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Four decades ago, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice issued its groundbreaking recommendations on how to improve public safety in America. Interestingly, one of the recommendations in the Commission’s 1967 report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, led to the creation of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
In this issue of the Journal, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of this seminal study. We consider the reflections of two researchers on how the Commission’s report has guided criminal justice research and practice over the years, and we pause to celebrate the career of Professor Alfred Blumstein, who led the Commission’s Task Force on Science and Technology.
As we reflect on the past, we also take a hard look at the current state of criminal justice in this country. It is noteworthy to observe that the title of the Commission’s report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, applies as much today as it did 40 years ago. Threats to our public safety change. So, too, must our solutions and responses evolve.
In this issue, we highlight some of our current challenges — reentry of incarcerated persons, hate crime, agroterrorism — and explore the new technologies, research, and evaluation that NIJ offers to meet these challenges on behalf of Americans. Our cover story, “Habilitation or Harm: Project Greenlight and the Potential Consequences of Correctional Programming,” examines the surprising and important outcomes of a prison-based reentry program, offering some crucial lessons learned as we gain greater understanding about what works and what does not work in correctional interventions. “Hate Crime in America: The Debate Continues” discusses the state of hate-crime research and legislation, identifying areas for future research. In “Agroterrorism — Why We’re Not Ready: A Look at the Role of Law Enforcement,” we investigate what could happen if there was a terrorist attack on the Nation’s food supply.
Whether we are seeking new tools to meet new challenges or discovering new approaches to old problems, NIJ always tries to focus on the big picture. As we work with our partners at the State and local levels, we are ever-mindful of history — history as revealed, for example, in our story on the 40th anniversary of the first-ever report to the Nation on crime. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Journal and find valuable discussions and ideas to help you serve your communities.
David W. Hagy
Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs
and Acting Principal Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice
About This Article
This article appeared in NIJ Journal Issue 257, June 2007.