Researcher Development

The motivation behind our researcher development program came from recognizing the need to diversify the perspectives from which research was conducted, the research that noted that research questions (i.e. problems) tend to be viewed from the world view of the researcher, the increased likelihood of minority researchers conducting research on the communities they tend to come from, for which they are least likely to be funded.

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Impact Story

Solving disparities in the criminal justice system, reducing mass incarceration, and providing for public safety all require rigorous research and insights to inform effective practices and policies, and for this, we need well-trained, culturally responsive researchers from diverse backgrounds. Failure to diversify the field of criminal justice researchers will result in research that skews toward one perspective, framed by one worldview, and such a singular approach or solution will inevitably fall short of solving the complex problems we face in the criminal justice system today.

Crucially important to this diversification is equitable funding opportunities. HBCUs, predominantly Black institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and predominantly Latinx institutions are chronically underfunded compared to predominantly White institutions. For the purpose of increasing the number of well-trained, well-funded criminal justice researchers and finding solutions to complex criminal justice challenges, the Center for Justice Research takes multiple approaches to researcher development and training.

First, we offer scholarship opportunities to TSU undergraduate and graduate students pursuing work both within and outside of the criminal justice system. Our recent recipients are interested in the role of forensic science in criminal justice-related racial disparities, biology, early childhood and special education, and mathematics. We also offer internship opportunities for undergraduate students to develop their research, writing, and presentation skills. special education, and mathematics. We also offer internship opportunities for undergraduate students to develop their research, writing, and presentation skills.

In 2021, the Center for Justice Research received $410,000 from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to launch the CJR Rising Scholars Researcher Development Program (a.k.a. our Researcher Development Institute, RDI) for doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty.

The priorities of the RDI are to:

1) Diversify the field of criminal justice reform researchers
2) Create networks for systemic change amongst researchers and faculty
3) Conduct workshops and create opportunities for hands-on research experience. In pursuit of these priorities, we utilize the Researcher Development Framework, which focuses on developing knowledge and skills, personal effectiveness, research management, engagement, and impact.

During the one-year program, fellows conduct their proposed research with the support of CJR and take part in monthly instructor-led training sessions. Fellows receive a $5,000 honorarium, networking opportunities, and continuing education credits, and they will focus on the development and evaluation of diversion programs.

We have several positive stories...

with one being Whitney Threadcraft Walker being chosen to serve as a Harvard Fellow and others found on the bottom of our homepage,

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In addition to our current RDI work, we are currently working to receive funding for a collaboration between the CJR RDI and researchers at HBCUs around the country to determine the most pressing needs in Houston and other cities. We hope to use need assessment data from each city to determine shared and unique challenges in violence prevention and criminal justice reform, develop city-specific solutions in partnership with community members, and provide a unique, widespread opportunity for researchers to develop skills and form lasting connections. All of our efforts work to support students and bolster the field of criminal researchers, thereby contributing to positive change around the country.

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