Director’s Message

This issue of the NIJ Journal features articles on a wide range of interesting topics, beginning with a look at new uses for DNA identification. DNA samples collected from scenes of property crimes like burglary are being used to solve those crimes and other more serious crimes more often than ever before. In Miami, Palm Beach, and New York City, NIJ-funded pilot projects are helping test just how often this occurs by studying the impact of enhanced collection and analysis of DNA from many types of crimes. The story of how the testing identified serious offenders reflects the great potential DNA holds, especially as technology improves and costs decline.

Two other articles in this issue illustrate the varied ways technology serves criminal justice. An NIJ experiment shows that prisons and jails can use biometrics—a means of identifying persons through their physical characteristics—to track prisoners as they move through checkpoints in a facility, freeing correctional officers’ time and attention. And computer-based mapping technology can locate hot spots of crime, group criminal incidents, and, through geographic profiling, predict likely areas where a criminal lives.

How does a domestic violence victim’s interaction with police, courts, and service providers affect her future interaction with the criminal justice system? Three NIJ-sponsored studies looked at that question from different perspectives. The researchers found that victims who feel dissatisfied with the criminal justice system are less likely to report violence against them in the future. But, on a hopeful note, they also found that victims who use victim services are more likely to be satisfied with the criminal justice process and to have positive case outcomes. Without question, treating victims with respect and dignity is an imperative for our criminal justice system. This research suggests that providing the services victims need can also help them recover from their victimization and encourage them to report future crimes.

NIJ is continuing to work in new and different ways to provide the knowledge and tools necessary to meet the challenges of crime and justice. I hope you will see that reflected in this issue of our Journal.

Glenn R. Schmitt
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice