Five questions: the director of the IJRD explains his work to drive the reform of the criminal justice system

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IJRD founding executive director Carrie Pettus speaks at a press conference in Pennsylvania about reintegration initiatives. At far left is Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

Carrie Pettus, associate professor of social work and founding director of the Institute for Justice Research and Development, came to Florida State University with the motivation to support the well-being of individuals, families, and communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.

Through the IJRD, she leads a team of more than 70 researchers and practitioners across the country who work on using science to create data-driven solutions to problems facing all facets of the system. of righteousness.

She answered five questions about the work of the IJRD.

The IJRD is part of this interesting link between research and public policy. Why is it essential that these two worlds merge, particularly when it comes to the criminal justice system?

Organizational politics, local ordinances, and legislative policy determine an individual’s experiences with the criminal justice system. To maximize the impact and effectiveness of policy reform, policies must be based on data and continuous evaluation. Therefore, research is essential to generate data-driven public policy solutions that drive lasting and equitable change for the millions of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system each year.

You look at so many aspects of the criminal justice system. What made you decide that it needed to be tackled as a whole rather than focusing on individual segments?

There is an outcry for change from professionals and the public supporting the need for data-driven reforms and directions. The government adopts policies requiring comprehensive, evidence-based reforms, but reform efforts remain piecemeal, fail to address inequalities, and are often not evidence-based. A lack of evidence-based strategies informing policy and practice has led to the implementation of ideas contributing to a failing system. It will require providing coordinated and comprehensive science-backed research and localized welfare-oriented innovations that can be scaled up for public use, providing advocacy tools and raising awareness of evidence-based reform solutions. data by rapidly disseminating research findings to stakeholders to change policies and practices in real time, to address one of the most entrenched social justice issues of our time.

What motivates the work of the IJRD?

At the IJRD, we are driven by our desire to redesign a country with a greatly reduced need for the criminal justice system; achieve racial, economic, and behavioral health equity across the criminal justice system; and promote the development of well-being, because we believe that helping people develop their well-being leads to increased human potential, improved lives and a better nation.

How has the work of the IJRD led to change?

The IJRD stimulates change in a variety of ways, including researching ways to achieve fairness in the criminal justice system and rapidly disseminating our findings to policy makers, criminal justice actors and the public to ensure that our Data-driven solutions change policies and practices in real time. We also partner with a nationwide network of criminal justice professionals, including law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and jail and prison administrators, as they are the guardians of transformational change. These stakeholders have invited us to their tables and rather than telling us what they “should” do, we offer data-driven insights and help them generate innovations they can implement and sustain. feasible. Our enduring partnerships with community providers and those affected by the justice system ensure that diverse voices are heard and valued at every step.

Many people are eager to work in this space or to support the mission of the IJRD. What does a support or donation mean in terms of impact? How does this transform people’s lives?

Your engagement with the IJRD supports thousands of individuals, their children and families who have been impacted by justice involvement through programs and best practice research. Your support of our work ensures the design and delivery of public awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and structural biases against these individuals and their families. Your investment opens doors to opportunity through second chance hiring and training employers on how to promote and retain employees impacted by the justice system. All of our work is dedicated to educating the next generation of criminal justice reformers who strive to achieve racial and economic equity and promote the well-being of individuals, families and communities most affected. by the involvement of justice. We could not do this transformational work without your support and energy and the IJRD team is grateful for all the support we receive.

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