What we Do

We bring empirical research to criminal justice

Juvenile Life Without Parole in NC

Our report examining patterns in JLWOP sentencing in North Carolina was released on February 11, 2019. Here is a fact sheet on Juvenile life without parole in NC


Risk Assessment & Criminal Justice

Read recent studies of risk assessment in sentencing in Virginia and a recent op-ed on how risk assessment should be implemented in practice.

Eyewitness identifications

Read the National Academy of Sciences Identifying the Culprit report on eyewitness evidence. We are currently working on a series of studies, including experiments testing how jurors evaluate eyewitness identification evidence, as part of a team supported by a three year grant from Arnold Ventures. Our Open Society Foundation website has information about each of those research projects. A new report examines police lineup policies in Virginia. A new amicus brief in Garner v. State discusses courtroom identification evidence.


Fines, Fees, & Debt

Read a draft article, “Wealth, Equal Protection, and Due Process.” Our new report analyzing driver’s license suspension in North Carolina is available here.

Studying Wrongful Convictions

The Convicting the Innocent resource website has data on DNA exonerations nationwide.


Improving Forensic Science

As part of the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), we are examining how jurors evaluate forensic evidence, participating in trainings for lawyers, teaching courses for law students, and collaborating with crime lab professionals on assessing potential improvements to practice. 


Juvenile Life Without Parole (LWOP) in North Carolina

A study of juvenile LWOP sentencing patterns and outcomes

This report, forthcoming in J. Crim. L. & Criminology, describes the rise and then the fall in juvenile LWOP sentencing in a leading sentencing state, North Carolina, to better understand these trends and their implications. We examine the cases of 94 people in North Carolina who were sentenced to LWOP as juveniles.

View our fact sheet on juvenile life without parole in North Carolina.

View draft legislation on juvenile LWOP in NC.


Self-Policing: Eyewitness Identification Policies in Virginia


A Study of Virginia Lineup Policies

This report, forthcoming in Va. L. Rev. online, assesses the adoption of police eyewitness identification policies in Virginia. Policymakers were focused on this problem, in part, due to a series of DNA exonerations in cases involving misidentifications. To remedy this problem, in 2011, the state law enforcement policy agency drafted a detailed model policy on eyewitness procedure. An earlier 2013 study found those practices were only haltingly being adopted. This 2018 study, however, found near universal adoption of these best practices.

Driver's License Suspensions in North Carolina

A study of driver's license suspensions

This report analyzes data concerning the 1,225,000 active driver’s licenses suspensions in North Carolina for non-driving related reasons. These constitute about 15% of all adult drivers in the state.We conducted a series of mixed-model linear regressions on  suspensions from 2010-2017, analyzing the effects of race, poverty, population size, traffic court cases and traffic stops on suspensions per county. 

A fact sheet is available here.

Nonviolent Risk Assessment in Virginia Sentencing

A Report to the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission

In this Report, John Monahan, Alex Jakubow and Brandon Garrett describe analysis of Virginia data concerning risk assessment used for persons convicted of Larceny, Fraud, Drug Schedule I/II, and Drug/Other in Fiscal 2016

Actual Innocence and Wrongful Convictions

A contribution to the Academy for Justice Report

This Chapter, published in the Academy for Justice, A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2018) describes a revolution in criminal procedure and in law and science research, in response to wrongful convictions

Amicus Brief

Bryan v. State

This amicus brief, filed by the Amicus Lab team on behalf of researchers, argued that the blood pattern evidence introduced in two Texas murder trials was unreliable, based on more recent scientific research.

Amicus Brief

McPhaul v. State

This amicus brief, described in this story, filed on behalf of twenty-six leading forensic analysts, statisticians, and researchers, advocated for careful analysis of the reliable application of fingerprint methods to the facts in a case.

Past & Upcoming Events

November 7, 2019

12:30 PM
Duke Law School
Room 3037

Professor Rachel Barkow will discuss her new book, Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration. Rachel Elise Barkow is the Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy and Faculty Director, Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU. She was a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2013-Jan. 2019. In her book, Barkow argues that reform guided by evidence, not politics and emotions, will reduce crime and reverse mass incarceration. Barkow argues for an institutional shift toward data and expertise. Sponsored by Professor Brandon Garrett and the Criminal Law Society. Lunch will be provided. For more information, please contact Marlyn Dail at

September 3, 2019

12:30 PM
Duke Law School
Room 3041

Join us as we welcome two members of the Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five, to the law school. Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana are the subjects of the Netflix series “When They See Us,” which focuses on the conviction and later exoneration of Mr. Salaam, Mr. Santana and three others in the infamous Central Park jogger case. Professor James Coleman will welcome the panelists to Duke Law and Professor Brandon Garrett will interview Mr. Salaam and Mr. Santana about their experience followed by Q&A. Seats and bag lunches will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis (no RSVP required). Paid visitor parking is available in the Science Drive lot (!m/2878). Sponsors: the Dean’s Office, the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, the Duke Law Innocence Project®, and the Criminal Law Society. For more information, please contact Rachel Ferebee at


March 25, 2019

12:30 PM
Duke Law School
Room 3037

Professor Brandon Garrett, Will Crozier, Daniel Bowes of the Justice Center, and Rep Marcia Morey, will discuss a new report on patterns in driver’s license suspensions in North Carolina and efforts to restore such licenses at a lunchtime event: Sponsored by the Duke Criminal Law Society. For more information, please contact Callie Thomas at

February 11, 2019

12:30 PM
Duke Law School
Room 3037

Professor Brandon Garrett will be joined by Ben Finholt of North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and other local attorneys and lawmakers for a discussion about the status of juvenile life without parole in North Carolina. Sponsored by the Duke Criminal Law Society. For more information, please contact Callie Thomas at

March 6, 2019

12:30 PM
Duke Law School
Room 3037

Lunch Keynote Presentation by Exoneree Keith Harward and Innocence Project Co-director Peter Neufeld

Sponsored by the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) and the Innocence Project

This year marks the tenth Anniversary of the 2009 National Research Council report, A Path Forward: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States. The lunch panel will discuss the role of forensic science in wrongful convictions and efforts to improve the statistical foundations of forensic evidence.

For any questions, please contact Brandon Garrett at

Who We Are

The connection between science and criminal justice has never been more vital. We bring scientists, lawyers, and students together at Duke Law to do impactful research, policy, and teaching designed to improve criminal justice outcomes. Our work is non-partisan and evidence based. We seek to engage with state and local government and community stakeholders to translate research into effective and practical policy.

We are grateful for grant support from the Charles Koch Foundation for our work conducting criminal justice research in North Carolina and in Virginia. We are grateful for grant support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for our work on eyewitness identifications. We are also grateful to be conducting forensic science research and educational work a part of the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE).

Read more about the launch of the Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law here and here.

Brandon Garrett

L. Neil Williams, Jr. Professor of Law

Karima Modjadidi

Post-doctoral fellow

Will Crozier

Post-doctoral fellow

Kristen Renberg

PhD, Department of Political Science, Duke University, J.D. Candidate, Duke University

Arvind Krishnamurthy

PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, Duke University

Catherine Grodensky

PhD candidate, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Travis Seale-Carlisle

Post-doctoral fellow

JustScience in the Media

News, Updates, and Events

 In this book review in the Boston Review, Brandon Garrett reviews new books by Jessica Lowe and Sasha Natapoff. “The misdemeanor system offers so many gradations of crimes that prosecutors have near-limitless discretion, and defendants often do not have the right to a trial or lawyer.”

In this op-ed, Sarah Desmarais, Brandon Garrett, and Cynthia Rudin respond to an oped in the NYT criticizing the use of risk assessment in criminal justice as a failed “Minority Report” scenario.  “Given the terrible harms of business as usual in our courtrooms and jails,” they argue that it is important to do research and invest resources in “getting risk assessment right” as part of efforts to improve criminal justice outcomes.

This article describes our projects in our first year of the JustScience Lab, including our collaborations in North Carolina and in Durham, NC, as well as with colleagues at Duke: 

Coverage of the JustScience Lab report on drivers’ license suspension in North Carolina, includes this piece by CBS17 News, as well as this TV coverage, as well as these pieces in the News & Observer, the Winston Salem Journal, this NC Policy Watch interview and this op-ed in The American Conservative.

Our event at Duke Law, with Rep. Marcia Morey, Daniel Bowes, Diana Powell, Andrea Hudson, and Will Crozier, can be watched online here:

Podcast: U. Glasgow Law

By: Brandon Garrett
February 19, 2019

In a new podcast, Brandon Garrett discusses research, including CSAFE projects, studying the reliability of forensic evidence.


State of Things Radio Interview

By: Brandon Garrett
February 19, 2019

A new paper from Duke University concludes that North Carolina should end the sentence of life without parole for juvenile offenders. “Juvenile Life Without Parole in North Carolina” looks at the cases of 94 people sentenced to life without parole as juveniles in the state and finds almost half of them have been overturned.

Op-ed in the News Observer

By: Brandon Garrett
February 17, 2019

In this op-ed, Brandon Garrett argues that it is time for our state to replace juvenile life without parole with a more sensible scheme, adopted by states from California to Wyoming, in which lengthy sentences are automatically reviewed at set time periods and juveniles are given the chance to demonstrate rehabilitation.

ALI Podcast

By: Brandon Garrett
February 4, 2019

In this podcast, Brandon Garrett discusses how the death penalty in the United States, both new convictions and executions, has declined through recent decades. In this episode, we explore the history of the death penalty and the various factors that are contributing to this decline. 

Death penalty expert and author of End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice, Brandon Garrett, talks about this history and the revealing details of his data collection on the demise of capital punishment.  We are also joined by ALI’s past President Roberta Cooper Ramo and former Judge Christine Durham, who discuss ALI’s removal of the Death Penalty from the Model Penal Code, perhaps one of the earliest indications of the future of capital punishment.


By: Brandon Garrett
December 27, 2018

Professor Brandon Garrett will be joined by Ben Finholt of North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and other local attorneys and lawmakers for a discussion about the status of juvenile life without parole in North Carolina. Sponsored by the Duke Criminal Law Society. For more information, please contact Callie Thomas at


By: Brandon Garrett
October 28, 2018

The use of government to disproportionately tax the poor through fines, fees and costs, resulting in incarceration, loss of driver’s licenses, loss of the right to vote, loss of housing, and loss of employment, will hopefully start to erode. A new wave of litigation and policy reform can help to bring the constitutional connection between equality and due process new life.

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Thoughts and Updates from the JustScience Community

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