Header image

Thank you for visiting the Justice Lab webpage. Our site is still under construction. Please continue to check back as we add more information about our projects – more to come soon!

News

We’re hiring: See current job postings here.

MEDIA ADVISORY AND NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS OP ED: The day after the Super Bowl, The Boston Globe published an op-ed by Patriots Safety and Players Coalition charter member Devin McCourty, team President Jonathan Kraft and Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, urging Massachusetts and other New England states to “right size” their justice systems by shifting upwards the age range for those involved in juvenile courts. Read The Justice Lab’s Media Advisory.

NEW REPORT: Parole and probation executives urge cutting "mass supervision" in half. Read Too Big to Succeed.

NEW REPORT: Only one population in NYC jails is increasing: people held on state parole violations. Read Less is More in New York.

PRESS RELEASE: Nation’s Leading Corrections Administrators Call for 50% Reduction of People on Probation & Parole to Save Money and Increase Public Safety. Read the press release here. 

Watch the recording of the paper release event here.

Coverage of our probation and parole reports:

The Justice Lab released a new brief in its Emerging Adult Justice issue brief series: Combating the Crisis: Using justice reform to address drug epidemic among emerging adults. The brief highlights the potential of criminal justice reform in Massachusetts to better address substance use disorders among youth. By treating emerging adults as a distinct developmental group and implementing age-appropriate responses to their specific needs, Massachusetts has an opportunity to promote both better public health and safety outcomes.

Back to top

About the team

Image

The Justice Lab at Columbia University is led by Bruce Western and Vincent Schiraldi. Our team engages with scholars, policymakers, directly-impacted individuals, and students in projects related to community corrections, emerging adult justice, juvenile justice, reentry, mass incarceration, and solitary confinement. Click here to learn more about our staff.

Back to top

Mission Statement

Our Mission

The Justice Lab combines original research, policy development, and community engagement to propel the project of justice reform. In our vision, justice depends on peaceful and healthy communities that help all their members to flourish in a climate of fairness and respect. We work for a community-centered justice, in which incarceration is no longer used as a solution to problems that are often rooted in poverty and racial inequality.

Our Story

The Justice Lab was founded in the fall of 2017 on the belief that justice policy should strengthen the bonds of family and community that are often threatened by poverty, crime, and punitive crime policy. Bringing together research expertise with a track record of policy innovation and collaboration with justice-involved people, we aim to advance a community-centered future for justice.

Our Strategies

Building on the experience of researchers, policy makers, advocates and justice-involved people, the Justice Lab follows four key strategies for reform:

  • Designing and implementing research that studies the effects of police, courts, and penal institutions, particularly in disadvantaged communities of color.
  • Providing a forum for researchers, policy makers, advocates, and community representatives to explore, debate, and disseminate new approaches to justice policy.
  • Developing and guiding fair and effective policies to reduce violence and crime, rather than redistribute it to the penal system.
  • Working with students to help build the next generation of researchers, advocates, and policymakers.

Back to top

Probation / Parole

Parole and probation executives urge cutting "mass supervision" in half: Read Too Big to Succeed.

Only one population in NYC jails is increasing: people held on state parole violations. Read Less is More in New York.

Learn more about probation and parole in your state.

Leading probation and parole officials urge reducing the footprint of community corrections: Sign on to the Statement on the Future of Community Corrections

Read the Op-Ed: “Why Meek Mill is Not Alone” in The Crime Report

For more information on probation and parole, visit the following sites: 

Back to top

Emerging Adult Project

Bridging justice between childhood and adulthood

The Emerging Adult Project at the Justice Lab leads action research projects focused on 18-25-year-olds involved in the justice system. Our mission is to inform and drive developmentally appropriate and effective justice responses that advance successful paths to adulthood. Learn more about the Emerging Adult Project.

Back to top

Future of Youth Justice

Research and experience have shown that the youth prison model – placing delinquent youth into large, distant, prison like facilities – is fraught with high costs, poor outcomes, and endemic abuse. It has historically been resistant to reform. These negative impacts are not evenly distributed, but are disproportionately visited upon youth of color. The Future of Youth Justice should be grounded in communities, rather than institutions, and the youth prison model phased out in favor of community programming and small, rehabilitative facilities near youths’ home communities. Learn more about the Future of Youth Justice.

Back to top

Reentry

About 600,000 people are released from state and federal prison each year, returning overwhelmingly to neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. The Reentry Studies—the Boston Reentry Study and New York Reentry Study— are tailored to studying the process of transition from prison to community of a hard-to-reach population under contemporary conditions of mass incarceration. These studies provide substantive insight into the lives of the formerly-incarcerated men and women as they adjust to living in free society after incarceration.  Through a series of interviews and administrative records, the studies capture the effects of incarceration through a variety indicators, including residential mobility, housing security, relations with family and children, peer networks, earnings and job seeking, and health status and use of health services. Learn more about the Reentry Studies.

Back to top

Incarceration

After a sustained increase in the incarceration rate, the prison and jail population of the United States is now more than seven times higher than in the early 1970s. The growth in incarceration rates was produced by a transformation of sentencing policy and a new emphasis on incapacitation and deterrence as the main purposes of punishment. As incarceration rates have now started to decline slightly, a new conversation has started about alternatives to incarceration and continuing reductions in prison and jail populations. Research at the Justice Lab examines the consequences of high incarceration rates, intersections between incarceration and other social problems, conditions of extreme confinement, and how incarceration rates might be reduced to promote public safety and justice. Learn more about our work on incarceration.

Back to top

Join Our Team

We’re currently hiring for the following positions – please follow the link(s) to apply through the Columbia portal:

Senior Staff Associate, Juvenile Justice Projects
Project Manager, Juvenile Justice Projects
Senior Staff Associate, Square One Project
Staff Associate, Executive Session on the Future of Justice Policy
Staff Associate, Roundtables on the Future of Justice Policy 

Back to top