Research Report Digest, Issue 15

June 2014
In NIJ’s Research Report Digest, you will find brief descriptions of studies in a variety of criminal justice disciplines, such as crime and forensic sciences, and evaluations of technologies used in the law enforcement and corrections fields.

This issue includes reports based on NIJ-funded research that were added to the NCJRS Abstracts Database from January to March 2014.

Find research reports related to:

Courts and Corrections

Criminal Stigma, Race, Gender and Employment: An Expanded Assessment of the Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment (pdf, 112 pages)
Authors: Scott H. Decker, Ph.D., Cassia Spohn, Ph.D., Natalie R. Ortiz, M.S., and Eric Hedberg, Ph.D.

Individuals who leave prison, find work, and remain employed are less likely to become involved in crime than those who do not find employment. This study sought a broader understanding of how race and ethnicity interact with a prior criminal record to affect an individual’s employment prospects. The authors examined whether having a criminal record affects hiring decisions, whether the applicant’s race or ethnicity influences hiring decisions, and whether the effect of a criminal record varies depending on the applicant’s race or ethnicity. The authors found differences by race and ethnicity, with blacks and Hispanics generally faring more poorly than whites. They also found that a prison record has a dampening effect on job prospects, particularly in the low-skill food service sector, where ex-prisoners are likely to seek employment. The employer survey revealed that employers associate prison time with a number of negative work-related characteristics and that they prefer to hire individuals with no criminal justice contact. 

Impact of Differential Sentencing Severity for Domestic Violence Offenses and All Other Offenses Over Abusers' Life Spans (pdf, 43 pages)
Authors: Andrew Klein, Ph.D., David Centerbar, Ph.D., Steven Keller, and Jessica Klein

This research assesses the effectiveness of domestic violence (DV) prosecution compared to all prosecutions of the abuser, including non-DV offenses. In comparing the impact of differential prosecution/sentencing severity, the authors looked at whether abusers committed any new DV offense and, if so, the number of those offenses. They found that abusers who were prosecuted and sentenced more severely for DV compared to non-DV crimes during the first years of their adult criminal careers were less likely to be arrested for subsequent DV offenses and had significantly fewer new DV offenses. Abusers who were prosecuted for their DV offenses but not for their non-DV offenses were also significantly less likely to commit new DV offenses.

Monitoring High-Risk Gang Offenders with GPS Technology: An Evaluation of the California Supervision Program Final Report (pdf, 112 pages)
Authors: Stephen V. Gies, Randy Gainey, Marcia I. Cohen, Eoin Healy, Martha Yeide, Alan Bekelman, and Amanda Bobnis

This evaluation aimed to determine the effectiveness of global positioning system (GPS) monitoring of high-risk gang offenders released onto parole. The cost analysis indicates the GPS monitoring program costs nearly three times as much as traditional supervision. However, subjects in the GPS group were less likely than their control counterparts to be arrested in general, or for a violent offense, but much more likely to violate their parole with technical and nontechnical violations. Thus, although the GPS monitoring program is more expensive, it may be more effective in detecting parole violations. The evaluation also confirmed that the GPS program was implemented with a high degree of fidelity in terms of adherence, exposure, quality of program delivery and program differentiation.

Organizational Efficiency and Early Disposition Programs in Federal Courts, Final Report (pdf 103 pages)
Author: KiDeuk Kim

Early disposition or “fast track” programs allow a prosecutor to offer a sentence that is shorter than the sentencing guidelines prescribe in exchange for a defendant’s prompt guilty plea and waiver of certain pretrial and post-conviction rights. This study indicated that fast-track programs reduce case-processing time and increase sentence disparity; however, program impact was fairly modest and varied significantly across districts. The author recommends that the federal government demand higher standards of accountability, efficiency, and equity in processing immigration cases, as well as additional research on prosecutorial and judicial decision-making in federal courts, and the cost-effectiveness of sentencing options.

Practical Implications of Current Intimate Partner Violence Research for Victim Advocates and Service Providers (pdf, 260 pages)
Authors: Barbara J. Hart, J.D., and Andrew R. Klein, Ph.D.

This guide for victim advocates and service providers, based on Andrew Klein’s Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges, provides research findings on domestic violence, including its perpetrators and victims and the impact and implications of current responses to domestic violence by law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges.


CrimeStat IV: A Spatial Statistics Program for the Analysis of Crime Incident Locations, Version 4.0 (pdf, 1,798 pages)
Author: Ned Levine

CrimeStat is a free spatial statistics program that analyzes crime and other incident data. CrimeStat IV includes statistical routines for Bayesian journey-to-crime estimation, spatial regression modeling, time series forecasting, discrete choice modeling, spatial distribution of incidents, geographical profiling, and numerous spatial autocorrelation and clustering routines for zonal data. Additionally, .NET libraries allow third-party applications to use many CrimeStat routines. The program and documentation are available for free from

Cross-Site Analysis of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Comprehensive Communities Program (pdf, 248 pages)
Authors: George L. Kelling, Sandra K. Costello, Mona R. Hochberg, Ann Marie Rocheleau, Dennis P. Rosenbaum, Jeffrey A. Roth, Wesley G. Skogan, and William H. Sousa

The purpose of the Comprehensive Communities Program (CCP) is to control crime and improve the quality of community life by integrating criminal and juvenile justice, social programs, and public agencies with nongovernmental organizations and individuals, with special attention to gangs and youth violence. The purpose of this process evaluation was to develop insight into how community approaches evolved; track how CCP sites implemented their comprehensive strategies; explore how preexisting ecological, social, economic and political factors affected implementation; and monitor the evolution of strategies and projects over time. Although none of the sites sustained all CCP program elements once CCP funding ended, all sites maintained significant portions of their total CCP efforts and programs even without CCP funding. Additionally, there is no evidence that sites weakened their organizational and neighborhood networks after CCP funding ended.

Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities (pdf, 350 pages)
Authors: Meredith Dank, Ph.D., Bilal Khan, Ph.D., P. Mitchell Downey, Cybele Kotonias, Deborah Mayer, Colleen Owens, Laura Pacifici, and Lilly Yu

NIJ-funded researchers at the Urban Institute have completed a study of the underground commercial sex economy in eight cities—Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, DC. The team estimated that the sex economy, which was estimated to be between $39.9 and $290 million across the eight cities in 2007, has decreased in all but two cities. Researchers found that pimps and traffickers interviewed for the study took home between $5,000 and $32,833 a week. This report also offers policy suggestions to combat the illicit sex market.

Impact of Victimization on Residential Mobility: Explaining Racial and Ethnic Patterns Using the National Crime Victimization Survey (pdf, 61 pages)
Author: Min Xie

This study used a longitudinal sample of 34,134 housing units in the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to study racial and ethnic differences regarding a victim’s decision to move to a different neighborhood. The author found that black and Hispanic victims were less likely than whites to move after becoming victims of crime. In special circumstances, however, victimization can significantly increase the chances that minority residents will move; this is especially the case for black households after a property loss. Their moving behavior also is related to the housing market, as residential segregation reduces opportunities for minority residents—blacks, in particular—to move after victimization.

Indicators of Labor Trafficking Among North Carolina Migrant Farmworkers (pdf, 147 pages)
Authors: Kelle Barrick, Ph.D., Pamela K. Lattimore, Ph.D., Wayne Pitts, Ph.D., and Sheldon X. Zhang, Ph.D.

This study documented characteristics and indicators of labor trafficking among migrant farmworkers in North Carolina and provided actionable knowledge to law enforcement. Although law enforcement personnel believed farmworkers were treated well, outreach workers reported frequent abuse and exploitation. About one-quarter of farmworkers surveyed were likely to have witnessed human trafficking, and more than one-third reported other abuses, such as deception, restriction, deprivation, and physical threats. The strongest predictor of trafficking and other labor violations was lack of legal status. Farmworkers in communities with moderate to large Hispanic populations were less likely to report victimization, and abuse was less common when a large proportion of the labor force worked in agriculture.

Because of sampling methods, the findings are not generalizable and may underestimate exposure to trafficking and other abuse. The authors recommend providing investigatory and prosecutorial guidance to law enforcement, collaborating with community-based organizations that have close relationships with immigrant populations, and launching awareness campaigns aimed at unauthorized immigrants.

Training Evaluation Model: Evaluating and Improving Criminal Justice Training (pdf, 397 pages)
Authors: Kelly Bradley and Edward Connors

This project sought to produce a training evaluation model that can guide evaluations of a wide range of criminal justice training programs. The project’s goal was to help the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, achieve more consistency and control over the hundreds of training programs for which it provides funding, and increase the capacity of other federal, state and local criminal justice programs to conduct their own training evaluations. Sponsors of criminal justice training programs, researchers and evaluators, and training program directors and trainers can use this report to help evaluate and improve training for criminal justice professionals.

Understanding Trends in Hate Crimes Against Immigrants and Hispanic-Americans (pdf, 157 pages)
Authors: Michael Shively, Ph.D., Rajen Subramanian, Ph.D., Omri Drucker, Jared Edgerton, Jack McDevitt, Ph.D., Amy Farrell, Ph.D., and Janice Iwama

This report provides an overview of current time-series data measuring hate crimes against immigrants and Hispanic-Americans in the United States, and the use of this data for assessing trends. After reviewing the current state of data and assessing the challenges of improving that data, the authors recommend that law enforcement collect data on these crimes as part of the existing national hate crime reporting system. Doing so would treat hate crimes like other bias-motivated crimes and provide a national support system for victims of these crimes. Research shows that very few anti-immigrant hate crimes are being identified nationally, and that training officers to identify these crimes and assist victims would be beneficial. In addition to employing training and outreach efforts, the authors recommend conducting a series of more-limited studies that could provide information on the current rate of bias-motivated victimization of immigrants and Hispanics.

Forensic Sciences

Acquisition of Sebaceous Fingerprint Topology Using Columnar Thin Films (CTF) on Forensically Relevant Substrates (pdf, 57 pages)
Authors: Robert Shaler and Akhlesh Lakhtakia

This project expanded on successful proof-of-concept experiments by determining the scientific basis and application of columnar thin films (CTFs) to capture friction ridge detail found in latent fingerprints on nonporous, forensically relevant textured substrates and to compare CTF development of fingerprints with other commonly employed fingerprint development techniques. Results clearly demonstrate the development of friction ridge detail to the pore level using CTFs. This research demonstrated that CFT development of fingerprints on nonporous, forensically relevant substrates that are not ideal for traditional fingerprint techniques gives superior or equal results for all of the substrates studied except for masking tape, stainless steel, white ABS (plastic), and black nylon. Use of CTFs appears to be particularly suitable for partial bloody fingerprints, for which traditional techniques are ineffective.

Comprehensive Forensic Toxicological Analysis of Designer Drugs (pdf, 53 pages)
Authors: Anthony P. DeCaprio, W. Lee Hearn, and Madeleine J. Swortwood

“Designer drugs” are analogs or derivatives of controlled substances sold on the street to circumvent legal restrictions on scheduled drugs. Forensic toxicology labs generally use commercially available screening methods such as enzyme-linked immunosobrent assay (ELISA) or enzyme-multipled immunoassay technique (EMIT) to identify drugs of abuse in blood and urine. This study evaluated 16 ELISA reagents of 30 designer drugs in serum and 2 EMIT reagents of these drugs in urine to determine the drugs’ cross-reactivity. The authors found that some designer drugs could not be detected in conventional screening immunoassays and some could be detected in assays targeting only amphetamine and methamphetamine (although cross-reactivity with untargeted drugs was generally limited). Their findings indicate a need for research to validate new mass spectrometry-based methods for screening for and detecting hundreds of designer drugs potentially present in forensic toxicological specimens, as well as methods for detecting and identifying novel compounds.

Contactless Fingerprint Technologies Assessment (Version 2) (pdf, 56 pages)
Authors: Phillip Wiggin and Lars Ericson, Ph.D.

This report examines government, industry, and academic initiatives that pursue contactless fingerprint collection technologies. The authors found that commercial off-the-shelf devices are available primarily for access-control situations with a local database of enrollees. Modifying these devices for use in the justice system (with remote automated fingerprint identification systems, for instance) would require additional investment and development. This report identifies the National Institute of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, and the Department of Defense Biometrics Identity Management Agency as the government agencies most active in funding contactless sensor technologies, with several manufacturers performing internally funded research and development, and ongoing activities at academic institutions.

Consecutive and Random Manufactured Semi-Automatic Pistol Breech Face and Fired Cartridge Case Evaluations (pdf, 60 pages)
Authors: Ashley Chu, Shannon McClorry, Roy Geiss, David Read, David Howitt, and Michael Hill

This report evaluates the impression markings on cartridge cases fired from semiautomatic pistols to determine to what extent these markings can be used to identify an individual firearm, or whether they occurred by random chance. The authors demonstrate that the areas of corresponding topography on the breech faces of cartridge cases fired from the same slides were consistently larger than those that were consecutively manufactured and that other aspects of the matching are not reflected by cross- correlation analysis. The authors conclude that the differences between the cross-correlation coefficients from matching and nonmatching cartridge cases can be increased not only by focusing on corresponding regions of a particular size but that other approaches, such as pattern recognition, can supplement the cross-correlation techniques. Thus, by modifying the algorithms that determine the similarities, it should be possible to increase the number of cartridge cases that can be added to a database before it will be overwhelmed by false positives.

Development and Testing of a Rapid Multiplex Assay for the Identification of Biological Stains (pdf, 250 pages)
Author: Kevin M. Legg

This study aimed to reduce the analysis time of the previous quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) analyzer assay and test the feasibility of a mass-spectrometry-based assay for stain identification for routine casework testing. Researchers developed a prototype triple quadrupole mass spectrometer-multiple reaction monitoring (QQQ-MRM) triplex biological stain assay that accurately identified seminal fluid, saliva, and vaginal secretions on the basis of 12 high-specificity protein biomarkers, with an instrument run time of 18 minutes—a more than 75-percent reduction in total analysis time. They confirmed the accuracy and consistency of the biomarkers by testing a QQQ-MRM three-stain sexual assault assay using single-source samples and a series of casework-type samples. Finally, they developed a protocol for co-extracting the DNA and protein fractions from a single swab that was able to identify the specific body fluid stains present, as well as generate accurate short tandem repeat (STR) profiles. Researchers conclude that a high-speed QQQ assay for stain identification can act as a launching point for the subsequent full developmental validation of a six-body fluid multiplex for forensic casework on a QQQ-MRM platform.

Effects of Acquisition of Blood Specimens on Drug Levels and the Effects of Transportation Conditions on Degradation of Drugs (pdf, 53 pages)
Authors: Jerri McLemore, M.D., Eugene Schwilke, Ph.D., Kevin Shanks, FTS-ABFT, and Dennis Klein, M.D.

The location and manner in which coroners and medical examiners collect and ship postmortem blood may significantly impact toxicological results because of possible specimen degradation or postmortem redistribution. The authors examined three different collection and shipping procedures for peripheral blood specimens to determine whether they could detect significant differences in drug concentration. They did not detect any statistical differences between the collection and shipping methods for most drugs; however, several postmortem subjects had one or two negative results. Findings demonstrate the potential for misinterpretation due to the manner of specimen collection and shipment and suggest possible postmortem redistribution of drugs within the body’s periphery.

An Empirical Study to Improve the Scientific Foundation of Forensic Firearm and Tool Mark Identification Utilizing Consecutively Manufactured Glock EBIS Barrels with the Same EBIS Pattern (pdf, 51 pages)
Authors: Thomas G. Fadul Jr., Ph.D., Gabriel A. Hernandez, M.S., Erin Wilson, M.F.S., Stephanie Stoiloff, M.S., and Sneh Gulati, Ph.D.

Every firearm/tool produces a unique identification signature (striation/impression) on fired bullets that can be positively matched with the firearm/tool that produced it. This study aimed to determine if trained firearm and tool mark examiners could match spent bullets to the firearms that fired them when examining bullets fired through consecutively manufactured barrels that produced individual, unique and repeatable striations. Trained U.S. and international firearm and tool mark examiners analyzed individual striations of spent bullets fired from 10 consecutively manufactured Glock Enhanced Bullet Identification System (EBIS) barrels, along with EBIS-fired bullets of unknown origin. Findings established an error rate of less than 1.2 percent.

Evaluation of Contact versus Contactless Fingerprint Data (Final Report v2) (pdf, 116 pages)
Author: Azimuth, Inc.

The National Institute of Justice’s Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence has undertaken an evaluation of fingerprint data gathered from traditional two-dimensional contact-based fingerprint devices and techniques versus fingerprint data generated by next-generation three-dimensional (3-D) contactless fingerprint scanners. This study assessed the comparative match performance of legacy/livescan fingerprint data and contactless fingerprint data to evaluate interoperability, technology viability, and challenges to deploying next-generation 3-D contactless fingerprint systems.

Forensic Ancestry and Phenotype SNP Analysis and Integration with Established Forensic Markers (pdf, 140 pages)
Author: Katherine Butler Gettings

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the most common form of genetic polymorphisms, have alleles associated with specific populations or correlated to physical characteristics. In this study, researchers used single-base primer extension technology to develop a 50-SNP assay designed to predict ancestry and pigmentation phenotype among the primary U.S. populations (African American, East Asian, European, and Hispanic/Native American). The assay’s sensitivity level is comparable to current forensic DNA analyses and has shown robust performance on forensic samples. The author also developed and evaluated three prediction models for ancestry and compared two models for eye color prediction. The best models and interpretation guidelines yielded correct information for 98 percent and 100 percent of samples, respectively. The study also evaluated the possibility of using next-generation sequencing to genotype forensic short tandem repeats.

Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) Executive Summary for 2013 (pdf, 13 pages)
Author: RTI International

The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) is a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice that supports the implementation of new forensic technology, provides customized services and resources to criminal justice professionals, and works to increase the capacity of state and local law enforcement to effectively serve the public in matters involving forensic science and crime. This summary outlines the most significant technological aspects of FTCoE projects, milestones, and achievements during the January 1, 2012 through November 13, 2013, performance period. During this time, the FTCoE evaluated 8 new technologies; sponsored 6 technology‐transfer events, including 2 hands‐on workshops; supported outreach for 42 events; and made 19 presentations on forensic technology to the forensic science community.

Improving the Understanding and the Reliability of the Concept of "Sufficiency" in Friction Ridge Examination (pdf, 97 pages)
Authors: Cedric Neumann, Christophe Champod, Mina Yoo, Thibault Genessay, and Glenn Langenburg

Current protocols and procedures for examining fingerprints rely heavily on a succession of subjective decisions, from the initial acceptance of evidence for probative value to the final assessment of forensic results. This project studied the concept of sufficiency associated with the decisions made by latent print examiners at the end of the various phases of the fingerprint examination process. A web‐based interface was designed to capture the observations of 146 latent print examiners and trainees on 15 pairs of latent/control prints. Study findings show that the concept of sufficiency is driven mainly by the number and spatial relationships between the minutiae observed on the latent and control prints. Data indicate that demographics or non‐minutiae-based features do not play a major role in examiners’ decisions. The authors observed significant variability between detecting and interpreting friction ridge features at all levels of detail, as well as for factors that have the potential to influence the examination process, such as degradation, distortion, or influence of the background and the development technique.

The Information Content of Friction Ridge Impressions as Revealed by Human Experts (pdf, 65 pages)
Authors: Thomas Busey and Chen Yu

This project aimed to construct a quantitative representation of the information contained in fingerprints that can reveal those areas that experts consider most diagnostic and guide an expert as to how diagnostic a region may be if it differs from their expectations. The authors’ analyses provide estimates of the rarity of individual features by using the statistics of fingerprint impressions rather than a hand-picked set of features. This potentially provides access to a larger set of visual features than individual minutiae.

Information Exposure, Presentation Modality, and Cognitive Mechanisms of Countermeasures in P300 Concealed Information Tests (pdf, 135 pages)
Author: Michael Ross Winograd

The P300 event-related potential concealed information test (CIT) is a credibility assessment tool designed for use in criminal investigations. Findings from this series of three tests show that exposing innocent participants to crime‐relevant details made them indistinguishable from guilty participants, leading to a high false-positive rate. Prior exposure also biased the P300-CIT toward enhanced sensitivity in guilty participants. Evidence suggests that probe-irrelevant P300 differences were larger for a central item, even when rates of explicit memory were equal, and that details central to a crime were better recalled than peripheral details. The evidence also suggests that there might be a benefit to using pictorial stimuli over verbal stimuli for the central item. Additionally, no differences were found between any countermeasure methods, suggesting that a simple recognition process is responsible for evoking P300s to the countered stimuli.

Method Development and Validation of Comparative Finished Fiber Analysis Using Nano-Sampling Cryomicrotomy and Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectronometry (pdf, 70 pages)
Authors: Dr. Keith Beck, Dr. Dieter Griffis, Dr. David Hinks, and Dr. Chuanzhen Zhou

A critical and growing need exists for improved capability in fiber-based trace evidence analysis. The purpose of this research is to provide a comprehensive, repeatable and reproducible analytical methodology for dyed and finished fibers that will preserve evidence and reduce or eliminate cross-contamination. This has been achieved via sub-micron level removal of sample fibers using cryomicrotomy followed by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis of the surface and cross-section of dyed fibers. The isocratic and gradient elution methods developed for liquid chromatography (LC) analysis of a series of disperse dyes and acid dyes have shown excellent repeatability for single dye analysis that is sufficient for a searchable database. A reference set of known dyed fibers using the most commercially important dyes for apparel and automotive polyester (73 dye samples), acetate (19 dye samples), and residential nylon carpet (6 dye samples) has been established using the optimized methods for LC analysis. The dye identity of 10 unknown dyes can be easily determined using the established disperse dye database. Methods have also been developed for separating and identifying enzyme digested reactive dyes with vinyl sulfone group and with monochlorotriazine group.

Mobile Fingerprint Capture (pdf, 43 pages)
Authors: Sam Mil’shtein, Ph.D.

This project designed and fabricated two new contactless fingerprinting systems. The grantee removed all rotational elements and used area scan cameras instead of line scan cameras. He also developed novel algorithms to process and help recognize the fingerprints. He found that area cameras decrease the physical dimensions of the systems, bringing their size closer to the dimensions required for a mobile contactless fingerprinting system.

Presumptive Field Testing Using Portable Raman Spectroscopy (pdf, 100 pages)
Author: Stephana Fedchak

Recognizing the need for a more reliable method for field testing to identify cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Forensic Laboratory began researching and enhancing existing Raman spectroscopy field technology to provide presumptive analysis of controlled substances. Part of this research evaluated the performance of the handheld ReporteR device. The LVMPD laboratory tested the ReporteR device in the lab and in the field, and by utilizing a Raman microscope, determined that portable Raman technology is an effective and reliable tool for presumptively identifying methamphetamine and cocaine in the field. The laboratory also identified which characteristics of portable Raman technology need enhancement to be implemented in a presumptive field testing program.

Project IDENTIFICATION: Developing Accurate Identification Criteria for Hispanics (pdf, 69 pages)
Author: M. Katherine Spradley

The Hispanic population is the second-largest population group in the United States; however, no skeletal collections have large numbers of Hispanics. This study established a database of reference data using Mexican cranial and postcranial skeletal measurements; created sectioning points and classification functions for sex estimates applicable to most Hispanics in the U.S.; and analyzed the reference data for morphological variation and ancestry estimation. Researchers used discriminant function analysis to generate sex classification functions and documented differences in the size and shape of craniofacial morphology of Mexican and Guatemalan individuals. Population-specific sex and ancestry estimation criteria appropriate for most Hispanics of Mexican or Guatemalan origin in the U.S. are now available. The authors recommend adding these measurements to data collection protocols for forensic anthropologists.

Rapid Screening and Confirmation of Organic GSR using Electrospray Mass Spectrometry (pdf, 125 pages)
Authors: Bruce McCord, Ph.D., and Jennifer (Greaux) Thomas, B.S.

This study aimed to develop a rapid separation-detection method for identifying smokeless powder additives and their decomposition products using ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Using UPLC and MS/MS to link organic gunshot residue (GSR) to a shooter’s ammunition and spent cartridges, the authors found characteristic differences in additive profiles, depending on the ammunition type. This study demonstrates that extracting organic compounds from GSR, along with detecting GSR on a shooter’s hands, has the potential to greatly improve results of firearm forensic examinations. 

Replication of Known Dental Characteristics in Porcine Skin: Emerging Technologies for the Imaging Specialist (pdf, 103 pages)
Authors: L. Thomas Johnson, Thomas W. Radmer, Dean Jeutter, Gary L. Stafford, Joseph Thulin, Thomas Wirtz, George Corliss, Kwang Woo Ahn, Alexis Visotky, and Ronald L. Groffy

Scientists have long considered bite marks as possible identifiers for an individual. This project studied whether it is possible to replicate bite marks and analyze any of these patterns, correlating them with a degree of probability to members of an established population. Findings show that patterns of human teeth can be replicated in porcine (pig) skin to determine that a given bite mark belongs to a very small proportion of a population dataset.

University of Massachusetts Lowell 3D Contactless Fingerprint Scanner: Technology Evaluation (Version 2) (pdf, 28 pages)
Authors: Phillip Wiggin and Lars Ericson, Ph.D.
The National Institute of Justice’s Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence tested and evaluated a contactless fingerprint scanning device developed for NIJ by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. An evaluation of the prototype contactless scanners reveals that researchers will most likely use them to examine the effects of deformation due to pressure, matching capabilities and contactless sensors in general. At least two of the prototypes will require adjustments to the mirror alignments before further use. The systems are not suitable for field deployment or operational evaluation by criminal justice organizations because of shortcomings in both their technology and functioning.

Juvenile Justice

Pathways to Desistance—Final Technical Report (pdf, 20 pages)
Authors: Edward P. Mulvey, Carol A. Schubert, and Alex Piquero

This multisite, collaborative research project followed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders from adolescence to young adulthood. The study found that the juvenile justice system relies heavily on institutional care, that offenders spend a significant amount of time in these facilities, and that reentry into the community is a recurring event for many of these adolescents that is likely to have a pronounced impact on their long-term adjustment. Other analyses support planning for and providing community-based services during reentry; however, these services are limited. The study has also produced findings about the effects of particular aspects of institutional care on community adjustment. Although analysis of the Pathways data is ongoing, the findings so far suggest relevant variability in this group of adolescents and evidence that they will respond positively to reasonable interventions and sanctions.

Process and Outcome Evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program (pdf, 617 pages)
Authors: Finn-Aage Esbensen, Wayne Osgood, Dana Peterson, Terrance J. Taylor, Dena Carson, Adrienne Freng, and Kristy Matsuda

In 2006, the National Institute of Justice awarded funds to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to determine the short- and long-term impact of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program on middle school students in seven school districts. Results illustrate a high level of program fidelity, providing confidence in subsequent outcome results. One year after the program ended, there were statistically significant differences between the control students and those receiving the program on 14 of 33 attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. The study surveyed program students for 3 more years to test for longer term impacts. Analyses conducted 4 years after the program ended showed similar but smaller results. Across the 4 years, the G.R.E.A.T. program had 10 positive effects on students, including lowering the odds of gang joining and fostering more positive attitudes toward police.

Law Enforcement

Building Bridges Between Police Researchers and Practitioners: Agents of Change in a Complex World (pdf, 297 pages)
Authors: Geoffrey P. Alpert, Ph.D., Jeff Rojek Ph.D., and J. Andrew Hansen M.A.

This study examined the prevalence of police practitioner-researcher partnerships in the United States and the factors that prevent or facilitate the development and sustainability of these partnerships. About one-third (32 percent) of responding law enforcement agencies reported being in partnerships with researchers; formal short-term and long-term relationships were the least common. Partnerships were more common among municipal police departments and state law enforcement agencies than among county agencies. Agencies reporting the use of research information, particularly from the National Institute of Justice, were more likely to participate in partnerships. Interviews with police practitioners and researchers also revealed information about structural characteristics, the perceived value of research and the role of agencies, openness to changes in business practices, and the role of trust and effective communication in sustaining partnerships.


Executive Summary Evaluation of the Phoenix Homicide Clearance Project (pdf, 13 pages)
Authors: Tom McEwen, Ph.D.

In July 2004, the Phoenix Police Department transferred four crime scene specialists from its crime lab to the department’s homicide unit to collect evidence at homicide scenes, prepare scene reports, develop scene diagrams, and perform other support activities. The primary objective was to improve homicide clearance rates by increasing investigative time through the addition of crime scene specialists. This study demonstrated that crime scene specialists from the department’s crime lab could be as effective in collecting forensic evidence as homicide investigators. The use of crime scene specialists did not increase overall clearance rates of homicides but increased the clearance rates for more difficult cases that require extensive investigative time.

View the following reports related to this project: