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Ensuring the Quality, Credibility, and Relevance of U.S. Justice Statistics
another involves complicated value judgments, not science. Specific constituencies for BJS data that are not represented on the panel or by groups who have spoken before the panel could make eloquent and compelling cases for their particular favored set of statistics; again, we do not wish to suggest that any weighting we could suggest is somehow paramount.
Although hoping that tight fiscal constraints may be alleviated somewhat in coming years, we cannot assume infinite resources either; we have not interpreted our task as assembling a “wish list” for everything that a justice statistics agency could do, but rather think that out suggestions are a mix of short- and long-term, low- and higher-cost ideas for improving the statistical evidence with which crime and justice policy in the United States is developed. Though we do not explicitly rank BJS’s data collections, our suggested strategic goals provide BJS with a set of principles against which its data collection portfolio can be assessed. BJS, which marks its thirtieth anniversary in its present form this year, can rightly look back on a solid body of accomplishment. But our recommendations in this report suggest that there are many directions for continued improvement; much work remains to be done to ensure the quality, credibility, and relevance of statistics on justice in the United States—to achieve the BJS the country deserves.