Centers & Programs

Centers and Programs listing

Vera's Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ) works with government, nonprofit organizations, and communities to improve government systems that affect immigrants and their families. CIJ focuses on two objectives: increasing detained immigrants’ access to legal information and counsel, and improving relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement officials. The center oversees two major federal programs, develops and implements pilot programs, provides technical assistance, and conducts evaluation and empirical research.

Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) works with government leaders to advance criminal justice policies that promote fairness, protect public safety, and ensure that resources are used efficiently. The center draws on the skills and expertise of its staff, as well as the practical knowledge of working criminal justice professionals who face similar justice challenges.

Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) works with government and nonprofit organizations to enhance efforts to prevent and address interpersonal violence and related crimes, including domestic violence and sexual assault. The center specializes in fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration and promoting policies and practices that hold abusers accountable, prioritize safety, and also help survivors heal. By combining staff expertise and skills with the practical knowledge of professionals in the field, it provides technical assistance and guidance that is timely, relevant, and reflective of current best practices.

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) works with policymakers and practitioners who want juvenile justice to be rooted in the community, more effective, and smaller in scale, touching the lives of fewer children.

Few states and counties know what return on investment they are getting for expenditures on their criminal and juvenile justice systems. Agencies spend money and make assumptions about the financial and substantive effects of policy and program choices without much solid information on the real costs incurred or benefits accrued. Yet this information is highly relevant to the decisions policymakers need to make, particularly in a challenging fiscal climate.

Vera's Family Justice Program provides training and technical assistance to help community-based organizations and government agencies—such as corrections, parole and probation, and juvenile justice entities—adapt case management styles that are strength-based and family focused. The Family Justice Program is an outgrowth of La Bodega de la Familia, a Vera spin-off that became the independent nonprofit organization Family Justice and broke new ground in leveraging families as a resource to break cycles of system involvement. The training and technical assistance work of Family Justice joined Vera as a new program in December 2009 when the former entity ceased operations.

Vera’s International Program collaborates with national governments, civil society leaders, and international agencies to improve systems people rely on for justice and safety, providing technical assistance on a wide range of topics including the development of rule of law indicators, the use of empirical research methods for justice reform in both common and civil law countries, and the development of participatory models of community accountability for criminal justice institutions. Vera is also a founding member of the Altus Global Alliance, a partnership of civil society organizations in Brazil, Chile, India, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States.

Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) enhances prosecutorial accountability and performance through partnerships with prosecutors’ offices nationwide. PRJ works collaboratively with its partners to analyze data about the exercise and impacts of prosecutorial discretion; assists in developing routine policies and practices that promote fairness, efficiency and professionalism in prosecution; and provides technical assistance to help prosecutors implement those measures. By collaborating with prosecutors, analyzing data, and devising solutions, PRJ works alongside prosecutors to improve their performance and related criminal justice outcomes.

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) conducts applied research to help public officials and community organizations develop empirically driven responses to the substance use and mental health needs of people involved in justice systems. SUMH staff collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data to examine the interaction between public health and justice systems and evaluate existing programs to understand the experiences of those affected by psychiatric disorders or substance use and policies that prolong their involvement in the justice system.

Vera opened its office in Washington, DC, in 2005 to serve as headquarters for the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons. Since June 2006, when the commission published its report Confronting Confinement, Vera’s Washington DC Office has expanded its mission.

About Centers and Programs

Vera's centers and programs bring together staff with different methodological perspectives who work on shared subject areas. Bringing researchers, technical assistance staff, and providers of direct service together in this way amplifies our expertise and encourages the exchange of new ideas and creative problem solving.