Sarah Picard Named as the New Director of MDRC’s Center for Criminal Justice Research

MDRC is pleased to announce that Sarah Picard has joined MDRC as the new Director of MDRC’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, which seeks to build a more effective and equitable criminal justice system through clear, rigorous, and actionable research evidence.

Sarah Picard has more than 15 years of applied research experience in the field of criminal justice. Her recent work focuses on policy-level reform in the adult criminal justice context and how research evidence can best be translated into practice. Dr. Picard also has extensive experience studying the use of risk algorithms in justice system settings and has recently completed a study modeling the potential impact of risk assessment on pretrial racial disparities in New York City.

Dr. Picard has collaborated with researchers and advocates on national efforts to reduce jail incarceration and improve pretrial systems nationally through the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge and the Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research Initiative. Her past research includes mixed-methods evaluations of problem-solving initiatives ranging from community-based gun violence prevention models to drug and domestic violence courts. She holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sarah to MDRC,” said MDRC President Virginia Knox. “MDRC’s growing body of criminal justice work will benefit tremendously from her breadth of experience as a researcher, her leadership in working with practitioners to apply evidence in their contexts, and her dedication to making our criminal justice system more equitable.”

“I am beyond privileged to be joining such a talented and diverse team of researchers,” said Dr. Picard. “I look forward to contributing to the Center’s exciting portfolio of work in the areas of pretrial reform and justice for youth and returning citizens, as well as to building new areas of inquiry and strengthening bridges between MDRC’s criminal justice research and other social policy portfolios.”

The MDRC Center for Criminal Justice Research partners with national and local criminal justice agencies, policymakers, and community-based organizations to assess reforms, practices, and programs that seek to increase fairness, reduce unnecessary incarceration, support public safety, lessen racial and economic inequities, improve the lives of the people and communities impacted by the criminal justice system, and diminish the role of the system in perpetuating poverty.