Justice Policy Lab

The Justice Policy Lab (JPL) at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University is a research and mentoring collective focused on ending and reducing racial, economic, and health disparities by critically examining the causes of placed-based inequality.

JPL creates and sustains mapping that offers the public targeted research towards creating equity and justice around our most pressing issues like reintegrating the formally incarcerated, reducing the footprint of the prisons, jails, and immigrant detention, and reducing mass incarceration/school to prison pipeline. We offer creative solutions to address these issues that cut across the rural-urban interface. JPL uses multi/mixed methods approach in research. Although rigorous academic publications are expected, the lab is moving beyond conventional academic endeavors with public facing tools.

Currently, we focus on the political economy of prison building in the U.S. and how prisons affect the communities where they are located. We employ data and evidence-based strategies to guide communities in transitioning away from dependency on cages toward sustainable economic development. Led by Urban Institute senior fellow and Brown University professor John M. Eason, it emerged from the National Science Foundation–supported Prison Proliferation Project, which collects extensive data on US prisons, including their locations, histories, and impacts on local economies, to lay bare the ripple effects of America’s prison boom.


  • Prison Abolition as Policy 
  • Urban Sociology 
  • Ethnographic Methods


Director of Research
Chloe Haimson

Undergraduate Research Scholars
Samantha Chambers (Summer 2024)
Emma Jeong (Spring 2024)
Sarah Ogundare (Spring 2024)
Angelina Rios-Galindo (Summer and Fall 2024)
Fengyu Seah (Spring and Summer 2024)
Nathan Seelig (Spring and Summer 2024)
Michelange Senat (Summer 2024)
Sam Theoharis (Spring 2024)
Romilly Thomson (Summer 2024)
Hans Xu (Spring 2024)

Recent News

Watson Policy Labs, a new initiative of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, will enhance the link between teaching, research and public outreach by addressing specific policy issues through a combination of faculty research, student training, research-based courses and public outreach.
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