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Looking Beyond the Sentence: Examining Policy Impacts on Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing Across Stages and Groups, and Over Time

January 12, 2023

Funded by the National Institute of Justice [15PNIJ-21-GG-02817-RESS], we used publicly available federal sentencing data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission to measure racial disparities for multiple race groups and stages of sentencing over time (fiscal years 1999-2021). We 1) measured racial disparities between matched cases across three stages of federal sentencing, represented by two elements each; 2) identified at which points in time the disparities changed significantly using time series plots and structured break analyses; and 3) used this information to systematically review federal policies to identify which might have contributed to significant decreases in racial disparities. In this report, we discuss the study's purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.

Recommendations for Practitioners Engaged in Antitrafficking Task Forces: An Evalaution of the Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Forces to Combat Human Trafficking

June 13, 2022

The Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking Program funded task forces comprised of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, victim service providers, and other stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels. This brief details recommendations from the Urban Institute's 10-site evaluation of ECM task forces across the United States. Recommendations were derived from the findings of our analysis and directly from task force stakeholders' responses to interview questions about task force recommendations and best practices. Respondents summarized recommendations across four categories including structure, operation, and funding of ECM task forces; collaboration among stakeholders; survivor engagement and service provision; and task force training, focus, and activities.

Mass Attacks Defense Toolkit

May 31, 2022

RAND researchers created this tool to advance efforts to prevent and reduce intentional, interpersonal firearm violence and public mass attacks in the United States. The goal of this tool is to provide practical strategies and guidance on deterring, mitigating, and responding to mass attacks for a variety of audiences, including public safety experts, practitioners, policymakers, community groups, and the general public.The tool is organized by the three phases of the Mass Attack Defense Chain: (1) prevent the attack, (2) mitigate the attack, and (3) follow up after the attack.

Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men - 2010 Findings From the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

May 1, 2016

This report examines the prevalence of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men, using a large nationally representative sample from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). More specifically, it provides estimates of sexual violence, physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and psychological aggression by intimate partners. It also provides estimates of interracial and intraracial victimizations and briefly examines the impact of violence. Results should be used to raise awareness and understanding about violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. 

The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing Strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism: A Call for Community Partnerships with Law Enforcement to Enhance Public Safety

January 11, 2016

More than four years ago, the White House issued a national strategy calling for the development of partnerships between police and communities to counter violent extremism. This report contains the results of a comprehensive assessment of the challenges and promise of this strategic approach to preventing violent extremism. It is based on a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies and hundreds of hours of interviews and site visits with police departments and community members around the country. Based on this research, we reached two fundamental conclusions. First, policing agencies face multiple obstacles to creating community partnerships focused on preventing acts of violent extremism. But, second, some policing agencies are following a set of promising practices which, if applied effectively, can result in increasing trust between the police and the communities they serve. These trusting relationships can serve as a platform for addressing many public safety threats, including, but not limited to, violent extremism.

Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States

October 21, 2014

This study examines the organization, operation, and victimization process of labor trafficking across multiple industries in the United States. It examines labor trafficking victim abuse and exploitation along a continuum, from victims' recruitment for work in the United States; through their migration experiences (if any), employment victimization experiences, and efforts to seek help; to their ultimate escape and receipt of services. Data for this study came from a sample of 122 closed labor trafficking victim service records from service providers in four US cities. In addition, interviews were conducted with labor trafficking survivors, local and federal law enforcement officials, legal advocates, and service providers in each site to better understand the labor trafficking victimization experience, the networks involved in labor trafficking and the escape and removal process, and the barriers to investigation and prosecution of labor trafficking cases.

Race and Prosecution in Manhattan

July 1, 2014

This report summarizes a two-year study which analyzed more than 200,000 cases. It focuses on the role of prosecutors during several points of a criminal case -- case acceptance for prosecution, dismissals, pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and sentencing recommendations -- and whether prosecutorial discretion contributes to racially and ethnically disparate outcomes. While the best predictors of case outcomes were factors that directly pertained to legal aspects of a case -- including the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's prior record, and the offense type -- the research also found that race remained a factor in case outcomes.

The Anatomy of Discretion: An Analysis of Prosecutorial Decision Making

December 17, 2012

Prosecuting attorneys enjoy exceptionally broad discretion in making decisions that influence criminal case outcomes. They make pivotal decisions throughout the life of a case with little public or judicial scrutiny. With support from the National Institute of Justice, the Vera Institute of Justice undertook research to better understand how prosecutors make decisions. Vera researchers combined statistical analyses with qualitative analyses, examining initial case screening and charging decisions, plea offers, sentence recommendations, and post-filing dismissals for multiple offense types in two moderately large prosecutors' offices. In addition to a technical report, the study produced a summary report and four podcasts.

Police Strategies to Reduce Illegal Possession and Carrying of Firearms: Effects on Gun Crime

June 1, 2012

BACKGROUNDCriminal misuse of firearms is among the world's most serious crime problems. Strategies to reduce gun violence include efforts to restrict the manufacture and sale of firearms, interrupt the illegal supply of guns, deter gun possession, reduce gun carrying in public places, toughen responses to illegal gun use, reduce demand for firearms, promote responsible ownership of guns, and address community conditions that foster gun crime. In this review, we examine research on the effectiveness of selected law enforcement strategies for reducing gun crime and gun violence.OBJECTIVESThis review examines the impacts of police strategies to reduce illegal possession and carrying of firearms on gun crime. Examples include gun detection patrols in high-crime areas, enhanced surveillance of probationers and parolees, weapon reporting hotlines, consent searches, and other similar tactics.CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION OF STUDIESStudies using randomized designs or quasi-experimental designs involving a non-intervention condition were eligible for inclusion. Eligible studies had to include pre and post-intervention measurements of the outcome measure(s) for an intervention area(s) or group(s) and at least one comparison area or group without the intervention. However, we also included studies involving repeated interventions with one group or area in which the intervention and comparison units consisted of samples of time with and without the intervention. Eligible studies also had to measure gun-related crime (e.g., gun murders, shootings, gun robberies, gun assaults). The review does not include studies in which eligible interventions were implemented simultaneously with other new crime-reduction efforts.

Community-Based Violence Prevention: An Assessment of Pittsburgh's One Vision One Life Program

March 23, 2011

Assesses the implementation, operations, and impact of the One Vision One Life violence prevention strategy, including community-building, conflict intervention, and mediation; impact on violence trends; comparisons with other cities; and lessons learned.

Developing an Actuarial Risk Assessment to Inform the Decisions Made by Adult Protective Service Workers

November 1, 2010

In 2008, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (BEAS) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), with funding provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), collaborated to construct an actuarial risk assessment to classify BEAS clients by their likelihood of elder maltreatment and/or self-neglect in the future. Studies in adult and juvenile corrections and child welfare have demonstrated that active service intervention with high risk clients can reduce criminal recidivism and the recurrence of child maltreatment (Wagner, Hull, & Luttrell, 1995; Eisenberg & Markley, 1987; Baird, Heinz, & Bemus, 1981). The purpose of this research was to examine a large set of individual and referral characteristics, determine their relationship to subsequent elder self-neglect and/or maltreatment, and develop an actuarial risk assessment for BEAS workers to complete at the end of an investigation to inform their case decisions.BEAS and NCCD pursued development of an actuarial risk assessment with the goal of reducing subsequent maltreatment of elderly and vulnerable adults who have been involved in an incident of self-neglect or maltreatment by another person (i.e., abuse, exploitation, or neglect). The actuarial risk assessment described in this report provides BEAS workers with a method to more accurately identify high risk clients and therefore more effectively target service interventions in an effort to protect their most vulnerable clients.

A National Portrait of Domestic Violence Courts

December 1, 2009

A growing number of criminal courts nationwide handle domestic violence cases on separate calendars, termed domestic violence courts. There are now 208 confirmed domestic violence courts across the U.S. (Center for Court Innovation 2009). More than 150 similar projects have been established internationally. Some domestic violence courts emerged in the context of the broader "problem-solving court" movement and share characteristics with other specialized courts, such as separate dockets and specially trained judges. However, the origins of domestic violence courts are also distinct, growing out of the increased attention afforded domestic violence matters by the justice system over the past 30 years. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, this study explores how criminal domestic violence courts have evolved, their rationale, and how their operations vary across the U.S. This study does not test whether domestic violence courts reduce recidivism, protect victims, or achieve other specific effects -- although we provide a thorough literature review on these points. Rather, our aim is to present a comprehensive national portrait of the field as it exists today, laying the groundwork for future information exchange and research.