submitted for the record on the
Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriations
prepared for the
Subcommittee on the Departments of Commerce, Justice,
and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Harold Rogers, Chairman
March 31, 2000
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) greatly appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Fiscal Year 2001 appropriations for programs under the Subcommittee's jurisdiction, including the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP). COSSA is an advocacy organization supported by more than 100 professional associations, scientific societies, universities, and research institutes that promotes attention to and federal funding for the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. It serves as a bridge between the research community and the policy making community. Our member organizations include the American Psychological Association, American Society of Criminology, American Sociological Association, and the Association of American Law Schools. A complete list of our member organizations is attached to the testimony.
First, Mr. Chairman, COSSA and our member organizations would like to thank you and the Subcommittee for your past support of the OJP, the NIJ, and the BJS. You and the Subcommittee have been vocal supporters of the work performed by the OJP. This support has allowed the OJP, particularly the NIJ and the BJS, to address crime throughout the country.
Mr. Chairman, there is good news regarding crime and violence in the Nation. The country's violent crime rate has experienced declines in the past decade; since 1993 the violent crime rate has fallen dramatically. The nation's homicide rate has steadily declined since 1993, with much of the decline occurring in the Nation's largest cities. Arrests for juvenile homicide decreased 19 percent between 1994 and 1998. Over the same period, juvenile arrests for serious violent crimes declined 48 percent. Further, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty has experienced a decline from nearly 150 in 1973 to roughly 50 in 1998. For the seventh year in a row, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), two major sources of national crime data, report significant decreases in crime.
Unfortunately, not all of the news is good. Indeed, there are several disturbing national crime indicators. For example, the firearm homicide rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 has increased significantly since the mid 1980s increasing nearly 158 percent. In addition, the link between drug use and the commission of crime is still strong and, in fact, increasing. A 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey shows an increase in the link between drug and alcohol abuse and the commission of a crime for prisoners in both state and federal prisons. State prisoners reported a seven percent increase in the use of drugs and alcohol prior to the commission of a crime, an increase from 50 percent in 1991. Federal prisoners reported an 18 percent increase in the use of drugs and alcohol prior to commission of a crime, from 32 percent in 1991 to 50 percent in 1997.
These disturbing statistics indicate that more work needs to be done, and you can ensure that the NIJ and the BJS have the requisite funds to fulfill their extremely important missions.
Created by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the NIJ is the Nation's primary source of research and development in the field of criminal justice. The 1968 crime bill specifically calls on NIJ to sponsor special projects and research and development programs to improve and strengthen the criminal justice system and reduce and prevent this crime. To further this charge, NIJ supports both extramural (universities and other research institutes) and intramural (within the NIJ) research. NIJ engages the Nation's brightest criminal justice researchers through two investigator- initiated, peer-reviewed research competitions. The research it conducts is lauded by the criminal justice community, as well as the research community for its highly rigorous scientific standards.
NIJ's Social Science Research Program: Opening Many Doors of Knowledge About Crime
Social science research has made significant inroads into understanding the causes and correlates of crime, as well as determining some of the best methods to prevent crime. A RAND Corporation analysis concluded that NIJ's social science research effort "has helped shape the way criminal justice policy makers and practitioners think about issues, how they identify problems that need attention, which alternatives they consider for dealing with their problems, and their sense of what can be accomplished." Over the years, NIJ's social science research program has made a difference in the Nation's fight against crime. The agency's work on career criminals has opened the door to understanding the demographics of crime, as well as crime patterns and crime rates. This, in turn, has allowed law enforcement officials and prosecutors to focus their limited resources. NIJ's research on alternative sentences and intermediate sanctions, including house arrest and electronic monitoring, has helped relieve prison over-population. Similarly, NIJ's research on community policing has led to innovative law enforcement practices, as well as creating stronger and closer links between police officers and the communities they protect.
Unfortunately, because of the relative lack of funds for social and behavioral science research within the OJP there is much that we do not yet know. This point is aptly noted in the seminal University of Maryland crime study, Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising. Therefore, COSSA strongly supports the provision in the President's budget request that would set- aside one percent of funds appropriated to the Office of Justice Programs for research and evaluation to be conducted by the NIJ. This set-aside, similar to the one percent evaluation set-aside in the Public Health Service Act, would greatly augment NIJ's social science research platform. It would allow the NIJ to conduct and support research in areas that require social-scientific knowledge to be brought to bear to curb them, including: cyber-crime, economic crime, transnational crime and organized crime, youth crime, violence against women and children, violence by children in schools and at home, and white collar and corporate crime. The provision would also allow NIJ to conduct evaluations of many crime fighting initiatives to ensure the Federal funds are not being wasted on programs that do not what.
For FY 2001, the administration has requested a base appropriation of $49.2 million, an increase of $5.8 million. COSSA strongly supports this amount. The budget request will allow the NIJ to continue the work of several existing initiatives, including the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), the Community Mapping, Planning, and Analysis for Safety Strategies (COMPASS) initiative. These initiatives are briefly desribed below.
The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, established through the reorganization of the former Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program, serves as a national research platform to better understand the national drug problem and the relationship between drug use and crime. Through interviews and urinalysis of adult and juvenile arrestees/detainees in police lock-ups, ADAM has enabled local law enforcement officials and policy makers to better understand the crime and drug problems unique to their regions providing local jurisdictions the ability to tailor law enforcement policies and responses to more effectively combat crime and drug problems. The request of $5 million would allow NIJ to expand ADAM from its current 35 sites to 50 sites. It would also provide a more comprehensive view of the public health and safety issues posed by substance abuse among adults and juveniles.
The Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), begun in FY 1999, is a strategic planning initiative occurring in five cities New Haven (Connecticut), Winston-Salem (North Carolina), Portland (Oregon), Memphis (Tennessee), and Indianapolis (Indiana). The initiative attempts to bring together the research community and the law enforcement community to address specific crime problems in each of the five cites. The team, led by a local United States Attorney, includes a local researcher familiar with local crime problems, local and state law enforcement officials, criminal justice agencies, and local stakeholders. The team identifies a specific crime problem and determines the best approach to address the problem. The SACSI program is already producing results. NIJ, along with the five participating sites, has begun to catalogue existing data and has developed computer software programs to access these data to further the strategic planning process. The $10 million request for SACSI would allow the NIJ to expand this innovative crime- fighting program from its 5 current sites to 15 in 2001.
The budget request will also allow the NIJ to expand the Community Mapping, Planning, and Analysis for Safety Strategies (COMPASS) another exciting strategic planning initiative. COMPASS, following on the ground-breaking work of SACSI, is an NIJ-designed effort to further the relationship between research and practice. NIJ, led by Director Jeremy Travis, understands the need to construct a national research infrastructure that will support a much more complex set of approaches to the challenges of crime. As such, the objective of COMPASS is to develop and implement a model set of crime data systems to further strategic planning in the fight against crime and violence. In FY 2000, NIJ announced Seattle, Washington as the first COMPASS site. The FY 2001 request for $10 million would allow NIJ to expand the COMPASS initiative into nine jurisdictions, thereby equipping them with advanced information technologies and data to predict and control crime.
An extremely important aspect of any research agency is its ability to engage its constituent community and disseminate its research findings in a timely fashion. The NIJ has established a robust and healthy relationship with the criminal justice community, both researchers and law enforcement officials. Through its Research in Progress lecture series and its Perspectives in Crime and Justice lecture series, the NIJ ensures that the community is informed about important criminal justice research and practice. These lecture series also allows the NIJ to actively solicit the views of the criminal justice community.
NIJ's Technology Development Program: Saving Officers' Lives
Since its inception, the NIJ has provided the law enforcement community with life-saving technologies as well as important crime fighting and prevention information gleaned from scientific research. As an example of the former, the NIJ developed body armor that has saved the lives of countless officers in the line of duty. In praising NIJ's technology, Darrel Stephens, Chief of Police of St. Petersburg, Florida, said: "NIJ initiatives have made it safer for street police officers bullet resistant vests have saved lives of many officers since their introduction." NIJ's technology program has also produced advances in forensic science and in less-than-lethal weapons technologies. While the technology development component of the NIJ's mission is an extremely important one, funding for the NIJ's social science research mission has been relatively stagnant. We again urge the Chairman and the Subcommittee to provide a balanced funding approach for the NIJ and the Nation's fight against crime and violence.
While supportive of specific aspects of the President's FY 2001 budget request, we are disappointed that the administration once-again zeroed out funds for two block grant programs. The two programs the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) and the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) have proven extremely successful and are extremely popular with state and local law enforcement officials. The President also significantly reduced funding for a third program, the Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth In Sentencing (VOI/TIS) initiative. Two of these programs LLEBG and VOI/TIS provide signficant supplemental funds for important work performed by the NIJ. In the past, NIJ has used funds from the LLEBG to develop testing and standards, investigative and forensic science, officer protection and crime prevention, training and simulation, less-than-lethal weapons technology development, and communication and information technology development. We strongly urge the Subcommittee to restore funds for these three programs.
COSSA is delighted that the administration has requested a significant increase for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. BJS, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime and the criminal justice systems. It also provides support to state-level Statistical Analysis Centers (SACs) to collect and report statistics on crime and justice to all levels of government and to share data nationally. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), BJS' largest single data collection, offers insights into the nature of crime, its consequences, the relationship between victims and offenders, and the willingness of victims to report crimes to law enforcement officials. BJS also maintains a wide array of statistical programs in the areas of law enforcement, adjudication, and corrections, and support for criminal justice statistics capabilities in 38 states.
Like NIJ, BJS does an outstanding job in its timely dissemination of research results to government officials and policy makers to keep them informed of relevant criminal justice research findings. BJS publishes numerous research reports that prove highly beneficial to the local, State, and Federal law enforcement communities. Some recent reports include: Homicide Trends in the United States: 1998; Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 1998; Crimes Against Persons Age 65 or Older, 1992-1997; Capital Punishment, 1998; Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data; and Bridging Gaps in Police Crime Data.
COSSA strongly supports the increase in the FY 2001 request for the BJS to $33.2 million from the current level of $25.5 million. The increase will allow it to develop an on-going statistical program that provides systematic and recurring information on criminal victimization of persons with disabilities; develop and monitor statistical measures designed to examine concerns about racial discrimination in the administration of justice; begin converting paper-based collections of administrative data from State and local units of government to Internet-based, paperless collection programs; produce consistent annual measures of the incidence of hate crimes; and gather information on changes over time in the incidence and prevalence, costs and consequences, and prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing of computer crime offenses.
COSSA greatly appreciates the support the Subcommittee has provided the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics over the last several years. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views.