WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1998202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Conveying information about sound crime-fighting initiatives can help policymakers more effectively design and implement initiatives to reduce crime. To this end, the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) released Improving the Nation's Criminal Justice System: Findings and Results From State and Local Program Evaluations, which profiles six BJA-funded initiatives and encourages other jurisdictions to use these programs as models for replication.

"Real progress can be achieved only if we demonstrate and confirm 'what works' so we can all profit from the impact of over 10 years of federal funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Formula Grant Program," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "By helping communities to learn about successful approaches to fighting crime being used in other jurisdictions, we empower them to address existing and potential problems before they reach crisis stage."

Improving the Nation's Criminal Justice System is the first in a series of publications BJA will release to assist state and local criminal justice practitioners and decisionmakers. This inaugural document profiles six initiatives funded, in part, with BJA formula grant funds. These initiatives showed very encouraging results. For example:

Donovan Prison Therapeutic Community Program (California): This comprehensive drug treatment program inside the prison was initiated in 1990 by the California Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Amity, Inc. Of the 132 participants who completed treatment, only 16.7 percent had been returned to state prison custody for one or more days. In contrast, 42.9 percent of the 56 participants who dropped out of the program were returned.

Gang Violence Reduction Project (Illinois): This project was initiated in July 1992 in Little Village, which has one of the highest gang violence rates in Chicago. By providing jobs and offering educational and other services to residents of Little Village at-risk of becoming involved with gangs, the project significantly reduced gang violence in the area. Little Village, compared with six other high gang violence areas, had the lowest increase of violent gang incidents over the 4-year project period.

Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Program (New York): In 1990, this diversion to treatment instead of incarceration program was designed and implemented by the Kings County District Attorney, and in 1992 the initiative was expanded to Queens and Manhattan. By mid-1996, 1,300 drug offenders had entered the program and the number of treatment providers serving program participants had expanded from 2 to 39. Overall, 63 percent of those admitted to the program have graduated or remained in treatment. Of all the participants, 89 percent were still in treatment 3 months after admission, 75 percent stayed at least 6 months, and 63 percent stayed at least one year. These rates are 1.5 to 4 times higher than those reported by comparable treatment programs. Virtually all treatment experts agree that retention leads to decreased drug use and criminal recidivism.

BJA created the Intensive Program Evaluation Initiative to respond to Attorney General Janet Reno's charge to "find out what works and spread the word." Under this initiative, a panel will review programs nominated by criminal justice professionals, and those determined to be worthy, will be profiled in future BJA Bulletins. The report being released includes instructions on how to nominate a program.

For additional information about BJA or its programs, visit its Internet web site at: For information on OJP and its programs, visit its web site at:

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BJA 98-039

For additional information, contact Doug Johnson at 202/616-3559