There is wide recognition that NIJ can play a critical role in efforts to better understand crime, improve abilities to prevent and control it, and to use the knowledge gained to foster a criminal justice system that better achieves principles of justice. In a survey of practitioners and researchers conducted for the committee, nearly all respondents (99 percent) stated their belief that it is important to have a government agency dedicated to funding and disseminating research on crime control and criminal justice issues, with a majority believing it has become more important in recent years. This sentiment was also reflected in statements made to the committee by former attorneys general, congressional staff, and leaders of research and professional organizations. As the primary source of federal funding in criminal justice research, NIJ has become a central element in the nation’s efforts to control crime and improve justice. The committee agrees that a robust and effective NIJ is a critical element in the federal research structure.
The charge to the committee is as follows:
An ad hoc panel will review the programs of NIJ, DOJ. The panel will examine the full range of NIJ programs in order to assess and make recommendations for NIJ’s short- and long-term strategic planning and budgeting processes and its organizational structure. A comprehensive review of NIJ must consider NIJ’s research and dissemination priorities based on the needs of important stakeholders and the limitations imposed by budget constraints.
Such a review would address key fundamental issues:
What is the role of NIJ in supporting and sustaining the nation’s scientific infrastructure of crime and criminal justice research? How should the Institute’s work relate to the missions of DOJ and OJP? How does the DOJ utilize NIJ as a research and development resource for its assistance programs and its operational components? What questions of policy and public importance should be addressed by NIJ research? What questions should not be addressed?
What is the appropriate balance between basic and applied research in both social science and technology development? What levels and types of research are reasonable and appropriate for NIJ to support?