Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, MSW

Founder and Executive Director
Carrie Pettus-Davis

Contact Information

Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis is one of social work’s leading experts in criminal justice and decarceration. She joined The Florida State University as Associate Professor in summer 2018 to found and lead the Institute for Justice Research and Development -a premier trans-sector research center located in the college of social work focused on criminal justice system-wide innovations and preparing the social work profession for leadership in smart decarceration approaches. Pettus-Davis is co-founder and director of the Smart Decarceration Initiative and co-leads the Promote Smart Decarceration grand challenge network –one of the 12 grand challenges identified by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. 

Pettus-Davis engages a growing base of policymakers, business leaders, funders, advocates, practitioners, formerly incarcerated individuals, and scholars in criminal justice innovations for debate and testing. Pettus-Davis focuses her applied research on smart decarceration of American prisons and jails through policy reform and direct practice intervention development. Pettus-Davis is particularly interested in the ways in which policies and practices can be transformed to reduce race, economic, and behavioral health disproportionality within the criminal justice system. She concentrates her direct practice intervention research on working with community partners to develop and research behavioral health interventions to enhance positive social support, respond to lifetime trauma experiences among justice-involved adults, treat substance use and mental health disorders, and generate overall well-being for those impacted by incarceration.

Pettus-Davis moved to Florida State University from Washington University in St. Louis, Brown school where she was Assistant Professor. There she founded and directed the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation and the Smart Decarceration Initiative –both center-based initiatives focused on criminal justice innovations. Prior to joining academia, Pettus-Davis was a social worker in varied mental health and correctional settings. Dr. Pettus-Davis completed her doctorate in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a Masters of Social Work Administration and bachelor’s degrees in social work and psychology, all from the University of Kansas.