NIJ 2010 Annual Conference provides information and material for public defenders

It has often seemed that the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has focused primarily on addressing issues of criminal justice from the vantage point of law enforement, prosecution, and corrections, but perhaps that is beginning to change.  NIJ held its annual conference on June 14-16, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia.  As the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, their goal is to provide objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools about crime and justice.  This year, their program included presentations of interest to the defense community and often including a defense perspective among the panel presenters.

Presentations of particular interest to the defense community were:

Indigent Defense and Access to Justice

Keynote Address by Laurence Tribe, Senior Counsel for Access to Justice Initiative.

Video and a transcript of the address are here.

Get Funded: Developing a Better Proposal

Federal agencies such as NIJ fund only the top 10 percent of applications.  This workshop provided an overview on how to write a competitive proposal, complete the numerous forms required in federal funding, develop a budget, and address human subject research and privacy issues.

The audio of the panel discussion is forthcoming and you will be able to listen to it when posted here.

Also, you might be interested in this publication from a sister OJP agency, BJA's "Guide to Grants, FY10 edition."

Rising From the Ashes:  What We Have Learned From the Cameron Todd Willingham Case

Mr. Willingham was executed by Texas in 2004 for the arson of his home that resulted in the deaths of his three young children.  The case gained renewed attention in 2009 as a result of investigative reporter David Grann's article "Trial by Fire" in The New Yorker, which described contradictions and controversies surrounding the case and questioned whether Texas had executed an innocent man.

Summary of the panel presentation is here.  The video and transcript are forthcoming and you will be able to see them when posted here.

An Examination of Justice Reinvestment and Its Impact on Two States

Funded in part by BJA and the Pew Center on the States, NIJ describes the Justice Reinvestment Project as a data-driven strategy aimed at policymakers to "reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return."

The audio of the panel discussion is forthcoming and you will be able to listen to it when posted here.

The Justice Reinvestment website is here.  Public defense systems and professionals should consider actively using the information contained on this website to encourage policymakers to reduce the number of public defense attorneys required by reducing the number of cases coming into the court systems for which defendants are subject to loss of liberty. 

NIJ's Multistate Adult Drug Court Evaluation: The Final Results

NIJ funded a longitudinal process, impact, and cost evaluation of adult court treatment programs.  The sample included approximately 1,200 drug court participants and 600 comparison group subjects across 23 drug courts and six comparison sites.

Though the panel discussion was not recorded, you can learn about the evaluation and its results here and can read preliminary papers produced by the researchers over the course of the evaluation here.

There is also a lot of material and information that can be helpful to defenders even in those sessions focused on issues and perspectives of law enforcement and prosecution.  In providing effective representation to our clients, understanding the techniques, theories, and policies of law enforcement and prosecution can teach us a lot.  The conference offered sessions on: 

Tasers:  "Are CEDs Safe and Effective?"

License Plate Readers: "Using License Plate Readers to Fight Crime"

Domestice Violence: "Domestic Violence Research 15 Years After VAWA"

Sexual Violence: "Sexual Violence Research 15 Years After VAWA"

"Impression Evidence: Strengthening the Disciplines of Fingerprints, Firearms, Footwear, and Other Pattern and Impression Sciences Through Research"

"Sex Offenders in the Community: Post-Release, Registration, Notification and Residency Restrictions"

You should know what the other side of the adversarial process is thinking and doing on these topics!  Audio of these panel discussions is forthcoming and you will be able to listen to them when posted here.

Complete information about the NIJ Conference 2010 is available on the NIJ website here.




Author/Organization: Phyllis E. Mann
Publication Date: 07/23/2010