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Crime and Justice

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The criminal justice system's actions in both preventing and responding to criminal behavior have implications for the safety, well-being, and financial stability of communities throughout the country.

In an era of diminishing state and federal budgets and limited resources for community services, it is critical that research and analysis is available to guide the allocation of scarce criminal justice resources in a manner that yields the most beneficial impact on the individuals and jurisdictions affected by crime.

Justice Policy Center

Researchers in the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center produce such research, evaluating programs and analyzing data in an effort to guide federal, state, and local stakeholders in making sound decisions that will increase the safety of communities nationwide.

Featured Justice Policy Center Research

 
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Improving Recidivism as a Performance Measure (Research Report)
Ryan King, Brian Elderbroom

Improving recidivism data collection and reporting is a critical first step to advancing our knowledge about what works in sentencing and corrections policy. This brief outlines the necessary elements that every state should use when defining, collecting, analyzing, and disseminating recidivism data. It offers a blueprint for gathering a broad range of reoffending indicators, accurately comparing across groups and over time, and using the results to inform decisionmaking and improve outcomes. Improving our ability to accurately track data on reoffending is critical for the next generation of policy-relevant and action-oriented recidivism research.

Posted to Web: October 01, 2014Publication Date: October 01, 2014

Aging Behind Bars: Trends and Implications of Graying Prisoners in the Federal Prison System (Research Report)
KiDeuk Kim, Bryce Peterson

This new Urban Institute study provides an in-depth examination of the growth patterns in the largest correctional system in the United States—the US Bureau of Prisons. The number of prisoners age 50 or older experienced a 330 percent increase from 1994 to 2011. The authors find that the proportion of these older prisoners is expected to have an even steeper growth curve in the near future and they may consume a disproportionately large amount of the federal prison budget. Recommendations for policy and research include expanding data-driven knowledge on older prisoners and developing cost-effective management plans for them.

Posted to Web: September 05, 2014Publication Date: September 05, 2014

Close-Range Gunfire around DC Schools (Research Report)
Samuel Bieler, Nancy G. La Vigne

This report examines the incidence of gunfire as measured by gunshot detection technology using data from the 2011-2012 school year. It finds that a disproportionate volume of gunfire happened near a small share of DC schools. About half of DC schools covered by gunshot detection sensors are in close proximity to gunfire, and four schools were subject to repeated bursts of gunfire. These findings shed new light on students' exposure to violence and raise important questions about the psychological impact of gunfire on students and how their proximity to gunfire may affect truancy and educational outcomes.

Posted to Web: September 03, 2014Publication Date: September 03, 2014

State Variation in Hospital Use and Cost of Firearm Assault Injury, 2010 (Research Report)
Embry M. Howell, Samuel Bieler, Nathaniel Anderson

Hospital use and hospital mortality related to firearm-assault injuries varies considerably across demographic groups and states, as does the percentage of firearm-assault injury hospital costs borne by the public. Healthcare data from six states--Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin--show that hospital use for firearm-assault injury is disproportionately concentrated among young males, particularly young black males. Additionally, uninsured victims have higher hospital mortality rates for firearm-assault injury. Across all six states, the public pays a substantial portion of the hospital cost for injuries caused by firearm assault.

Posted to Web: August 25, 2014Publication Date: August 25, 2014

Prison Inmates' Prerelease Application for Medicaid: Take-up Rates in Oregon (Research Report)
Kamala Mallik-Kane, Akiva Liberman, Lisa Dubay, Jesse Jannetta

People returning from prison to the community have historically been uninsured, despite having physical and behavioral health problems that may perpetuate a cycle of relapse and reoffending. We describe Oregon's pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) process to enroll released prisoners into its state-financed Medicaid program for childless adults. Sizeable numbers participated, including many with mental health and substance abuse problems. Persons leaving prison were as likely as the general population to submit Medicaid applications and less likely to be denied. Challenges arose when the application process straddled prison release, but the ACA simplifies the process and may increase enrollment efficiency.

Posted to Web: August 05, 2014Publication Date: August 01, 2014

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