Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D.


Director of Strategic Research

Dr. Dick Carpenter serves as a senior director of strategic research for the Institute for Justice. He works with IJ staff and attorneys to define, implement and manage social science research related to the Institute’s mission.

As an experienced researcher, Carpenter has presented and published on a variety of topics ranging from educational policy to the dynamics of presidential elections. His work has appeared in academic journals, such as Economic Development Quarterly, Economic Affairs, The Forum, Fordham Urban Law Journal, International Journal of Ethics, Education and Urban Society, Urban Studies, Regulation and Governance, and magazines, such as Regulation, Phi Delta Kappan and the American School Board Journal. Moreover, the results of his research have been quoted in newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

His research for IJ has resulted in reports such as Disclosure costs: Unintended consequences of campaign finance reform, License to WorkPrivate choice in public programs: How private institutions secure social services for Georgians, Designing cartels: How industry insiders cut out competition and Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse.

Before working with IJ, Dick worked as a school teacher and principal, public policy analyst and faculty member at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where he currently serves as a professor. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

In the News

Research and Reports

  • October 20, 2021    |   

    Frustrating, Corrupt, Unfair

    Civil Forfeiture in the Words of Its Victims

    Victims of civil forfeiture call it frustrating, corrupt and unfair. This first-of-its-kind survey describes the experiences of victims of one civil forfeiture program, Philadelphia’s. It finds victims typically came from disadvantaged communities, and they had extreme difficulty trying to fight the forfeiture of their property, even when innocent. It also suggests the program did little…

  • June 2, 2021    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines taxation by citation—local governments using code enforcement and the justice system to raise revenue rather than solely to advance public health and safety. It does so through a detailed case study of Morrow, Riverdale, and Clarkston, three Georgia cities with a history of prolific revenue generation through fines and fees from traffic…

  • January 14, 2021    |    Scholarly Articles

    This research note reports on the creation of a new panel dataset using multiple waves of substate estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It also provides identifying information that contains state, place, and/or agency codes for merging additional datasets at levels below the state. The process for creating this dataset and…

  • October 24, 2019    |    Strategic Research

    The Price of Taxation by Citation

    Case Studies of Three Georgia Cities That Rely Heavily on Fines and Fees

    Taxation by citation is when local governments use their power to enforce traffic and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public. This report explores the phenomenon via case studies of three Georgia cities that have historically relied on fines and fees from ordinance violations for large proportions of their revenues.…

  • October 18, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study follows up an earlier study in which we examined the scope and burden of 102 occupational licensing laws in the United States for low‐ and moderate‐income occupations. Using data collected in 2017, findings indicate that the licences studied require of aspiring workers, on average, US$262 in fees, one exam, and about 12 months…

  • August 13, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2013, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo found herself in an unfulfilling career and began to question whether she was following her true passion. At the same time, she was growing increasingly dissatisfied with her physical fitness. She joined a local gym to make fitness a priority again. Suggested citation: Carpenter, D. M. (2018, Summer). You’ll…

  • August 1, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    The data described in this article come from an original survey of street vendors in the 50 largest cities in the United States. One of the most persistent, although little understood, features of the urban American environment, street vending is defined as “the retail or wholesale trading of goods and services in streets and other…

  • May 1, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    On a cool, sunny November day, Mark Brewer – a disabled decorated U.S. Air Force veteran – was driving through the state of Nebraska on his way to Los Angles to visit his uncle. While there, Brewer planned to make a down payment on a house. To that end, he was carrying more than $60,000…

  • June 26, 2017    |    Scholarly Articles

    At this moment, a campaign is being waged in America’s state capitals. Its purpose? To protect the public from the menace of unregulated music therapists. A music therapist “directs and participates in instrumental and vocal music activities designed to meet patients’ physical or psychological needs.” Whatever one thinks of this work, it is difficult to imagine…

  • September 30, 2016    |    Scholarly Articles


    A Hierarchy of Regulatory Options

    Momentum is growing in favor of reining in excessive occupational licensing. However, policymaking in this arena is too often plagued by assumptions that the only regulatory options are no licensing or full licensing. Such binary thinking sees policymakers swayed by specious claims that licensing is necessary to protect public health and safety or to promote…

  • March 16, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    On Common Constitutional Ground

    How Georgia’s Scholarship Tax Credits Mirror Other State Programs and Expand Educational Opportunity

    Launched in 2008, Georgia’s scholarship tax credit program will help over 13,000 children get the best education for their needs at secular and religious private schools this year. But in 2014 school choice opponents sued to end the program, calling it unconstitutional. This report finds, however, that the scholarship tax credit is just one of…

  • November 10, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Policing for Profit: Second Edition

    The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture: 2nd Edition

    Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy and lucrative for law enforcement to take and keep property—regardless of the owner’s guilt or innocence. This updated and expanded second edition of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture makes the…

  • October 6, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Upwardly Mobile

    Street Vending and the American Dream

    As old as the country itself, American street vending has never been more prominent. It’s the subject of television shows, think pieces and—less happily—burdensome regulations in cities nationwide. Yet hard data about vendors and their economic contributions have been hard to come by—until now. Alongside the stories of a diverse group of vendors, Upwardly Mobile:…

  • May 27, 2013    |   

    The Public’s Right to Know versus Compelled Speech

    What Does Social Science Research Tell Us about the Benefits and Costs of Campaign Finance Disclosure in Non-Candidate Elections?

    In this Article, we question neither the desirability of creating transparency in the ties between candidates and their contributors, nor the efficacy of disclosure regulations in affecting this end. This is despite the fact that several recent studies cast doubt on the extent to which state campaign finance laws reduce either corruption or the appearance…

  • April 7, 2012    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines hypothesized benefits associated with occupational licensing in one long-regulated industry in Louisiana—floristry—in order to determine to what extent licensing results in theorized benefits that might justify the costs associated with licensure systems. Results indicate the regulation appears not to result in a statistically significant difference in quality of product. Moreover, floristjudges, whether…

  • November 22, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    In this report, Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter responds to commentary on his article about the effects of eminent domain on poor and minority communities. Suggested citation: Carpenter, D. M. (2011). Comment on Carpenter and Ross (2009): Eminent domain and equity—A reply. Urban Studies, 48(16), 3621-3628. Click here to read the full report.

  • April 8, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    Can occupational titles mislead the public? Should the use of titles be regulated to protect against such a possibility? Traditionally, occupational regulation is conceptualized as a restriction on the practice of an occupation through licensure, often called market shelters (Freidson 1970a; 1970b; Timmermans, 2008). Another less-discussed form of regulation includes titling laws, where the practice…

  • April 1, 2011    |   

    This study examines the effects of entrepreneurship through qualitative case study methods. It examines the life and work of a single small-business entrepreneur in Tupelo, MS to discern how she affects her community both economically and non-economically. Results from the interviews, observations, and document analysis reveal the entrepreneur, an African American hairbraider, role-models entrepreneurship to…

  • August 10, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the Kelo decision the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfer of property for economic development, public outrage was followed by attempts to restrict such use of eminent domain. Opponents of restrictions predicted dire consequences for state and local economies. This study considers whether restricting the use of eminent domain…

  • September 15, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In dissenting from the US Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision upholding the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfers of property, Justices O’Connor and Thomas asserted, based on the history of urban renewal, that eminent domain for private development would disproportionately hurt poor and minority communities. This study uses US census data and a sample of redevelopment…

  • August 26, 2008    |    Scholarly Articles

    This case study examines a form of occupational regulation infrequently examined in academic literature – titling laws. These laws regulate who may legally use a phrase, or title, to describe their work to the public. Focusing on the interior design industry, this article demonstrates how industry leaders use titling laws as the first step in…

  • June 26, 2013    |   

    The public’s right to know versus compelled speech

    What does social science research tell us about the benefits and costs of campaign finance disclosure in non-candidate elections?

  • February 1, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Seize First, Question Later

    The IRS and Civil Forfeiture

    Thanks to federal civil forfeiture laws, the Internal Revenue Service has seized millions of dollars from thousands of Americans’ bank accounts without proof of criminal wrongdoing.

  • February 1, 2014    |    Strategic Research

    Opening the Schoolhouse Doors

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Alabama

    Alabama’s scholarship tax credit programs follow in the footsteps of at least six similar tax credits dating to the 1970s that give students a choice of public, private or religious schools, demonstrating that scholarship tax credits are constitutional.

  • January 1, 2014    |    Scholarly Articles

    One of the significant challenges facing licensing professionals is striking the most effective, efficient and just balance between regulation of occupations and preserving occupational practice free from unnecessary government restrictions. As discussed in greater detail below, there are at least two reasons—legal and economic—why finding such a balance is important. The first—legal—grows out of the…

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    A Stacked Deck

    How Minnesota's Civil Forfeiture Laws Put Citizens' Property at Risk

    State data show that from 2003 to 2010, forfeiture revenue in Minnesota jumped 75 percent, even as crime rates declined, and the average value of forfeited property was only $1,000.

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    Rotten Reporting in the Peach State

    Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark

    Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the nation, a problem compounded by law enforcement agencies’ routine failure to report forfeiture revenue and expenditures as required by law. But a 2011 Institute for Justice lawsuit forced some agencies to begin filing reports, and a new requirement that agencies post these reports online…

  • December 1, 2012    |    Strategic Research

    Arizona’s Profit Incentive in Civil Forfeiture

    Dangerous for law enforcement; Dangerous for Arizonans

    Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws need to be reformed. In the upside-down world of civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize and keep cash and property that was allegedly involved in criminal activity—without ever proving a crime was actually committed. Unlike criminal forfeiture, with civil forfeiture a property owner need not be found guilty of a…

  • May 1, 2012    |    Strategic Research

    License to Work: First Edition

    A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

    License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District…

  • December 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Idaho

    Scholarship tax credits would expand educational opportunities for Idaho families, building on long-standing state policies encouraging private investments in education, as well as successful school choice programs in other states.

  • October 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Inequitable Justice

    How Federal "Equitable Sharing" Encourages Local Police and Prosecutors to Evade State Civil Forfeiture Law for Financial Gain

    This report examines a federal law enforcement practice known as “equitable sharing.” It enables—indeed, encourages—state and local police and prosecutors to circumvent the civil forfeiture laws of their states for financial gain. Civil forfeiture is the government power to take property suspected of involvement in a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture—used to take the ill-gotten gains…

  • September 1, 2011    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Government Unchecked

    The False Problem of "Judicial Activism" and the Need for Judicial Engagement

    The past five decades have seen a relentless expansion in the size of government and a sharp increase in the num­ber of liberty-stifling laws and regulations at every level. Despite this explosion of political power, commentators and scholars of all ideological stripes appear to worry more about the supposed growth of judicial power. Those who…

  • June 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    In November 2010, as part of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study National Survey, the Institute for Justice asked a random sample of 1,000 participants nationwide whether they support various features of modern civil forfeiture laws. The results reported below show that the public overwhelmingly favors reform that would extend greater protections to property owners and…

  • November 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Forfeiting Justice

    How Texas Police and Prosecutors Cash In On Seized Property

    Texas law gives police and prosecutors generous rewards for seizing people’s property—without even having to prove the owner committed any crime. And the law makes it so hard for owners to fight for the return of their property that many give up without even trying. As Forfeiting Justice shows, Texas law enforcement agencies have increasingly…

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    An African hair braider from Tupelo, Miss., Melony Armstrong successfully challenged an anti-competitive licensing law in her state and has grown into an inspiring economic force who brings hope and opportunity to her community.

  • March 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Blooming Nonsense

    Experiment Reveals Louisiana's Florist Licensing Scheme as Pointless and Anti-Competitive

    For more than a decade, Monique Chauvin has owned and operated one of the most popular and recognized floral shops in all of New Orleans. Her work is regularly featured in magazines, and her store has been repeatedly voted as “Tops of the Town” in New Orleans magazine by residents of the Big Easy. Yet…

  • January 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Empire State Eminent Domain

    Robin Hood in Reverse

    An analysis of the populations living in areas of New York City under threat of condemnation for private development finds that such eminent domain abuse disproportionately targets those who are less well-off and less educated, as well as ethnic and racial minorities—populations least able to fight back to protect their homes and businesses. In New…

  • December 14, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2009, the Journal of School Choice presented a special issue on school choice and the law, guest edited by Institute for Justice Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter. In this introduction, Carpenter explains that much of the legal battleground over the constitutionality of school choice programs has shifted to interpretations of state constitutions, and…

  • March 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax credits and Educational access in Montana

    School choice enjoys strong support among Montana residents, and of choice options, tax credits enjoy the greatest level of popularity. Such programs grant tax credits to taxpayers who donate to nonprofit organizations that give scholarships to students. These scholarships may then be used at both public and private (including religious) schools thereby putting previously unaffordable…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Indiana

    One of the oldest and more popular forms of school choice in the United States is educational tax credit. Like many other types of school choice, educational tax credits enable parents to send their children to the K-12 school of their choice, public or private, religious or non-religious. One type of educational tax credit, tax-credit…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Choice and Opportunity

    The Past and Future of Choice-Based Aid in Louisiana

    On February 29, 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal presented the Louisiana Legislature with a proposed budget allocating $10 million for a school choice initiative that would enable parents in New Orleans to send their children to the school of their choice, including private schools, with state-funded scholarships. According to Gov. Jindal, “We want to make sure…

  • September 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Mislead

    How Industry Insiders Mislead the Public About the Need for Interior Design Regulation

    Do people who design interiors “mislead” the public when they call themselves “interior designers” without government permission? Industry insiders advocating greater regulation say yes, but practicing interior designers who simply want to accurately describe what they do say no. This report tests each side’s claims. Using an opinion poll and a survey of leading industry…

  • July 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Misinformation & Interior Design Regulation

    How the Interior Design Cartel's Attack on IJ's Designing Cartels Misses the Mark

    This report responds to a purported rebuttal of the Institute for Justice’s research on interior design regulations and details how its author, an advocate of increased regulation, fails to provide any evidence of the need for or benefits from limiting entry to the trade. The rebuttal is not only laced with logical and factual errors,…

  • January 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Doomsday? No Way

    Economic Trends and Post-Kelo Eminent Domain Reform

    When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld eminent domain for private development in the 2005 Kelo case, the public reacted with shock and outrage, leading to a nationwide movement to reform state laws and curb the abuse of eminent domain for private gain. By the end of 2007, 42 states had passed some type of eminent…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Designing Cartels

    How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition

    This report examines titling laws, little-known regulations that require people practicing certain professions to gain government permission to use a specific title, such as “interior designer,” to describe their work. Although titling laws receive little attention from the political, policy or research communities, they often represent the first step toward a better-known regulation—occupational licensing, which…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Fatally Flawed

    A Critique of Fixing the Milwaukee Public Schools: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform

    In October 2007, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute released a research report on public school choice and parental involvement, Fixing the Milwaukee Public School: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform. Unfortunately, as this analysis finds, the WPRI report is fatally flawed, undermining both its claims about public school choice and any implications for private school choice…

  • July 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Victimizing the Vulnerable

    The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse

    In Kelo v. City of New London—one of the most reviled U.S. Supreme Court decisions in history—the Court upheld the use of eminent domain by governments to take someone’s private property and give it to another for private economic development. In a major expansion of eminent domain power, the now-infamous Kelo decision marked the first…

  • March 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Disclosure Costs

    Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform

    This study examines the impact of one of the most common features of campaign finance regulations: mandatory disclosure of contributions and contributors’ personal information. While scholars have looked at the effects of other kinds of campaign finance regulations, such as contribution and spending limits and public financing of campaigns, very little work has examined the…

  • March 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Private Choice In Public Programs

    How Private Institutions Secure Social Services for Georgians

    Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program extends to a new group of students the same kind of educational choice already enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Georgia citizens from prekindergarten through college. Prior to the adoption of the special needs scholarship, Georgia already offered no less than 11 scholarship, grant or voucher programs related to the…

  • January 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Private Choice In Public Programs

    How Private Institutions Secure Social Services for Arizonans

    Voucher programs that give recipients the free and independent choice of an array of providers, including faith-based organizations, have a long and established history in Arizona, including six different educational voucher programs that help more than 22,000 students annually attend the public, private or religious school of their choice.

  • October 1, 2006    |    Strategic Research

    Arizona’s tax code, like that of many state, national and international governments, includes a series of tax credits individuals and corporations may use to offset taxes owed. Arizona’s individual and corporate scholarship tax credit programs are only two of dozens of Arizona credits that encourage private spending to support public goals—including charitable donations to private,…

  • February 1, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    Regulating work

    Measuring the scope and burden of occupational licensure among low- and moderate-income occupations in the United States

    This study examines the scope and burden of occupational licensing laws in the United States for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations. Findings indicate that the licences studied require of aspiring workers, on average, $US209 in fees, one exam, and about nine months of education and training, plus minimum grade and age levels. Data also indicate…

  • August 18, 2014    |   
  • January 1, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    When legal is not ethical

    The case of civil forfeiture

    Civil forfeiture laws in the United States facilitate, indeed encourage, unethical behavior on the part of law enforcement officials. Civil forfeiture is a mechanism by which law enforcement agencies can seize property merely with a suspicion that it is connected to a crime and even if the owner has not been accused or convicted of…

  • April 1, 2012    |   

    This study examines hypothesized benefits associated with occupational licensing in one long-regulated industry in Louisiana—floristry—in order to determine to what extent licensing results in theorized benefits that might justify the costs associated with licensure systems. Results indicate the regulation appears not to result in a statistically significant difference in quality of product. Moreover, florist-judges, whether…

  • December 1, 2011    |   

    In an October 2009 Urban Studies article, Dick Carpenter and John Ross present new research on eminent domain in the US. The authors study areas where local governments plan to acquire property via eminent domain and convey that property to other private owners. They show that area residents are disproportionately members of “less politically powerful…

  • January 15, 2010    |   

    After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the Kelo decision the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfer of property for economic development, public outrage was followed by attempts to restrict such use of eminent domain. Opponents of restrictions predicted dire consequences for state and local economies. This study considers whether restricting the use of…

  • January 15, 2010    |   

Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.