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Director's Message: Safety, Health and Wellness Strategic Plan


Planning NIJ’s Future Research Investments

Frequent readers of the Director’s Corner are well aware of my commitment to strengthening NIJ’s scientific endeavors while also strengthening the science that supports the criminal justice system. By advancing multidisciplinary research, connecting researchers and practitioners, and encouraging diversity in our investments, NIJ will be better able to inform our nation’s police officers, judges, lawyers, corrections officers, and policymakers of the research relevant to their areas of expertise. These goals are fully integrated into NIJ’s new strategic research plans.

Soon after I joined NIJ, I asked each of our science offices to come together to define multidisciplinary research priorities for specific topics across their portfolios. The outcome of these discussions is a set of strategic research plans that defines NIJ’s research goals and objectives for the next five years. The research directions within these strategic research plans intentionally span many scientific disciplines. The breadth of research is driven by the magnitude of questions that need to be addressed within the criminal justice system. NIJ envisions that the research resulting from this agenda will require both interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships between the research community and the practitioner community.

NIJ will also seek partnerships with other federal agencies and institutions that support research relevant to criminal justice applications. These partnerships should include cosponsoring research awards, convening meetings to bring key players together, and providing criminal justice system expertise to the relevant government discussions and meetings. I also invite our partners and stakeholders to provide us with feedback on these strategic research plans. These are working documents that will be updated and revised over the next five years to better fit the priorities of the Administration and the needs of our country.

I am pleased to announce the publication of our Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan (2016-2021). With the expertise and input of our partners at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Corrections, Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, this plan sets out two strategic priority areas for NIJ’s research investments:

  • Promote research to improve safety within the criminal justice system. NIJ is committed to building a knowledge base focused on the safety of individuals employed within criminal justice occupations, as well as individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and members of the public as they interact with the system.
  • Support research on health and wellness of individuals within the criminal justice system. NIJ remains focused on studying health and wellness for those employed within the criminal justice system, individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and those affected by the system. The science and technology investments in health and wellness are divided into two areas: physical health and mental health.

These investments are dedicated to the development of knowledge and tools to promote safety, health, and wellness for practitioners, for individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and for those in contact with or affected directly or indirectly by the criminal justice system.

This is only the first in a series of strategic research plans that NIJ scientists are developing. NIJ will be publishing several strategic research plans on topics of high priority, for our agency and for the criminal justice system. The first of these, focusing on policing, will be published in September. Strategic research plans focusing on corrections, NIJ’s Sentinel Events Initiative, and forensic science research and development will follow in the coming months.

My goals in outlining our research investments for the future are to give strategic direction to NIJ’s activities, allow researchers and institutions to plan for upcoming research funding opportunities, and invite feedback from criminal justice practitioners and other organizations to and to identify avenues for partnership.

Read the Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan (2016-2021).