Archive for Criminal Justice

A Curated Selection of Writings on Institutional Racism

In words of one syllable or less – Wow!

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Forensic Science – OSAC

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science is a federal entity tasked with the development and promulgation of science-based standards/procedures that inform the field of forensic science. To that end, OSAC has disseminated various approved standards, established a 4000+ item lexicon to facilitate communication among the various agencies working in this sector, and has compiled a listing of research and development needs, highlighting areas in which further work is necessary. In addition, OSAC provides links to other organizations’ forensic science standards as well as publishing its own Standards Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter, and an annual report.


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2018 “Crime in the United States” Just Released

This annual iteration from the FBI presents a comprehensive look at the trends and rates of various crimes in the country. They can be broken down to the granular by city; here are the results for Jersey City.

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Forensic Science – Some Recent Works

“Furthermore, forensic science, as currently practiced, is stressed and inadequately supported. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ latest census of publicly-funded crime laboratory[sic] reports significant casework backlogs. Important discussions on DNA mixture deconvolution, statistical interpretation, and language for reporting and testimony need Federal attention.”

– Victor Weedn, Professor of Forensic Science, George Washington University, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, March 28, 2017 entitled To Examine the State of Forensic Science in the United States.

A generally acknowledged landmark study was issued by the National Academies Press in 2009 – Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. Called a “blockbuster” in one publication, this highly influential document has been cited numerous times in the literature.  Additional forensic-related reports have been published by NAP

The FBI Laboratory Services contains valuable documentation, among them the Handbook of Forensic Services (Revised 2013).

The Government Accountability Office offers many reports/testimonies on forensic science, even one on nuclear forensics.

The Homeland Security Digital Library has hundreds of relevant reports.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service offers a separate section on forensic sciences.

The National Institute of Justice has its own Forensic Sciences page replete with links.

New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences houses practitioner-based presentations.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has forensic manuals online.

Links to various forensic science organizations are here.


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Latest FBI Crime Statistics Released

The 2017 edition of this annual report has been released; much of its statistical data is widely used by the media and academic researchers. Also consult the Crime Data Reporter that offers continually updated facts and figures.

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Congressional Misconduct Database

As developed by GovTrack,  “This page lists 372 instances of misconduct and alleged misconduct by Members of the United States Congress from 1789 to the present and is updated as new information becomes available.

The investigations, settlements, and resignations listed on this page do not imply guilt in the absence of a conviction, guilty plea, etc. We include investigations even if the Member of Congress is exonerated because the investigation and exoneration are themselves important events. Conversely, investigations that end without a guilty determination do not imply innocence.”

Links to outside sources, including CRS reports, are included.

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2017 Report of New Jersey School Bullying/Crimes Released

The formal name of the report is Commissioner’s Annual Report to the Education Committees of the Senate and General Assembly on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools, and according to the latest iteration, crime statistics have gone up 5% from the previous year of 2014/15. Bullying is down (16), but other reported crimes are up (9-10). School district data are found in Appendix D (D2+).


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Online European National Criminal Codes

A vast number of  current criminal codes have been gathered together; many of them have been translated into English. A good starting point for international law.

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FBI Latest Annual Report on Crime

It looks like violent crime is up, as are murders, according the 2015 Crime in the United States just released by the FBI. This iteration, while showing an uptick, still has data indicating that crime is down relative to prior years. See this Brennan Center report as well.

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Closure of Private Prisons

This recent report from the OIG of the Department of Justice – Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Monitoring of Contract Prisons – calls for the eventual phase-out of private prisons, stating “We found that in a majority of the categories we examined, contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP [Bureau of Prisons] institutions.” (ii) A recent study explores the world of private prisons: Federal Prison Population Buildup: Options for Congress (CRS, 2016) argues that “Research that reviewed the results of state and local efforts to privatize correctional systems generally found that it is questionable whether privatization can deliver lower costs and whether services provided by private prisons are comparable to services provided by public prisons.” (6) Many excellent references accompany this report. Additional literature can be perused here.


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Thousands of Criminal Justice Datasets

The Hall of Justice project from the Sunlight Foundation has aggregated criminal justice statistics from NGO, federal, state, and municipal authorities and has presented them in an interactive format. Thousands of datasets are in this most valuable resource for United States statistics, many of them buried within the bureaucratic layers of government. Want statistics on women offenders – over 1000 separate statistical compilations are available; looking for women as victims –  try any of the 612 publications reports indexed under that term. This important tool should be the place of first resort when looking for authoritative data in criminal justice.

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Visualizations of Mass Shootings in the United States

Sometimes numbers are just data points, easily ignored; however, well-constructed graphs and charts can bring a poignancy to an argument more readily. Such is the impact of The toll: Mass shooting data visualizations around the web detailing the level of violence in this country due to firearms. One grim statistic out of many: between 1775 and 2015, almost 1.4 million Americans were killed in wars; in just the years between 1968 and 2015, over 1.5 million Americans were killed by firearms.

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Mass Shootings in the United States

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Who Are the FIFA Officials Indicted and the Full Text Document of Indictments

Here are profiles of the FIFA (“World Soccer”) officials named in the 47-count indictment (for racketeering conspiracy and corruption) handed down this morning. In addition the Attorney General of Switzerland has its own separate ongoing investigation on suspicions of criminal mismanagement and money laundering.

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Full Text Reports of the Department of Justice’s Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department and Michael Brown’s Death

The full report is here; the DOJ found multiple instances of Fourth Amendment violations. Here is its report on the shooting death of Michael Brown.

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Grand Jury Documents in the Ferguson Case

There are dozens of volumes accessible online. Read them for yourselves.

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Crimes Against the Disabled Higher Than the Rest of the Population

According to Crimes Against Persons with Disabilities, 2009-2012 from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people with disabilities are victims of crime at a higher rate than those who are not disabled. It doesn’t matter if viewed through the lens of age, race, or sex, disabled people suffer more crime; i.e., rape, robbery, sexual assault, assault. The sobering numbers are presented in thirty tables. At times, the rate of crime against the disabled is three times higher. Additional resources can be found at: Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities: Resource Directory for Service Providers;  Victims-Special Populations-Disabled (National Criminal Justice Reference Service); and Hate Crimes Against Individuals with Disabilities (

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Worldwide Drug Statistics

The World Drug Report 2013 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is full of figures and statistics on drug supply/drug demand for such substances as cocaine and cannabis, among others. Data are available for selected countries, regional groupings, and worldwide dissemintation.

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Reports on Sexual Assault in the Military

For those who have heard of the reports, here they are; an executive summary is also available.  See Secretary of Defense Hagels’ news conference addressing these “despicable crimes” and read his memo on response and prevention.

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World Criminal Justice Library Electronic Network

Hosted by Rutgers University, this site gives access to statististical information as well as full text criminal justice journals, indexes, databases, and listings of criminal justice agencies around the world. This is a great place to look for international criminal justice information. A previous blog entry that is updated when relevant data is published – International Criminal Justice Statistics – should also be consulted.

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