Today is a special day for all of us at Policy Research Associates. Fully 25 years ago, on December 31, 1987, PRA opened its doors for the first time. At that time we had five employees and one federal grant, an NIMH research grant to study the impact of the shooting of President Regan by John Hinkley on the revision of insanity defense laws in five states and the actual impacts of those statutory changes.
On this 25th anniversary, PRA counts 48 employees and many projects including: SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation; the National Center on Mental Health and Juvenile Justice; SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center; the SSI Outreach, Access, and Recovery Technical Assistance Center; and the Family and Consumers Statewide Networks Technical Assistance Center. In addition, we currently hold two research grants that focus on juvenile mental health courts and the child welfare system, and on January 1st we look forward to officially starting a partnership with the Vera Institute on another NIJ grant to study indigent defense for defendants with mental illness. Also contributing to the breadth of the work we do is a grant from the Social Security Administration to manage a disabilities research grant program for graduate students studying disability issues under their home faculty’s direction. This program currently includes 18 students across the US.
All of this work reflects the mission statement of PRA –“Creating positive social change in the lives of disadvantaged people through research, evaluation, and technical assistance.”
With the federal, foundation, state, and county funders who have supported our work, we are thankful for the opportunities we have had and look forward to continuing this work in the decade to come.