Samantha Harvell

Samantha Harvell

Principal Policy Associate

I am a developmental psychologist by training, but my research on teenagers involved in the justice system led me to a focus on system reform and community-based solutions. At Urban, I have an opportunity to bridge research and policy, developing, synthesizing, and sharing information to inform policy and practice change and to ultimately improve outcomes for youth and families.


Samantha Harvell is a principal policy associate for the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. She is a coprincipal investigator on the OJJDP-funded Bridging Research to Practice Project to Advance Juvenile Justice and Safety, which aims to translate research on what works in juvenile justice into policy and practice change. Among other projects, Harvell also codirects an OJJDP-funded project to develop a research-based practice guide for law enforcement on addressing youth violence, oversees assessment of the more than 30 states involved in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and leads a portfolio of work on investing in community-based justice solutions.

Immediately prior to joining Urban, Harvell worked as a program specialist with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, where she staffed the state's juvenile justice advisory group and facilitated performance measurement reporting on federal grants. Prior to that work, she served as a senior associate and then research manager with the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she managed multiple research projects analyzing criminal and juvenile corrections trends and played a lead role on the team that conceptualized and launched the project's juvenile initiative. She previously worked on education, early childhood, and juvenile justice policy issues at First Focus, a cross-sector children's advocacy organization, and as a congressional fellow in the Office of former US Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Harvell holds a PhD in developmental psychology and an MPP from Georgetown University and a BA in psychology from the University of Virginia.

Research Areas

Crime and Justice

Centers & Initiatives

Justice Policy Center