Criminal Justice Reform Grants

Criminal Justice Reform Grants

The criminal justice system affects everything from individual opportunity and family cohesion to public safety and community life. A better understanding of the criminal justice system and its effects on society will help identify opportunities to create better long-term outcomes for all involved.

Grant Description

The Charles Koch Foundation requests grant proposals for research related to criminal justice reform. We are especially interested in research that:

  • Analyzes the possible personal/non-economic and economic (including employment) effects of various sentencing reform ideas on individuals, families, and communities.
  • Examines the causes, costs, and consequences of:
    •  Police militarization.
    • Civil asset forfeiture.
    • Overcriminalization and the proliferation of laws that carry criminal penalties.
    • Collateral consequences of a criminal record.
  • Collects or creates data sets to fill scholarly gaps related to criminal justice and policing reform issues.
  • Assesses the effectiveness of various penalties imposed for crimes and attempts to make victims whole.
  • Examines the incentives that lead to growing prison populations.
  • Explores issues relating to access to justice and constitutional due process protections such as access to counsel, discovery process, and fines and fees.
  • Explores prosecutorial incentives including the use of plea bargains and their impact on pretrial detention, length of time to trial, and ultimate outcomes.

Grant Criteria

  • A one-to-two-page abstract of the project on behalf of your university, college, think tank, or other 501(c)(3) organization. The abstract should provide sufficient detail for reviewers to assess the nature and feasibility of the idea.*
  • A CV or résumé.*
  • A brief, itemized budget.*
  • Final projects should be original and meet the highest standards of their field, and must not have been previously published.

*Items are required in application.


Funding levels are commensurate with the requirements of the research and the potential for the research to advance an understanding of critical issues. Accepted proposals may also receive support to disseminate the research findings.

Review & Notification Process

Proposals will be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis.

Explore the Issue

Our grants seek to inform efforts to reduce overcriminalization and government overreach as well as recidivism, and to remove barriers that prevent former offenders from achieving successful lives.

Learn more

Our Giving Standards and Principles

Our giving standards and principles guide our long-standing commitment to academic independence and openness.

Faculty call the shots.

Behind each of our grants is a scholar with a vision. Their freedom to drive their research wherever it may take them is essential to the discovery that we hope results from our support.

Schools provide the academic environment.

We’re excited to support hundreds of schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to state research universities to Ivy League schools. Each grant we make follows the school’s standard procedures when it comes to hiring, curriculum, peer review, and other policies.

Openness brings opportunities.

To help make potential grantees aware of opportunities, we share news of all our major gifts. This knowledge sharing improves collaboration, offering others the possibility to build on the work of the scholars we support.

Society benefits.

The scholars we support are tackling some of the toughest challenges of our time and preparing students for success in a dynamic future. The goal of our philanthropy is to improve society. As scholars’ discoveries guide the path forward on criminal justice reform, free expression, foreign policy, technology and innovation, economic opportunity, and other pressing challenges, society progresses.

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