USC Rossier researchers awarded $1M grant to advance criminal justice prevention research and practice

During Second Chance Month, USC Rossier professors are making meaningful contributions to criminal justice reform.

By USC Rossier Published on

Today, the University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education announced it has been awarded a $1 million grant to expand its criminal justice prevention research and practice efforts. The project is titled “Expanding Criminal Justice Reform Critical Policy Research: Ideating Research to Practice Strategies for System and Justice-Impacted Communities” and the USC Rossier project team will be led by associate professors Kendrick B. Davis (PI), Royel Johnson (Co-PI) and assistant professor Dwuana Bradley (Co-PI). This grant underscores USC Rossier's commitment to addressing inequities through innovative research, policy analysis and community engagement.


This new grant follows a 20-year project at USC that connected 30 researchers from 26 institutions to analyze over 9,000 public policies impacting those within the criminal justice system and at-risk youth. This new grant builds on the previous analysis by converting its findings into real-world policy prescriptions and applications for practitioners within this space.  

This announcement arrives during Second Chance Month, which has been observed every April since 2017 to build a criminal justice system that lives up to America’s foundational promise of new beginnings.

Over 70 million Americans have a criminal record. For them, jumpstarting their new beginning is often met with insurmountable barriers to obtaining housing, employment,  quality education and affordable health care. This issue does not impact the general population equally. National incarceration rates for Black Americans are six times higher than incarceration rates for White Americans. There are racial disparities baked into every facet of the American criminal justice system, which makes this research critically important to advancing equity within our nation.

“Our focus is clear: to change systems, inform policy, advance equity and positively impact lives. This initiative allows us to concentrate our research in the communities most harmed by ineffective and underperforming systems, positioning them as the experts of their experiences,” said Kendrick Davis. 

Grant Summary

This project advances criminal justice prevention through five key workstreams:

  • Strengthening the Network: Enhancing the group of scholars in criminal justice prevention research to address global, national and regional needs for deflection and prevention-focused tools.
  • Developing Innovative Research Methodologies: Creating stakeholder-driven research methods that are widely shared through academic and informal channels to bolster equity-focused criminal justice prevention research and practices.
  • Enhancing Qualitative Research Capacity: Boosting the ability of direct service and non-profit organizations to conduct youth criminal justice prevention and deflection research.
  • Improving Public Information Resources: Making solutions more accessible to the public, facilitating practical problem-solving for the target population.
  • Bridging the Implementation Gap: Introducing practical, replicable reforms to reduce incarceration rates among marginalized populations.

This grant will result in an expanded research network that focuses on implementing the reforms necessary to improve outcomes for marginalized communities within the criminal justice system.

“Incarceration impacts lives, families and communities. As a group of scholars committed to dismantling inequities in our criminal justice system, this new grant will help us turn innovative research into specific policies and practices that can be implemented nationwide,” said Royel Johnson. “Our goal is to meaningfully contribute to criminal justice systems that see improved outcomes for historically marginalized populations.”

“One of the most beautiful elements of this project includes our aim to work with community partners and scholars across the country who have been doing good work in this specific area of practice and scholarship,” said Dwuana Bradley. “The grant will allow us to offer resources and facilitate community among those who already understand the important role of our educators and policymakers in disrupting the devasting impact of the criminal justice system. Doing this work within the community as we strive to meet the goals of this grant will be so important and make the project truly special,” Bradley concluded.  

About USC Rossier School of Education

USC Rossier School of Education prepares educational leaders to tackle inequities through research, policy, and practice. With a focus on urban settings and marginalized groups, USC Rossier emphasizes cultural context and innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Article Type

Article Topics