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A Look Back on 2023

During 2023, OJP continued its work to advance equity and improve community safety. OJP’s program offices contributed to this mission in abundance, with groundbreaking reports, programs and more. Here are some of the program office achievements during the last year:

Speaker at podium in suit speaks while seven panelist watch. Graffiti mural in background.
Pictured from left to right: OJP Senior Advisor Eddie Bocanegra (speaking), Tania Mireles of the Boston Public Health Commission, Erika Gebo of Suffolk University, Chief Robert Pistone of the Haverhill Police Department, Trevor Fronius of WestEd, David Cifredo of UTEC, Mo Barbosa of Health Resources in Action and Carl Miranda of Roca Boston.

Community Violence Intervention: An OJP-Wide Commitment

Program offices across OJP joined together to help communities build the infrastructure to address gun violence and disrupt the cycle of trauma and victimization. OJP awarded more than $90 million under the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative to support local programs, build capacity, provide training and assistance, and conduct research and evaluation. These resources bring OJP’s total funding for CVI programs and strategies to almost $200 million, an unprecedented level of federal investment in these innovative approaches to community violence.

National Institute of Justice

A ground-breaking report supported by NIJ and DOJ’s Office for Access to Justice studied contemporary public defense system models in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which stated that for criminal cases to be fair, defense lawyers are necessary and are not luxuries. The researchers found that 60 years on, whether Gideon has been fulfilled is, at best, an open question in most state and local criminal courts.

In addition to celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Gideon decision, NIJ also released the first update to body armor standards in 15 years and published findings from a rigorous evaluation of Restoring Promise, a prison housing initiative that has been found to reduce violence and improve correctional culture.

African American male in suit stands in front of of seated audience. Text reads Gideon at 60: A Snapshot of State Public Defense Systems and Paths to System Reform
mulit-colored silhouettes of people. Text reads 50 year NCVS Anniversary. 1973-2023

Bureau of Justice Statistics

The National Crime Victimization Survey – the main source of information on criminal victimization in the United States – marked its 50th anniversary. The survey captures information on nonfatal crimes reported to police and those that are not reported. Part of what makes NCVS unique is that it also collects details on various aspects of crime, including engagement with law enforcement, victim support services and the outcomes of a victimization incident. The NCVS is currently in redesign to improve the efficiency, reliability and utility of the survey for many years ahead.

Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking

The SMART Office, through its Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program, awarded over $16 million for the purposes of developing and enhancing programs designed to implement the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. The program supports a variety of projects to further SORNA implementation, such as the upgrade of registry systems, the digitization of criminal history records, training and technical assistance, the procurement of hardware and software, the hiring personnel and consultants to assist in developing SORNA-compliant registration and notification programs, and the facilitation of information sharing and access among jurisdictions. Recipients of AWA funding included 24 tribes, 21 states and 2 territories.

Group photo of SMART Office staff in front of wall with standing flags and art
SMART Office group photo, 2023
OVC Director Kris Rose stands in front of large lighted sign that reads Every Voice
OVC Director Kris Rose at the National Conference on Domestic Violence.

Office for Victims of Crime

OVC continued efforts to update the VOCA Victim Compensation Guidelines to ensure that all victims of crime have access to crime victim compensation. OVC has undertaken an extensive process for conducting the outreach, research and stakeholder engagement necessary to put forward good recommendations for the changes that are needed. They have heard from survivors, direct service providers, state administrators, national advocacy organizations and federal and tribal leaders. The next step is to publish the recommended updates in the Federal Register. 

Bureau of Justice Assistance

BJA released a new resource to help local government officials, jail administrators, correctional officers and health care professionals manage substance withdrawal in jails. More than 60% of all individuals sentenced to jail have a substance use disorder, compared to just 5% in the general population. BJA also opened the Jails and Justice Support Center, a resource for helping jail administrators create safe and humane environments for people who live and work in jail facilities, and organized a national violent crime reduction summit, which brought together public safety professionals and community partners from across the country to discuss evidence-informed strategies for tackling gun and community violence.

BJA Director Karhlton Moore at podium
BJA Director Karhlton Moore speaking at the launch of the Jails and Justice Support Center.
Administrator Liz Ryan standing behind a podium. Seated to her left is SULC Chancellor John Pierre
Liz Ryan, Administrator of the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, announces a $250,000 grant award to Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 

OJJDP held the first meeting of the federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to be held outside the greater Washington, D.C., area, convening in Houston where council members heard from juvenile justice professionals and visited local youth programs. OJJDP also gave a $250,000 grant award to Southern University Law Center to support the center’s work to help the Louisiana Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission fulfill its charge of strengthening Louisiana’s juvenile justice system and protecting the state’s youth. The award will enable the commission to meet its mandate to support community-based care and place children in the least restrictive conditions.

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Date Published: December 22, 2023