Information Session with Vera Institute of Justice

Date(s) - 12/02/2016
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

CUNY Graduate Center, Segal Theatre

Please register to attend here.

The Vera Institute of Justice has as its mission to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. To do this, it works to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. You can find out more about Vera at

Three staff members from Vera will be joined by a former CUNY/Vera summer fellow to discuss paid summer opportunities for GC doctoral students. A call for applications for these 2017 CUNY/Vera summer fellowships will be forthcoming early next week from the Provost’s Office.

Reception to follow. Co-sponsored by the Early Research Initiative.

Infosession Bios

Jacob Kang-Brown is a senior research associate in the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice. He is the lead researcher on the Incarceration Trends project exploring the use of jail across the United States, and is conducting a National Institute of Justice funded project on improving responses to hate crime by researching current practices in Los Angeles County and New Jersey. At Vera, Jacob has conducted research on school discipline, status offense reform, policing and language access, jail populations, and solitary confinement in prisons. Jacob has also helped develop and evaluate re-entry services for people leaving prison and juvenile facilities, such as the Youth Futures Program and the NYCHA Family Re-entry Pilot Program.

Prior to working at Vera, Jacob worked for the County of Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations, and was a public service intern with the City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations. Jacob received a BA in Sociology with an emphasis in Urban Studies from Wheaton College, and a MA in Social Ecology and PhD in Criminology, Law & Society from the University of California, Irvine.

Ayesha Delany-Brumsey joined Vera in 2013. She earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles where she focused on health equity research and investigated the role of neighborhood poverty and social capital as social determinants of maternal and child health. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco where she focused on substance abuse treatment and primary care psychology – working with clients who have co-occurring behavioral and physical health conditions.

As vice president and research director, Jim Parsons is responsible for shaping Vera’s research agenda and working closely with practitioners, government officials, and partner institutions to implement research findings. Jim joined Vera in March 2003. He previously served as both the director of the Substance Use and Mental Health Program and research director of the International Program. His work has included studies measuring the overlap of mental illness and incarceration in New York City and Washington, DC; the provision of jail-to-community reentry services in New York City and Los Angeles; an evaluation of the implementation and impacts of drug law reforms in New York City; and an ongoing study of the challenges that people with serious mental health disorders face accessing effective legal defense representation. Jim also directed Justice and Health Connect, a federally funded initiative to improve information sharing as a tool for coordination between justice and health systems. His international work includes a number of projects to develop and implement empirical rule of law indicators for the UK Department for International Development and United Nations Department for Peacekeeping Operations, and the American Bar Association. This work has included data collection in Chile, Haiti, India, Liberia, Nigeria and South Sudan. For the past ten years, he has consulted on justice reform projects in China. Prior to joining Vera, Jim worked at the Center for Research on Drugs and Health Behavior and the Institute for Criminal Policy Research in London where he conducted community studies of HIV prevalence among injecting drug users and evaluated needle exchange programs and prison reentry services. Jim has an MSc in social research methods from the University of Surrey.

Sarah Tosh is a student in the Doctoral Program in Sociology at the Graduate Center. Her research centers on the parallel and intertwined developments in drug and immigration policy which have occurred in the United States in recent decades. For her dissertation, she plans to utilize a multi-method approach (legislative history, content analysis of print media, and secondary data-analysis of public opinion polls) to assess the extent to which a “moral panic” linking drugs and immigration played a role in shifts towards more punitive policy in both of these areas, specifically during the 1980s and 1990s. Ultimately, she hopes that untangling the way in which these persistent policy frameworks were originally initiated will help to inform a more fact-based approach towards legislation in these persistently controversial areas. The working title of her dissertation is, “Moral Panic and the Construction of Repressive Policy: Drugs and Immigration in the United States.”



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