U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Innovation. Partnerships. Safer Neighborhoods.
Justice Resource Update. Advancing the Field of Criminal Justice. MARCH 2011
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Reentry Issues: Primary Concerns and Second Chances

Reentry Issues: Primary Concerns and Second ChancesEvery year, millions of individuals are released from our nation’s prisons and jails and return to their communities. They face challenges ranging from trouble finding employment to struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. Many of them will be reincarcerated within a few years of their release. The challenges of these former inmates are not just individual problems, but rather, societal issues. High rates of recidivism threaten public safety throughout the country and place unmanageable economic burdens on both our communities and corrections systems.

Accordingly, reentry is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder convened the cabinet-level interagency Reentry Council to address the intersection of reentry with housing, health, education, employment, family, faith, and community welfare. The council will focus on collaborative efforts to reduce nationwide recidivism rates, improve safety in our communities, and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.

In addition to its contributions to the council, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is leading major initiatives to address reentry. Through the Second Chance Act, OJP is working with state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations to reduce recidivism and provide adult and juvenile offenders with the tools they need to become contributing members of their communities. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) also fund the National Reentry Resource Center, a one-stop shop for reentry information, assistance, and research.

Just last month, BJA and OJJDP supported the second annual national conference for Second Chance Act grantees. The conference, attended by more than 900 reentry practitioners and experts, highlighted best practices and promising approaches. Topics included assessing an individual’s risk for committing future crimes, designing data-driven programs, and effectively allocating limited resources.

Through conferences, resources, and grant funding, OJP strives to provide tools and assistance that will help criminal and juvenile justice professionals better address reentry in their communities. In fact, in this issue, you’ll learn about a new data tool for analyzing recidivism patterns. Of course, we always welcome your questions, comments, or feedback.

Bullet Reentry Issues: Primary Concerns and Second Chances
Bullet National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Bullet Data Tool for Recidivism Patterns
Bullet Enhancing Responses to Missing Children
Bullet DNA Backlogs in Crime Laboratories
Bullet Inmate Population in Indian Country
Bullet NIJ Journal Released
Bullet National Mentoring Summit
Bullet Podcast on Law Enforcement and Community Relations
Bullet Mark Your Calendar
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) is being observed nationwide April 10–16, 2011. The theme for 2011—"Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past"—acknowledges the contributions of victim service providers to meeting tomorrow’s public safety challenges and pays tribute to our nation’s crime victims.

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) helps lead NCVRW efforts throughout the country and hosts two prelude events in the Nation’s Capital to kick off the week. Both events are free and open to the public, and online registration is now available.

This year’s National Observance and Candlelight Ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 7, 2011. Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard and President and Cofounder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, will be the featured speaker.

The National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Recognition Ceremony will take place on Friday, April 8. During this annual ceremony, OVC recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding service in supporting victims and victim services.

In addition to these events, OVC provides resource materials to help communities and victim assistance providers promote NCVRW. Additional information is available online.

Data Tool for Recidivism Patterns

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a new Prisoner Recidivism Analysis Tool that allows users to conduct customized analyses of a large database describing the recidivism rates of prisoners released in 1994 and followed for 3 years after release. In 2012, BJS plans to update the tool with new recidivism data on prisoners released in 2005.

The tool allows users to move beyond the published statistics to explore in more detail the recidivism patterns of released prisoners. Users may examine these patterns based on one or more attributes, such as gender, age at release, race, Hispanic origin, commitment offense, sentence length, prior arrests, and prior commitments.

The tool is part of an ongoing effort to provide customized data to a wide array of users and is available online.

Enhancing Responses to Missing Children

The AMBER Alert program has helped law enforcement agencies make enormous strides in recovering missing children. Nevertheless, there are gaps in the system for those missing children whose cases do not meet the strict criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert, but who may be in danger. To meet this need, OJJDP developed the Guide for Implementing or Enhancing an Endangered Missing Advisory to help states, communities, and law enforcement that want to develop a proactive strategy for finding these missing children.

This guide provides AMBER Alert coordinators, law enforcement, and public safety professionals with an effective and efficient method for implementing an Endangered Missing Advisory (EMA) plan. It provides issues for consideration, spells out potential problems, and recommends establishing partnerships and a task force and setting up an EMA plan. The guide is divided into three sections: (1) developing an EMA plan, (2) the steps involved in activating an EMA, and (3) building and sustaining support for the plan. The guide also provides samples of state-level EMA plans, press releases, and examples of how EMAs have been used to help save missing people.

DNA Backlogs in Crime Laboratories

A new NIJ report presents the latest data from state and local crime laboratories on DNA backlogs. Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2010—Myths vs. Reality provides important updates to the 2009 report.

Due in large part to federal funding, the capacity of laboratories to analyze DNA casework has steadily increased. However, DNA backlogs in crime laboratories persist, and demand for DNA testing often surpasses a laboratory’s capacity. This report examines the myths and realities of DNA backlogs in crime laboratories and explains why backlogs persist despite the substantial influx of funding and increased capacity to analyze samples.

Inmate Population in Indian Country

The inmate population in Indian country jails increased 1.9 percent between midyear 2008 and 2009, reaching 2,176 offenders, according to Jails in Indian Country, 2009. This BJS bulletin reflects data from 80 Indian country jails, confinement facilities, detention centers, and other correctional facilities that reported inmate counts to BJS in 2009, down from 82 facilities in 2008.

Nationwide, the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives under correctional supervision in the United States increased 5.6 percent, from an estimated 75,400 offenders in 2008 to 79,600 in 2009. Nearly two-thirds of the population (63 percent or 50,200) was under supervision in the community on probation or parole in 2009, and about a third (37 percent or 29,400) was in prison or jail. In all, Indian country jails held 7.4 percent of the population under correctional supervision.

About 37 percent of inmates confined in Indian country jails at midyear 2009 were held for a violent offense, down from 41 percent at midyear 2008. Most of the decline was among the population held for domestic violence, which dropped from 15 percent to 12 percent. The percentage of Indian country jail inmates held for drug offenses was unchanged from 2008 to 2009 (5 percent each year). DWI/DUI offenders increased to 11 percent in 2009 from 9 percent in 2008.

The full report is available online.

NIJ Journal Released

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recently released its newest edition of the NIJ Journal, featuring a cover story on less-lethal alternatives in use-of-force situations. The article discusses research on less-lethal weapons, including pepper spray and the conducted energy devices commonly known as "tasers."

The new edition of the Journal also looks at a method of DNA analysis that may extend the timeline for collecting evidence in sexual assaults; equipment for protecting law enforcement officers from chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological threats; and methods for predicting crime hot spots.

Visit the Journal Web site to access all these articles.

National Mentoring Summit

The 2011 National Mentoring Summit, held in January, focused on mentoring as a means to help youth finish high school and avoid the pitfalls of crime and delinquency. OJJDP, the Corporation for National and Community Service, MENTOR, and the Harvard School of Public Health sponsored the event. It brought practitioners, researchers, and mentors together to discuss mentoring research, plan the future of the field, and highlight best practices.

Highlights of the session included speeches by First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as a panel chaired by OJJDP Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski that described OJJDP’s mentoring initiatives and stressed the importance of state, local, and national partnerships.

Complete information about OJJDP’s mentoring resources is available online.

Podcast on Law Enforcement and Community Relations

Sergeant Alan Murphy of the London (England) Metropolitan Police Service discusses Prevent Units and the importance of community relations in law enforcement in the latest BJA podcast. The BJA Podcast Series is designed to provide the latest information on justice innovations, practices, and perspectives from the field of criminal justice.

In the podcast, Sergeant Murphy explains how London’s Prevent and Engage Units built community relationships to better identify and prevent extremist attacks. The units focused on developing trusting, long-standing relationships in neighborhoods and communities that are particularly susceptible to extremist ideology. These units represent an important innovation in policing and community relations.


Financial Management Training Seminars

OJP’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer offers 2-day financial management training seminars throughout the country for individuals who are responsible for the financial administration of discretionary or formula grants.

Registration is currently open for several seminars in 2011. The full list of 2011 trainings is available online.

Crime Mapping Research Conference

On April 13–15, 2011, NIJ will host the 11th Crime Mapping Research Conference in Miami, Florida. Preconference workshops will be held April 11–12. This event will showcase a range of research findings, practical applications, new technology, and policy results. Online registration is now open.

National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

On April 17–20, 2011, the National Indian Child Welfare Association will host its 2011 Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Anchorage, Alaska. Additional information and registration details are available online.

Defendant/Offender Workforce Development Conference

The National Institute of Corrections, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and National Career Development Association will host the Defendant/Offender Workforce Development Conference in San Francisco, California, on April 18–21, 2011. The conference will focus on the intersection of employment and recidivism. Complete event information is available online.

Innovative Solutions for Law Enforcement

On April 28–29, 2011, Penn State University’s Justice and Safety Institute will hold the 2011 International Conference on Innovative Solutions for Law Enforcement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A detailed agenda and registration information are available online.

DNA in Sexual Assault Cases

On May 3–4, 2011, OVC will host a training titled "DNA in Sexual Assault Cases: The Role of Law Enforcement, SAFE/SANE Nurses, and Victim Advocates" in Missoula, Montana. The goal of the training is to strengthen team responses to sexual assault cases. Complete event information is available online.

National Gang Symposium

The 2011 National Gang Symposium, "Progress Through Partnerships," will take place June 7–10, 2011, in Orlando, Florida. OJJDP, BJA, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the National Gang Center will sponsor the conference, which will focus on successful gang-related programs and gang reduction strategies. Additional information and registration details are available online.

NIJ Conference

On June 20–22, 2011, NIJ will host its annual conference in Arlington, Virginia. The NIJ conference brings together criminal justice scholars, policymakers, and practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels to share the most recent findings from research and technology. Registration is free and available online.

Funding Opportunities

OJP’s Web site includes a complete listing of all open solicitations. Just click on Funding at the top of the site to review all funding opportunities. Don’t forget to check the Web site regularly for updates.

Contact Us

If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please contact OJP’s Office of Communications. To register to receive Justice Resource Update in your inbox, please visit www.ncjrs.gov.

Justice Resource Update is designed to help criminal justice practitioners stay informed and better serve their constituents by providing valuable information about federal resources, advancements in the field, and training opportunities. We strive to provide information you can use, and we welcome your input.

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Phone: 202-307-0703