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.
Expanding Social Science Research to Examine the Impacts of Forensic Science on the Criminal Justice System
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.
Professor Lawrence Sherman explains how policing can prevent far more crimes than prison per dollar spent. His analysis of the cost-effectiveness of prison compared to policing suggests that states can cut their total budgets for justice and reduce crime by reallocating their spending on crime: less prison, more police.
Dr. Kirk discusses how Hurricane Katrina affected ex-prisoners originally from New Orleans and their likelihood of returning to prison. Kirk also discussed potential strategies for fostering residential change among ex-prisoners, focusing specifically on parole residency policies and the provision of public housing vouchers.
Professor Rosenbaum and a panel of colleagues discuss a study to demonstrate the feasibility of creating a foundation from which to launch studies about multiple aspects of policing using standardized definitions and measurement tools. Their goal is to advance knowledge about policing and translate data into evidence-based best practices that improve training, supervision and accountability systems. The effort is expected to produce a better understanding of what motivates police officers and makes them healthier, happier and more effective.
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.