Sara R. Jeffries, M.A. David L. Myers, Ph.D. Anne Kringen, Ph.D. University of New Haven
Ronald W. Schack, Ph.D. The Charter Oak Group
Acknowledgements: Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) was organized around a task force, consisting of agencies from both New Haven and Bridgeport, to support crime prevention and gun violence reduction efforts for at-risk youth in inner cities. The Project Safe Neighborhood initiative would not have been successful without the cooperation of the task force members and their representatives:
• Connecticut Board of Education • Bullard-Havens Technical High School • Connecticut Business and Industry Association • Eli Whitney Technical High School • Integrated Wellness Group • New Haven Office of the Mayor • The Charter Oak Group • The Justice Education Center, Inc. (TJEC) • Researchers at University of New Haven • U.S. Attorney’s Office • Workforce Development Board in Bridgeport • Youth STAT Youth Services Program • Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support (or VETTS) • Clinical Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Staff at Fairfield University • Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch
Note: This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-GP-BX-0012 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
This article previously appeared in ACJS Today. Permission was granted to republish it here.
In the recent issue of Justice Policy Journal, Johnson and colleagues explore the use of research evidence by criminal justice professionals. In particular, the researchers discuss the underutilization of research evidence into policies and practices. Evidence-based practices serve an important role in the development and continued success of criminal justice policies and practices. Through use of research evidence, the criminal justice system can better understand the impact of various programs and develop targeted strategies. In the absence of these evidence-based practices, strategies are at a much higher risk of failing or even worsening a current situation. For criminal justice practitioners, successfully integrating this research into policy decisions can be accomplished in variety of ways. In this article, the authors provide a thorough review of current practices and describe different ways of improving evidence-based practices. To do so, three core issues are addressed in this article: the research-practice gap in the criminal justice system, strategies for increasing the use of research evidence in decision-making, and suggestions for future research.
In the recent decades, research concerning juvenile offenders has greatly expanded and become quite influential in the shaping of policies and practices. In particular, research has consistently shown that juvenile populations represent a unique population of offenders and that distinct treatments are appropriate. Based on these findings, Harvell and colleagues (2018) argue that the criminal justice system must recognize such differences. Unlike adult offenders, juveniles are still developing both psychologically and biologically. As a result, juveniles often have lower self-control, especially during emotional situations. In these instances, behavior can be widely affected and delinquency can result (Harvell et al., 2018; National Research Council, 2013). Creating strategies that are specifically tailored to juvenile offenders is the most effective course of action to reduce reoffending. In their research report, Harvell et al. (2018) stress collaboration between researchers and practitioners, particularly within juvenile probation.
One of the greatest human rights violations in today’s world is human trafficking, which has been growing at an alarming rate. Every year, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders; 80% of them are females, of which about half of those are children (U.S. Department of State, 2004, p. 6). This epidemic is complicated, involving not just neighboring or within countries, but across different continents. In 2014, the number of different trafficking flows was more than 500 (UNODC, 2016, p. 1). With the United States being one of the top 10 destination countries, an outrageous number of persons are trafficked into this country every year. According to the annual report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), most of the victims brought into North America are from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Most of these trafficked persons are brought into the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor, and the direst part is that due to the covert nature of this crime, it is hard to find the source countries for this trafficking (U.S. Department of State, 2009).
Sexual assaults, regardless of when and where they occur or to whom they victimize, are a serious public health problem that brutally harms victims, both physically and mentally. The statistics demonstrating the pervasiveness of sexual assaults in the United States are astounding. Nearly one in three women and approximately one in six men suffer from some form of sexual violence during their lifetime (Zapp, Buelow, Soutiea, Berkowitz, & DeJong, 2018). Non-majority populations, inclusive of “persons with disabilities, certain racial/ethnic groups and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” are more likely to be victimized than their peers (Zapp, et al., 2018, p. 2). More particularly, females between the ages of 18- and 24-years old experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assaults (Moore & Baker, 2018). Research indicates that “depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation” are both the long and short-term health consequences for victims following attacks (Fedina, Holmes, & Backes, 2018, p. 76). Assault victims may be even more susceptible to revictimization, academic suffering, and the engagement of risky behaviors, including drug experimentation and binge drinking (Fedina, et al., 2018). Therefore, any reductions in sexual assaults will benefit at-risk victim populations.
Crime detection and prevention are two important duties performed by police on a daily basis. There is a fine line to observe when it comes to crime prevention and protecting an individual’s Constitutional rights. Advocates for implementing the crime control model would agree with routine enforcement of stop-and-frisk, as a proactive police response. On the other end of the spectrum, proponents of the due process model pose it is just another form of bias-based policing and racially motivated. This paper will discuss the concept of stop-and-frisk, while giving the reader an opportunity to determine if it is a proactive police response to crime or bias-based policing.
Suicide, “an inward-directed act of violence,” has been a consistent problem in the United States and internationally (Title & Paternoster, 2000). According to the 2016 National Center for Health Statistics Brief, “suicide is an important public health issue involving psychological, biological, and societal factors” (Curtin, Wagner, & Hedegaard, 2016, p. 1). Based on data between 1999 and 2013, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places suicide as one of 15 leading causes of death for individuals between 10 and 64 years of age, especially among adolescents and young adults. In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death among all races and sexes for ages 10-24, and the fifth for ages 25-44 (see Figure 1.)
Evidence-based practices are accepted as the gold standard within criminal justice agencies. In some instances, what works on paper is carried out effectively in the field, whereas in others, barriers are met by the realities of the front line. In corrections, there are eight accepted principles believed to reduce recidivism of offenders: the use of risk assessments, the need to enhance motivation, targeting interventions, matching offender traits with interventions, use of cognitive behavioral therapy, strengthening pro-social influences, adhering to program principles, and the use of data to guide actions (NCSC, 2018). These principles and the challenges perceived to their implementation are discussed below, from the point of view of a practitioner working in an institutional correctional setting.
Community policing exists to enhance public trust in law enforcement officers. In contrast to the focus of traditional policing, community-oriented policing focuses on the community’s involvement in law enforcement’s efforts to prevent crime (Gill, Weisburd, Telep, Vitter, & Bennett, 2017). Community policing policy is always in progress. It was first implemented in the United States in the 1980s, and since then, the policy has changed very little (Adegbile, 2017). The focus remains on strengthening community-policing relationships. Community policing units are designed to respond to minor problems in the community, whereas the patrol officers are free to respond to calls regarding crimes. One of the objectives of the community policing approach is to make neighborhoods safer through cooperation with the public.
Substance abuse among adolescents is a growing public health concern within the United States. While adolescents account for roughly 8% of all substance abuse treatment admissions (SAMHSA, 2016), Winters and colleagues (2013) assert that only 10% of adolescents in need of drug therapy are actually receiving treatment. While illicit drug use extends across multiple age groups, initiation during adolescence can prove especially harmful to these youth. For adolescents, early substance use makes them more susceptible to drug addiction and dependence (Hurd, Michaelides, Miller, & Jutras-Aswad, 2013). In addressing this issue, national policies often center around two principle facets: drug education and applying standard treatment for teenage abusers. Unfortunately, current policies for these two facets are proving to be inferior and even ineffective when applied to this issue. Policymakers should reevaluate these policies and explore new avenues, particularly those in drug prevention and treatment. For adolescent substance abuse, superior policy alternatives exist that are better suited for adolescent substance abuse.