JRSA Forum. December 2013. Volume 31, Number 4.

Statistical Analysis Center Publications Win 2013 Yearwood Award

Each year JRSA recognizes outstanding efforts by state Statistical Analysis Centers to publish useful and high quality reports. The winners of the 2013 Douglas Yearwood National Publication Awards were the SACs in Colorado, Idaho, Vermont, and West Virginia. Awards are given in two categories: Statistical/ Management and Research/Policy Analysis.

In the Statistical/Management category, West Virginia won in the Large SAC division for Improving State Capacity for Crime Reporting: An Exploratory Analysis of Data Quality and Imputation Methods Using NIBRS Data, by Christina R. LaValle, Stephen M. Haas, Erica Turley, and James J. Nolan. Recognizing that the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is voluntary and susceptible to missing data, noncompliance, and other data quality issues, this study explored imputation methods with the purpose of providing guidance to states reporting incident-based data and improving the utility of NIBRS data. One of the contest judges noted that "the authors did a great job describing the methodology and findings in this study. The presentation was clear and the data tables and graphs were meaningful." Another judge remarked that the report was "extremely well written and graphics are used effectively and in an innovative fashion throughout the report."

West Virginia - Yearwood Award
(l. to r.) West Virginia Yearwood Award winners
Stephen Haas, Christina LaValle, and Erica Turley.

The winner in the Small SAC division of the Statistical/Management category was Vermont for An Analysis of Domestic Violence and Arrest Patterns in Vermont Using NIBRS Data, by Robin Weber. This report detailed for the first time domestic violence incidents in Vermont by both county and town, providing significant benefit to domestic violence staff in terms of identifying locations where domestic violence education and prevention programs should be focused. The analysis of domestic violence incidents undertaken for this report used NIBRS data from the Vermont Criminal Information Center's Vermont Crime On-Line (VCON) site. The project demonstrates the utility of VCON for both policy- and service-related research. In addition to providing a statewide look at domestic violence incidents using a variety of NIBRS data points such as victim, offender, and crime circumstance data, the SAC also conducted a statewide analysis of police response to domestic violence incidents and found that approximately 80% of all domestic violence incidents were cleared by arrest. This report received praise from one of the judges because in addition to presenting valuable insights about the incidence of domestic violence and law enforcement's response, the report acknowledges that the analysis also served to explore the utility of using incident-based reporting system data for research purposes.

Vermont - Yearwood Award
Max Schleuter and Robin Weber
holding Vermont's Yearwood Award.

It should be noted that both of the winning publications in the Statistical/Management category were funded by subawards from JRSA's Incident-Based Reporting Resource Center, a website supported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to provide comprehensive information on accessing and using incident-based reporting data for the analysis of crime and reporting of justice statistics. That being said, every effort is made to ensure impartiality in the judging process. A panel of criminal justice professionals, chosen for their expertise, individually evaluate submitted publications based on set criteria. Winners are those publications with the highest rating across judges, and in the event of a tie, two publications receive an award.

In the Research/Policy Analysis category, Colorado won the Large SAC division for Analysis of Colorado State Board of Parole Decisions: FY 2012 Report, by Kevin Ford. The Colorado State Board of Parole is mandated each year to 1) collect and analyze data related to the basis for and the outcomes of the Board's parole decisions, 2) develop an administrative release guideline instrument to evaluate applications for parole, and 3) issue a report regarding the outcomes of decisions by the Board. In the words of the publication, "This report covers accomplishments related to these statutory mandates during the period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011." One reviewer praised the report for being very reader-friendly despite being very technical, and said that it was well written and designed for easy interpretation. Another lauded the "outstanding use of analytical methods to examine an innovative and necessary decision-making tool for parole. The results will be directly usable by practitioners. "

Vermont - Yearwood Award
Kevin Ford with Colorado's Yearwood Award.

Idaho won the Small SAC division in the Research/Policy Analysis category for Idaho State Police Performance Measurement: Plan for Redefining Success, by Janeena Wing. The Idaho State Police (ISP) has a strategic plan that provides the goals for the agency and has four focus areas. The report summarizes trends within each of the four focus areas, and provides a guide for how to monitor performance and help plan for the future of the ISP. In addition, recommendations are made to increase the relevance, applicability, and actionable trend analysis of the strategic plan. One judge said of the publication, "The report was very comprehensive and attempted to put numbers to the ISP strategic plan. I liked the report and think it provided a useful insight to the activities of ISP." Another judge commented on the report's use of graphics, which were effective at conveying a great deal of information and detail on the performance measures.

Idaho - Yearwood Award
Janeena Wing with Idaho's Yearwood Award.

The awards are named for former North Carolina SAC Director and JRSA Past President Douglas Yearwood, who passed away in 2011. They were announced during JRSA's Annual Business Meeting webinar on October 9. For more information on the awards and links to the publications, go to http://www.jrsa.org/awards/index.html.