Research Associate - Criminal Justice

Location: San Francisco
Job #: 202110
# of openings: 1


This position provides foundational research support to advance PPIC’s Criminal Justice research agenda. Research associates work as part of research teams and under the direction of a senior research colleague, who provides guidance, review, and mentorship. Key responsibilities include assisting the Criminal Justice team in coding and analyzing large and complex quantitative data, conducting literature searches, abstracting source materials, and presenting research in progress at project and research group meetings. The ideal candidate will have experience cleaning, assembling, and preparing large data sets for research purposes and a demonstrated interest in criminal justice policy.

PPIC is currently working virtually. When PPIC’s offices reopen, this position will be based in PPIC’s San Francisco location.

The PPIC Criminal Justice research group works to create a common understanding about challenges and opportunities in the criminal justice system, criminal behavior and the nature of crime in California, and policies and strategies that lead to safe and thriving communities across the state.

In the Criminal Justice group our work addresses three overarching areas:

  • Improving community re-entry: To address the state’s stubbornly high recidivism rates and thereby promote safer communities across the state, we evaluate policy and programs aimed at improving programming, health and well-being, and recidivism during and/or after prison
  • Addressing racial disparity in the criminal justice system: We establish facts regarding where and how disparities arise at each stage of justice system involvement—and even prior to “official” justice system involvement, such as with police stops
  • Understanding criminal justice outcomes and analyzing impacts of state-level policy reforms: We provide independent information on crime and public safety, including crime, arrest, and recidivism to support constructive decision-making


  • Construct and manage large, complex data sets
  • Clean and analyze quantitative data
  • Contribute to regular project and research group meetings
  • Perform literature searches, prepare and annotate bibliographies, and abstract data source materials
  • Assist in drafting research reports, including producing data visualizations and writing parts of technical appendices
  • Contact government agencies and other organizations to request data and other program information
  • Interact with external stakeholders
  • Perform administrative tasks as required

Research associates are integral members of PPIC’s research team. As their expertise develops, so do the opportunities to expand their level of responsibility regarding the stewardship of project-related work, the intellectual contribution to projects, or both.


  • Bachelors or Master’s degree in criminology, economics, health, political science, public policy, sociology or a related field, or equivalent experience
  • Experience working with large data sets, preferably in Stata, R or SAS, along with outstanding analytical ability
  • Strong programming skills: knowledge of Stata, SAS, R, Python or another statistical package is required
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Must be comfortable working on teams, taking initiative, paying attention to detail, delivering high quality output in a timely manner, and working in an ever-evolving policy environment
  • Demonstrated interest in applied policy research and criminal justice policy is required, experience or interest in other policy areas is a plus

PPIC values the wide variety of backgrounds and experiences of our research staff, and key elements in the consideration of qualified candidates include excellence; diversity of talents, backgrounds, and viewpoints; and a strong fit with the institute’s mission, values, and goals.

To Apply

Applications will be considered as they are received, and the position will remain posted until filled. Please tailor your cover letter to highlight how your credentials meet the qualifications listed above.

PPIC is committed to excellence through diversity. Our work is rooted in objective, data-driven policy analysis. We welcome and encourage applicants who reflect the full diversity of California. The expertise of our staff members is essential to the success of PPIC’s mission, and we assist career and personal growth through robust support of skill development at all levels of the organization. We also provide a competitive package of benefits and financial compensation.

Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records. AA/EEO/Veterans/Disabled employer.

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