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Criminal Justice Research Organizations

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  • 0:03 Research on Crime Factors
  • 1:06 Criminal Justice…
  • 2:06 Types of Organizations
  • 5:44 Research…
  • 7:05 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Leanne White

Leanne has a master's degree and an independent licensure in chemical dependency counseling. She has extended experience in corrections and post-secondary education.

This lesson will explore criminal justice research organizations - how they are developed, what they research, and why their research is vital to us. It will discuss the history of government-funded research, private and non-profit organizations, think tanks, and how the research is used.

Research on Crime Factors

Have you ever wondered what makes people commit heinous crimes? Were you ever curious as to why your neighbor's house was burglarized and not yours? Has anyone ever told you that your childhood friend is now in prison but you are not surprised because you had a feeling he would end up there all along? Have you ever wondered how many criminals are truly innocent or why a person who's released from prison after 25 years re-offends only 6 months later?

These are questions that many people have about crime, criminal behavior, the law, and our justice system. Thankfully, most of these questions can be answered because of research. There are hundreds of organizations in the US that have a primary goal of conducting research and studying criminal justice related topics, including the criminal-minded brain, patterns of criminal behavior, recidivism (re-offending), characteristics of a criminal (which can be seen as early as three-years-old), the fairness of the justice system, and the efficiency of policies.

Criminal Justice Research History

Prior to the 1960s, funding for criminal justice research was scarce. Unless organizations funded their own research projects, not much research was being conducted. Because of the lack of research within the field, very little progress was being made in terms of understanding criminal behavior, reducing the likelihood of a person re-offending, and rehabilitating them in an effective way.

From 1960-1980, funding for criminal justice research increased dramatically due to crime-related issues becoming a major concern for the federal government. The government looked at this as an investment: if criminal justice professionals could research and study the patterns of criminal behavior and find effective ways to combat it, then there was a good chance crime rates would decrease, prison population would decrease (ultimately, saving the government money), and most importantly, our communities would be safer.

Types of Organizations

There are several types of criminal justice research organizations. There are the government-funded organizations, which can be explained at four levels: international, federal, state, and local.

Then there are private and non-profit organizations that are funded through an independent organization and that do not receive any funding from the government. Lastly, there are think tanks, which are groups of professors or professionals working towards bringing awareness, justice, and improvement to an area of interest in criminal justice. Let's take a look at some example organizations within each category.

International Level Research Organizations

The purpose of international level research organizations is to understand and address crime-related issues across national borders. Three of these organizations are the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.

Federal Level Research Organizations

The purpose of federal level research organizations is to look at and manage crime-related issues within the US. Federal level research organizations do the most expansive amount of research. This chart lists some of these US organizations:

National Institute of Justice
Office for Victims of Crime
National Institutes of Health and Mental Health
Bureau of Justice Assistance
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
National Institute of Corrections
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking

State Level Research Orranizations

The purpose of state level research organizations is to develop and evaluate state-wide programs. States typically have a Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) that is responsible for state-wide criminal justice research. The SAC may be associated with various organizations, including the state police, department of corrections, or a university. States may have other planning agencies and research centers as well. Some of the many state research organizations include:

Oregon Statistical Analysis Center
Arizona Criminal Justice Commission Statistic Analysis Center
Michigan Justice Statistics Center (Michigan State University)
Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services Policy and Research
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice Research and Data Analytics
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

Local Level Research Organizations

The purpose of local level research organizations is to carry-out research activities, such as pin-pointing high crime areas with a goal of preventing crime. At this level, research is usually carried out by big city police departments, like the Baltimore Police Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the New York City Police Department.

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