U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Advancing "What Works" in Justice: Past, Present, and Future Work of Federal Justice Research Agencies

NCJ Number
Justice Evaluation Journal Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: 2018 Pages: 151-187
Date Published
January 2019
37 pages
This article highlights key milestones, distinctive features, and the changing landscape of justice research over the past 50 years, reviewing the distinctive role that federal science agencies have had in determining what works and in advancing evidence-based approaches to crime and justice.
Since the 1960s, research on crime, delinquency, and justice has achieved significant milestones in program evaluation. Advances have been made in identifying and cataloging evidence-based programs, practices, and policies for juvenile and criminal justice. These efforts have assisted in refining the definition of "evidence-based programs." This review extends the examination of current federal efforts to set future directions for evaluation and evidence-based work in the criminal justice field. It suggests important directions for the future, including the importance of program context, the trade-offs between implementation fidelity and experimentation, and the added value of supporting programs with decision-making tools and platforms. The article concludes with some insights about how current approaches to program evaluation may further evolve and expand, especially in the areas of program implementation, adaptation, and support for local capacity. The outcome should be a deeper understanding of the potential and the limitations of evaluation evidence in determining what does and does not work in achieving the goals of juvenile and criminal justice. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019