photo of Carrie Pettus
Carrie Pettus
Nonresident Fellow
Justice Policy Center

Carrie Pettus is a nonresident fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute and principal at Justice System Partners. She is one of social work’s leading experts on enacting data-driven solutions to criminal legal and justice reforms. Her intervention development and policy reform work facilitates racial and economic equity throughout the criminal legal and justice systems, from an individual’s first contact with law enforcement to their release from incarceration. She concentrates her direct practice intervention research on working with community partners to develop and research behavioral health interventions to enhance positive social support, respond to lifetime trauma experiences among justice-involved adults, treat substance use and mental health disorders, and generate overall well-being for those affected by justice involvement. Pettus’s action-based work has broad policy impact, and her prioritization of the rapid dissemination of research findings to policymakers, practitioners, and advocates ensures that data-driven innovations can be implemented in real time.

Pettus is cofounder of the Smart Decarceration Initiative and coleads the Promote Smart Decarceration network of the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Before joining academia, Pettus worked as a social worker in varied mental health and corrections settings.

Pettus received bachelor’s degrees in social work and psychology and a master’s degree in social work administration from the University of Kansas and completed a doctoral degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Research Areas
Crime, justice, and safety
Race and equity
Alternatives to incarceration
Community-based care
Family care and support