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Vera Institute of Justice: Rural Jails Research and Policy Network

Deadline: August 9, 2019

The Vera Institute of Justice, with support from Arnold Ventures, will support U.S.-based universities to participate in a new Rural Jails Research and Policy Network. The Network will be comprised of two Hubs, based in universities with graduate programs. Once selected, each university Hub site will partner with approximately 5-10 rural counties in the state who will commit to providing data on their jails, attending trainings at the university Hub site, and engaging in discussions regarding their local practices. Vera will provide training and guidance to the university Hub site staff on criminal justice policy and conducting research with jail data, serve as faculty for the trainings for the counties, and facilitate outreach to state policymakers to bring the research findings into the policy arena. At the end of the project period, Vera will organize a national convening to amplify the findings to a national audience. If successful, this pilot can be replicated in other states, using the curricula and templates developed, and will ultimately build a national network of experts on rural jail issues, rural reform leaders, and researchers.

Over the course of the project, each university Hub site will be expected to:

  • Build a knowledge base about the causes of incarceration in local rural areas that can be used to inform state and national policymakers and drive reform
  • Build capacity in local rural jurisdictions to make data-driven policy decisions about their jails and justice systems and to implement evidence-based practices
  • Demonstrate and catalyze an approach to data-driven policy reforms in rural justice systems that could be scaled up in other rural parts of the United States

Amount: Two university Hub sites will each receive an award of up to $200,000 for a 15 month project period.

Eligibility: The principal applicant must be a university-based research program or institution with significant research capacity. This can be any of the following:

  • A university or college, preferably with graduate programs
  • A research center housed within a university
  • A department or faculty member within a university
  • A team of faculty members or researchers affiliated with a university

Applications are encouraged from institutions that have not previously received external research funding above $50,000, and from departments or disciplines that are not explicitly tied to crime or justice issues.

The applicant must be engaged or interested in issues affecting nearby rural communities. The applicant may have expertise in justice issues (e.g., law or criminal justice programs) but this is not mandatory; applicants with expertise in other issues affecting local rural areas combined with the capacity to learn about justice issues and data (e.g., rural studies, public policy programs) are also welcomed. Institutions must apply to work in only one state.

The applicant must have the capacity to build partnerships – for coordination, data, and policy work – with local government entities relevant to jail and criminal justice. These may include county commissioners or leaders, social services agencies, sheriffs, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, courts, community supervision services, health providers, educators, etc. While it is expected that there will also be partnerships with non-governmental entities, the government partnerships are mandatory.

Link: https://ruraljails.submittable.com/submit

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