A Quick Review of 2012 at OJP
By Mary Lou Leary
As we begin a new year, let’s take a moment to reflect on OJP’s accomplishments over the last 12 months. As always, there were many. Here are some highlights.
- First among them is our fulfillment of our mission and mandate: OJP awarded nearly 2,800 grants totaling more than $1.6 billion! This funding supports federal, state, local and tribal partnerships, organizations and individuals in their long and short term efforts to improve public safety and create and sustain crime prevention initiatives. A list of all OJP FY 2012 grants is located at http://grants.ojp.usdoj.gov:85/selector/main.
- The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention added four new sites this year, bringing the total to 10. The Forum brings together networks of law enforcement agencies, educators, health and treatment providers, community and faith-based organizations, parents and kids, to share information and support local efforts to prevent and reduce youth violence. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing youth violence—each neighborhood and community has unique experiences with violence and different resources available to them. What we’re doing is facilitating the exchange of ideas among all the parties that will inform data-driven strategies tailored to the unique problems of each site.
- With the support of OVC, five organizations collectively examined the current framework of the crime victims’ field in the United States. This will be presented in a Vision 21 report to be released this year. The goal is to find out how we can meet the emerging challenges of victim services, as well as those enduring challenges that have followed us into the 21st century. We’ve met with stakeholders from across the country and scoured the literature to find out what we’re doing right, what we could be doing better, and what gaps we need to plug to make sure victim services are as comprehensive and accessible as possible.
- In the area of prisoner reentry, many states are reporting significant reductions in recidivism as a result of our Second Chance and Justice Reinvestment efforts. To complement our 370 Second Chance Act programs, the Attorney General chairs a federal interagency Reentry Council that now has the participation of 20 executive branch agencies. The goal of the Council is to help coordinate federal activities related to reentry that ensure public safety, improve reentry outcomes, and reduce costs.
- Our officer safety initiatives in NIJ and BJA remained a strong focus. We participated in DOJ’s first ever Challenge for scientists, inventors and innovators during the “Safety Datapalooza” at the White House in September. NIJ challenged creative thinkers to find new ways to test the durability and effectiveness of officers’ bulletproof vests. Phase I winners will be announced in March, 2013. The event was part of the Safety Data Initiative, a collaborative government effort encouraging participants to build a range of innovative digital tools and mobile applications to enhance public and product safety.
- More than 1,500 attended the tremendously successful NIJ Conference in June, which focused on ways policymakers and practitioners can use scientific methods and evidence-based practices to use criminal justice system funds wisely and prudently. Strengthening the science in criminal justice practice remains a key goal of OJP.
- CrimeSolutions.gov, our website to help communities identify criminal justice programs that work, continue to grow, with now almost 240 programs on the site. As a companion to CrimeSolutions.gov, the Diagnostic Center serves state, local and tribal leaders and helps them understand and apply appropriate evidence-based practices to address the challenges in their communities. In just one year, the Diagnostic Center has developed and pilot tested operating procedures, launched its official website, and successfully entered engagements with communities spanning the nation from Virginia to Alaska.
- The first meeting of the National Coordinating Committee on SANE/SARTs in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities was held at the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) Indian Nations Conference last month. This federal advisory committee was established to identify existing resources, challenges and gaps related to responding to sexual assault in AI/AN communities and helping the victims – and to recommend new programs and solutions to improving public safety in Indian country.
- 2012 also saw the culmination of three years’ work on Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood initiative. The Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence presented its final report and executive summary with 56 recommendations in December, after a year of hearings and listening sessions with hundreds of experts and advocates across the country. These recommendations highlight the importance of identifying children who are victims or witnesses of violence and providing services to help them heal.
So to sum up: in 2012 OJP continued our strong foundation of support for our state, local, and tribal partners. We’re continuing to help the field become smarter and more effective. We’ve established close connections with Congress, the Department, and the Administration. We even hosted “OJP on the Hill” Day, sending OJP staff from all bureaus and offices to the U.S. Senate to display and discuss our programs with Members of Congress and their staffs.Our work is making a difference. And now we can share it with the world every day in an up-to-the-minute, 2013 way: please follow the links on OJP.gov to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Happy New Year!