BJS/JRSA 2008 National Conference - October 16-17, 2008 in Portland, Oregon
  Table Sessions

1. Criminal History Study: Problems with Data

Phillip Stevenson
Statistical Analysis Center
Arizona Criminal Justice Commission

Recently, Statistical Analysis Centers have increased their involvement in research projects that use criminal history record information. As SACs have worked more closely with criminal history information, which is collected for non-research purposes (i.e., information used by police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys, probation and parole officers, and judges for critical criminal justice system decision making), we have developed a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of using this information for purposes other than for which the system was designed. This table session will focus on a discussion of the challenges and problems associated with using criminal history information for research purposes.

2. First, Do No Harm. Second, Don't Get Caught (Without an IRB)

Rob McManus
Statistical Analysis Center
South Carolina Department of Public Safety

Paul Perrone
Crime Prevention and Assistance
Department of the (Hawaii) Attorney General

Edwin Zedlewski
National Institute of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice

The protection of human subjects in the course of conducting research is a serious ethical and legal concern, and the involvement of human subjects increasingly requires review by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). While we all share this concern, it raises serious questions for the researcher. What defines an activity as research? When does research need to be reviewed? Who can approve human subject research? How do I go about getting a research proposal approved? This table session will discuss issues related to ensuring human subject protection including relevant Code of Federal Regulations, privacy certification, strategies for developing an IRB proposal and undergoing an IRB review. Data confidentiality and related issues will also be discussed.

3. Working with Communities Using a Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment Workbook to Target Substance Abuse Problems and Causal Areas

Rodney Wambeam
Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center
University of Wyoming

As part of Wyoming's federally funded Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant both the state and sub-recipient communities implement a five step public health model of prevention. This includes needs assessment, mobilization and capacity building, strategic planning, implementation of evidence-based strategies, and evaluation. As lead evaluator at the state and local level, the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center (WYSAC) played an important role in the needs assessment stages. This included the creation of a community workbook that helped local prevention leaders gather data and make decisions about their targeted substance abuse consequences, consumption rates, and causal areas. This roundtable session will show participants Wyoming's community workbook with special attention to measuring contributing factors and identifying causal areas for substance abuse problems. The session will also focus on how this model can be applied in other states or to other issues.

4. SACs' Challenges & Opportunities: An Open Forum to Generate Ideas with Colleagues

Carmen Dorsey
Muskie School of Public Service
University of Southern Maine

Mark Rubin
Muskie School of Public Service
University of Southern Maine

SACs face common challenges and opportunities. How to find ways to collaborate? How to keep building a SAC program, or maintain viability through significant staffing, agency or other transitions? How to partner with others to conduct work that is meaningful and useful for our partners and broader audiences? What works, what doesn't for data dissemination strategies to the general public, policy makers, practitioners, advocates, and others? How to maintain the balance between meeting a partner's goals for a project, and remaining faithful to our mission and the mission of the larger organization to which we belong? This is an open opportunity to pick up on a thread that interests you; we'll share experiences and lessons learned; and hopefully we'll all leave the table with fresh thinking!

5. BJS's Human Trafficking Reporting System

Allen J. Beck
Bureau of Justice Statistics
U.S. Department of Justice

Tracey Kyckelhahn
Bureau of Justice Statistics
U.S. Department of Justice

To meet the requirements of the 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Bureau of Justice Statistics developed the Human Trafficking Reporting System. Under a cooperative agreement with the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University (NEU) and the Urban Institute (UI), researchers have designed, piloted and implemented a web-based data collection and reporting system. The system relies on 41 federally funded human trafficking task forces to report monthly data on incidents, suspects and victims identified and investigated by each task force. Monthly reporting began in January 2008; cases initiated during 2007 were entered retrospectively by NEU and UI staff. In the table session BJS statisticians will demonstrate the web-based system, discuss basic design features, provide information on data quality and coverage, and report on the status of ongoing analyses.

6. A System Model of the Wyoming Criminal Justice System: Using a System Model to Assess the Impact of Proposed Policy Changes

Nanette Nelson
Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center
University of Wyoming

This system model attempts to simulate the movement of offenders through the Wyoming Criminal Justice System (WCJS). To assist in the development of the model, WCJS was simplified to the following:

  • a fraction of the general population are active offenders
  • active offenders commit crimes
  • crimes generate arrests
  • arrests result in convictions
  • convictions result in incarceration
  • incarcerated individuals eventually return to the general population and may or may not return to the set of active offenders (i.e., recidivate)
The simplicity of the resulting model has several advantages. First, we captured the major components of WCJS (crimes, arrests, adjudication and sanctioning) along with the potential individual offender behavior of reoffending. Second, the structure of the basic model makes it more likely that the data needed to parameterize the model are available. Finally, the simple structure makes the model easy to explain to policymakers and increases user-friendliness.

7. The Use of Statistics and Analyses in Legislation Expanding DNA Collection to Violent Felony and Burglary Arrestees

Rachel Philofsky
Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention

Ráchael Powers
Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention

In the spring of 2008, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley put one piece of legislation at the top of his public safety agenda-a bill proposing the collection of DNA from all persons arrested for crimes of violence and burglary. This was an expansion from the current Maryland law, which required the collection of DNA from those convicted of violent felonies. Eleven states had already enacted similar legislation expanding the collection of DNA from conviction to arrest and 26 others were considering it. The Maryland Statistical Analysis Center, which is located in the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention in Maryland, assisted with this effort by employing research methodologies to evaluate the effects of the proposed legislation. This session will focus on the use of statistics and analyses in legislation, and will include a discussion of the challenges SACs face working on legislative items.

8. The News Media and Crime Statistics

Ted Gest
Criminal Justice Journalists
Affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and John Jay College

News media in the U.S. have an uneven record of reporting on crime statistics. Some newspapers and broadcast outlets have done exemplary jobs of interpreting crime data to a wide audience but others have made basic errors or largely ignored the subject. In 2000, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors published a book for journalists, "Understanding Crime Statistics," that was unveiled at JRSA's annual meeting. This fall, the same groups are issuing an updated version of the book. The volume discusses the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and National Crime Victimization Survey in detail, suggests other good sources for reporters, and recommends ways to improve reporting on crime data and trends. Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists, will give the background of the new volume and will be available for questions and discussion.

9. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Michael Wilson
Oregon Criminal Justice Commission

Policy makers often decide where to invest limited tax revenues with no way of estimating the expected return on that investment. Cost-benefit analysis allows analysts to provide policy makers with estimates on the benefits of investing in a given program. We will discuss how to estimate taxpayer and victimization costs of crime. We will also discuss using an effect size of a program to determine the estimated number of crimes avoided and the estimated benefit of avoiding those crimes. Finally, we will discuss how this has been used in Oregon.

10. Police Allocation Models

Janeena J. Wing
Grants and Research
Idaho State Police

Recently the Idaho SAC was involved in creating a personnel allocation model for the Idaho State Police. After researching various methods available, the ISAC decided to use a formula developed by Northwestern University. Crash data, average traffic, and calls for service were combined into an index and mapped per milepost using GIS to help determine areas of greatest need for trooper availability. This table session will discuss the model ISAC used for personnel allocation and a few other ways allocation can be done.

11. Evidence-Based Probation Practices - Developing Templates for Practitioners

Sharyn Adams
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

This table session will focus on a standardized performance outcome template developed for use in multiple Illinois probation sites. These standardized performance outcomes will help individual sites to monitor their performance and effectiveness and provide information that helps to place their performance in the larger statewide context. Working with local departments to access criminal history records also helps provide information for performance monitoring, which aids in both county-level and statewide strategic planning purposes. Characteristics correlated with recidivism, treatment compliance, and both short-term and long-term outcomes are some of the elements contained within the template. A presentation on the opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned will also be used to guide discussion among session participants.

12. NIEM 101

Catherine Plummer
Nlets (The International Justice and Public Safety Network)

NIEM Version 2.0 was released into production in August 2007. The facilitator will provide an overview on NIEM development and content, describe the governance processes being put into place to ensure practitioner input, update attendees on the tools and resources available to assist implementation, and provide a roadmap for future improvements of the NIEM model. She will also provide examples of the NIEM exchange lifecycle and current implementation in the justice community.