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Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan

Apply for research funding! NIJ has release the Research and Evaluation in Safety, Health, and Wellness in the Criminal Justice System (pdf, 42 pages)

The application deadline has been extended to May 8, 2017.

On this page find:

Introduction​

NIJ has developed the Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan ​to describe the current and​ projected efforts of NIJ to promote the safety, health, and wellness of individuals affected by, or employed within, the criminal justice system. This document will be of interest to researchers (academic, governmental, and industry); federal, state, local, and international government partners; and justice policymakers and practitioner communities. Findings from activities that fall within this strategic research plan will be disseminated among these constituents ​and partners in ways designed to achieve the greatest impact.​

NIJ's Safety, Health, and Wellness Mission:

NIJ’s mission for safety, health, and wellness is dedicated to the development of knowledge and tools to promote safety, health, and wellness for law enforcement officers, individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, as well as those in contact with or affected directly or indirectly by the criminal justice system.

A Call for Collaboration

The research directions included within this strategic research plan intentionally span many scientific disciplines. The breadth of research is driven by the magnitude of questions that need to be addressed within the criminal justice system. NIJ envisions that the research resulting from this agenda will require both interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships between traditional researchers and the practitioner community. Finally, mirroring the need for collaboration among researchers, NIJ will seek partnerships with other federal agencies and institutions that support research relevant to criminal justice applications. These partnerships should include: co-sponsoring research awards; convening meetings to bring key players together; and providing criminal justice system expertise to discussions and meetings pertaining to safety, health, and wellness.

Strategic Priority I: Promote Research to Improve Safety Within the Criminal Justice System

NIJ is committed to building a knowledge base focused on the safety of individuals employed within criminal justice occupations, as well as individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and members of the public as they interact with the system.

Background

The National Institute of Justice has played an ongoing role in the development o​f equipment, standards, technologies, and practices to improve officer safety within the criminal justice system. These investments have included the development of ballistic vests, studies of in-vehicle safety, and the evaluation of less-lethal technologies to increase police and public safety. NIJ will continue to promote research to further police and correctional officer safety in their unique work environment. Additionally, NIJ will continue its focus on examining the safety of incarcerated populations and the public as they interact with the criminal justice system.

Objectives

The objectives supporting Strategic Priority I build on strengths that NIJ has developed over decades. NIJ has formed strong partnerships with research organizations throughout the United States, which support research on safety in criminal justice occupations, and for individuals who come in contact with the criminal justice system. NIJ will continue to work with partners, including other federal agencies, to develop improved technologies, standards, and practices to support safety. NIJ will continue to assess the safety needs within criminal justice settings, as well as opportunities for improvement.

Female law enforcement officer in yellow vest

©John Roman Images (see reuse policy). Image is used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted is a model.

Related to individuals working in criminal justice occupations

  • Objective I.1: Promote vehicular and traffic safety for officers.
  • Objective I.2: Support development, and promote strategies, policies, practices, and technologies that enhance the safety of criminal justice personnel.

Related to criminal justice interactions with incarcerated populations

  • Objective I.3: Study the unique safety concerns presented by correctional settings.

Related to criminal justice interactions with the public

  • Objective I.4: Develop policies, strategies, and technologies to promote safety in criminal justice interactions with the public.
  • Objective I.5: Develop knowledge, systems, and technologies that increase the safety of schools.

View the action plan for Strategic Priority I​.​​​​​​​​

Strategic Priority II: Support Research of Health and Wellness of Individuals Within the Criminal Justice System​

Older man discussing health and wellness issues with a medical professional

©Gettyimages, Keith Brofsky (see reuse policy). Image is used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted is a model.

Spotlight on Two Ongoing Research Projects

NIJ remains focused on​ studying health and wellness for those employed within the criminal justice system, individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and those affected by the system. The science and technology investments in health and wellness are divided into two areas: physical health and mental health.

Background

In 2014, the Taskforce on 21st Century Policing outlined a broad agenda to address a spectrum of safety and wellness needs in policing.

The “bulletproof cop” does not exist. The officers who protect us must also be protected against incapacitating physical, mental, and emotional health problems, as well as against the hazards of their job. Their wellness and safety are crucial for them, their colleagues and their agencies, as well as the well-being of the communities.

While this report had a specific focus on police officers and the communities they serve, the sentiment of wellness within the report is equally relevant for those who work in other parts of the criminal justice system, as well as those in custody. A comprehensive approach to health and wellness issues throughout the criminal justice system will improve the performance and wellness of each sector of justice and can provide a more coordinated response to the health risks and concerns of the communities they serve.

Objectives

The objectives supporting Strategic Priority II will build on prior research investments and collaborations and focus on health and wellness for both officers and individuals in custody. NIJ is specifically interested in understanding and improving the physical and mental health outcomes for those who are employed by, under the supervision of, or interact with the criminal justice system. Additionally, the focus on stress, trauma, and suicide and self-harm prevention cuts across demographic areas highlighting the importance of promoting research of these topics within the criminal justice system.

Related to individuals working in criminal justice occupations

  • Objective II.1: Promote research to improve the physical and mental health of individuals working in the criminal justice system.
  • Objective II.2: Study both trauma and suicide among criminal justice employees
  • Objective II.3: Assess the impact of criminal justice work stressors on the families of individuals employed in the criminal justice system.
  • Objective II.4: Promote science-based tools and strategies to monitor physical and mental health.

Related to individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system

  • Objective II.5: Reduce suicide and self-harm in corrections, with a specific focus on jails.
  • Objective II.6: Assess the effect of in-custody conditions on physical and mental health and the impact of these conditions on preparing these individuals for reintegration in the community.
  • Objective II.7: Promote scientifically based tools and strategies to monitor physical and mental health of individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system.
A mother comforting her young child.

©Shutterstock, Stephen Coburn (see reuse policy). Image is used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted is a model.

Related to individuals directly and indirectly impacted by the criminal justice system

  • Objective II.8: Support research to improve health and wellness support for victims.
  • Objective II.9: Support research to understand how children and families of criminal justice-involved individuals are affected by the criminal justice system.
  • Objective II.10: Develop knowledge, systems, and technologies that improve the health and wellness outcomes of criminal justice interactions and support within schools.​

View the action plan for Strategic Priority II.​​​​​​​​

Date Created: March 22, 2017​