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Research Associate, Beyond Jails

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Brooklyn, NY, USA · Washington, DC, USA · Los Angeles, CA, USA · New Orleans, LA, USA
Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2024

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:

To reduce the nation’s dependence on jails, Vera’s Beyond Jails team is working in jurisdictions across the country to shift resources to community-driven solutions to help people thrive. Vera’s Beyond Jails work has three core strategies: statewide advocacy campaigns and coalition building to create lasting policy change; piloting and building evidence around decarceration strategies; and building will for change in jurisdictions. The team works with local government and community partners to develop plans for jail decarceration, prevent the construction of new jails, and design reinvestment strategies.

The Research Associate for BJI will contribute to a range of projects in support of BJI’s site engagements and policy advocacy relying on mixed method research, criminal legal system data, and collaboration with community partners. The research associate will primarily support quantitative analysis and coding, working with administrative and program data from across states and sites to understand the current landscape of incarceration as well as the impact of the policy changes we are working to implement. The research associate will be involved in building and maintaining relationships with their counterparts in partner sites; acquire, manage, clean, and analyze data, partnering with Vera’s internal data science team as needed; and share findings through memos and presentation. They support rapid response advocacy as needed, work with sites to build tools that promote and institutionalize data transparency with the communities, and collaborate with other team members to support synthesis of qualitative and quantitative findings and report writing.

This research associate position is ideal for someone who has built up solid experience in quantitative and data management skills (ideally using R and GitHub) and has experience working with criminal legal system or similar administrative data.

What you'll do:

Research design and data management

  • Contribute to research design and the development of data collection instruments, consent forms, and IRB documentation
  • Work with project PIs and senior research staff to ensure the proper storage and de-identification of data, privacy protocols, and other data security measures are followed
  • Facilitate communication with research partners, and support data collection and data requests from administrative agencies and partner organizations
  • Support the workflow and project management of quantitative research projects

Data collection, management, and analysis

  • Ingest, clean, and manage quantitative data using R and Github collaboratively
  • Develop and maintain code, codebooks, instruments, and / or other research materials
  • Support quantitative data analysis and / or write-ups of methods and results
  • Analyze data and / or write up methods and results
  • Support and conduct code review
  • Coordinate with internal data science team on datasets, code, and best practices

Write up / presentation of research

  • Conduct background research and compile materials, including literature reviews
  • Prepare and format reports and other products
  • Prepare statistics, background research, or infographics for reports and other products

Rapid response

  • Field rapid response data requests from team members and external partners, including quickly producing statistics as needed for time-sensitive policy interventions
  • Identify and share existing research to provide evidence in support of advocacy materials

Support special projects and other initiative needs as assigned

  • Support other lines of work within the initiative (i.e., advocacy and programs) on a variety of assignments, as needed
  • Participate in cross-cutting initiative events and lobbying activities as needed
  • Carry out special projects in support of the initiative’s research agenda under the supervision of senior research staff
  • Other tasks as assigned in support of the initiative’s work

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • Bachelors degree plus 3 to 5 years of relevant work experience in academic or applied research settings. In lieu of a bachelors degree, applicable work or life experience may be considered.
  • Strong competency in quantitative data management and research, including working with administrative datasets
  • Experience using a data analysis program like R, Stata, Python, SPSS, or SQL. Strong R skills and Github are required for this position
  • You care deeply about racial equity in your research, your work, with your colleagues, and around the office and are committed to ending mass incarceration


  • You are familiar with the criminal justice system and pretrial justice, or you are truly excited to study and learn about them
  • Spanish language is a plus


Please note this role will report to our Brooklyn, NY, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, CA, or New Orleans, LA office. 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 $82,000 - $87,000. 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 / Research Associate, Beyond Jails
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.