Vera’s research typically starts with a question about an important justice issue that, if answered, can guide policy or advance practical solutions. For example, our recent Incarceration Trends Project started with a simple question—how does the use of local jails differ between the 3,007 counties in the country and how has the use of jail incarceration changed over time? To answer this question, Vera built a national map of the use of jails including data for every county over more than 40 years. This work is generating new insights into the way that we use jail and the disparate impact of incarceration in small towns, rural counties and large cities. To understand the experiences of young men of color who face the greatest risk of being a victim of violent crime and yet have some of the lowest rates of help-seeking, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice is using participatory research methods to allow those who are impacted by crime to play a central role in collecting and interpreting data describing their experiences. Recently, Vera researchers completed the evaluation of the nation’s first social impact bond project, testing whether an intervention designed to reduce recidivism could be taken to scale in the nations’ second largest correctional facility—New York City’s Riker Island Jail.

This work, and dozens of other projects, is conducted by a team of experienced researchers with training in a range of disciplines including criminology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics and social work.