About Us


The Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation aims to advance science and practice to improve well-being of individuals and families impacted by criminal justice system involvemen​t​.​​​​​​  This is achieved by a focusing on three strategic priority areas:

  1. Advance the Science of Reentry: The Institute pursues an integrated focus on individual well-being, community resilience, and policy practice. In collaboration with key community partners, we accelerate the feedback loop between research and practice to drive the discovery and refinement of effective solutions. The Institute develops scalable, evidence-driven intervention models that are sustainable and population specific.
  2. Inform Policy Decision-Making: Institute team members establish evidence to inform policy innovations and reforms that impact criminal justice related programs and practice. Reform efforts are particularly focused on investigating the impacts of common civil disability policies on the outcomes of individuals with felony convictions. We engage policy stakeholders around empirically-driven solutions that elevate their understanding of effective policy practice and help shape their policy deliberations.  
  3. Expanding Institute Capacity: Institute team members work to expand the local and national influence and visibility of our work through widespread dissemination of our knowledge acquisition and development. We conduct presentations, workshops, and training on justice-related interventions and innovations.  


The Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation is a groundbreaking social work research center housed at Washington University in St. Louis that seeks to invent, test, leverage, and coordinate the best criminal justice-related practice and policy contributions for dissemination and social capacity building.

The innaugural project of the Institute involved researchers, practitioners, and formerly incarcerated individuals reviewing 107,515 peer-reviewed studies of treatment programs tested with vulnerable and marginalized populations worldwide. The team then braided together the most potent and effective practices obtained from this review to form an integrated and holistic reentry model - Five Key Interventions for Reentry Well-Being.

 The Institute is first-of-its-kind in a school of social work -- a research center focused entirely on justice-involved individuals and their families. At the Institute we prioritize highly active research-practice-policy partnerships. Through these partnerships, evidence informs practice/policy strategies and policy/practice strategies shape research agendas. We have designed a research-to-practice/practice-to-research methodology that can be employed in the context of a research trial in order to speed the translation of learnings to almost real-time.


The Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation formed in 2015 as a results of unprecedented support from public officials, corporate leaders, service providers, formerly incarcerated individuals, and academic thought-leaders in St. Louis, Missouri dedicated to finding long lasting solutions to reducing high re-incarceration rates.  Since its forming, the Institute has received private, public, and academic financial support to develop new conceptual frameworks and program manuals to guide 21st century capacity building efforts aimed at improving well-being and success of those who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Please explore our Dissemination page for new developments.