Research Associate, Project on Criminal Justice

Cato Institute
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career
  • Posted
    Mar 13

Position description

The Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice is seeking for a full-time Research Associate to perform research and help provide commentary about criminal justice issues, including particularly unconstitutional overcriminalization, coercive plea bargaining, and accountability for law enforcement. The individual in this role will work with leadership to identify opportunities to support the PCJ’s strategic campaigns in these and other subject-matter areas. This is a full-time position located in Washington, DC. 

The Cato Institute’s Research Associate Program is a two-year term position in which the associates provide research support to Cato’s policy scholars while also participating in an extensive professional development and mentoring program. Cato Research Associates will take part in educational sessions focusing on the following:

  • Public policy across a wide range of domains and disciplines, including education, healthcare, criminal justice, foreign policy, and more 
  • Key theories and concepts of economics, markets, and trade 
  • Strategic considerations, such as the role of think tanks in policymaking 
  • Methods of research and effective policy analysis 
  • Public speaking 
  • Writing for various fora, such as blogs and newspapers 
  • Graphic and presentation design 
  • Statistical analysis

Organization Overview:

The Cato Institute is a 501(c)(3) public policy research organization—a think tank—dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

Founded in 1977, Cato owes its name to Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in 18th- century England that presented a vision of a society free from excessive government power. Those essays inspired the architects of the American Revolution. And the simple, timeless principles of that revolution — individual liberty, limited government, and free markets – turn out to be even more powerful in today’s world of global markets and unprecedented access to information than Jefferson or Madison could have imagined. Social and economic freedom is not just the best policy for a free people, it is the indispensable framework for the future.

The Cato Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


  • Assist scholars with their tasks, research, projects, and events
  • Conduct criminal-justice-related research in support of Cato’s strategic initiatives
  • Aid in curating and maintaining content for Cato’s qualified-immunity website
  • Conduct literature reviews
  • Edit and fact check manuscripts
  • Perform administrative duties


  • Functional knowledge of basic criminal justice concepts and related legal terms, including the effect coercive plea bargaining has had on the right to trial and the role of qualified immunity doctrine in limiting police accountability
  • Strong writing, editing, and communications skills (experience with legal writing preferred)
  • Proficiency in using and leveraging social media platforms, especially Twitter 
  • The organizational skills necessary to coordinate planning for policy events 
  • Bachelor of Arts degree or higher 

Salary and Benefits:

  • Salary commensurate with experience
  • Competitive benefits package
    • Flexible and collegial work environment

Application instructions

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