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What is the Research & Action Center? What do you do?

The Research & Action Center (RAC) at Impact Justice catalyzes community efforts to improve outcomes for those impacted by the justice system. We conduct research that spotlights community-based alternatives and aims to identify and reduce disparities across race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in youth and adult justice systems. Through our work, we aim to uplift effective efforts towards decreasing justice system involvement, improving conditions for those who are in the system (including under community supervision, in the courts, or otherwise impacted), and supporting re-entry.

Who does the RAC partner with? In what ways?

The RAC partners with community-based organizations providing services to youth and/or adults; government entities, such as probation departments and the court system, working to identify and implement reforms; and funding partners, seeking to deepen understanding, shift narrative, or inform policy. In addition to mixed-methods research and evaluation, the RAC provides technical assistance across a breadth of areas.

How will our organization or agency benefit by partnering with RAC?

The RAC approaches each partnership with the belief that those closest to an issue hold valuable expertise. Our collaborative approach utilizes rigorous mixed-methods evaluations, through which we produce evaluations, recommendations, policy analysis, and research reports. Our work assists organizations, whether large governmental agencies or small community-based nonprofits, in demonstrating their efficacy, establishing efficient systems, and furthering their work towards their mission.

What are some examples of the work the RAC has done?

Since 2015, the work of the Research & Action Center has spanned the nation, worked at the local, state and national levels, and allowed us to collaborate with numerous organizations and agencies.

  • In 2017, the RAC partnered with the Youth Diversion Subcommittee of the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee in Los Angeles County. This partnership led to the adoption of a comprehensive set of recommendations to decrease youth incarceration and expand opportunities for diversion.
  • We are working with the Evidence-Based Programs PLUS (EBP+) Collaborative, which is a coalition of 12 community-based organizations across the country, to identify and evaluate the practices already taking place in communities that empower youth to succeed and avoid contact with the justice system.
  • In partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the RAC developed this practice guide to support California probation departments in meeting their obligation to promote the safety and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, and/or gender nonconforming and transgender youth in their care and custody.

Does the RAC have specialized focus areas? How does the RAC approach research projects?

The RAC completes rigorous statistical analysis, research and evaluations that focus on reducing disparities for youth and adults of color, and LGBQ/GNCT youth of color in the justice system. We are known for our capacity to design sophisticated, mixed-methods evaluations that address and answer the right questions.

Our approach to evaluation begins with the development of a strong collaborative relationship with our clients and partners. We implement a range of data collection techniques and a versatile, mixed-methods framework to collect and organize both qualitative and quantitative data. We are committed to conducting evaluations with an intersectional lens that considers the race/ethnicity as well as the sexual orientation/identity, gender identity, and gender expression of both program participants and staff.