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Senior Data Scientist (Analytics Lead)

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Data Science
Los Angeles, CA, USA · Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2022

Who we are:

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is a nonprofit criminal justice organization that strives to build just government institutions and safe communities free from the scourge of racism, white supremacy, profit, and inequity that is pervasive in this country’s legal systems. We are an “inside” lane organization that drives change at scale with ambitious public sector leaders who share our commitment to building anti-racist, reparative systems that deliver justice. We leverage our access to government to transform these systems and work collaboratively with stakeholders across many movements—including advocacy, grassroots, and grasstop organizations. Our role is to pilot solutions that are transformative and achievable, harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice, and use advocacy and communications to change narratives and norms.

Vera has a staff of 300 people and offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. We are an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace. We expect our staff to embody respect, independence, collaboration, commitment, anti-racism, and equity—both in our outward-facing work and the internal culture of our workplace. We value a range of experiences in people’s educational backgrounds and encourage people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to apply.

Vera's jails team works at the intersection of community and government to end the United States' dependence on local jails. The money bail system and broader criminalization of poverty have fueled mass incarceration and deprived communities of the resources they need to thrive. We work at the state and local level to decrease jail incarceration and the racially disparate impact of the criminal legal system and secure investment in community-based services, responses and resources. The jails team seeks a Senior Data Scientist (Analytics Lead) to work closely with the team’s Associate Director of Research and the Research Department’s Associate Director of Data Science to lead our robust data analytics agenda. Staff in senior data scientist roles at Vera are expected to manage a discrete body of work and supervise data analytics staff assigned to that work. In addition to being a core member of the jails team, the senior data scientist would be a member of Vera’s interdisciplinary research department.

About The Role:

The Senior Data Scientist (analytics lead) will lead the development of an evolving set of data products encompassing end-to-end data collection, processing, and analytics for the Jails Team. They will supervise a team of two to four analytics staff members (data scientist/data engineer) and work closely with other researchers, policy advocates, and communications colleagues to drive data-informed insights on local and national jail trends. Their work will leverage and improve Vera’s existing repository of incarceration data, including the public-facing Incarceration Trends Project. Other data product development will support the analytic needs of our network of community grantees, published reports, and campaigns to shape federal, state, and local policy and practice changes. The team is currently undergoing planning on future areas of focus, with previous efforts working alongside partners in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Who You Are:

An analytics professional adept in the end-to-end process of scoping, executing, and communicating to a variety of audiences about all stages of data product development with a developed point of view on how large-scale data projects can expose issues contributing to the systemic inequities of the criminal legal system. You have experience working within and across teams and supervising team members who are newer to the field. You are committed to Vera’s race, equity, and inclusion initiative and passionate about advancing the jails team’s and organization’s goals.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Workflow Design - Scope and manage end-to-end data collection pipelines and analysis

  • Maintain and optimize large data collection projects on incarceration and correctional control (community supervision like probation, parole, or electronic monitoring). This includes both scraped public datasets and datasets provided by partner organizations.
  • Design data architecture to collect, clean, and format data for end products in analysis and visualization.
  • Lead quantitative analysis of incarceration data and public spending to support policy change.

Project Implementation - Product management and supervision of staff

  • Lead a lean team of data scientists and engineers to scope priorities and deliver projects as a core part of the strategic goals of the Jails Team.
  • Recruit, supervise, and support professional development of data scientists and engineers.
  • Run scrum and sprint processes for team projects.

Impact Analysis - Collaborate with researchers, policy, advocacy staff

  • Analyze the impact of criminal justice policy and the impact of other social and economic conditions and policies on incarceration.
  • Develop new data and research projects collaboratively with colleagues on the Jails team and the larger Vera community.
  • Support report writing with contributions on analytical methods and results.

Community Engagement - Collaborate with and train community and coalition partners

  • Develop data collection and analysis products to serve partners’ needs.
  • Support teammates on site-based work with skill development and training of community and coalition partners.
  • Support teammates on site selection and engagements.

Team Support – Jails Team team-wide tasks, as required

  • Team events and convenings
  • Planning and other administrative duties

What qualifications do you need?


  • Commitment to using research and analysis to end mass incarceration and undo racism and inequity in the criminal legal system required; lived experience preferred.


  • Bachelors’ degree + 4-7 years of relevant experience. In lieu of a Bachelor's degree, applicable work or life experience may be considered.

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • Demonstrated leadership skills working with data collection, processing, and analysis in Python, with preference for experience with web scraping and using the Python Pandas library.
  • Experience maintaining and optimizing complex data product development in an environment where multiple developers were contributing to a codebase.
  • Experience maintaining and optimizing SQL databases in a cloud-based environment.
  • An understanding of full-stack development with preference for some experience in a software engineering context.
  • Experience or familiarity conducting analysis of social policy or legal regulation is preferred.
  • Project management experience.
  • Ability to work effectively with a diverse array of people and positions, including advocates, government officials, criminal justice system personnel and people who are directly impacted by the criminal or immigration legal systems.
  • A professional dedication to issues of race, equity, and fairness.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Exceptional attention to detail.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently.

Additional eligibility requirements:

The current tech stack uses the following technologies and some familiarity with the following is preferred:

  • Google Cloud Platform
  • PostgreSQL
  • Airflow
  • Flask
  • Docker
  • D3.js
  • Datawrapper
  • R
  • Python

Compensation and Benefits

The compensation range for this position is $110,000 - $114,000. Actual salaries will vary depending on factors including but not limited to experience and performance. The salary range listed is just one component of Vera Institute’s total compensation package for employees. As an employer of choice in our field, supporting Vera staff—both personally and professionally—is a priority. To do this, we invest in the well-being of our staff through other rewards including merit pay, generous paid time off, a comprehensive health insurance plan, student loan repayment benefits, professional development training opportunities and up to $2,000 annual for education costs and fees relevant to Vera work, employer-funded retirement plan, and flexible time and remote work schedules. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Senior Data Scientist (Analytics Lead), Jails Team
Vera Institute of Justice
34 35th St, Suite 4-2A, Brooklyn, NY 11232
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.

In order to ensure a healthy and safe work environment, Vera Institute of Justice is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine before their start date. Employees who cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability/medical contraindication or sincerely-held religious belief may request an accommodation (e.g., an exemption) to this requirement.

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, please visit www.vera.org