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Senior Data Scientist, Economic Impacts of Incarceration




June 18, 2024

About the organization


Vera Institute of Justice

Organization type

Social Impact Organization

In A Nutshell


Hybrid New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., USA



Job Type


Experience Level


Deadline to apply

June 18, 2024

Lead technical and analytical projects that make novel connections between disparate, messy data sources that have never been systematically combined to amplify the systemic impacts of mass incarceration and institutional racism felt daily by local communities.


Data science project design and leadership

  • Scope project-level end-to-end analysis processes and lead data science practice standards in collaboration with other senior data science staff.
  • Scope project requirements for technical development, data analysis, and data management with Associate Director of Data Science; work closely with Project Manager to ensure requirements are clearly translated to SCRUM tasks.
  • Steer project-wide adoption of analytical and coding process standards where applicable (e.g. style guides, pull request templates, etc.) in coordination with Associate Director of Data Science and other senior data science staff at Vera.
  • Lead project peer code review processes.
  • Lead centralization of the project’s dataset and facilitate access for researchers across the organization. This will include becoming both the technical and analytical expert on this dataset, working closely with the Vera’s tech support for integration into a planned enterprise data warehouse as well as mentoring and supporting research staff on data use context and best practices.

Project implementation

  • Lead data science workflow, analysis, and visualization vendor scope.
  • Lead development of analysis-end ETL processes to maintain and optimize large-scale data collection in close collaboration with the internal data engineer and research staff. This entails building an optimal data architecture for end products in research, data analysis, and visualization using messy source datasets (e.g. large public federal datasets, scraped data, administrative data not originally collected for analysis purposes, etc.).
  • One of the core project deliverables includes building and publishing a unilateral dataset combining incarceration and economic data for public use and will require close collaboration between the research and data science teams to define the dataset parameters (e.g. variables, aggregation levels, imputation techniques, etc.).
  • Lead analysis of incarceration and economic data using data science techniques and methodologies in support of research and product goals.
  • Guide the scope of the data visualization vendor’s product development with technical specifications, datasets, and results required to populate the public visualization tool as developed over the course of data science implementation.

Research and knowledge building

  • Collaborate with social science researchers to advance knowledge on the economic impacts of mass incarceration.
  • Collaborate closely with research staff on social science research questions and priorities to guide goals in data analysis and data product development.
  • Lead development of innovative uses of data science to gain deeper understanding of criminal justice policy and the impact of other social and economic conditions and policies on incarceration; develop new data science projects collaboratively with colleagues on the team and the larger Vera community.
  • Support research report writing with contributions on analytical methods and results.

Technical documentation and communication of results

  • Lead development, writing and/or editing, and presentation of internal and external data products in support of project goals. This will include a whitepaper on the project’s end-to-end architecture for a technical social justice-oriented audience.
  • Lead drafting and maintenance of key documentation including and beyond code repositories.
  • Present analytical results and data products to external audiences.
  • Facilitate cross-functional relationships that interact with data science (e.g. communications, legal, IT, vendor management, etc.).

Team Support

  • Team or department-wide tasks, as required.
  • Mentorship and/or supervision of analyst and associate-level data science staff.
  • Recruitment support as needed.
  • Team events and convenings.
  • Planning and other administrative duties.


  • Bachelors’ degree and 4 or more years of relevant experience. In lieu of a bachelor’s degree, applicable work or life experience may be considered.
  • Demonstrated leadership skills working with data collection, processing, and analysis in Python, with preference for experience with web scraping and using the Python Pandas library.
  • Experience maintaining and optimizing complex data product development in an environment where multiple developers were contributing to a codebase.
  • Experience maintaining and optimizing SQL databases in a cloud-based environment.
  • An understanding of full-stack development with preference for some experience in a software engineering context.
  • Experience or familiarity conducting analysis of social policy or legal regulation is preferred.
  • Project management experience.
  • Ability to work effectively with a diverse array of people and positions, including advocates, government officials, criminal justice system personnel, and people who are directly impacted by the criminal or immigration legal systems.
  • A professional dedication to issues of race, equity, and fairness.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Exceptional attention to detail.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently.
  • Ability to travel up to 5% of the time for events, conferences, and/or site visits.

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