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Support for Forensic Science Research: Improving the Scientific Role of the National Institute of Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2015
118 pages
This report reviews the progress made by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in advancing forensic science research since two reports on this issue were presented, one in 2009 and the other in 2010, and it offers recommendations for further progress in this effort.
The report focuses on the ways in which NIJ develops its forensic science research priorities and then communicates those priorities, along with the research findings, to scientific and forensic practitioners. In this report, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends steps that should be taken at the Federal level to achieve the following goals: (1) ensure that NIJ has full freedom to set its research agenda and (2) ensure that its research agenda accurately reflects the gaps in scientific knowledge as perceived by the researchers, as well as the major problems encountered by forensic science practitioners. The achievement of these goals depends on NIJ having both financial and human resources that are adequate for implementing the tasks with which it has been charged under Federal mandates. Overall, the recommendations are intended to strengthen the role, capacity, and commitment of NIJ to support forensic science research; however, the realization of these steps forward will be constrained without adequate support from Federal policymakers across both the executive and legislative branches. Support from the Department of Justice leadership is particularly critical, given that NIJ's placement within the department has been perceived as a potential source of conflict of interest (National Research Council, 2009b, pp. 79-80). 5 figures, 3 tables, and 8 boxes

Date Published: January 1, 2015