Court and Justice System Research Priorities
To inform and assist policymakers and practitioners grappling with the myriad issues and demands of today’s criminal courts, the National Institute of Justice has identified high-priority research, development and evaluation needs. Those high-priority goals include:
- Develop sophisticated understanding about trial court organization, structure and leadership to improve the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of trial courts.
- Evaluate specialized courts and specialized prosecution strategies.
- Create knowledge about sentencing strategies, plea bargaining, time served and specialty courts so that the public is protected, offender criminality is reduced and system costs are most effectively managed.
- Evaluate court services for litigants and other participants with special needs.
- Improve understanding of how the introduction of new, sophisticated scientific evidence into court systems is affecting the system.
- Develop improved, unobtrusive means to accurately detect a broad spectrum of contraband to preclude its introduction into public venues.
- Develop improved, unobtrusive means to accurately detect a broad spectrum of contraband to preclude its introduction into courthouses.
- Develop “Intelligent” decision support systems, including optimizing sentencing (e g , institutionalization, probation, parole, therapy, electronic monitoring or treatment), taking into account cost, safety and recidivism issues.
- Develop improved information and data systems that link an individual’s records and citations across various criminal justice databases from the time.
These priorities inform decisions about the scope of future work and the dissemination of NIJ-sponsored knowledge and technologies. At the same time, NIJ maintains the flexibility to respond to emerging needs and to consider the merits of individual projects that may contribute to other worthwhile goals.