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.
At this Research for the Real World seminar, NIJ brought together law enforcement practitioners and leading researchers in the field of stress to discuss the current research evidence and practical benefits of targeted stress-management interventions and how they can promote officer mental wellness.
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.
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.
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.
T.K. Logan discusses her study that looked at the impact of civil protective orders for domestic violence victims in five Kentucky jurisdictions. Civil protective orders, sometimes known as restraining orders, may cover various situations, such as ordering an assailant to avoid a victim's home and workplace or forbidding any contact with the victim, including by mail or telephone.
A small number of offenders who 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 heavily involved drug offenders 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.
The criminal justice system encounters and supervises a large number of drug abusing persons. Punishment alone is a futile and ineffective response to the problem of drug abuse. Addiction is a chronic brain disease with a strong genetic component that in most instances requires treatment. Involvement in the criminal justice system provides a unique opportunity to treat drug abuse disorders and related health conditions, thereby improving public health and safety.
The 2009 NIJ Conference kicked off with a blue-ribbon panel of leaders with expertise in urban issues as they relate to homicide. These experts will discuss promising approaches that have resulted in reduced violence and community empowerment.
The panel presentations from the 2009 NIJ Conference are based on an NIJ-sponsored evaluation of the effectiveness of Kansas Senate Bill 123, which mandates community-based drug abuse treatment for drug possession by nonviolent offenders in lieu of prison.
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.
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.
How can we prevent reoffending and reduce costs? Research points to a number of solutions. At the Tuesday plenary, Judge Steven Alm from Hawaii will describe his successes with hard-core drug offenders. “Swift and sure” is his motto. West Virginia Cabinet Secretary James W. Spears will discuss the issues from his state's perspective, and Adam Gelb, Director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Public Safety Performance Project, will lend a national overview.
This NIJ Conference Panel highlights findings from NIJ projects that evaluated strategies to enhance the supervision of offenders in the community. Researchers discuss the effectiveness of fair, swift and certain sanctions for high-risk probationers in the Hawaii HOPE program. Panelists also provide empirical evidence on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring — including the use of GPS tracking — for medium- and high-risk offenders on supervision and upon completion of their supervision sentence.
Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.