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Federal Role in Crime and Justice Research - Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
38 pages
Based on hearings and previous research reports, a House of Representatives subcommittee examined the activities of the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (NILECJ) and submitted recommendations to improve Federal criminal justice research programs.
Although Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have responded to criticisms of NILECJ with corrective measures, the subcommittee feels that specific recommendations are still necessary. After stating that the Federal Government should be the primary funding source for research into criminal behavior and the prevention and control of crime, the report suggests a stable mix between various areas of investigation, insulation of NILECJ from political influences, and removal of NILECJ from LEAA into a new structure termed the National Institutes of Justice. Research programs in crime and justice outside the DOJ should continue, and interagency conferences should develop standards for all Federal criminal justice research efforts. A summary of the hearings covers the history of research within LEAA; legislation creating NILECJ; and its administration, personnel, and expenditures. Other Federal resarch entities are also discussed, including the National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Center for Studies of Crime and Delinquency. Several outside studies which have criticized NILECJ and were reviewed by the subcommittee are summarized. The detailed analysis of the hearings and these studies studies discusses the Federal role in criminal justice and describes the following problems that characterized NILECJ: mediocre research, lack of a long range agenda, directors who had no research experience, inadequate project review, poor image in the research community, failure to involve university scientists in research projects, little attention to causes of criminal behavior, and dependence on LEAA. Ways to remedy these weaknesses and alternative proposals for reorganizing Federal crime and justice research programs are outlined. The committee concluded that research efforts should continue within the DOJ but under a new organization with stringent safeguards. It also suggested that civil justice research be given higher priority. A list of witnesses who testified at the 1977 hearings is appended.