NIJ Journal 273: NIJ Bulletin

Publications in Brief

Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2012 — Myths vs. Reality

This special report provides an update on the status of DNA backlogs in the nation's crime laboratories and examines solutions for increasing efficiency. It finds that although laboratories processed 10 percent more DNA cases in 2011 than in 2009, the workload in laboratories is still increasing because the demand for DNA analysis nationwide continues to outpace laboratory capacity. The report, an update to NIJ's 2010 publication by the same name, is based on data collected from more than 120 public laboratories that received grants under NIJ's DNA Backlog Reduction Program.

Read the report (pdf, 20 pages).

Research Report Digests

NIJ has released new issues of the Research Report Digest, which provides short summaries of NIJ-funded research reports added to the publications database at NCJRS.gov. Topics covered include crime, forensic sciences, and evaluations of technologies that are used in the law enforcement and corrections fields.

News & Events

NIJ Grantees Win the 2014 Stockholm Criminology Prize

NIJ grantees Daniel Nagin and Joan Petersilia won the 2014 Stockholm Prize in Criminology. The international prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievements in criminological research or for the application of research results by practitioners for the reduction of crime and the advancement of human rights.

Nagin and Petersilia's research has reshaped the use of prison and community corrections based on evidence of what works — and what doesn't. Petersilia's work on prisoner re-entry has led to increased support for offenders during the high-risk period immediately following their release from prison, when they often have no place to live or work. Nagin's research on the zero-to-negative effects of prison helped support the first decline in four decades in the world's highest incarceration rate, providing a clear rationale to invest more in policing than in imprisonment.

Watch Joan Petersilia give the keynote address at the 2012 NIJ Conference.

Rebecca Campbell Receives 2013 Outstanding Evaluation Award

NIJ grantee Rebecca Campbell of Michigan State University received the American Evaluation Association's 2013 Outstanding Evaluation Award, the association's highest award for a single evaluation project. Campbell used NIJ funds to develop a toolkit to help Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program staff evaluate the impact their programs have on sexual assault prosecution rates in their communities. Campbell and her colleagues then worked with six SANE programs across the U.S. to implement the toolkit's seven-step evaluation process.

Access the toolkit (pdf, 227 pages).
Read "Implementation of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Practitioner Evaluation Toolkit" (pdf, 145 pages).

Zgoba Wins 2014-2015 Fulbright Award

NIJ grantee Kristen M. Zgoba was recently awarded a 2014-2015 Fulbright award to the United Kingdom, where she will study sex crime rates pre- and post-sex offender legislation.

Over the years, Zgoba has contributed an impressive body of knowledge about sex offenses and offenders to the field, including characteristics of sex offenders, predictive validity of risk assessment tools, recidivism trajectories, and collateral consequences of sex offender notification and residency restriction laws. Her seminal work on prevalence rates of sex offenses before and after Megan's Law has become a benchmark for future research in the field.

Zgoba is currently supervisor of research and evaluation at the New Jersey Department of Corrections. In 2013, she won the Peter P. Lejins Research Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a corrections researcher.

Read more about Zgoba's work (pdf, 1 page).

Recent Research Findings

Opening the Black Box of NIBIN: A Descriptive Process and Outcome Evaluation of the Use of NIBIN and Its Effects on Criminal Investigations

NIJ funded a team of researchers from four universities to evaluate the operations of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Through NIBIN, firearms examiners at state and local crime laboratories can compare tool marks on fired bullets or cartridges found at a crime scene to digitized images of ballistic evidence in a nationwide database. The study found wide variation in NIBIN sites' use of the database, with some sites using NIBIN hits more effectively or efficiently. The report offers recommendations to realize the potential of NIBIN as a tactical and strategic crime prevention tool.

Read the full report (pdf, 116 pages).
Learn more about NIBIN and the NIJ evaluation.

Monitoring High-Risk Gang Offenders With GPS Technology: An Evaluation of the California Supervision Program

California has roughly 250,000 gang members, belonging to 336 different gangs. The National Gang Intelligence Center estimates that in jurisdictions like California with a large concentration of gang members, gangs are responsible for at least 90 percent of crime.

In response, California has been using GPS to monitor high-risk gang offenders placed on parole. This NIJ-funded evaluation examined the effectiveness of California's strategy. The results suggest that GPS monitoring — integrated into a traditional parole supervision regime — is associated with decreased odds of arrests but increased odds of parole violations compared with traditional parole supervision. Moreover, some preliminary evidence indicates that those monitored by GPS are significantly more likely to return to custody than non-GPS-monitored parolees.

Read the full report (pdf, 112 pages).

Predictive Policing: The Role of Crime Forecasting in Law Enforcement Operations

Through a grant from NIJ, the RAND Corporation released Predictive Policing: The Role of Crime Forecasting in Law Enforcement Operations (pdf, 189 pages), a practical guide for departments interested in using predictive policing. The guide assesses the most promising technical tools for making predictions and the most promising tactical approaches to act on them. Predictive policing, which involves looking at data and making connections, offers a solid prevention process to avoid and predict crimes such as gang activity and burglary.

Watch NIJ's Greg Ridgeway discuss predictive policing and ways it can lower crime.