OF THE HONORABLE DANIEL MARCUS ACTING ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AT THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION CHANGE: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE ON MONDAY, JULY 17, 2000 WASHINGTON, DC
I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this conference. I know that, over the years, many critical research findings have been introduced here. I have reviewed this year's program of presenters and topics, and I can see why this conference attracts the leading researchers and practitioners in the criminal justice field.
I can assure you that new research findings get top-level attention at the Justice Department. Never before in the Department have research and evaluation been viewed as such critical elements of justice practice and policy. From the Attorney General on down, the Department's leadership views research and evaluation as priorities -- as integral parts of our efforts to administer justice in this country and to improve the operations of the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Research makes an invaluable contribution to justice in America. And it's critical that front-line practitioners have the data and information they need to make informed decisions about criminal justice policy and programming.
For too long in this country, we based criminal justice policy and practice on assumptions about what we thought would work, rather than on sound data that tell us what, in fact, works or is promising.
We need to have data and knowledge driving crime policy. We need to base our programming and funding decisions on facts, analysis, statistics, and science. We need you to continue the kind of high quality research you've done over the past 20 or 30 years - research that's already made such an enormous contribution to the criminal justice field.
Thanks in large part to your work, we now know more about what works in preventing and controlling crime than we've ever known before. Over the last 7 years, as we've learned how to turn research results into practice, we've seen crime rates dropping.
But confronting crime is a continual challenge. While we've made important progress in reducing crime and improving the justice system, we still have a long way to go to ensure the safety of our communities. There are many issues for researchers and practitioners still to resolve. And there are new challenges to address in this constantly changing world.
It was only a decade ago that leading police departments began to recognize that traditional methods of patrol were not achieving the results they desired. Significant research studies confirmed their beliefs. And the shift from reactive to proactive community policing and problem-solving emerged from this mix of practice and research.
Today, almost two-thirds of police agencies in this country have formal community policing programs to prevent and control crime. And, increasingly, they are using crime data and geographic information systems, called GIS, to identify and tackle hot spots of crime in their communities.
This same kind of data-driven, problem-solving, community-based approach has given rise to community prosecution and community courts. And we're now testing this concept to help offenders returning to the community after incarceration make a successful reentry.
We're also seeing more and more collaboration - both among the criminal justice system components and with other disciplines, such as the health community, education, and social services.
In fact, throughout the criminal justice field, we're seeing a new willingness to take risks, to try new things, and to take on new roles.
But the more things change, the more we need research and evaluation to guide our funding, programming, and policy decisions. I'd like to talk about what I see as some of the critical areas where research and evaluation can make a significant contribution to our criminal justice knowledge.
First, we need more information about the impact of community policing and other innovative approaches. What impact are these new approaches having on our neighborhoods? What impact are they having on crime itself? And what is the impact on law enforcement and other criminal justice practitioners?
This leads me to a second challenge. We need to ensure that, as we're implementing new approaches, we build research and evaluation into our programs at the front end. We need to ensure that as new programs are developed, that we have built in the capacity to collect data and assess how these programs are doing.
As we're doing in SACSI and COMPASS, two programs Mary Lou talked about this morning, we need to ensure that researchers and practitioners are working together to identify problems, guide implementation of interventions, evaluate progress, and disseminate data.
Third, we need to build research and evaluation capacity at the state and local levels. Federal support for research and evaluation is critical. But crime in this country is primarily a state and local responsibility. So we need to enhance state and local capacity to assess their crime statistics, analyze risk factors, and conduct research and evaluation to inform local planning and programming.
I know NIJ has already begun to address this issue by supporting local research-practitioner partnerships. But we need to foster support for this kind of research and evaluation among state and local stakeholders, as well.
Fourth, we have to work to ensure adequate funding for criminal justice research and evaluation. Although we've seen bipartisan support in Congress in recent years for research and evaluation, this remains a very small percentage of the Department's budget.
We need to ensure that those holding the purse strings at the federal, state, and local levels understand the critical role research plays in informing criminal justice policy and practice.
Fifth, we have to ensure that research addresses the issues of real concern to the criminal justice community. For example, we need to look at the impact of technology - both on crime and on the criminal justice system. We know that technology has led to new ways of analyzing crime data, sharing information, and improving operations.
But there's also a dark side to the technological revolution. More and more criminals are learning how to commit new and more ingenious crimes using the Internet and other advanced technology. From identity theft, to cyberterrorism, to cyberstalking, to Internet-based child pornography rings, our high-tech age offers a wealth of opportunity for the cybercriminal.
The Attorney General has made battling cybercrime one of her top five priority areas for the Justice Department. For Fiscal Year 2001, she's asked Congress for $37 million in increased funding to continue to wage the war against cybercrime and to create a permanent network of experts dedicated to preventing and prosecuting high-tech crime.
But we need research to focus on this problem, as well. We need better data on the extent and impact of cybercrime. We need to know how police and prosecutors can better combat this crime. And, because of the transnational nature of cybercrime, we need to work with our colleagues in other nations to examine cybercrime that crosses national borders.
I know NIJ's International Center has begun to look at the problem of transnational crime. And our Bureau of Justice Statistics has been working to collect data on cybercrime -
- By adding questions to its National Crime Victimization Survey to determine the public's exposure to computer crime.
- By gathering data on computer crime units in state and local law enforcement agencies.
- And by working with the Business Software Alliance to facilitate the collection and reporting of statistical information on cybercrime and its impact on the business community.
For 2001, we've requested $1 million to enable BJS to expand this work into a National Computer Crime Statistics Program. This new program would gather information on the incidence and prevalence of computer crime, its cost and consequences to victims, and the prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of cybercriminals. This is so important, because right now we really don't know how much cybercrime is costing America.
While I've emphasized these five critical areas of research that are directly relevant to current policing issues, there are other issues that call for research, as well. One is the implications for our criminal justice system of policies allowing serious juvenile offenders to be tried as adults.
The number of juvenile offenders in adult correctional facilities represents a very small percentage of the correctional population in the United States. Nevertheless, a recent study found that the juvenile population in adult prisons has tripled since 1990.
We need to know more about how corrections officials are dealing with juveniles sentenced to adult facilities. We need to know more about the impact of these policies on juvenile offenders and on the correctional system itself. And we need to know what special programming or other resources are effective in dealing with juveniles in the adult system.
Preliminary research suggests the troubling conclusion that juveniles who are sentenced as adults have higher rates of recidivism than juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent.
Research also needs to examine the issues posed for the juvenile and criminal justice systems by offenders with mental health problems - a topic you heard much about this morning. Few policies, procedures, or standards currently exist to help criminal justice officials manage this group of offenders. And there are many questions that need answers. For example -
- How can we appropriately divert offenders with serious mental health problems out of the criminal justice system into treatment?
- How can we effectively deploy police crisis intervention teams and other diversion approaches?
- How can we develop strategies for integrating jail or prison operations and the mental health system to better serve mentally ill inmates?
- How can we more effectively coordinate services and resources?
In addition, we need to assess and document the various approaches being used in the newly emerging mental health courts. And we need to measure the prevalence of mental illness among adult inmates using tools other than self-reporting.
There are many other cutting-edge issues, where research is so important to help us develop sound policies and practices. For example, we need to know more about preventing domestic violence, effectively treating batterers, and compassionately treating victims.
As the field of family violence has matured, we've learned that the violence problems experienced by families are not discrete. Families in which violence occurs are more likely to be plagued by poverty, to experience associated problems, such as substance abuse and mental illness, and to endure multiple forms of family violence.
For example, research suggests that children in homes where domestic violence occurs are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 15 times higher than the national average.
So we need to know more about how to intervene effectively with families that experience violence. We need research and evaluation efforts that focus on the family as the unit of analysis in domestic violence research, in addition to research on the individual victim or the abuser.
We need to know more about the impact of violence on children - both as victims and as witnesses. And we cannot -- and must not -- discount the impact of violence on our elders.
The final issue I'd like to raise today is police use of force. Over the past 10 years, there's been a growing level of police professionalism and a national shift toward community policing that involves citizens in our policing efforts.
But we also know that there are places where distrust and tensions are high on both sides. Too many citizens - especially those living in minority communities - continue to mistrust the law enforcement officials on whom they must rely for protection. We know all too well that the lack of respect or abuse that some people experience at the hands of some officers can poison the well of confidence that is essential to effective policing.
High-profile incidents involving the use of force, whether legally "excessive" or not, fuel mistrust and create hostility. This is especially true where it appears that racial bias or stereotypes played a role in the decision of whether to use force or how much force to use. These problems are not limited to any one department or any one city. They are national in scope and touch people everywhere.
In order to continue our progress in battling the ongoing violent crime problem, a solid trusting relationship between our communities - especially our minority communities - and those in law enforcement is essential. But this relationship can only be developed and fostered if we address head on the concerns and questions that persist. Research and evaluation can play a critical role in helping to find answers in this troubling area.
For example, does our police training adequately prepare officers for everyday encounters, as well as violent confrontations? An officer's language and behavior during interactions with citizens often frame the reaction of citizens and their attitudes toward the police. What "disengagement" techniques are successful in helping an officer avoid situations where he or she may have to use force?
How can we ensure that officers don't allow their experiences in dealing with crime and violence, and the stress of police work, color their perceptions of an entire community and develop into suspicions based on stereotypes?
One way to begin to address this difficult problem is by collecting data on the persons who are stopped by law enforcement officials. By providing information about the nature, character, and demographics of police enforcement patterns, data collection can shift the rhetoric surrounding racial profiling from accusations, anecdotal stories, and stereotypes to a more rational, informed discussion about the appropriate allocation of police resources.
Since last year, there's been a tremendous increase in the number of jurisdictions that have committed to collecting data on their traffic, and in some cases, pedestrian stops. State police in Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Washington State are recording and making public the racial and ethnic pattern of their traffic stops.
In California, 45 local police departments have begun to implement data collection systems. In addition, last June, the President directed the major federal law enforcement agencies to begin data collection pilot programs at the beginning of this year.
As part of our efforts on racial profiling, the Department is funding a resource guide on data collection that describes how several agencies are collecting traffic stop data and what obstacles they faced in developing their systems.
But we need further research and evaluation in this area to help find common ground, to develop "best practices" for interactions without resorting to violence, and to build trust between law enforcement and minority communities.
I want to thank you for all you've already done to help our nation find solutions to some of the difficult questions posed by these and other issues. And I urge you to continue to tackle the tough issues, to ask the hard questions, to tell us what we've done right and when we've failed.
You may be sure that the Justice Department, the criminal justice community, and the nation eagerly await new findings that can help point the way for the future of our justice system. We look forward to learning from you.