Policy Associate (Justice Policy Center)
The Urban Institute (DC)

Who we are:

At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. Our employees are empowered to open minds, shape decisions and offer solutions. We encourage intellectual honesty, innovation, diversity, and mutual respect, and our analysis elevates the debate, wherever it takes place.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people. We strive to attract and cultivate a vibrant, creative, and diverse community. Our employees drive Urban’s mission through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, effective communication, results-orientation, and relationship cultivation. Our success depends on engaging individuals who possess and value these attributes.

The Justice Policy Center conducts research, policy analyses, and evaluations to improve justice policy and practice at the national, state, and local levels.  We conduct rigorous evaluations and in-depth data analyses—and we give context to the data through interviews with individuals involved in the justice system at all levels. We also produce reports and provide technical assistance that translate complex research into actionable strategies to enhance the safety and well-being of individuals and communities. JPC is seeking a policy associate to contribute to a new and exciting initiative to shine a bright light on the conditions of prisons in the United States and use data and evidence to improve them.

People from communities that are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and people with direct experience with the criminal justice system are encouraged to apply.

How you’ll contribute:

The ideal candidate will have experience in policy analysis and policy research management and a strong background in policy solutions related to corrections practice in the United States. The policy associate will conduct day-to-day activities to assess the application, outcomes, and impacts of prison-based policy and institutional changes, including implementing rigorous data collection and analysis methodologies and participating in production of project tools, reports, and features documenting initiative findings. Through stakeholder engagement, technical assistance, and support of selected state/prison/local research partner teams, this initiative is designed to increase transparency and accountability in state prisons, promote more humane conditions and more conducive environments for rehabilitation behind bars, spur innovations through rigorously evaluated pilots, and support state-level policies to improve prison environments.


  • Manage multiple initiative sites, which includes working collaboratively with project personnel and site-level practitioners, communicating effectively within and across sites, and troubleshooting potential issues
  • Design or contribute to the design of data collection and policy analyses related to the initiative including the development of conceptual and analytical frameworks and evaluation methodologies
  • Conduct policy analyses for this large-scale, multi-site prison reform initiative
  • Write reports, policy briefs, and other publications to disseminate findings from the initiative
  • Communicate directly with state policy makers, corrections officials, researchers and other criminal justice stakeholders

What you’ll bring:

The successful candidate will:

  • Possess a combination of the quantitative, analytical, and writing skills, relevant substantive knowledge, and social policy research experience needed to perform the duties described above, and the academic knowledge of and research experience in a discipline that is generally associated with the attainment of a MA, MPP, or Ph.D. in Criminology, Statistics/Mathematics, Public Policy, Economics, or other similar social science fields
  • Demonstrate subject matter expertise in institutional corrections policies, programs, practices, and research evidence
  • Exhibit a proven track record of collaborative teamwork in a professional context
  • Use high-level written and oral communication skills and ability to engage effectively with senior leaders in the criminal justice practitioner, policy, and advocacy spaces
  • Display demonstrated experience managing policy research programs or projects

What you’ll experience:

Working in the Nation’s Capital – the epicenter of public policy – among a network of policy experts, you can expect to have an impact on policy areas you care about and work with great colleagues who are smart, mission-driven, and collaborative.  You will blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, be encouraged and supported to fulfill your potential through meaningful work that matters and, enjoy a welcoming workplace free from harassment, discrimination and intolerance.

In addition, we offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes: medical, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage.  Competitive paid time off allowance, and eligibility to participate in a generous retirement savings plan plus elect a pretax benefit for commuting expenses.

The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected status under applicable law.

The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer –Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.

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