The National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Justice Department's research agency, is taking steps to improve its relationship with criminal justice practitioners, says agency director John Laub. Speaking this week in Chicago at the American Society of Criminology's annual meeting, Laub cited several ways the institute is working to discuss justice research with those in the field. Starting next year, the agency will hold a "research day" at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention to talk to police leaders about its work. NIJ is starting an "executive session" at Harvard to discuss advances in community corrections, and a "multidisciplinary roundtable" at the National Academy of Sciences to focus on why crime rates are declining.
Laub, who is leaving his position soon to return to academia, also promised a "systematic study of how people learn about criminal justice research--how they find it, use it, and interpret it." Another speaker at the criminology session, Todd Clear, dean of the Criminal Justice School at Rutgers, offered grades for the three main branches of criminal justice in dealing with researchers in the field. Clear gave police an A for an "amazing interest" in using scientific evidence in their work, corrections a B for embracing research, and the judiciary a C. He cited the "insularity" of judges who do not use evidence-based sentencing practices.