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Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson Speaks at the American Society of Criminology Conference
Washington, D.C. ~ Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good morning.   I want to welcome all of you to this panel on the Office of Justice Program’s Evidence Integration Initiative.   My name is Laurie Robinson, and I’m Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice.

 

I’m here with our distinguished panelists, Phelan Wyrick, Marcia Cohen, and Ed Latessa, whom I’ll introduce in a few moments.   Before I do, I’d like to take a few minutes to set the stage for our discussion.

 

For those of you who’ve followed our work at OJP over the last nearly three years, you know that our work in this Administration to advance criminal justice social science research has been one of my top priorities.   One of my earliest actions was to launch the effort you’re going to hear about today – the Evidence Integration Initiative, or E2I, as we call it.   Its goal is to advance the role of science in criminal and juvenile justice programming and policymaking, which goes beyond the specific science functions of the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

 

This is a goal happily that the Attorney General has echoed throughout his tenure.   As you undoubtedly know, he appointed an OJP Science Advisory Board at this time last year.   Al Blumstein’s chairing it, and the full board has met twice now – once in January and again in June.

 

I think it’s also important to point out that this commitment to science goes all the way up to the President.   Once again, President Obama proposed a three-percent set-aside for research, statistical, and evaluation activities in his budget request for OJP for fiscal year 2012.   It’s a source of pride for me – and should be encouraging for all of us – that we have this kind of respect and support for our work.

 

And back to our efforts in OJP, as part of E2I, I was pleased to announce at the NIJ Conference in June, the launch of CrimeSolutions.gov.   This is something I’ve advocated for since my days at Penn – a “what works” clearinghouse, with information from rigorous program evaluations that can be used to inform decision making by practitioners and policy makers.

 

In conjunction with CrimeSolutions.gov, we’ll also be launching a State and Local Help Desk and Diagnostic Center in 2012.   This will be a one-stop shop for state and local leaders and agency heads, providing real-time technical assistance and resources to help solve public safety problems using data driven and evidence-based practices.

 

I’d also like to take this opportunity to tell you about some exciting new research activities we have underway.   For example, NIJ and our Bureau of Justice Assistance are working together on long-term evaluations of adult reentry courts and demonstration projects funded under the Second Chance Act.   We’re supporting a multi-site randomized controlled trial experiment to determine how interventions funded under Second Chance will affect offender behavior over time.

 

You’ve probably heard about Hawaii HOPE – the Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement model.   It’s premised on the idea that swift, certain, and proportionate sanctions for probation violators can reduce offending and also reduce system costs.   Last year, NIJ awarded a grant to Pepperdine University to look at the long-term effects of Hawaii HOPE compared to standard community supervision, and we expect findings from this study next year.

 

But in addition to that, I’m excited that BJA and NIJ have now teamed up to develop a demonstration field experiment at four sites that are adapting the HOPE model outside of Hawaii.   Evaluation efforts for that are just underway.   NIJ has also awarded a grant, with funding from ONDCP, to the University of Delaware to evaluate programs that apply deterrence through swift and certain sanctions but that don’t have judicial involvement.   We expect findings from this study next year, as well.

 

Finally, I also want to mention some interesting work in the juvenile justice arena.   In conjunction with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Conference in October, we announced the release of several publications we hope will help bridge the research-to-practice divide.   One is a bulletin developed by David Weisburd and his colleagues on juvenile hot spots in Seattle.   Mirroring the kind of results we’ve seen from place-based research focused on adult crime, the study found that 50 percent of all juvenile crime incidents occurred at less than 1 percent of street segments, and all juvenile crime occurred at fewer than 5 percent of them.   These are important findings with clear implications for practitioners and policymakers.

 

So we’re making, I think, tremendous progress in building our research base and getting that information out to the field.

 

I realize E2I doesn’t capture every part of the science picture, but with the limited resources available to us, I think we’re addressing a very important piece.   My goal is to try to institutionalize a scientific mindset throughout OJP and across DOJ in a way that it can outlast the Obama Administration.   As the Attorney General has put it, we’d like to see science encoded in the DNA of the Department of Justice.

 

That’s my goal, and with my very capable allies – John Laub and Jim Lynch in NIJ and BJS, and Phelan, Brecht Donoghue, and Jen Tyson, who have spearheaded our E2I efforts – and so many others – I think we’ll be able to instill a respect for science that will be positive and enduring.

 

Now I’d like to turn things over to my colleagues.   Let me introduce them briefly.

 

First, you’ll hear from Dr. Phelan Wyrick, my Senior Advisor and wonderful colleague, who is the lead on E2I and CrimeSolutions.gov.   Phelan will give an overview of E2I and get into some of the specifics of our work.

 

Next is Marcia Cohen, Vice President of Development Services Group, Inc.   Marcia will talk about the process for identifying programs for CrimeSolutions.gov.

 

And last, we’ll hear from the always-entertaining Dr. Ed Latessa, Director of the School of Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, who’ll discuss some of our findings and lessons learned in setting up CrimeSolutions.gov.

 

And before I turn things over to Phelan, I want to acknowledge two staff members who were so instrumental in getting both E2I and CrimeSolutions.gov off the ground – I just mentioned them a moment ago – Brecht Donoghue and Jen Tyson.   Brecht and Jen did yeoman’s work to make my vision of a “what works” clearinghouse a reality, and I don’t think I could thank them enough for their tireless work.  Thanks, Brecht and Jen!

 

So, having given those introductions and acknowledgements, I’ll now turn it over to Phelan.

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