The Vera Fellowship in Justice Research and Innovation helps young researchers from China develop and test evidence-based innovations to improve China’s justice system. Fellows work with Vera staff for one month and visit Vera demonstration projects, spin-offs, and relevant agencies in the U.S. justice system as they design pilot programs and evaluations to be implemented in China. Recent fellows have developed programs to prevent the use of torture in police interrogations, reduce the number of juveniles in detention, and make the public criminal defense system more accessible and effective.

Strengthening the Use of Evidence-Based Practice in China

The Vera fellowship supports participants in:

Developing a Program Model
Fellows learn about Vera’s evidence-based planning process and visit Vera demonstration projects to learn about program models that may be relevant to their own justice innovations. These models include restorative justice (Common Justice), family centered therapeutic care (Adolescent Portable Therapy), and community-based, client-oriented public defense (Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem).

Evaluating the Model
Working closely with Vera experts in research methods and using examples of demonstration project evaluations, fellows learn how to design a feasible, useful evaluation for their pilot programs.

Implementing the Model
Each fellow returns to China with an understanding of the next steps for implementing his or her pilot program. These may include reviewing the literature and current practice in his or her area of interest, collecting and analyzing data, or setting workable goals for the pilot design. Vera staff support these steps by providing technical assistance to each fellow’s pilot program during a follow-up site visit to China.

The Need
Ensuring that the justice system in a country of 1.3 billion people protects the rights of its citizens requires more than passing laws. It also requires the capacity to develop and build support for effective programming. For example, although the 1996 Criminal Procedure Law stipulates that suspects on bail or in home detention should be released if they are unlikely to compromise public safety, the programs that are needed to implement this provision are not in place. As a result, defendants who are unlikely to threaten public safety continue to be detained. The Vera Fellowship in Justice Research and Innovation helps young scholars from China build the capacity to develop, evaluate, and implement evidence-based programs that can help reformers in China put laws like the Criminal Procedure Law into practice.

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