Jessica Simes

2011 Radcliffe/Rappaport Doctoral Policy Fellow

May 1, 2011

Graduate Degree: Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Undergraduate Degree:Occidental University
Areas of interest: Criminal Justice Issues
Mentor:Tiziana Dearing, Executive Director, Boston Rising Inc.
Agency:Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Supervisor:Lisa Lorant Sampson, Deputy Director, Research and Planning Division
Project description:As a Rappaport Fellow working at the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Jessica spent the summer working on a variety of projects, one of which was published on the Department’s website. Her work focused on topics ranging from studying the average institution length of stay for the active population of inmates, consulting and preparing a report on a DOC management survey seeking to find out the most important competencies for training new managers, and evaluating research requests from those outside of the Department. Her final project used data from the 2009 and 2010 Admissions (criminal commitments only) and Releases (“to the street,” i.e. not transferred to another jurisdiction). She performed a spatial analysis that took into account important historical variables. This paper is still being reviewed, but will also be published as a DOC report.

Often, doctoral students who have an interest in public policy either fail to obtain any experience in the public sector, or simply do not have access to the governing bodies that actually work with the policy issue of interest. For me, the Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellowship afforded me the unique opportunity to do just that. As a sociologist deeply committed to studying social problems emanating from the criminal justice and penal system, the experience of working for the entire summer with the Massachusetts Department of Correction opened my eyes to the realities of policy making in these areas. Having spent three years prior to this fellowship interested in prison and reentry issues, I still lacked the real-world experience of prisons themselves. This Fellowship literally took me inside prisons, gave me the uncommon knowledge of how prisons and reentry work, and how policies shape and are shaped by the constant political question of how to properly, humanely and efficiently house those who have committed crimes. I truly believe that this fellowship is indispensible to my academic pursuits as a sociologist, and I strongly recommend this program to anyone in academia who wishes to enrich their research with an experience in the practical application of policy.