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Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons From Boston

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons From Boston (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

The Boston Police Department (BPD) has long embraced both community policing and the use of social media. The department put its experience to good and highly visible use in April 2013 during the dramatic, rapidly developing investigation that followed the deadly explosion of two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. BPD successfully used Twitter to keep the public informed about the status of the investigation, to calm nerves and request assistance, to correct mistaken information reported by the press, and to ask for public restraint in the tweeting of information from police scanners. This demonstrated the level of trust and interaction that a department and a community can attain online. In the aftermath of the investigation, BPD was “applauded for leading an honest conversation with the public during a time of crisis in a way that no police department has done before.”

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GPS Monitoring: An Effective, Cost-Saving Option

February 20, 2014 Comments off

GPS Monitoring: An Effective, Cost-Saving Option (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

The researchers analyzed information from the state’s data management system and examined official arrest records, parole supervision records, GPS monitoring data and state cost information. In addition, they conducted a survey of roughly 1,000 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) parole officers. The survey included questions about the GPS monitoring system, caseloads, program staffing and screening of high-risk sex offender parolees.

The results showed that GPS monitoring was more effective than traditional parole in reducing recidivism and was also more cost-effective. Parolees in the traditional group — those not placed on GPS monitoring — committed new crimes and had their parole revoked more often than parolees in the GPS group. The traditional group’s recidivism rate was 38 percent higher than that of the GPS group.

Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2012-Myths vs. Reality

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2012-Myths vs. Reality (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

This special report provides an update on the status of DNA backlogs in the United States, as last reported in Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2010 — Myths vs. Reality (NCJ 232197). When the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published that report, there was no standard definition of “backlog.” Laboratories defined the term in various ways before 2011. To clarify the meaning and introduce a uniform definition, NIJ required laboratories that received federal funds to define a backlogged case as one that had not been closed by a final report within 30 days after receipt of the evidence in the laboratory. NIJ further required laboratories to define a backlogged DNA database sample from convicted offenders and arrestees as one that had not been tested and uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) within 30 days of receipt of the sample in the laboratory. The data in this report use this standard definition.

This update shows that:

  • Laboratory capacity continues to grow due to increasing automation, hiring of more personnel, use of overtime and improved testing procedures and methods. The federal government supports these activities through NIJ’s DNA Backlog Reduction Program.
  • Laboratories processed 10 percent more forensic DNA cases in 2011 than in 2009.
  • DNA backlogs nevertheless continued to increase because the demand for forensic DNA casework services in 2011 increased by 16.4 percent over 2009 demands, which continues to outpace the nation’s capacity to work DNA cases.
  • Although 52.2 percent fewer database samples from convicted offenders and arrestees were completed in 2011 than in 2009, new demand to test and upload database samples dropped 51.2 percent, so the overall workload decreased 46.3 percent from 2009 levels.
  • Hiring additional DNA analysts, retaining trained personnel, automating work processes, implementing new technologies and altering business practices offer potential solutions to reducing DNA backlogs.

Study of Victim Experiences of Wrongful Conviction

December 16, 2013 Comments off

Study of Victim Experiences of Wrongful Conviction (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

Over the past three decades, the rate of exonerations has more than doubled, growing from an average of 24 per year from 1989 through 1999 to an average of 52 per year from 2000 through 2010 (Gross & Shaffer, 2012). While significant strides have been made to identify and assist wrongfully convicted individuals in gaining their freedom and transitioning to life after exoneration, little is known about the experiences of victims during this process. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice funded ICF International to conduct an exploratory study examining victim experiences in cases of wrongful conviction in order to begin to fill this gap in knowledge. This report documents the methodolo gy and findings from the study, and examines the implications for practice and policy.

Preventing Revictimization in Teen Dating Relationships

December 12, 2013 Comments off

Preventing Revictimization in Teen Dating Relationships (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

Revictimization refers to the occurrence of two or more instances of violence and poses an enormous criminal justice problem . Adolescent girls in the child welfare system are at high risk of revictimization in adolescence. Most interventions with teens have focused on primary prevention (that is, prevention in teens not previously exposed to violence) of physical (usually not sexual) violence. In addition, interventions have frequently targeted youth in school settings, though youth in the child welfare system experience frequent transitions in housing/care that disrupt regular attendance at a single school. Thus, child welfare youth at high risk of revictimization may not receive preve ntion programming as consistently as their peers. Thus, the current study compared two active interventions designed to decrease revictimization in a diverse sample of adolescent girls in the child welfare system. The interventions targeted theoretically distinct risk factors for revictimization. The social learning/feminist (SL/F) intervention focused on concepts derived from social le arning and feminist models of risk, such as sexism and beliefs about relationships. The risk detection/executive function (RD/EF) intervention focused on potential disruptions in the ability to detect and respond to risky situations/people due to problems in executive function.

Automated Victim Notification: Landscape of the United States

December 9, 2013 Comments off

Automated Victim Notification: Landscape of the United States (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

This issue brief is the result of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ ) – funded evaluation of the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) program administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Funded in fall 2009, the purpose of this evaluation was to explore the implementation and operation of automated victim notification ( AVN ) systems in supporting victims of crime.

This issue brief provides an overview of the characteristics of AVN systems across the United States.

See also: Automated Victim Notification: Practices Aimed at Supporting Victims (PDF)

Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice

December 2, 2013 Comments off

Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice
Source: National Institute of Justice

The last thirty years have seen an enorm ous increase not only in the exonerations of innocent defendants but also academ ic scholarship on erroneous convictions. This literature has identified a number of common factors that appear frequently in erroneous conviction cases, including forensic error, prosecutorial misconduct, false confessions, and eyewitness misidentification. However, without a comparis on or control group of cases, researchers risk labeling these factors as “causes” of erroneous convictions when th ey may be merely correlates. In fact, the only way to establish what causes an erroneous conviction is to understand which factors are exclusive to erroneous convict ions as against ot her sets of cases.

The results indicate that 10 factors—the age and criminal history of the defendant, the punitiveness of the state, Brady violations, forensic error, a weak defense and prosecution case, a family defense witness, an inadvertent misidentification, and lying by a non-eyewitness—help explain why an innocent defendant, once indicted, ends up erroneously convicted rather than released. Other factors traditionally suggested as sources of erroneous convictions, including false confessions, criminal justice official error, and race effects, appear in statistically similar rates in both sets of cases; thus, they likely increase the chance that an innocent suspect will be indicted but not the likelihoodth at the indictment will result in a conviction. Finally, our qualitative review of the cases reveals how the statistically significant factors are connected and exacerbated by tunnel vision, which prevents the sy stem from self-correct ing once an error is made. In fact, tunnel vision provides a useful framework for understanding the larger system- wide failure that separates errone ous convictions from near misses.

Among the policy implications of our findings is that increased atte ntion to the failing dynamics of the criminal justice system, rather than simply isolated errors or causes, may lead to better prevention of erroneous convictions. In a ddition, our results suggest that there should be greater emphasis at all levels and on all sides of the criminal justice system, including police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, to analyze and learn from past mistakes before they result in serious miscarriages of justice. To this end, we encourage continued research on near misses among both practitioners and scholars.

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