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Director's Message: New Research Projects Funded in Fiscal Year 2015


One of NIJ’s most crucial tasks as a science agency is making decisions about which research proposals to fund. I’m pleased to report that for fiscal year 2015, NIJ made over $156 million in grant awards to more than 210 research projects. These awards reflect NIJ’s commitment to funding rigorous research that helps practitioners and policymakers make criminal justice decisions based on sound scientific evidence.  

Below are descriptions of just a sample of the grants made that demonstrate the diversity of NIJ’s research portfolios and our commitment to addressing some of the nation’s most pressing criminal justice problems. Further, a number of these awards align with the needs and interests of NIJ’s federal partners and support NIJ’s work with those partners and other key stakeholders.

School Safety: NIJ is funding a number of projects to produce practical knowledge based on rigorous research that improves the safety of the nation’s schools and students: several involve multiple partners (e.g., schools, social services, health services and police) dedicated to reducing and preventing trauma in schools, some are rigorous evaluations of promising programs, and others are developing knowledge about what works to make schools safe. 

See award details and read abstracts for some of NIJ’s school safety awards.

Human Trafficking: We made several awards about the detection and prosecution of human traffickers. We selected projects that will advance the science of estimating how prevalent human trafficking is, examine survivors’ perception of justice, and study how best to steer juveniles and others out of sex trafficking.

See award details and read abstracts for NIJ’s human trafficking awards.

Corrections: We made awards to examine how correctional institutions affect inmates’ health and safety and, to that end, we made awards to examine the impact contact with jails has on young adults. We also made awards to examine the short- and long-term impacts of replacing punitive segregation with specialized programming. In addition, with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), NIJ is now funding a study to examine suicide prevention for individuals transitioning from jail to the community.

See award details and read an abstract for NIJ’s awards to study young adults in jails.

Sentinel Events: NIJ continues to expand the research under its Sentinel Events Initiative. This year we made awards to evaluate and provide guidance on implementing sentinel events reviews that help stakeholders take a forward-looking, nonblaming approach to learning from errors and near-misses in the criminal justice system.

See award details and read abstracts for NIJ’s sentinel event awards.

Victims of Crime: NIJ-funded researchers will be looking at the impact of school shootings, exploring victimization experiences and help-seeking behavior among young men of color, and examining conflict-management styles to improve our understanding of the behavior patterns associated with victimization and offending.

See award details and read abstracts for NIJ’s victims of crime awards from the solicitations:

Law Enforcement: We made awards to develop evidence-based practices for using cost-effective aviation in rural areas, examine ways to prevent officer suicides, and guide agencies in using data to inform decisionmaking.

See award details and read abstracts for some of NIJ’s law enforcement awards:

Video Surveillance Technology: Video has become a common law enforcement tool, but research on its impact is rare. This year’s awards will test the efficacy of the strategic placement of surveillance cameras, evaluate the effects of integrating video analytics into public surveillance systems, examine the impact of body worn cameras on officer and citizen behavior, and assess the use of video technology in predictive policing.

Translational Criminology: Evidence from rigorous research impacts policy and practice best when the findings are used in the field. NIJ continues its work to connect research to practice by funding projects that will evaluate a promising 24/7 Sobriety Program across three states, examine the role of juvenile justice practitioners as consumers of research, and study the implementation of programs for juvenile probation officers and for youth gang violence.

See award details and read abstracts for NIJ’s translational criminology awards.

Justice Systems: To strengthen our justice system as a whole and identify ways to support unique populations, NIJ is funding research to create an integrated database to track data on offender outcomes from arrest through sentencing, as well as research to examine the positive effects of Veterans’ Treatment Courts.

See award details and read abstracts for some of NIJ’s justice systems awards:

Forensic Science: NIJ continues to support research to improve our ability to pinpoint age, ancestry and gender of skeletal remains. We also continue to support projects to improve lab technicians’ ability to extract ever smaller and fragmented samples of DNA and interpret DNA profiles. This year we are also funding projects to validate methods to analyze organic compounds in firearm residue, provide fire investigators with a more reliable temperature measurement tool, explore individualization within the human microbiome, and investigate ways to detect and identify designer drugs.

See award details and read abstracts for some of NIJ’s forensic research and development awards:

Supporting these and other research projects is central to what we do at NIJ: Increasing knowledge and understanding that improves justice and the criminal justice system.