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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Committee on Assessing the Research Program of the National Institute of Justice 


Project Scope

The purpose of this study is to examine the full range of NIJ programs in order to assess and make recommendations for the ways in which NIJ develops its research priorities and programs in order to meet the needs of the criminal justice field. It will examine NIJ's short and long term strategic planning and budgeting processes and its organizational structure. The review will focus on the role of NIJ in supporting and sustaining the nation's scientific infrastructure on crime and criminal justice system research and the relationship between the Institute's work and the missions of the Department of Justice and the Office of Justice Programs. The review will consider the extent to which budget requests are linked to the program's long term and annual goals. The review will examine the ways in which NIJ develops and communicates its investment priorities as well as its research findings to Congress and others, including state and local agencies, federal executive agencies and the courts, and researchers in order to determine the impact of NIJ programs and how that impact can be enhanced. The review will assess the organization of NIJ, how well it executes its mandated role, as defined by Congress, for conducting basic and applied research on the criminal justice system and related aspects of the civil justice system, and its ability to respond to both long and short term research needs. The review will consider priority uses for additional funding that may be obtained through budget initiatives or interagency partnerships.


U.S. Department of Justice


Committee Membership
CHARLES F. WELLFORD (Chair), Department of Criminology, University of Maryland
GEORGE F. SENSABAUGH, JR. (Vice Chair), School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
CHARLES E. ANDERSON, JR., Engineering Dynamics Department, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
JOEL S. ENGEL, JSE Consulting, Armonk, New York
JOHN L. HAGAN, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University
ADELE V. HARRELL, Independent Consultant, Washington, DC
DAVID D. JENSEN, Knowledge Discovery Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
TRACEY L. MEARES, Yale Law School
EDWIN MEESE III, Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC
DANIEL S. NAGIN, Heinz School of Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
ALEX R. PIQUERO, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University
CHARLES H. RAMSEY, Philadelphia Police Department
MARY ANN SAAR, Independent Consultant, Baltimore
JAY A. SIEGEL, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis
CAROL H. WEISS, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

BETTY M. CHEMERS, Study Director
CAROL PETRIE, Director, Committee on Law and Justice
JULIE ANNE SCHUCK, Research Associate
JACQUELINE R. SOVDE, Program Associate

Strengthening the National Institute of Justice (2010)

 NIJ Review - report cover




The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the nation's primary resource for advancing scientific research, development, and evaluation on crime and crime control and the administration of justice in the United States. Headed by a presidentially appointed director, it is one of the major units in the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) of the U.S. Department of Justice. Under its authorizing legislation, NIJ awards grants and contracts to a variety of public and private organizations and individuals.

At the request of NIJ, Strengthening the National Institute of Justice assesses the operations and quality of the full range of its programs. These include social science research, science and technology research and development, capacity building, and technology assistance.


The book concludes that a federal research institute such as NIJ is vital to the nation's continuing efforts to control crime and administer justice. No other federal, state, local, or private organization can do what NIJ was created to do. Forty years ago, Congress envisioned a science agency dedicated to building knowledge to support crime prevention and control by developing a wide range of techniques for dealing with individual offenders, identifying injustices and biases in the administration of justice, and supporting more basic and operational research on crime and the criminal justice system and the involvement of the community in crime control efforts. As the embodiment of that vision, NIJ has accomplished a great deal. It has succeeded in developing a body of knowledge on such important topics as hot spots policing, violence against women, the role of firearms and drugs in crime, drug courts, and forensic DNA analysis. It has helped build the crime and justice research infrastructure. It has also widely disseminated the results of its research programs to help guide practice and policy. But its efforts have been severely hampered by a lack of independence, authority, and discretionary resources to carry out its mission.






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