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Ensuring the Quality, Credibility, and Relevance of U.S. Justice Statistics
Recommendation 2.1:Consistent with its legal mandate to collect, analyze,and disseminate statistical information on all aspects of the justice system,BJS should (a) document and organize the available statistics on forms ofcrime not covered by the NCVS, the FBI’s UCR and NIBRS data systems,and other major data series maintained by other statistical agencies, (b) pursue research on what new statistics could be feasibly and usefully developed,and (c) propose such new data collections as the research suggests to beboth feasible and useful. BJS should strive to function as a clearinghouseof justice-related statistical information, including reference to data not directly collected by BJS.
Recommendation 2.2:In line with its original charge and to better document and understand the contribution of juveniles to street crime and violence, the victimization of youth, and the consequences for youth and societyof their victimization and offending, BJS should develop juvenile victimization, crime, and justice statistical series suitable for describing the patternsof offending and victimization of youth, longitudinal progression of youththrough the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and reentry into the community and criminal system. Taking on this responsibility would requireadditional resources.
Finding 3.1: BJS currently gathers data about the criminal justice system but it does so on an institution-by-institution basis (police, courts, corrections) using varying units of analysis (crimes, individuals, cases) and sometimes varying time periods and samples. This approach provides good cross-sectional assessments of parts of the system, but makes it difficult or impossible to answer questions about the flow of individuals from arrest through eventual exit from the system. Yet people exit the system at many different stages in ways that are ill-understood but consequential for the effectiveness and fairness of criminal justice system processes. The cross-sectional approach misses the interfaces between the institutions, such as the large but unknown number of individuals who are arrested but not prosecuted.
Recommendation 3.1:BJS’s goal in providing statistics from basic administrative data on corrections should be the development of a yearly count ofcorrectional populations capable of disaggregation and cross-tabulation bystate, offense categories, and demographic groups (age, race, gender, education).
Recommendation 3.2:BJS should produce yearly transition rates between steps in the corrections process capable of disaggregation and cross-tabulation by state, offense categories, and demographic groups.
Recommendation 3.3:BJS should explore the possibilities of increasing theutility of their correctional data collections by facilitating the linkage of