Courts Research: Dear Colleague Letter From Greg Ridgeway, Fiscal Year 2014

The “Research and Evaluation on Justice Systems” solicitation referenced in this letter has closed. View a list of awards made under that solicitation.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application.

Date: February 7, 2014

Dear Colleague:

This letter alerts all social and behavioral science researchers about the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) interest in receiving proposals related to criminal courts that can strengthen our knowledge base and enhance criminal justice practices. NIJ has been building its criminal court research portfolio for many years and will continue to do so in its pursuit of improving the administration of justice in this country.

NIJ’s criminal courts research portfolio runs the gamut from court operations and case management, to adjudication and sentencing, to specialized or problem-solving courts, to technology. NIJ’s research focuses on methods for criminal justice administration applicable to diversion, pretrial and other stages of criminal case processing; court-based interventions for offenders and communities that address domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health and other criminogenic needs; criminal court procedures for judges, prosecutors, defense counsel and juries from arraignment through trial, sentencing and appeals; and forensic and other scientific technologies that support criminal case processing through information sharing, evidence testing and management, and other investigative and trial functions. 

Recent NIJ awards include multisite evaluations of pretrial diversion programs, holistic defense programs and adult reentry courts; research on the impact of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on federal sentencing guideline applications and on the New York State Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Act’s impact on recidivism; a study to identify factors associated with wrongful convictions; and a project to develop a remote videoconferencing protocol for post-arraignment release hearings.

As new research topics evolve, many of the topics covered in initial research remain of significant interest to NIJ and the field. In its efforts to prevent and reduce crime and violence, NIJ’s Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) strives to address the questions raised by court practitioners and academics and to stay abreast of the latest developments in court practices. ORE’s particular interest in the criminal courts research area for FY 2014 involves such topics as:

  • Court-based interventions for tribal communities.
  • Indigent defense, including rates of remand to juvenile justice systems as compared to rates and effect of transfer to criminal justice systems.
  • Fairness in the consent decree process for courts, including comparative analysis of the availability of juvenile defender programs, examination of racial disparities and factors that may explain differences found, accommodations for children with disabilities within justice systems, use of gender-specific interventions within justice systems and avenues for adopting and testing reforms.
  • The impact of pretrial research projects.
  • Investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases involving individuals who drive under the influence of drugs. 

Other topics of research on courts are valuable as well. NIJ is interested in building sound, evidence-based knowledge of interventions and programs that work and can be tested in a variety of institutions under varied circumstances.

Search past awards for illustrative examples of current and prior projects.

Prospective applicants are highly encouraged to consult with relevant project officers prior to proposal submission. In the case of criminal courts, Dr. Linda Truitt at and Dr. Nadine Frederique at are the appropriate project officers.

This is not a special competition or new program. Proposals in response to this Dear Colleague Letter must meet the requirements and deadlines of the solicitation to which they are submitted.

The appropriate vehicle for responding to topics covered in this letter will be NIJ’s “Research and Evaluation on Justice Systems” solicitation. To receive an e-mail when NIJ issues a solicitation, subscribe to You also can follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

The “Research and Evaluation on Justice Systems” solicitation should be available on the NIJ website in February 2014.



Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D.
Acting Director
National Institute of Justice

Date Created: February 7, 2014