Solving disparities in the criminal justice system, reducing mass incarceration, and providing for public safety all require rigorous research and insights to inform effective practices and policies, and for this, we need well-trained, culturally responsive researchers from diverse backgrounds. Failure to diversify the field of criminal justice researchers will result in research that skews toward one perspective, framed by one worldview, and such a singular approach or solution will inevitably fall short of solving the complex problems we face in the criminal justice system today.
Crucially important to this diversification is equitable funding opportunities. HBCUs, predominantly Black institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and predominantly Latinx institutions are chronically underfunded compared to predominantly White institutions. For the purpose of increasing the number of well-trained, well-funded criminal justice researchers and finding solutions to complex criminal justice challenges, the Center for Justice Research takes multiple approaches to researcher development and training.
In 2021, the Center for Justice Research received $410,000 from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to launch the CJR Rising Scholars Researcher Development Program (a.k.a. our Researcher Development Institute, RDI) for doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty.
The priorities of the RDI are to:
- Diversify the field of criminal justice reform researchers
- Create networks for systemic change amongst researchers and faculty.
- Conduct workshops and create opportunities for hands-on research experience.We will use need assessment data from each city to determine shared and unique challenges in violence prevention and criminal justice reform, develop city-specific solutions in partnership with community members, and provide a unique, widespread opportunity for researchers to develop skills and form lasting connections. All of our efforts work to support students and bolster the field of criminal researchers, thereby contributing to positive change around the country.