Making a difference in the lives of individual Americans.
Although this phrase may define the core mission of many
governmental agencies, it is used so often that, at times,
the meaning can feel hackneyed and diluted. But in this
issue of the Journal, you will see real examples
of how NIJ’s work makes a difference in the lives
of real people—people like Melody Reilly, who recently
sat in a Texas courtroom to watch the sentencing of the
men who murdered her brother and dumped his body in a
field. The Center for Human Identification, an NIJ-supported
forensic laboratory that uses the most advanced DNA technologies
to solve missing persons and unidentified human remains
cases, was able to identify Shawn Reilly’s bones
... and help bring his killers to justice. Learn more
about the Center for Human Identification in our lead
article, “Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains:
The Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster,” and how
the services of this unique DNA laboratory are available
to every law enforcement officer, medical examiner, and
coroner in the country.
Another example of DNA technology making a difference
in individual lives occurred on a tragically grand scale
on September 11, 2001. On the 5th anniversary of the terrorist
attacks, NIJ published a major report on how DNA was used
to identify the victims. But this report is much more
than a historical document. It also looks to the future,
offering guidance from an NIJ-supported panel of forensic
experts on how to prepare for another large-scale DNA
identification effort, whether from a terrorist attack,
a mass transportation accident, or a natural disaster.
Our story “Identifying Remains: Lessons Learned From
9/11” highlights the full report.
Our third DNA-related story is another example of how
NIJ makes a difference. “Online DNA Training Targets
Lawyers, Judges” showcases one of our most recent
(and exciting) tools: online training to help criminal
justice practitioners—judges, prosecutors, and criminal
defense attorneys—use DNA evidence in the pursuit
of truth in the courtroom.
All three of these examples are made possible by funding
under the President’s DNA Initiative, a 5-year effort
to enhance the use of this important tool to solve crimes
and protect the innocent. NIJ is privileged to administer
the Initiative, Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology, on behalf of the Administration and the U.S. Department
But this issue of the Journal is not just about
DNA. In it, you will also find articles about the public’s
perception of police officers and the correlation between
sexual and physical assaults on women in relationships.
Both provide important information that practitioners
and policymakers should know.
Whether forensics, policing, or violence against women,
these—and many other key criminal justice areas—are
supported by NIJ’s research, development, and evaluation.
I hope that the results of our work, highlighted in this
and other issues of the Journal, will help you
in your work to further the cause of justice in America.
Glenn R. Schmitt
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice