Can Science Enhance Equity? Findings and Implications From a Study To Detect Bruising on Victims with Dark Skin Pigmentation
This plenary panel from the 2023 NIJ Research Conference features fascinating research on a methodology to improve the detection and documentation of bruises on victims of violence who have dark skin pigmentation. This study highlights the intersection between science, justice, and racial equity, featuring practitioner and victims’ advocacy perspectives. The discussion describes the research and its findings and explore strategies to ensure that this particular evidence-based methodology can be widely implemented by nurse practitioners in the field.
NIJ hosted a webinar to discuss under-researched aspects of reentry: expungement of criminal records and the impact of those records. This webinar includes a presentation of ongoing research projects examining the impact of legal aid for expungement and past research projects studying the accuracy and permanency of criminal records and the prevalence of collateral consequences of conviction. A Q&A session will conclude this webinar.
This webinar features a discussion of previously published research on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Booker decision - which effectively transformed the United States Sentencing Guidelines from a mandatory, to an advisory, system. The presentation will address selected research findings from the last 15 years. Individual participants will briefly review their previous research findings with particular attention paid to the analytic methods used.
Most scholars would agree that desistance from crime – the process of ceasing engagement in criminal activities – is normative. However, there is variability in the literature regarding the definition and measurement of desistance, the signals of desistance, the age at which desistance begins, and the underlying mechanisms that lead to desistance. Even with considerable advances in the theoretical understanding of desistance from crime, there remain critical gaps between research and the application of that research to practice.
In 2004, the National Institute of Justice created the social science research on forensic sciences (SSRFS) research program to explore the impact of forensic sciences on the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. Much of the early research from the SSRFS program focused on DNA processing and the use of DNA in investigations and prosecutions.
Across the country, child welfare and juvenile justice systems now recognize that youth involved in both systems (i.e., dual system youth) are a vulnerable population who often go unrecognized because of challenges in information-sharing and cross system collaboration. In light of these challenges, national incidence rates of dual system youth are not known.
The strength of our criminal justice system depends on its ability to convict the guilty and clear the innocent. But we know that innocent people are sometimes wrongfully convicted and the guilty remain free to victimize others. The consequences of a wrongful conviction are far-reaching for the wrongfully convicted and the survivors and victims of the original crimes.
New science in brain development is transforming young adult involvement with the justice system. On Tuesday, September 8, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, and experts from NIJ and the Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice who serve on the Executive Session on Community Corrections discussed the future of justice-involved young adults.
Interview with Ron D'Amico, Social Policy Research Associates. Offender reentry into the community is a pressing social problem. The number of inmates released every year from the nation's prisons increased fourfold over the past three decades.
Since the Second Chance Act (SCA) was passed in 2008, more than $250 million has been awarded to government agencies and non-profits for programs to help offenders successfully reenter society. NIJ is doing an in-depth study of 10 sites to determine the effectiveness of these reentry programs.
A small number of those who commit crimes are heavily involved in drugs commit a large portion of the crime in this country. An evaluation of a "smart supervision" effort in Hawaii that uses swift and certain sanctioning showed that individuals committing crimes who are heavily involved in drug use can indeed change their behavior when the supervision is properly implemented.
With its criminal justice system in disarray following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans invited the Vera Institute of Justice to examine the city's court and jail operations. For five years, Vera has been tracking arrest-to-first-appearance time, custodial arrests versus summonses, the granting of pretrial release, and many other decision-making points. Based on analysis of these data, Vera is making policy recommendations to assist with the implementation of new procedures and to ensure performance monitoring.
Researchers have devoted considerable attention to mass incarceration, specifically its magnitude, costs, and collateral consequences. In the face of economic constraints, strategies to reduce correctional populations while maintaining public safety are becoming a fiscal necessity. This panel will present strategies that states have undertaken to reduce incarceration rates while balancing taxpayer costs with ensuring public safety.
Familial DNA searching is the practice of creating new investigative leads in cases where DNA evidence found at the scene of a crime strongly resembles that of an existing DNA profile but is not an exact match. Panelists will explain how the technology works, provide examples of successful convictions obtained through familial searches, and discuss the various misconceptions and concerns regarding this practice.
Change doesn't come easy, particularly within an institution as large and complex as the criminal justice system. Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, offered lessons from several efforts to make reform stick in criminal justice settings. In particular, he focused on the development of community courts — experimental court projects that are attempting to reduce both crime and incarceration in dozens of cities across the U.S. and around the world.
Mothers & Children Seeking Safety in the US: A Study of International Child Abduction Cases Involving Domestic Violence
Since the implementation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, thousands of abused women have faced complex litigation after seeking safety in the United States. Many have been court ordered to return their to the country from which they fled and often to their abusive partners custody. The presenters discussed the findings of an NIJ-funded study focusing on the experiences of women who as victims of domestic violence in another country, come to the U.S.
This panel will feature NIJ-funded research that has direct, practical implications for the prosecution of elder abuse cases. Panelists will present findings from a study of prosecutors in three states that examined the factors that influenced their decisions to prosecute elder financial abuse cases. The panel will also provide the results from an evaluation of five innovative court-based models that target perpetrators of elder abuse.
Evidence backlogs have been known to be an issue in crime laboratories. A recent study published by NIJ has shown that backlogs of untested evidence are also an issue in law enforcement evidence storage. This panel will discuss the issues and present preliminary findings from a study of the Los Angeles Police Department's and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's experience with clearing out a large backlog of unanalyzed rape kits.
Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, a majority of the more than 250 research and evaluation studies funded by NIJ examined domestic violence issues. This research has been collected in the Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women, which includes an abstract of each grant and the results of completed studies.
Funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Pew Center on the States, the justice reinvestment project is a data-driven strategy aimed at policymakers to "reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return." Representatives from two states where the justice reinvestment strategy is currently being implemented will discuss how it is being used to reduce the rate of incarceration and how states can reinvest in local communities.
Forensic Information Data Exchange and the Partnership Between Law Enforcement and Crime Laboratories
NIJ Conference Panel
The subprime mortgage industry collapse has led to a record number of foreclosures. In this environment, the interest mortgage fraud has risen, along with questions of how fraud contributed to the crisis. Henry Pontell and Sally Simpson discuss what they have learned about investigating and prosecuting white-collar criminals, the role of corporate ethics in America, and what policymakers and lawyers can learn from evidence of fraud.