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The Bureau of Justice Statistics. Mission and Organization. Statistical arm of the Department of Justice Staffed by about 40 statisticians (grades 9-15) and 20 other support staff Report data on the life-cycle of a crime from when it occurs through post-correctional outcomes

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mission and organization
Mission and Organization
  • Statistical arm of the Department of Justice
  • Staffed by about 40 statisticians (grades 9-15) and 20 other support staff
  • Report data on the life-cycle of a crime from when it occurs through post-correctional outcomes
  • Five major units:
    • Victimization
    • Law Enforcement
    • Prosecution and Adjudication
    • Corrections
    • Special Projects and Recidivism
the national crime victimization survey
The National Crime Victimization Survey
  • Flagship Program
  • Measures national yearly rate of reported and unreported crime victimization and property thief, and moreover characteristics and consequences of these crimes.
  • Rotating panel survey -
    • Households interviewed twice a year for about three years.
    • Completes about 40,000 households interviews / 60,000 person interviews every six months
challenges and research
Challenges and Research
  • Ongoing challenges:
    • Very low incidence rate of crimes (21.1 violent crimes committed per 1,000 persons) => massive screening required to obtain data on crimes.
    • Currently only provides yearly national estimates
    • Given sensitivity, precise change estimates required
  • New directions
    • Desire for survey to produce sub-national estimates
    • Reduce survey costs to enable expansion
example data analysis activities
Example Data Analysis Activities
  • Goal: Measure impact of various factors on the occurrence of motions for post-trial relief in civil tort and contract trials
  • Challenges:
    • Factor effects varied by case-type
    • Factors heavy correlated with each other
    • County “climate” suspected to highly influence rates
  • Questions:
    • How to transform factors to eliminate multicollinearity
    • How to disentangle county effects from respective case profiles
simple data analysis significant impacts
Simple Data Analysis, Significant Impacts

Violent crime by juvenile offenders peaks in the afternoon; violent crime by adults peaks in the late evening

Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report

some big ideas for bjs
Some Big Ideas for BJS
  • Better linkage of data criminal justice data to understand flow through system and reasons behind progression
  • Establish a set of special recidivism studies capturing the behaviors of various populations
  • Examine the prosecution of juveniles in adult criminal courts to asses the variability across states in waiver statues and practices
  • Examine feasibility and utility of conducting officer surveys to examine:
    • Recruitment, retention, barriers to cross-agency transfer and promotion, and other career opportunity issues
    • Interactions with citizen groups, victims, and advocacy groups
  • Expand the collection and reporting of data on inmate health conditions.
strengths
Strengths
  • Greater opportunity to explore issues in more depth, and to conduct primary research
  • Greater opportunity and value placed on attending and presenting at professional conferences and working on peer-reviewed journals.
  • Surrounded by peer professionals
  • Part of the mission rather than being viewed among the “support staff.”
  • Projects affect real differences in people’s lives
considerations
Considerations
  • Government, non-profit and social science work still falls short of other industries in pay rates (but gaps have narrowed)
  • Slow to change, less ability to try new things
  • Swinging budgets – need patience
  • May need to move around to work on new things, and for advancement.
recommendations
Recommendations
  • Coursework is directly applicable to real-world problems
  • Don’t discount the theory
  • Look for opportunities to work on difficult data issues
  • Invest in a survey methods class
  • Be prepared to start with the “grunt work”
  • Look to enhance interpersonal, management, leadership skills
  • Take as many writing/presentation classes as possible
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