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John Roman

Senior Fellow
Justice Policy Center

John Roman is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he focuses on evaluations of innovative crime-control policies and justice programs. He is also the executive director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, where he directs research on crime and justice matters on behalf of the Executive Office of the Mayor. Roman is directing several studies funded by the National Institute of Justice, including two randomized trials of the use of DNA in motor vehicle thefts and burglary investigations, an evaluation of post-conviction DNA evidence testing to estimate rates of wrongful conviction, and a study on why forensic evidence is rarely used by law enforcement to identify unknown offenders. He manages the national evaluation of adult drug courts, directs a study on the social benefit of informal social controls of postal carriers, and is working to develop the first social-impact bonds in the United States. He also serves as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and an affiliated professor at Georgetown University.


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'Stand Your Ground' Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force: Testimony before the Senate Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights (Testimony)
John Roman

Stand your ground laws, which extend the right to use deadly force in self-defense beyond the home, exacerbate racial disparities in the rate at which homicides are found to be justified, John Roman told a Senate subcommittee. In homicides of blacks committed by whites, 11.4 percent were found to be justified, while in homicides of whites committed by blacks, only 1.2 percent were found to be justified. The racial disparity is larger in states with stand your ground laws, and racial disparities increase in stand your ground states after the law is enacted.

Posted to Web: October 29, 2013Publication Date: October 29, 2013

Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data (Research Report)
John Roman

This study finds that homicides with a white perpetrator and a black victim are ten times more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a black perpetrator and a white victim, and the gap is larger in states with Stand Your Ground laws. After accounting for a variety of factors, such as whether the victim and perpetrator were strangers, the gap is smaller, but still significant. Cases with a white perpetrator and a black victim are 281 percent more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a white perpetrator and white victim.

Posted to Web: July 26, 2013Publication Date: July 26, 2013

A Statewide Evaluation of New York's Adult Drug Courts (Research Report)
John Roman, Samuel Bieler, Additional Authors

This study finds that New York's drug courts have a modest positive impact on rearrest and reconviction. However, they differ significantly in policies and practices, resulting considerable variation in impact. The most effective drug courts served higher risk and felony defendants, maximized their legal leverage, imposed certain sanctions, included prosecutor and defense representatives on the drug court team, made greater use of residential treatment for key populations, and employed evidence-based practices. Findings were drawn from a sample of 86 drug courts statistically matched with conventional courts.

Posted to Web: July 16, 2013Publication Date: June 01, 2013

Social Impact Bonds: Testimony before the Committee of the Whole Council of the District of Columbia (Testimony)
Kelly Walsh, John Roman

Social impact bonds (SIBs) inject private-sector capital into public-sector activities for improved outcomes and innovation. Private investors fund interventions that are uncomfortably risky or expensive for the public sector. If established performance targets are met, investors are rewarded with the profits. Otherwise, the government does not pay for the services delivered. In the SIB model everybody may win: investors leverage resources for potential profit and provide a socially beneficial investment, while the government gets private-sector investment for a new intervention. We believe that Bill B20-125 is insufficient to support SIBs in the District of Columbia.

Posted to Web: June 06, 2013Publication Date: June 06, 2013

Costs of the Death Penalty: Testimony Before the Judiciary Committee Delaware Senate (Testimony)
John Roman

John Roman's testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the State of Delaware Senate on the cost to a state of having the death penalty.

Posted to Web: March 20, 2013Publication Date: March 20, 2013

Social Impact Bonds : Testimony before the Committee on Appropriations Maryland House of Delegates (Testimony)
John Roman

Social welfare problems in Maryland and elsewhere have remained intractable because their scale is beyond the ability of government to address alone, John Roman told the Appropriations Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates. Social impact bonds’ integration of private capital into traditionally public-sector activities is a promising mechanism for addressing these challenges. On March 6, 2013, this testimony was presented to the Maryland Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation regarding the Senate version of the social impact bond legislation.

Posted to Web: February 26, 2013Publication Date: February 26, 2013

District-Wide Model Bullying Prevention Policy (Research Report)
John Roman, Samuel Bieler

This Model Bullying Prevention Policy is a comprehensive strategy that was developed for all youth-serving agencies in the District of Columbia. The policy employs a three-level public health model to prevent bullying, which involves shifting agency norms; delivering services to at-risk youth; and responding to bullying incidents in a way that inhibits subsequent acts, with an emphasis on data analysis to measure intervention success. The policy was developed by the Urban Institute in collaboration with the 42-members of the District of Columbia Mayor's Bullying Prevention Task Force and Office of Human Rights.

Posted to Web: January 31, 2013Publication Date: January 31, 2013

Addressing Violence and Disorder around Alcohol Outlets (DCPI - Research and Analysis)
Samuel Bieler, John Roman

This report identifies methods for addressing violence and disorder around bars. We find that safe drinking environments and strong community partnerships are key buffers against alcohol-related crimes. Safer drinking environments can be fostered by training bouncers in conflict resolution, ensuring bar design does not create overcrowding, and enforcing laws restricting service to intoxicated persons aggressively. Building partnerships with local businesses and neighborhood groups creates public support both for setting bar safety standards and for closing bars that are chronically problematic. This project was funded by the Justice Grants Administration in the Executive Office of the Mayor.

Posted to Web: January 23, 2013Publication Date: January 23, 2013

The Costs and Benefits of Functional Family Therapy for Washington, D.C. (DCPI - Policy and Practice)
Samuel Taxy, Akiva Liberman, John Roman, P. Mitchell Downey

This cost-benefit analysis of implementing a Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program in the District of Columbia indicates that the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs. The analysis employed an innovative statistical method that enables policymakers to assess the range of possible costs and benefits associated with specific evidence-based programs designed to prevent crime and recidivism. Results indicate that there is a 66 percent chance that an FFT program serving 150 juveniles will yield benefits exceeding its costs.

Posted to Web: October 24, 2012Publication Date: October 24, 2012

The Costs and Benefits of Electronic Monitoring for Washington, D.C. (DCPI - Research and Analysis)
John Roman, Akiva Liberman, Samuel Taxy, P. Mitchell Downey

This policy brief summarizes the second DCPI cost-benefit analysis employing an innovative statistical method that enables policymakers to assess the range of possible costs and benefits associated with specific evidence-based programs designed to prevent crime and recidivism. This particular study forecasted the costs and benefits of implementing an Electronic Monitoring program in the District. The analysis found an 80 percent chance that an EM program serving 800 people will yield benefits exceeding its costs.

Posted to Web: October 11, 2012Publication Date: October 11, 2012

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