Laura and John Arnold Foundation announces request for criminal justice research proposals

NEW YORK, NY—The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced a request for criminal justice research proposals as part of its effort to build an evidence base about the approaches, innovations, and strategies that work best to improve public safety as well as fairness and efficiency in the criminal justice system. LJAF has committed up to $14 million in funding to support the research: $12 million to fund at least four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and $2 million to fund innovative, early-stage research projects which, if successful, could advance to RCTs.

An RCT is the gold standard of social science research. It is a study design in which participants are randomly assigned to a treatment or control group, with only the former receiving the intervention.

“Very few criminal justice programs and practices have been rigorously studied,” said LJAF Vice President of Criminal Justice Anne Milgram. “Yet, policymakers cannot improve the justice system unless they know which interventions work to improve public safety and other important outcomes. The research projects funded by LJAF will contribute critical evidence to the field.”

“Our goal is to build the number of proven strategies with sizable effects, recognizing that it’s a challenging task,” said LJAF Vice President of Evidence-Based Policy Jon Baron. “We’re trying to optimize our chances of success by funding RCTs of programs with especially promising prior evidence or other compelling reasons to evaluate their effectiveness.”

“While RCTs represent the gold standard for credible evidence, there are many promising criminal justice strategies that are not ready for this type of evaluation,” said LJAF Vice President for Evidence-Based Innovation Kathy Stack. “This Request for Proposals also provides governments and researchers the opportunity to collaborate on early-stage feasibility studies of interventions so they can prepare for a future random assignment study.”

The Request for Proposals is a collaborative effort of the foundation’s Criminal Justice, Evidence-Based Policy, and Evidence-Based Innovation initiatives.

LJAF is particularly interested in research projects that are focused on the front end of the criminal justice system—that is, the period of time between arrest and case resolution—and on mental health and substance use disorders. This includes topics such as policing, prosecution, alternatives to arrest, diversion, juvenile justice, and medication-assisted treatment. However, proposals in all areas of criminal justice are welcome.

All are welcome to apply, including local jurisdictions, universities, and others. Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of interest by Jan. 15, 2016. Applicants will be notified the following month if they are selected to submit a full proposal. Grants will be awarded by July 2016.

For more information, including a detailed description of the application process, a list of the selection criteria, and a point of contact for questions, please see the Request for Proposals.

About the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

LJAF is a private foundation that is working to address our nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multi-disciplinary approaches. Its strategic investments are currently focused in criminal justice, education, evidence-based policy and innovation, research integrity, and science and technology. LJAF has offices in Houston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. www.arnoldfoundation.org.

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