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Samantha Harvell
Principal Policy Associate
Former employee
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. Harvell leads juvenile and criminal justice reform research projects with a focus on translating findings to policy and practice. She is currently leading an assessment of Kentucky’s juvenile diversion program, working with stakeholders in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, to improve juvenile probation case management and providing research support to the Youth First initiative. Harvell was previously a coprincipal investigator on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention–funded Bridging Research and Practice Project to Advance Juvenile Justice and Safety, oversaw assessment of more than 30 states involved in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and served as project director of content development for the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse.

Before 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. She was a senior associate and then research manager with the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she managed research projects analyzing criminal and juvenile corrections trends and helped lead the team that conceptualized and launched the project's juvenile initiative. Harvell 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. She 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, justice, and safety