NIJ Throughout History


  • Violence Against Women in Indian Country. The Office on Violence Against Women and NIJ held the inaugural meeting of the Section 904 Violence Against Women in Indian Country Task Force.
  • Teen Dating Violence. The Federal Interagency Workgroup on Teen Dating Violence continued its work, holding a workshop and publishing an article in the NIJ Journal. The workgroup has representatives from 16 agencies within the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services and Defense. Read the Journal article Teen Dating Violence: A Closer Look at Adolescent Romantic Relationships.
  • DNA Research. Efforts in DNA research and development focused on faster, more reliable and widely applicable, less costly and less labor-intensive tools for identifying, collecting, preserving, and analyzing crime scene evidence. Learn more about DNA research and development at
  • Crime Laboratory Efficiency Improvement. NIJ made five grants to state and local agencies to improve the efficiency and capacity of forensic DNA laboratories. View details on the five awards.
  • DNA Initiative Funds. NIJ gave more than $125 million to state and local agencies through the DNA Initiative in fiscal year 2008. The goal of the Initiative is to ensure that DNA technology is used to its fullest potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent and identify missing persons. NIJ has provided more than $422 million to state and local government agencies since the launch of the DNA Initiative in 2003.
  • Postconviction DNA Testing. NIJ made awards to five states (Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Arizona and Washington) under the 2008 NIJ Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program. View details on the five awards for postconviction testing and assistance.
  • Cold Case Training. NIJ held the final two of nine Basic and Advanced Cold Case Training events at various sites throughout the United States. The agency will hold four more in 2009.
  • Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Program. NIJ provided more than $16 million under the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Program. The awards to 99 state and local agencies help crime laboratories and medical examiners. The grants address forensic disciplines such as controlled substances, firearms examination, pathology, latent prints, questioned documents, toxicology and trace evidence. Learn more about the Coverdell Program.
  • Soft Body Armor Standard. NIJ held workshops with industry and practitioners to solicit comments on the draft of NIJ Standard 0101.06 - Ballistic Resistance of Personal Body Armor for public comment. The new standard covers the "bulletproof vests" that police officers wear. NIJ published the standard in July 2008.


  • DNA and Property Crimes. A field experiment shows that it is prudent to expand DNA evidence collection beyond homicides and sexual assaults to property crimes. Learn more about DNA and property crimes.
  • Identifying Missing Persons. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is launched, making it possible (by 2009) to allow anyone to simultaneously search records of missing persons and unidentified human remains.
  • Centers of Excellence. The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center Exit Notice (NLECTC) system is expanded to include four Centers of Excellence that will specialize in forensics; communications; weapons and equipment; and sensors, surveillance and biometrics.
  • Executive Sessions on Policing and Public Safety. NIJ launches a new Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety to discuss policing policies and research evidence and new directions that can help the law enforcement community over the next decade.
  • Evaluation of NIJ. The National Academies begins a 27-month evaluation of all aspects of NIJ.
  • Police Lineups. Two studies were launched to identify the most accurate police lineup model. The first study will examine blind and nonblind sequential lineups in an academic setting; the second will test the reliability of blind versus nonblind and simultaneous versus sequential lineups in the field.
  • Safety of Conducted Energy Devices. The interim findings of a panel of medical experts were released on the impact of Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs).
  • Mental Health Screening Assessments. Minnesota, North Carolina and Wyoming pass legislation requiring the use of a new mental health screening assessment in jails, which was developed through NIJ research. The assessment takes only a few minutes and any corrections staff member can conduct it.
  • Service to America Medal. NIJ's Deputy Director for Science and Technology wins the 2007 Service to America Medal for Justice and Law for work he and the Office of Science and Technology conducted to further the President's DNA Initiative.
  • DNA Backlog Reduction. NIJ provides $44.2 million for backlog reduction and laboratory capacity improvement under the President's DNA Initiative.
  • Elder Abuse Research. Two studies about elder abuse are funded. The first examines how often elders experience four main categories of abuse. The second addresses whether elders with mild to moderate dementia can reliably report emotion events such as abuse.
  • CBRN Standard. Responding to numerous inquiries from the field, NIJ begins development of a new standard for a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) ensemble to protect law enforcement from these dangers.
  • Body Armor Standard. NIJ's comprehensive revisions to the body armor standard focus on continuing performance despite degradation and aging. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will operate a new voluntary laboratory accreditation program to help interested parties align with the new standard.

2001 – 2006

  • More Effective Tools and Technologies. NIJ expands efforts to develop and measure effectiveness of tools and technologies to (1) safely distract or incapacitate suspects through use of less-lethal weapons and (2) identify and neutralize improvised explosive devices, such as vehicle bombs.
  • Terrorism Research. NIJ holds terrorism symposium to discuss social science research on international and domestic terrorism.
  • Body Armor Standards. NIJ releases new standards for bullet-resistant body armor.
  • Using DNA to Identify Mass Disaster Victims. NIJ releases guide on using DNA to identify mass disaster victims, including lessons learned from Sept. 11.
  • Response to Sept. 11 Attacks. NIJ responds to Sept. 11 attacks with onsite assistance, including search and rescue tools and technology and protective gear.
  • Distinguishing Between Crack and Powder Cocaine. NIJ develops technique to distinguish between crack and powder cocaine use in test subjects.
  • Less-Lethal Weapons Aboard Aircraft. NIJ reports to Congress on viability of using less-lethal weapons aboard commercial aircraft as means of thwarting terrorist attacks.
  • DNA Initiative Launched. NIJ launches the President's DNA Initiative, beginning a significant increase in federal funding for research on and use of DNA technology.
  • Body Armor Safety Initiative. Attorney General asks NIJ to update national standards for body armor and undertake testing on the degradation of ballistic material over time.

1989 – 2000

  • National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence. NIJ forms the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, leading to recommendations on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.
  • Prisoner Reentry. NIJ works with policymakers, judges and correctional officials to address the reentry of large numbers of prisoners into communities.
  • Investigative Guides. Using expert panels, NIJ prepares guidelines on crime scene investigation, death investigation and eyewitness evidence.
  • Research Under the Crime Act. Per the 1994 Crime Act, NIJ initiates major research and evaluation efforts on community policing, violence against women, sentencing and corrections, and drug courts.
  • Report on Stalking and Domestic Violence. NIJ issues first annual report on stalking and domestic violence.
  • International and Crime Mapping Research. NIJ establishes the International Center and the Crime Mapping Research Center.
  • What Works, What Doesn't. NIJ issues landmark reports to Congress on what works, what does not work and what is promising in an evaluation of 500 crime-prevention practices.
  • Drug Court Evaluation. First drug court is established (in Miami, Fla.). NIJ begins evaluation that eventually shows drug courts hold promise for reducing drug-related recidivism.
  • Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. NIJ and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation establish the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, which examines the social development of 7,000 individuals from birth to age 24 and gauges influences on delinquency and crime.
  • Prison Industry Assistance. NIJ provides technical assistance to expand private sector involvement in prison industries programs.

1980 – 1988

  • DNA Technology. Development on DNA technology applicable to criminal justice begins.
  • White Collar Crimes. NIJ designates white-collar crime as priority research area. Major studies are funded on savings and loan fraud, insurance and securities fraud, money laundering, computer crime, telemarketing fraud, environmental crime and public corruption.
  • Pretrial Release. Research on pretrial release is published, suggesting an objective method to identify which defendants are most likely to appear for trail. Courts begin implementing formal pretrial release guidelines. Minneapolis experiment indicates that arresting subjects appears to significantly cut the risk of repeat violence against the same victim, a finding that motivates many police departments to require an arrest in domestic violence situations and prompts NIJ funding of Spousal Assault Replication Programs in six cities. NIJ funds the experiment in Minneapolis, MN, to explore options for police responses to domestic violence calls.
  • Career Criminals. NIJ publishes research exploring why career criminals so often beat the system, prompting the emergence of career criminal prosecution programs.
  • Broken Windows. “Broken Windows,” by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, appears in The Atlantic Monthly .

1967 – 1979

  • Solvability Factors. Research on criminal investigation concludes that the probability of an arrest is largely determined by information obtained by the first officers on the scene. Findings lead to the identification of “solvability factors,” which become guides for prioritizing follow-up investigations.
  • Detecting Explosives. NIJ examines new techniques for detecting and identifying explosives.
  • Forensic Analyst Training. More than 300 forensic laboratory specialists are taught how to analyze types of evidence that pose the greatest difficulties in forensic examination.
  • Preventive Patrol. Findings from the Kansas City (Missouri) Preventive Patrol Experiment are released, indicating that preventive patrol — officers driving squad cars through random areas — does not necessarily prevent crime by reassuring the public or increasing the arrest of suspects.
  • Victim Difficulties. NIJ-funded study reveals the difficulties victims face in the criminal justice system. Recommended reforms lead to the creation of victim assistance programs nationwide.
  • Time to Report. Research finds that the time it takes to report a crime — not the speed of the police response — is the major factor influencing the likelihood of arrest.
  • Body Armor Development. NIJ begins to fund development of soft body armor for police, an initiative destined to save thousands of officers from serious injury and death.
  • Small Number Commit Most Crimes. Marvin Wolfgang's study on delinquency finds that a small proportion of criminals commit the most crime.
  • Crime Control Act. Congress passes the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (link), which creates NIJ (then called the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice) to monitor and support federally funded criminal justice research to help state and local governments improve police, courts and corrections.
  • Presidential Commission.The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice provides the first major assessment of the criminal justice system in the United States.
Date Reviewed: June 24, 2011