NIJ Journal 277: NIJ Bulletin

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Publications in Brief

Lessons Learned From Research on Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits

In 2011, NIJ awarded grants to the Houston Police Department and the Prosecutor's Office of Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan, to look at the issue of sexual assault kits that had not previously been sent to a crime laboratory for DNA testing. The goal was to understand the nature of the problem and identify effective, sustainable solutions. These four brochures offer practical lessons for criminal justice professionals, based on findings from the research teams:

  • Performing an Audit of Sexual Assault Evidence in Police Custody
  • Forming an Action-Research Team to Address Sexual Assault Cases
  • Creating a Plan to Test a Large Number of Sexual Assault Kits
  • Notifying Sexual Assault Victims After Testing Evidence

Download these brochures.

What Do We Know About Administrative Segregation in America?

Concern is growing about the effects and utility of administrative segregation in the U.S., and there is bipartisan support for safely reducing its use. In 2015, NIJ commissioned a white paper on the use of administrative segregation in U.S. corrections systems. The white paper and an executive summary, both written by Natasha A. Frost and Carlos E. Monteiro of Northeastern University, describe the historical and contemporary use of administrative segregat​ion in the U.S.; summarize issues related to its use with certain populations, including juveniles; synthesize the current empirical literature; and discuss research gaps and next steps.

Download the executive summary (pdf, 8 pages).

Download the complete white paper, "Administrative Segregation in U.S. Prisons" (pdf, 42 pages).

Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men

A new Research in Brief by NIJ grantee André B. Rosay uses a large, nationally representative sample to examine the prevalence of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. The brief provides estimates of sexual violence, physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and psychological aggression by intimate partners. It includes estimates of interracial and intraracial victimization and examines the impact of the violence. The results — which show high rates of violence against both women and men — provide the most thorough assessment to date of the extent of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men.

Read the full report, "Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men: 2010 Findings From the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey" (pdf, 82 pages).

Read an article by Rosay about his study, "Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men," in this issue of the NIJ Journal.

News & Events Reaches 400 Program Evaluations has reached a significant milestone in its program and practice holdings: It has assembled more than 400 programs and 50 practices to help inform practitioners and policymakers about what works, what doesn't and what is promising in criminal justice, juvenile justice and crime victim services., which launched in 2011 with 150 programs, serves as a centralized resource for practitioners and policymakers interested in finding information — reviewed and rated by subject matter and research method experts — about different programs' effectiveness, to guide decision-making and to encourage practitioners to replicate programs that have demonstrated past success.

Visit to learn more.

Read a new analysis of cognitive behavioral therapy programs and practices in in this issue of the NIJ Journal.

Lisa Fedina, Jennifer Lynne Holmes and Bethany Backes Win ASC's Division of Victimology 2015 Graduate Student Paper of the Year Award

Congratulations to NIJ Research Assistants Lisa Fedina and Jennifer Lynne Holmes and NIJ Social Science Analyst Bethany Backes on receiving the Division of Victimology 2015 Graduate Student Paper of the Year Award from the American Society of Criminology. Their paper, "Campus Sexual Assault: A Systematic Review of Prevalence Research from 2000 to 2015," was published in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.

The authors examined the findings, methods and definitions used in studies about the prevalence of campus sexual assault within the research sample. They found that despite discrepancies in prevalence findings, a substantial proportion of college students experience sexual assault. The prevalence of different forms of sexual assault may vary from campus to campus, so prevention and intervention strategies should start with a detailed understanding of the specific needs of a campus population.

To learn more about their work, see "How Prevalent Is Campus Sexual Assault in the United States?" in this issue of the NIJ Journal.

NIJ Grantee Work Highlighted in Science

Research is a critical part of strengthening the accuracy and reliability of the forensic sciences, and developing new tools can enhance scientists' ability to examine forensic evidence. A special issue of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's magazine Science showcases efforts being made by researchers across a variety of forensic science disciplines. These researchers, including many supported by NIJ, are trying to develop new ways to investigate and solve crimes and to apply statistics to assess the validity of current methods.

These articles feature work by NIJ-supported researchers, who are listed below each title.

"Sizing Up the Evidence," by Kelly Servick

  • Cedric Neumann, South Dakota State University
  • Chris Saunders, South Dakota State University

"How Hair Can Reveal a History," by Hanae Armitage and Nala Rogers

  • Glen Jackson, West Virginia University
  • Brett Tipple, IsoForensics

"A Trail of Microbes," by Kai Kupferschmidt

  • Jack Gilbert, University of Chicago
  • Rob Knight, University of California, San Diego
  • Rhonda Roby, J. Craig Venter Institute

"The Microbial Death Clock," by Kai Kupferschmidt

  • Rob Knight, University of California, San Diego
  • Jessica Metcalf, University of Colorado Boulder

Read free article summaries at the Science website.


The NIJ-FBI Sexual Assault Kit Partnership

Three videos highlight NIJ's work with the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, to test sexual assault kits and develop best practices to improve the quality and speed of testing.

Applying for NIJ's Graduate Research Fellowship Program

For 40 years, NIJ's Graduate Research Fellowship program has supported doctoral students across the country who are conducting research that advances NIJ's mission. The program has two tracks:

  • The Social and Behavioral Sciences program supports research in all social and behavioral science disciplines, including criminology, psychology and sociology.
  • The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program supports research in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, computer and information sciences, and mathematical sciences.

NIJ scientists Marie Garcia and Greg Dutton have made three videos with information about how to apply for the fellowship program. Find these videos at NIJ's YouTube channel.

Read more about the program and find biographies of past fellows.

Recent Research Findings

Community Policing Strategies to Counter Violent Extremism

Little is known about the extent to which police departments have adopted community policing practices, the methods they are using to address the threat of violent extremism, and what they consider to be best practices. A recent project used a nationwide survey, in-depth interviews and focus groups to better understand the extent to which law enforcement agencies are using community policing to combat violent extremism. The researchers drew two main conclusions. First, police agencies face multiple obstacles to creating community partnerships that focus on preventing acts of violent extremism. Second, some law enforcement agencies are engaged in promising practices; if applied effectively, these practices can result in greater trust between the police and the communities they serve. This trust can be the basis for addressing many threats to public safety, including violent extremism.

Read the full report, "The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing Strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism: A Call for Community Partnerships with Law Enforcement to Enhance Public Safety" (pdf, 87 pages).

Trace DNA From Fingernails: Increasing the Success Rate of Widely Collected Forensic Evidence

Evidence collected from assault victims routinely includes fingernail evidence if there is a possibility that a victim scratched an assailant. Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU), working with an NIJ grant, studied how to optimize and standardize methods for collecting, processing and analyzing nail evidence. The researchers, led by David Foran, director of MSU's forensic science program, systematically examined the variables and effectiveness of several collection methods and determined that each has strengths and weaknesses, depending on circumstances. "The preferred method in a crime laboratory should be based on the nature of the assault and laboratory capabilities," the researchers concluded.

Read the full report, "Trace DNA From Fingernails: Increasing the Success Rate of Widely Collected Forensic Evidence" (pdf, 64 pages).

Applying Lean Design to Crime Laboratories

Over the past decade, several tools have been developed to increase organizational efficiency and reduce backlogs in laboratories, including process mapping and Lean Sigma Six. More recently, a variation of Lean Sigma Six — Lean Design — has been applied successfully to the planning and construction of health care research and development and quality management laboratories. A report from NIJ's Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) presents a crime laboratory design model that incorporates Lean Design thinking into the planning and construction of forensic facilities. The report includes comprehensive checklists and guidelines to integrate Lean Design concepts and principles into the traditional approaches described in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) updated Forensic Science Laboratories: Handbook for Facility Planning, Design, Construction, and Relocation.

Download the report from the FTCoE.

Download the NIST handbook.

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