Legislation Impacting NIJ
This appendix summarizes legislation having significant impact on the programs and operations of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and documents changes in its mission statements over time. Box C-1 presents mission statements from different years to underscore these changes. We start with a description of the purpose and authorities originally given to NIJ’s predecessor agency through the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and then note how these authorities changed over time with the passing of subsequent legislation. We also note the appearance and disappearance of a legislated advisory board as well as of articulated research areas needing attention.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-351, Part D, Sec. 402) established, within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) as well as a National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (NILECJ), which would later become NIJ. Established under the general authority of LEAA, the purpose of the institute was to encourage research and development to improve and strengthen law enforcement. In this act, law enforcement referred to all activities pertaining to crime prevention or reduction and enforcement of the criminal law. No specific topic areas of research requiring attention were identified in the act. An advisory board was not established under the act.
NILECJ was authorized to make recommendations for action that can
Mission Statements for 1973, 1996, 2002, and 2008-2009
1973 Mission Statement for the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
The Institute’s mission is threefold:
SOURCE: Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, 1973, LEAA Activities July 1, 1972 to June 30, 1973.
1996 Mission Statement for the National Institute of Justice
Established by Congress as the major Federal agency for criminal justice research, NIJ is authorized to:
be taken by federal, state, and local governments and by private persons and organizations to improve and strengthen law enforcement. In order to do so, NILECJ was authorized to carry out a number of research efforts through “grants and contracts with public agencies, institutions of higher education, or private organizations.” These efforts, as defined in the act (P.L. 90-351, Part D, Sec. 402), included
research, demonstrations, or special projects pertaining to the purposes described in this title;
SOURCE: National Institute of Justice (1997).
2002 Mission Statement for the National Institute of Justice
NIJ [continues] to provide objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to enhance the administration of justice and public safety.
SOURCE: National Institute of Justice (2003c).
2008-2009 Mission Statement for the National Institute of Justice
Advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to enhance the administration of justice and public safety.
SOURCE: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/about/welcome.htm (accessed December 9, 2009).
the development of new or improved approaches, techniques, systems, equipment, and devices to improve and strengthen law enforcement;
studies and programs of research that addressed the effectiveness of projects or programs carried out under this title;
programs of behavioral research designed to provide more accurate information on the causes of crime and the effectiveness of various means of preventing crime, and to evaluate the success of correctional procedures;
programs of instructional assistance consisting of research fellowships and special workshops for the presentation and dissemination of information resulting from research, demonstrations, and special projects; and
a program of collection and dissemination of information.
The Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-15) established NIJ, which replaced NILECJ as well as the Office of Justice Assistance, Research and Statistics (OJARS) in DOJ to provide staff support to and coordinate activities of the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS, also established by this act), and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) (reauthorized in this act). NIJ was now under general authority of the U.S. attorney general and headed by a director appointed by the president “who shall have experience in justice research.” The director was given “final authority over all grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts” (Part B, Sec. 202). Although NIJ’s general authorities to support research efforts remained the same, the act expanded its purpose and authorizations as well as detailed areas of research attention as delineated further below. The act also established an advisory board for NIJ, consisting of “21 members who shall represent the public interest and be experienced in the criminal or civil justice systems (state and local).” The NIJ director would be a nonvoting member, and the LEAA administrator, the BJS director, and the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP, an office established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974), would serve as ex officio nonvoting members. The board was to recommend policies and priorities; create where necessary formal peer-review procedures over selected categories of grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts; and recommend to the president candidates for director vacancies (Part B, Sec. 204). NIJ was also authorized to appoint technical or other advisory committees (Part H, Sec. 814).
The purpose of NIJ’s efforts to provide for and encourage research and demonstration was now spelled out in the legislation (Part B, Sec. 201) as:
improving federal, state, and local criminal justice systems and related aspects of the civil justice system;
preventing and reducing crimes;
insuring citizen access to appropriate dispute-resolution forums;
improving efforts to detect, investigate, prosecute, and otherwise
combat and prevent white-collar crime and public corruption; and
identifying programs of proven effectiveness, programs having a record of proven success, or programs which offer a high probability of improving the functioning of the criminal justice system.
The act also specified the following areas for multiyear and short-term research and development (Part B, Sec. 202):
alternative programs for achieving justice system goals (including those authorized by Section 103, Office of Community Anti-Crime Programs, of this title);
causes and correlates of crime;
causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency;
improvements toward functioning of criminal justice system;
new methods for (i) prevention and reduction of crime; (ii) reduction of parental kidnapping; (iii) apprehension of criminals; (iv) fair disposition; (v) improvement of police and minority relations; (vi) the conduct of research into problems of victims and witnesses; (vii) participation of victims in criminal justice decision-making; (viii) reduction of court resolution in civil disputes; (ix) development of adequate and effective corrections facilities and programs; and
programs and projects to improve and expand the capacity to respond to, combat, and prevent white collar crime and public corruption.
In addition to what was previously authorized for NILECJ, NIJ was given the authority in this act (Part B, Sec. 202) to:
serve as a national and international clearinghouse for the exchange of information;
submit a biennial report to Congress on state of justice research;
make recommendations, in consultation with appropriate state and local agencies, for the designation of programs and projects which will be effective in improving the functioning of the criminal justice system; and
encourage, assist, and serve in consulting capacity to federal, state, and local justice system agencies.
The Justice Assistance Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-473) eliminated LEAA and OJARS but retained NIJ and BJS. The act established the Bureau of Justice
Assistance (BJA) as well as the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). OJP “shall be headed by an Assistant Attorney General appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Among the duties and functions of the assistant attorney general, OJP, was “to provide staff support to coordinate the activities” of NIJ, BJS, BJA, and OJJDP (Chapter VI, Part A, Sec. 101, 102). This reauthorization act repealed NIJ’s legislative advisory board and directed the NIJ director to report to the attorney general through the OJP assistant attorney general (Sec. 604). However, NIJ was given the authority to appoint advisory committees, which would be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (Sec. 807). Many of NIJ’s authorizations were retained, except attention to white-collar crime and public corruption was removed from its purpose, and reference to the Office of Community Anti-Crime Programs and parental kidnapping was deleted from identified research areas. In addition, the authority to submit a biennial report to Congress on the state of justice research was struck from its legislation (Sec. 604).
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act (P.L. 100-690) directed NIJ to:
develop guidelines, in cooperation with BJA, to assist state and local units of government to conduct the program evaluations as required by section 501(c) of this part; and
conduct a reasonable number of comprehensive evaluations of programs funded under section 506 (formula grants) and section 511 (discretionary grants) of this part.
The NIJ director was directed to annually report to the president, the attorney general, and Congress on the nature and findings of the evaluation and research and development activities. NIJ was appropriated additional funds to carry out the functions designated by this act for fiscal year 1989-1992.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (known as the Crime Act) (P.L. 103-322) was passed in response to the rising level of violent crime. In 1995, the Violence Against Women Grants Office (later to become the Office on Violence Against Women, OVW) was created within OJP and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) was created as an independent agency within DOJ to manage the grants authorized by this act. [Note: the COPS office is headed by a director appointed
by the attorney general.] In 2003, OVW became an independent office within DOJ, headed by a presidentially appointed director who reports to the attorney general (P.L. 107-283). The act included a number of major provisions regarding the criminal justice system and an appropriation of $4.5 billion a year for 5 years, little of which was directed toward crime and criminal justice research. However, NIJ’s budget did rise dramatically as a result of this act, because of transferred funds and additional appropriations. NIJ’s research portfolio on drug courts, community policing, law enforcement family support, DNA identification, and violence against women (with particular attention to sexual assault, battered women’s syndrome, and domestic violence) was supported with Crime Act funds.
The Crime Identification Technology Act (CITA) (P.L. 105-251) primarily provided assistance to states to establish or upgrade criminal justice information systems and identification technologies. Under this legislation, OJP had the authority to coordinate programs of technology development with other federally funded information technology programs, such as the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program (P.L. 105-119). As a result, significant funds were transferred to NIJ to support its technology development efforts.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 103-322) is the authorizing legislation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The act “abolished” the existing office of science and technology in NIJ and established a “new” Office of Science and Technology (OST). The mission and duties codified in the Homeland Security Act were similar to what OST had been carrying out previously. However, the act established OST as its own entity and divorced it from the oversight of NIJ. The act placed OST under the general authority of the assistant attorney general, OJP, and dictates that the office “shall be headed by a director, who shall be an individual appointed based on approval by the Office of Personnel Management.” The act allows OST to establish and maintain advisory groups, exempt from the provisions of FACA, “to assess the law enforcement technology needs of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.” The act provides that decisions concerning publications issued by OST “shall rest solely with its Director.” The act places control for the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center under OST and allows for the creation of new centers “with a merit-based, competitive process.” It also requires that all OST research and development “be carried out on a competitive
basis.” The act specified (but did not limit OST to) the following areas for its research and development efforts (Subtitle D, Sec. 232):
(A) weapons capable of preventing use by unauthorized persons, including personalized guns; (B) protective apparel; (C) bullet-resistant and explosion-resistant glass; (D) monitoring systems and alarm systems capable of providing precise location information; (E) wire and wireless interoperable communication technologies; (F) tools and techniques that facilitate investigative and forensic work, including computer forensics; (G) equipment for particular use in counterterrorism, including devices and technologies to disable terrorist devices; (H) guides to assist State and local law enforcement agencies; (I) DNA identification technologies; and (J) tools and techniques that facilitate investigations of computer crime.
The Justice for All Act (P.L. 108-405) enacted the President’s DNA Initiative. The act also expanded the Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant Program. The act called for:
eliminating the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders;
improving and expanding the DNA testing capacity of federal, state, and local crime laboratories;
increasing research and development of new DNA testing technologies;
developing new training programs regarding the collection and use of DNA evidence; and
providing post-conviction testing of DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent.
The responsibility for all these efforts and the subsequent appropriations were given to NIJ through the attorney general and OJP. The act also created a National Forensic Science Commission in DOJ that had responsibility through NIJ to “disseminate best practices concerning the collection and analyses of forensic evidence to help ensure quality and consistency in the use of forensic technologies and techniques to solve crimes and protect the public.” The commission was also charged with identifying “potential scientific advances that may assist law enforcement in using forensic technologies and techniques to protect the public.” (Sec. 306). The commission’s recommendations were useful for guiding NIJ’s forensic science research agenda.
The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act (P.L. 109-162) established the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, which was a merger of former programs, the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Programs, and the Local Government Law Enforcement Block Grants program. Under the JAG program, the attorney general reserved “not more than $20 million for use by [NIJ] in assisting units of local government to identify, select, develop, modernize, and purchase new technologies for use by law enforcement.” The Act provided for a “national baseline study to examine violence against Indian women in Indian country to be conducted by [NIJ] in consultation with [OVW].”