National Institute Of Justice Essay

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The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice and is dedicated to researching crime control and justice issues. The NIJ was created by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Its principal authorities are derived from this act as amended (42 USC § 3721–3723) and Title II of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

NIJ’s mission is to advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to enhance law enforcement and the administration of justice and to promote public safety. It provides independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and justice, particularly at the state and local levels. NIJ’s six primary objectives are (1) research, (2) development, (3) evaluation, (4) testing, (5) technical assistance, and (6) dissemination. These objectives are guided by the priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice and the needs of the criminal justice field.

NIJ makes grants and cooperative agreements and enters into contracts with public agencies, institutions of higher education, or private organizations to conduct research, evaluation, or demonstration projects. It also develops new or improved approaches, techniques, systems, equipment, and devices to improve and strengthen the administration of justice. NIJ implements programs of social and behavioral research designed to provide information on the causes of crime and the effectiveness of criminal justice programs designed to prevent or reduce crime. It also provides instructional assistance through its various research fellowship programs. NIJ collects and disseminates data and information obtained by the institute or other federal and public agencies, institutions of higher education, or private organizations engaged in projects supported by the agency. In addition, NIJ makes recommendations for action that can be taken by federal, state, and local governments and by private persons and organizations to improve and strengthen criminal justice.

NIJ accomplishes its objectives through three offices that support and fulfill its mission. The Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) develops, conducts, directs, and supervises social and behavioral research and evaluation activities. This process occurs through extramural research that involves outside researchers who often collaborate with criminal justice practitioners and intramural research conducted by ORE staff. The ORE consists of the Crime Control and Prevention Research Division, the Evaluation Division, the Justice Systems Research Division, the International Center, and the Violence and Victimization Research Division.

The Crime Control and Prevention Research Division is dedicated to improving law enforcement’s response to crime. It supports applied research and evaluation of crime prevention programs. The major program areas for the Crime Control and Prevention Research Division include police, firearms and violence, juvenile delinquency, terrorism (preparedness and response), identity theft, and crime mapping and analysis.

The Evaluation Division was developed in 2003 to oversee NIJ evaluations of other agencies’ programs. The goal is to improve the utility of evaluation results for policy, practice, and program development. The Evaluation Division enables NIJ to develop its capacity to conduct cost-effectiveness evaluations of criminal justice programs and enhance the overall quality of its evaluations.

The Justice Systems Research Division is designed to enhance justice systems’ responses to crime. The primary program areas of the Division are prosecution, including community prosecution, specialized courts, corrections (institutional and community), the Prison Rape Elimination Act, probation and parole, sex offenders, the Serious/Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, and restorative justice. Through research and evaluation in these program areas, the division helps NIJ achieve its goal of improving the administration of justice in the United States.

NIJ’s International Center examines transnational crime and its impact both domestically and globally. A major focus of the International Center is to facilitate the exchange of ideas among criminal justice researchers and practitioners throughout the world. Program areas of the center include terrorism, human trafficking, organized crime and corruption, and emerging issues such as illegal logging and international gang-crime connections.

The Violence and Victimization Research Division seeks to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of justice systems’ (criminal and civil) responses to violence, victimization, and victims of crime. The division also promotes the safety of women, children, and families. The major program areas for the division include violence against women (intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking), elder abuse and neglect, victim compensation and assistance, and crime and justice in Indian Country.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) man ages technology research and development, development of technical standards, equipment testing, and forensic sciences capacity building programs. The OST also provides technology assistance to federal, state, and local criminal justice and public safety agencies. It consists of the Research and Technology Development Division, the Investigative and Forensic Sciences Division, and the Technology Assistance Division.

The Research and Technology Development Division develops tools and knowledge to address the technology needs of the criminal justice practitioner community except in the area of forensic science. Its major programs include body armor, cybercrime, explosive detection and remediation, biometrics, sensors and surveillance, pursuit management, and less lethal technology. The Investigative and Forensics Sciences Division develops tools and knowledge to address the technology needs of the forensic science community. The main programs of this division include DNA research and development, cold-case and backlog reduction grants, the Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program, and the Forensic Resource Network. The Technology Assistance Division is responsible for NIJ’s compliance testing and standards programs. Its two major programs are the Body Armor Initiative and the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System.

The Office of the Director sets policy for the institute, identifies priorities, develops strategic plans, allocates budgetary and human resources, oversees management activities, fosters collaboration with other federal agencies, and coordinates the institute’s communications with external reviewers and stakeholders. It develops and disseminates all NIJ communication products and activities, including print publications, conference and outreach materials, and electronic products (such as Web materials and CD-ROMs). NIJ conducts these activities through its Planning and Management and Communication Divisions. NIJ is the only federal agency solely dedicated to improving criminal justice policy and practice throughout the country and the world.

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