NIJ Journal 278: NIJ Bulletin

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Publications in Brief

Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model

For 170 years, America's approach to youth incarceration has been built on the premise that a slightly modified version of the adult correctional model of incarceration, control, coercion, and punishment — with some programming sprinkled in — would rehabilitate young people. But is America getting what it wants and needs by incarcerating young people who get in trouble with the law? If not, is there a better way?

In a new paper co-sponsored by NIJ and the Harvard Kennedy School, authors Patrick McCarthy, Vincent Schiraldi, and Miriam Shark review recent research in developmental psychology and widespread reports of abuse. They conclude that the current youth prison model should be replaced with a continuum of community-based programs and small, homelike facilities that prioritize age-appropriate rehabilitation.

Read the paper, "Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model."

Building Trust and Legitimacy Within Community Corrections

Over the past three decades, the U.S. incarceration rate has increased to historic highs, while crime rates have dropped significantly. In addition to the nearly 2.2 million people incarcerated in our nation's jails and prisons, 4/6 million people are on probation or parole at any given time.

The individuals on probation and parole are the largest part of the correctional system. Yet this aspect of corrections has been largely absent from the national conversation surrounding incarceration rates and criminal justice reform.

In a new paper co-sponsored by NIJ and the Harvard Kennedy School, Wendy Still, Barbara Broderick, and Steven Raphael discuss the need for a new model for community corrections that can improve public safety while recognizing that people on probation and parole are members of the communities in which they live and are supervised. This is one in a series of papers resulting from the Executive Session on Community Corrections, which seeks to develop new ideas surrounding criminal sanctions and the role of community organizations and agencies in supervising and working with those who have been involved in crime.

Read the paper, "Building Trust and Legitimacy Within Community Corrections."

Learn more about the Executive Session on Community Corrections.

Funding for Forensic Research and Development, DNA Analysis, Capacity Enhancement, and Other Activities

NIJ is dedicated to improving understanding of crime and justice issues through science. Since 2004, NIJ has received annual appropriations for various activities related to DNA and other aspects of forensic science. This includes support for DNA analysis and laboratory capacity enhancement and support for the forensic science research, development, and evaluation that provides knowledge and tools to improve the quality and practice of forensic science and thereby reduce crime and improve public safety.

Each year, NIJ considers how to allocate DNA and other forensic activity funds based on needs, such as increasing capacity and reducing DNA backlog; NIJ technology working group recommendations; results from studies; and strategic priorities and perspectives for each of the programs. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, NIJ continued its commitment to a strategy that couples rigorous research and development with capacity enhancement and technical assistance to serve the law enforcement and forensic science communities.

Read the FY 2015 funding summary report.

News & Events

The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium

In September 2016, NIJ hosted "Looking Ahead: The National Sexual Assault Policy Symposium" through its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence. The symposium focused on how the nation is finding solutions to the complex issues that arise in sexual assault cases and in testing sexual assault evidence.

The event, which featured medical staff, law enforcement, crime laboratories, victim advocates, prosecution, and other stakeholders, highlighted current accomplishments and shared valuable experiences from jurisdictions throughout the country. The goal was to support our nation's policymakers and practitioners as they drive future efforts to solve sexual assault cases, provide justice to victims, and ultimately improve public health and public safety.

Watch a recording of the symposium.

Environmental Scan of Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults

In October 2016, NIJ held an informational webinar to discuss the results of its recently published "Environmental Scan of Developmentally Appropriate Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults," which identified 51 programs and eight pieces of legislation that address the developmental needs of young adults involved in the criminal justice system. The webinar allowed NIJ to connect with others doing similar work and to plan for future meetings to discuss the research needs of those providing programming to justice-involved young adults.

Learn more about the environmental scan and watch the webinar.


Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men

The stories of American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are as varied and nuanced as the people themselves. But a recent study finds one troubling through-line that links these stories: the experience of high rates of violence.

A new video illustrates the findings of an NIJ-supported study on the prevalence of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. Specifically, the study used a large, nationally representative sample from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey to provide prevalence estimates of sexual violence, physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and psychological aggression by intimate partners over the lifetime of American Indian and Alaska Native women and men, as well as victimization estimates over the past year (based on 2010 data). It also provides estimates of interracial and intraracial victimization and briefly examines the impact of violence. The results can help raise awareness and understanding about violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men.

Watch the video on violence against American Indian Men and Women.

Read the full report, "Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men: 2010 Findings From the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey."

Preventing Gun Violence: Understanding Law Enforcement Response and Improving Multidisciplinary Partnerships for Peace

A recent Research for the Real World seminar explored common police practices for responding to gun violence and the extent to which they contribute to reductions in violent incidents. Panelists discussed the role of multidisciplinary partners, such as those from the public health sector, in reducing gun violence and promising practices for law enforcement partnerships to leverage complementary violence reduction efforts.

Watch the seminar.

Looking at the Impact on Policing of Body-Worn Cameras

Body-worn camera technology has been at the forefront of the national discussion on policing. In a new video interview, Craig Uchida of Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., discusses the importance of using research to examine the impact of body-worn cameras. He leads an NIJ-supported project with the Los Angeles Police Department to evaluate the use of body-worn cameras to determine if they improve relationships with the community.

Watch the video on body-worn cameras.

Recent Research Findings

Compendium of Research on Children Exposed to Violence

Being exposed to violence, whether directly or as a bystander, can have far-reaching, negative consequences for children. NIJ works to increase evidence-based knowledge and ultimately inform the development and enhancement of strategies to reduce the impact of violence on children and youth. NIJ's research agenda takes a broad, public health approach to violence and victimization and emphasizes the significant negative effects of exposure to violence, as well as the positive outcomes associated with the disruption of violence. The Compendium of Research on Children Exposed to Violence (CEV) 2010-2015 provides a complete list, including abstracts, of NIJ-funded research on children exposed to violence.

Download the compendium.

Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions

The debate over the size, scope, and causes of the homicide increase in 2015 has been largely free of systematic evidence. In a new white paper commissioned by NIJ, Richard Rosenfeld documents the 2015 homicide increase in 56 large U.S. cities, finding that the increase was "real and nearly unprecedented." He examines three possible explanations for the rise: the expansion of urban drug markets fueled by the heroin epidemic, declining imprisonment rates, and a "Ferguson effect" resulting from widely publicized incidents of police use of deadly force against minority citizens. Rosenfeld concludes with a call for more frequent and timely release of crime information to address crime problems as they arise.

Read the white paper.

The Role of Technology in Improving K–12 School Safety

The goal of NIJ's Comprehensive School Safety Initiative is to improve the safety of our nation's schools and students through rigorous research that produces practical knowledge. The Initiative works to accomplish this goal through partnerships among educators, researchers, and other stakeholders, such as law enforcement, behavioral, and mental health professionals.

The RAND Corporation, with funding from the Initiative, recently published a report on school safety technologies as one approach to prevent and respond to school violence. In "The Role of Technology in Improving K–12 School Safety," the authors summarize existing research on school violence; categorize school safety technologies and describe the available research about them; present six case studies of innovative technologies used in schools; summarize experts' views of technologies and safety problems, based on interviews; and present experts' rankings of technology needs to improve school safety, produced during two day-long panels.

Learn more about the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative and download the RAND report.

Date Created: May 23, 2017