BJS’s authorizing language mandates that “[BJS] shall give primary emphasis to the problems of State and local justice systems” (42 USC § 3731), and its list of legal duties is replete with reference to performing studies “at the Federal, State, and local levels” (see Box 1-2). The second is BJS’s explicit charter—inherited from the functions of the former Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and consistent with the function of BJS’s parent Office of Justice Programs (OJP)—to provide direct financial and technical assistance to local governments and agencies, rather than solely conduct data collection functions.
It follows that an assessment of BJS’s programs and functions must pay particular attention to the agency’s interactions with state and local governments, evaluating the effectiveness of these partnerships and contemplating the role of BJS’s grant programs for local authorities. In this chapter, we discuss the centerpiece of BJS’s State Justice Statistics (SJS) program—BJS’s network of state Statistical Analysis Centers (SACs; Section 4–A)—and directly compare BJS’s work with the states to the models of federal-state cooperation in other parts of the federal statistical system. We then turn to BJS’s principal grant program, the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP; Section 4–B).
This chapter on state and local partnerships is also the most logical place to explore in depth federal and state roles in the compilation of one of the longest-standing statistical series in the criminal justice system—albeit not one administered by BJS. For decades, state and local police departments have supplied crime count data to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. As part of the panel’s charge to examine BJS’s relationship to other data-gathering entities in the U.S. Department of Justice, we discuss the current and future state of the UCR and BJS’s role relative to that of the FBI in this series; this discussion is in Section 4–C.
BJS’s network of state-based SACs actually predates the creation of BJS in its current form. The same section of the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act that authorized the new Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) to collect statistical information also directed the LEAA to (P.L. 90-351 § 515(c)):
cooperate with and render technical assistance to States, units of general local government, combinations of such States or units, or other public and private agencies, organizations, or institutions in matters relating to law enforcement.