WELCOMING REMARKS OF
THE HONORABLE DEBORAH J. DANIELS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION
MONDAY, JULY 28, 2003
Thank you, Sarah. And thanks to you and your staff for your customary excellent work in putting together this annual Research and Evaluation Conference.
I think you will all agree with me that, in Sarah Hart, we have a tremendous asset in our efforts to infuse criminal justice policy with the science of criminal justice-related research. Sarah, as a long-time practitioner, has always understood and appreciated the need to ground criminal justice policy in scientific research, and she has significantly advanced our efforts in that regard.
I’m delighted to join in welcoming all of you to what has become the national forum for introducing and discussing emerging criminal justice research and the implications of this research on criminal justice policy and practice. Over the past decade, this conference has contributed a wealth of knowledge on the scope and impact of crime, practical approaches to crime control, innovative criminal justice operations, and effective methods for evaluating what we do.
This year’s conference will discuss a number of critical issues that have important implications for the future of public safety in this country.
For example, in this morning’s plenary, we’ll learn the results of firearms violence research, and what that research means for those who set criminal justice policy in this country. In later sessions, we’ll examine research on violence, in general, and what that research can tell us about how we can better prevent terrorism, both here at home and abroad.
Over these next few days, we’ll also discuss a range of new technologies, and the impact – both positive and negative – they’re having on criminal justice. While electronic information-sharing and other technologies are important tools for law enforcement, these same systems used for criminal purposes pose serious threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure.
Similarly, while DNA technology holds tremendous promise for identifying criminal perpetrators and exonerating the innocent, at the same time, it raises a number of privacy issues that must be addressed if we’re going to be able to expand the use DNA technology to its full potential. Tomorrow’s plenary session will discuss this important issue.
It is critical to examine privacy and other critical issues as we move forward rapidly in both these fields. We are advancing quickly, but with due care toward privacy and security concerns, in our ability to assist law enforcement with high-tech intelligence-sharing capabilities. And the President’s 5-year, $1 billion DNA initiative – about which you’ll hear more during the conference – will improve, exponentially, our capacity as a nation to use DNA swiftly to convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent, and protect potential victims – but this, too, must be accomplished with significant attention to privacy concerns.
This conference will also look at research on violence against women and its implications for preventing such violence, for assisting victims, and for dealing with offenders. Although we’ve made significant improvements in addressing violence against women since I first prosecuted these cases back in Indiana some 20 years ago, domestic violence, in particular, remains an intractable problem. I’m looking forward to learning what additional research can tell us about preventing such violence and its tragic repercussions for families, generation after generation.
Because of the important role research and evaluation play in shaping criminal justice policy and practice, these elements are critical components of a number of Administration initiatives.
Tomorrow afternoon, you’ll hear a discussion of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a major Administration initiative to reduce gun violence in our nation. As part of the PSN strategy, we’ve provided funds to research partners in each of the 94 federal districts to assist local initiatives by analyzing firearms-related violent crime data, developing violence reduction strategies based on that research, and then measuring the effectiveness of those interventions in reducing gun-related violent crime.
I look forward to hearing from our distinguished conference faculty on what more we can learn from firearms violence research that can help further our efforts under Project Safe Neighborhoods.
Research and evaluation are also critical factors in our reentry initiative. As you may know, we’re working with 11 other federal agency partners to develop collaborative offender reentry programs in 100 communities in all 50 states. These programs will provide close supervision, coupled with a range of services for returning offenders, such as job placement, life skills training, substance abuse treatment, and housing assistance.
Our goal is to protect society by helping these offenders to make a successful transition to their communities and remain crime and drug-free. I encourage you to work with the reentry programs in your state to help in the strategic planning, implementation, and measurement of these efforts.
Research on recidivism, criminal offending, and what works in preventing crime was important in helping us to develop our reentry strategy. And evaluation will help us to understand what parts of the strategy, as implemented by the states, are effective, and where it may require further refinement.
The national reentry evaluation, just getting underway at the Research Triangle Institute, also will provide information on the costs and benefits of our reentry strategy. As you know, cost-benefit analysis has long been used in the social science realm. But its application to criminal justice programming, at least in this country, is in its infancy. This is beginning to change rapidly, however, in the face of increasing demands for greater accountability in spending at all levels of government.
As you’ll hear in today’s luncheon presentation, Great Britain now requires government planners to justify every program in terms of costs and benefits. Under the leadership of President Bush, our own government is moving in this direction, as well. The President’s Management Agenda directs federal agency executives to consider program performance and results when making decisions about allocating scarce budget dollars.
And we’re being held accountable. In fact, our programs are graded by the Office of Management and Budget on how well they deliver measurable results. No longer will it be sufficient to create programs that simply sound good; all criminal justice and other initiatives funded by the federal government will now have to show evidence of measurable positive effects.
You will hear about these and other critical issues this week, and have an opportunity to reflect on and discuss them. I anticipate and encourage your active participation in these discussions.
NIJ and its collaborators have developed a strong agenca, demonstrating how research and evaluation can continue to inform criminal justice policy and practice, and I think you have a thought-provoking conference ahead of you. We hope you’ll enjoy it.
Thank you very much for permitting me the opportunity to address you this morning.