellow to collaboratively produce a data catalog of publicly available government datasets from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. As part of this initiative, fellows may work to assess data quality and compatibility, compare data to publicly available statistics to estimate missingness, determine the feasibility of linking records across datasets, and write code to standardize datasets. The fellow will also contribute to exploratory analyses examining ICE detention trends over time (e.g., detained populations, bond/release rates, discriminatory enforcement, use of segregation) and may be involved in creating an interactive data visualization tool for Vera’s website to share findings with the public.
CIJ welcomes applications from students from all academic backgrounds (e.g., social science, computer science, statistics, mathematics). Applicants with experiences with the immigration system are especially encouraged to apply.
5) Policing Program
Vera’s Policing Program is dedicated to fundamentally shifting the culture of policing from one that incentivizes and defaults to enforcement to one that delivers and rewards public safety through community engagement and satisfaction. Our efforts are concentrated primarily in three areas: shifting the discourse on policing; reengineering police incentives and performance management; and developing innovative strategies to reduce enforcement. Relative to these goals, a fellow would have to opportunity to contribute to several projects including, but not limited to Emerging Issues in American Policing Digest, Serving Safely, and Arrest Trends. These projects will provide opportunities for fellows to practice and develop applied research skills in translating research findings for general audiences; contributing to training and technical assistance and working with and visualizing big data.
I am submitting more than one application for the Applied Justice Research Fellowship. I acknowledge that I can only be accepted to work on one project. The projects I’d like to work on are listed below in order of preference.
Please list the projects to which you are applying in order of preference (1 being the project you are most interested in working on).