This issue of the NIJ Journal features articles
on a wide range of interesting topics, beginning with a
look at new uses for DNA identification. DNA samples collected
from scenes of property crimes like burglary are being used
to solve those crimes and other more serious crimes more
often than ever before. In Miami, Palm Beach, and New York
City, NIJ-funded pilot projects are helping test just how
often this occurs by studying the impact of enhanced collection
and analysis of DNA from many types of crimes. The story
of how the testing identified serious offenders reflects
the great potential DNA holds, especially as technology
improves and costs decline.
Two other articles in this issue illustrate the varied
ways technology serves criminal justice. An NIJ experiment
shows that prisons and jails can use biometrics—a
means of identifying persons through their physical characteristics—to
track prisoners as they move through checkpoints in a facility,
freeing correctional officers’ time and attention.
And computer-based mapping technology can locate hot spots
of crime, group criminal incidents, and, through geographic
profiling, predict likely areas where a criminal lives.
How does a domestic violence victim’s interaction
with police, courts, and service providers affect her future
interaction with the criminal justice system? Three NIJ-sponsored
studies looked at that question from different perspectives.
The researchers found that victims who feel dissatisfied
with the criminal justice system are less likely to report
violence against them in the future. But, on a hopeful note,
they also found that victims who use victim services are
more likely to be satisfied with the criminal justice process
and to have positive case outcomes. Without question, treating
victims with respect and dignity is an imperative for our
criminal justice system. This research suggests that providing
the services victims need can also help them recover from
their victimization and encourage them to report future
NIJ is continuing to work in new and different ways to
provide the knowledge and tools necessary to meet the challenges
of crime and justice. I hope you will see that reflected
in this issue of our Journal.
Glenn R. Schmitt
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice