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Senior Research Associate, Economic Impacts of Incarceration

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Brooklyn, NY, USA · Brooklyn, NY, USA · New York, NY, USA · Washington, DC, USA · New Orleans, LA, USA · Orleans County, NY, USA · Los Angeles, CA, USA · Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, December 16, 2023

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.

Who you are:

Vera is seeking a Senior Research Associate (SRA) to join a multidisciplinary project on the economic impacts of incarceration. The SRA will work as part of a team focused on compiling and deploying national datasets to describe the relationship between incarceration in the United States over the last five decades and the economic wellbeing of communities. This role would suit an experienced researcher with an interest in using primarily quantitative methods to address applied, policy-related research questions.

The SRA will play an integral part in producing research on the economic impacts of mass incarceration in the United States. They will work in partnership with members of Vera’s data science and communication teams to identify and manage datasets, identify research questions, and conduct analysis with a focus on real-world impact. The SRA will be involved with all stages of the research, from collecting data to developing research designs, conducting analysis, writing, and presentation of findings; with a primary focus on research design, analysis, and reporting. This position would suit researchers with a background in economics, sociology, public policy, or a related social science. Applicants with applied research experience/non-academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply, as are candidates with direct experience of criminal legal system involvement.

The position reports to a Senior Research Fellow in Vera’s research department.

What you'll do:

Research design and analysis

  • Work with other member of the team to develop and implement research designs and analysis plans.
  • Conduct exploratory analysis to identify trends and inform in-depth research.
  • Co-lead descriptive and causal analysis of administrative datasets to identify spatial and temporal trends.
  • Conduct literature reviews
  • Liaise with policy and academic researchers, data partners, and project consultants.
  • Train and supervise research interns and fellows.

Data collection and management

  • Compile administrative data on incarceration and economic outcomes from federal, state and local data sources.
  • Work with Vera data scientists to automate and automatically update data collection, using data scrapers and other tools.
  • Develop data definitions, coding frameworks, and related data management tasks.
  • Support the data science team as they build and maintain a public access dataset and prepare datasets to populate an online data visualization tool.

Presentation of research and proposal development

  • Lead development, writing and/or editing of research publications and evidence-based messaging and products in support of project or initiative goals.
  • Report research finding for technical and policy audiences.
  • Present Vera’s research to external audiences, including academic and policy-focused conferences and professional meetings.

Research administration and institute-wide work

  • Participate and attend project and institute meetings, serve on committees as needed.
  • Provide research support for other projects and teams.
  • Support symposia hosted by Vera.
  • Develop and present IRB applications and ensure that research is conducted to the highest ethical standards.

What qualifications are we looking for?

Typically, an SRA will have 6+ years research experience. This may include academic training in a post-graduate setting, and/or experience conducting applied research outside of academia. Many Vera researchers have a Ph.D. or other post-graduate qualification, but applicants who have gained research experience in other settings are encouraged to apply. Senior associates have strong research / data science skills and emerging leadership and project management skills.


  • Experience and/or training in the disciplines of economics, sociology, public health, demography.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • Demonstrated experience on research projects related to inequality, criminal legal system, or immigration system.
  • Experience conducting research and managing staff within an equity framework.
  • Track-record designing and conducting rigorous research.
  • Applied experience with descriptive analysis and statistical modeling, including familiarity with a range of multivariate methods.
  • Writing and editing experience related to justice and equity issues.
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Demonstrated technical experience in programming (Python, R, or Stata preferred), database management (SQL or Python), and/or statistical analysis (Pandas, R, or Stata preferred)
  • Experience using shared, reproducible code with version control (GitHub)

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

  • Microsoft Office Suite or similar software


Please note this role will report to any one of our four (4) Vera offices. Vera employees adhere to a hybrid schedule and are in-office on an alternating schedule that generally amounts to 10 days per month.

Compensation and Benefits:

The compensation range for this position is $102,500 – $110,000. 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. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Senior Research Associate, Gates
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