Urban’s Justice and Safety Division
Many changemakers, leaders, philanthropists, and governments are actively seeking to make justice systems more effective, fair, and humane. Despite good intentions, the complexity of the system, its archaic traditions, and myriad intersecting issues make it difficult to pinpoint and implement viable solutions.
The Justice and Safety Division’s Mission
The Urban Institute’s Justice and Safety Division works to inform solutions to crime and safety. By conducting rigorous research and policy analysis, we provide the best data, guidance, training, and technical assistance to our partners that share a mission to promote functional and fair justice systems.
Why Choose the Urban’s Justice and Safety Division?
Our research, policy, technical assistance, and training work centers the people, practitioners, and communities most affected by crime and the criminal legal system.
- Expertise: Our Justice and Safety team consists of dedicated professionals with diverse backgrounds in social science, data analytics, and public policy, allowing us to approach justice system challenges from multiple angles and deliver well-rounded solutions.
- Research excellence: We are committed to producing high-quality, evidence-based research that drives positive change. Our methodologies are rigorous, our data sources are reliable, and our conclusions are actionable.
- Participatory research: Participatory research actively involves community members in all research phases. This approach values community knowledge, adapts based on feedback, empowers communities with skills and knowledge. and builds trust for sustainable solutions.
- Training and technical assistance: Beyond research, we offer hands-on technical assistance to help implement changes based on evidence and guided by data. Whether it’s enhancing data collection systems, providing evidence-based training, or building capacity, we’re there every step of the way.
- Collaborative approach: We believe in the power of collaboration. By working closely with stakeholders at every level—from community advocates to high-ranking officials—we ensure our strategies are not only sound but also feasible and well received.
- Ethical commitment: Our team is grounded in a strong ethical foundation. We are committed to promoting justice, equity, and human rights, ensuring our recommendations always prioritize the well-being and rights of individuals within the system.
- Diversity and inclusion: Diverse research partnerships and teams bring a breadth of perspectives to enhance creativity and problem-solving. Diverse teams can better identify biases, ensure cultural sensitivity, and foster trust within the communities we work with. We believe prioritizing diversity is both a strategic advantage and a social responsibility, enriching research outcomes.
Justice and Safety Division Policy Areas
Jails, Prisons, and Reentry
The Jails, Prisons, and Reentry Practice Area team specializes in understanding how to improve the lives of those involved in the correctional system. Our research examines the living conditions in jails and prisons, correctional workforce issues, and the experiences of those currently and formerly incarcerated to reduce the scope, and thus harm, of correctional systems. Our team employs a variety of research techniques and conducts policy studies, training sessions, and hands-on support to ensure the implementation of strategies that are trauma informed, culturally responsive, and gender specific. Our work promotes the humane treatment of incarcerated people while addressing the challenges facing correctional staff.
Community Safety, Justice, and Well-Being
The Community Safety, Justice, and Well-Being Practice Area team conducts research, recommends policies, and shares best practices to tackle crime and make neighborhoods safer. We focus on the front end of the traditional justice process, starting with law enforcement through the court process. Our team is keenly aware of the harms that can come from traditional justice measures and subsequently study more effective and compassionate solutions to promote safety, boost community bonds, and improve overall well-being, especially grassroots and community-driven initiatives. (Link to One-Pager)
Victim Safety and Justice
Who are victims? Victims, or survivors, are people who have faced any of a range of crimes or abusive experiences, often with significant consequences to their lives. The Victim Safety and Justice Practice Area team drives impact by equipping changemakers with the evidence and solutions that address the harms of victimization on individuals and communities by promoting healing, safety, and justice for all survivors. Victim Safety and Justice research explores the best methods to prevent and respond to crime and community safety issues. We are especially equipped to evaluate programs and services created to assist victims.
Standing at the crossroads of data and the justice system, the Empirical Justice Practice Area team comprises researchers from various disciplines, united by a mission to uplift data to enrich our grasp of crime, including root causes, patterns, and the ways our present systems respond to it. Our approach isn’t based on mere assumptions; instead, the team examines data to shape current actions and policies to ensure our justice system operates effectively, efficiently, transparently, and, ultimately, justly for everyone.