Who is IJRD?

The Institute for Justice Research and Development’s team of experts is housed in the College of Social Work at Florida State University and was founded by Dr. Carrie Pettus, one of the nation’s leading experts in behavioral health and criminal justice.

IJRD is a team of passionate innovators and social scientists. Through creativity and research, we are re-envisioning a country with a dramatically reduced need for the criminal justice system. Whether you find us in prison, on the Senate floor, or researching in the community, you will find us confronting challenges and offering data-driven solutions to make a difference in the lives of others. We are the translators who convert research into actionable toolkits. We stand against quick fixes and empty promises that do not result in enduring change. We are the thought leaders that bring together the greatest minds across the sciences to build equitable solutions that elevate the capacity of individuals and communities to thrive. We identify high-impact leverage points throughout the criminal justice system to infuse our innovations, maximizing impact and generating lasting change. We focus on human potential because when people have the opportunity to thrive, the natural extension is healing, a sense of belonging, and increased interdependence and connection, which improves the lives of individuals, our communities, and our nation.



  • Researching ways to achieve equity across the criminal justice system from an individual's first contact with law enforcement to their release from incarceration.
  • Collaborating with national networks of criminal justice professionals including law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and prison and jail administrators as they are the gatekeepers to transformational change. These stakeholders have invited us to their tables and rather than having us dictate what they “should” do, we instead offer data-driven insights and help them to generate innovations that they can feasibly implement and sustain. We also collaborate with community providers and ensure the voices of justice-system impacted individuals are heard and valued at every step.
  • Rapidly disseminating research findings to policymakers, criminal justice stakeholders, and the public to ensure that our data-driven solutions change policy and practice in real-time.
  • Creating and delivering state-of-the-art and scalable service and treatment models in criminal justice and community-based settings.
  • Training current and future professionals.