The Minnesota Justice Research Center (MNJRC) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit (501c3) organization dedicated to engaging in meaningful change to Minnesota’s criminal legal system through quality and community-centered research, education, and policy. The MNJRC partners with agencies, organizations, and individuals to conduct practical, high-impact research, analysis, and evaluations. The MNJRC centers our work around exploring values - like humane and fair treatment for all, safety, wellbeing, and trust - and provides our community and policy-makers with information and tools needed to create a criminal legal system that truly delivers justice.
Through research, education, and policy development, we give our community the information and tools needed to create a criminal justice system that aligns with our commonly-held values.
We are nonpartisan and seek to be broadly inclusive in our definition of community. We strive for honesty and transparency when it comes to the values and goals guiding our work, and never compromise our research for any predetermined agenda.
By helping our community Identify and clarify our values and goals for the criminal justice system, we can bring the system in alignment with them, measure its effectiveness, and make sustainable improvements. As a starting point, these values must include humane and fair treatment for all; promoting public safety; and protecting individual rights
What We Do
In collaboration with experts, professionals, and, most importantly, community members, we identify and research critical problems in criminal legal system policies and practices and propose solutions with input from a broad spectrum of perspectives. We aim to be community-centered in all that we do.
We believe research must be collaborative and participatory. We believe our understanding of how the system currently operates must be guided by those closest to the problem. We ground our work in values, and engage in deeper thinking with our community about what justice means and looks like while putting data behind creative ideas for solutions. We convene and build consensus among direct stakeholders. We also monitor developments in the criminal legal system policy arena and recommend changes based on research findings. We maintain a focus on broad possibilities for re-designing our justice system. We educate stakeholders and the public in a nonpartisan manner. We build bridges.
We are the only community-led organization in the Upper-Midwest dedicated to research-based criminal justice system reform.
Research: We monitor, research, and analyze what is happening in our justice system and its impact; and identify and clarify the community values and goals that will measure the effectiveness of criminal justice policies and practices. Our work includes community-led research guided by our Research Advisory Board; and research and evaluation services for government entities and community organizations.
Education: We educate the community, justice system professionals, and policymakers about our justice system through reporting, convening, and other education and communications efforts.
Policy: We develop and advocate for policy changes based on our research findings. We assist partner organizations with the development of new policy and in their advocacy efforts as appropriate.
Who We Are
The MNJRC is led by a small Board of Directors that reflect a cross-section of the community. Our organization is led by our Executive Director, Justin Terrell. Our Research Director, Dr. Katie Remington Cunningham, directs our research program. Our Administration and Communications Consultant, Jamila Toussaint, coordinates our organizational logistics and strategic communications. We are currently in the process of building capacity in the education and policy areas and designing and building a Research Steering Committee in conjunction with a Research Action Board. Our Research Action Board will be made up of a core team of system-impacted individuals, alongside a broad array of local leaders, researchers, and system-level stakeholders from community-based organizations, criminal legal professions, and relevant academic research fields. In addition, we work with research assistants, consultants, and volunteers on a project-by-project basis.