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Blog Post

Database of Effective Programs Can Help Make Communities Safer

This post is based on the remarks of Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney for DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, before the International Community Corrections Association on September 13, 2011.  ICCA presented Ms. Robinson with its Margaret Mead award in recognition of her leadership and innovation in advancing the goals of community-based correctional programming.  Our knowledge of effective criminal justice programs has grown considerably in recent years. Evidence has become our lodestar, and I've watched with pride as practitioners, policymakers, and politicians have turned to science for answers.  With today’s budget challenges, our need for answers—that have proven results, based on research—has never been greater. Even before I returned to the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in 2009 as the Assistant Attorney General, I thought we needed to improve the way OJP and the justice community use evidence to make program and policy decisions.  While I was at the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, I testified before Congress about the need for a "What Works" Clearinghouse to help spread knowledge about effective programs and practices in the criminal and juvenile justice fields.  This June, we proudly announced, a searchable database of 150 justice-related programs, each accompanied by an effectiveness rating.  Database users can locate programs across an array of justice topics, ranging from corrections and reentry to courts, crime and crime prevention, drugs and substance abuse, forensics and technology, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and victims and victimization.  Each program profile includes a description of its target audience, evaluation outcomes, costs, and other important details practitioners look for when deciding how to best meet the needs of their communities. Most importantly, every program has been assessed by a team of researchers and subject matter experts. These experts have rigorously examined evaluation findings and related research to figure out which programs are effective, promising, or have no effects. These ratings give policymakers a sense of which programs are tried-and-true, and which programs may require adjustments or new approaches to get the best results. I encourage practitioners and policymakers to visit the site-- and to use it. is a practical tool to translate research about effective justice programs into practices that will make our communities safer.
Updated April 7, 2017