Rutgers School of Criminal Justice

Current Grant-Funded Projects

Project Title: Smart Policing-Evidence Based Law Enforcement

Funding Agency: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Principal Investigator: Anthony Braga

Abstract: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Policing Initiative supports collaborations between police departments and researchers to build evidence-based, data-driven law enforcement strategies and tactics that are effective, efficient, and economical.  Professor Braga is working with the Boston Police Department (BPD) to conduct strategic analysis of violent crime problems in Boston, develop new interventions to address recurring violence, and evaluate their effectiveness.  In the first phase of funding, Professor Braga evaluated the BPD’s Safe Street Teams program which uses community problem-solving techniques to control violent crime hot spots.  During the second phase of funding, he will be working with the BPD’s Homicide Unit on a problem-oriented policing project to improve homicide clearance rates.

Project Title: Newark Violent Crime Reduction Initiative

Funding Agency: The Nicholson Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Prudential, PSEG, Schumann Fund, and The Community Fund for New Jersey

Principal Investigator: Anthony Braga

Abstract: Supported by multiple foundations, the Newark Violence Reduction Initiative (NVRI) is a large-scale research and development project to address serious violent crime and overt drug markets in Newark, New Jersey. Drawing on the Boston (MA) Operation Ceasefire and High Point Drug (NC) Market Intervention experiences, this “focused deterrence” project is designed to produce large, rapid, and sustainable reductions in homicides and shootings driven by violent gang members in drug market settings. Professor Braga and Ph.D. student Leigh Grossman lead the strategic analyses of violent drug markets and violent gangs in Newark and conduct ongoing impact assessments of NVRI interventions on homicides and shootings in targeted areas.  Collaborating agencies include the Newark Police Department, Newark Mayor’s Office of Reentry, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, New Jersey Department of Parole, New Jersey Department of Probation, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Project Title: Detection of Crime, Resource Deployment, and Predictors of Success. A Multi-Level Analysis of CCTV in Newark, NJ

Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator: Joel Caplan

Co-Principal Investigators: Leslie Kennedy, Eric Piza (Newark Police Department)

Abstract: This project seeks to fill gaps in knowledge on the use of CCTV by law enforcement through the creation of “transferable lessons” largely absent in the current literature. The proposal calls for a multi-level analysis of the Newark, NJ Police Department’s video surveillance system. The analysis is separated into three components. The first component will identify and contextualize the best places for CCTV camera placement through an analysis of the micro-level features of camera sites. The second component will assess the current process by which the Newark Police Department responds to incidents detected by CCTV. The final component is a randomized experiment to test the effects of a dedicated team of patrol units dispatched by CCTV operators on the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the video surveillance operation.

Project Title: Predicting Crime Through Incarceration

Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Abstract: he purpose of this project is to fill in this gap by examining the impact of level of prison cycling—the removal of people for incarceration and their eventual return—on those places, with a specific focus on the relationship between incarceration and crime. The study is rooted in the social science tradition that views crime not only as an individual level phenomenon, but also an ecological one. Shaw and McKay (1942), for example, pointed out that social processes such as mobility can affect a place’s propensity for crime as part of their larger observation that characteristics of communities have effects are separate from the simple aggregate of the characteristics of the individuals who live there. Recent work has shown that contextual poverty, unemployment and demographic characteristics are often correlated with the level of crime (for a review, see Sampson et al. 2002).  This study will test the hypothesis that level of prison cycling should be added to the list of ecological-level variables independently associated with crime rates in local areas, and will estimate the size and nature of that effect.

Project Title: A Natural Experiment in Reform. Analyzing Drug Law Policy Change in NY State

Funding Agency: Vera Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Abstract: This study will aim to build on the existing body of research by describing the practical implementation of the DLR (Drug Law Reform, passed by the NYC legislature in 2009) and evaluating the reforms’ impact on the two main areas of concern: the financial and public safety implications of changing sentencing polices for drug offences. In support of the VERA Institute of Justice grant Rutgers has agreed to assist Vera in the selection of a pre-DLR sample group and post-DLR sample group from the administrative dataset collected by Vera, conduct the propensity score matching to ensure individuals in both pre-and post-DLR samples have comparable baseline characteristics, and draft a chapter in the final report to the National Institute of Justice.

Project Title: An Evidence-Based Initiative for Community Justice Policy and Practice

Funding Agency: New Jersey Office of the Attorney General

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Co-Principal Investigator: Michael Ostermann

Abstract: In 2011, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General gave a small seed grant to Rutgers University to establish an Evidence-Based Institute (EBI). Operating as a joint initiative of the School of Criminal Justice and the School of Law, the EBI seeks to strengthen the evidence-based foundation for state justice system practices by assessing how well current practices align with established evidence-based principles, exploring policy avenues to increase the level to which these practices coincide with these principles, and conducting studies of the effectiveness of current justice system practices.

Project Title: Impact of Post-Prison Supervision on Recidvism

Funding Agency: PEW Charitable Trust

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Co-Principal Investigator: Michael Ostermann

Abstract: While research has demonstrated that evidence-based prisoner reentry programs can lower reoffending, few studies have addressed how supervision in its various forms affects post-release criminal behaviors. Rutgers will use 10 years of data about released prisoners in New Jersey to explore the relationship between supervision and reoffending. The analysis will examine how factors such as offender risk level and prison time served impact offender recidivism rates and how these factors can be used to adjust rates of return to prison. These adjusted return rates will advance policy maker and public understanding of recidivism, allow for more accurate comparisons of agency performance, and provide a model for measuring and reporting recidivism rates in other states.

Project Title: National Initiatives. Enhancing Law Enforcement

Funding Agency: Department of Justice

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Co-Principal Investigator: Michael Ostermann

Abstract: This is a proposal for a two-year police organizational change project designed to assist 15 urban New Jersey police departments and 5 national departments in implementing new methods to enhance agency excellence and maximize services to the community through improved systems of accountability. We propose to capitalize on a working partnership that now exists between the New Jersey State Police  (NJSP) and Rutgers University’s Police Institute (of the School of Criminal Justice). Working together, we will design the organizational change curriculum, bring the 20 target agencies together for a 3-day workshop, and follow this with a 9-month implementation period supported by technical assistance. At the end of the year, we will reconvene the group to assess progress. The project will result in a series of organizational change projects resulting in improved approaches to organizational excellence and stronger police leadership. There will also be a written product that is an implementation manual for the approach, as well as a web-based information support system for the work.

Project Title: Fugitive Safe Surrender

Funding Agency: The State of New Jersey office of the Attorney General

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Co-Principal Investigator: Wayne Fisher

Abstract: The Rutgers- Newark School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) has performed key roles in the planning and implementation of two of New Jersey’s Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) efforts. SCJ first partnered with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in the Essex/Union effort in 2009 and then the Middlesex/ Somerset county venture in 2010. The OAG has seen fit to request the use of Dr. Wayne Fisher and Lori Scott-Pickens to provide assistance in the planning and implementation of FSS in Atlantic City, NJ.

Project Title: Targeting Violent Crime Initiative

Funding Agency: The State of New Jersey office of the Attorney General

Principal Investigator: Todd Clear

Co-Principal Investigator: Wayne Fisher

Abstract: In 2010, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice awarded Targeting Violent Crime Initiative (TVCI) funding to seven municipal police departments operating in municipalities experiencing high rates of violent crime.  As indicated in aJune 8, 2010letter to Dean Todd Clear, “The mission of TVCI is to reduce violent crime through intelligence-led policing initiatives…”  The letter further stated that the seven cities receiving program funding could employ same “…to support crime analysts, software, training and/or directed overtime patrols, that are directly linked to intelligence-led policing.”  That same letter also stated that TVCI funding for the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice was provided, “to assist with the implementation and evaluation of program outcomes.”  Toward that end, the School of Criminal Justice undertook the effort.

Project Title: GPS-Electronic Monitoring Applications Study

Funding Agency: University of Calgary

Principal Investigator: Leslie Kennedy

Co-Principal Investigator: Joel Caplan

Abstract: The Rutgers Center on Public Security will serve as consultant to the GPS-EM Offender Mgmt Project. The Center will provide technical advice on how to proceed in the identification, classification, and analysis of GIS-related data. In addition, using data provided by police agencies and municipalities, the Center will provide analyses using risk terrain modeling to create base maps against wwhich the GPS tracking data can then be compared. The Center will provide guidance and analytical support in using these maps and intergrating them into the overall project.

Project Title: A Multi-Jurisdictional Test of Risk Terrain Modeling and a Place-Based Evaluation of Environmental Risk-Based Patrol Deployment Strategies

Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator: Leslie Kennedy

Co-Principal Investigators: Joel Caplan and Eric Piza

Abstract: A place-based method of evaluation and spatial units of analysis will be used to measure the extent to which allocating police patrols to high-risk areas (regardless of the presence of prior crimes) effects the frequency and spatial distribution of new crime events. High-risk areas will be defined using risk terrain modeling methods. This quasi-experimental project has two primary goals: 1) to replicate and validate RTM in multiple jurisdictions and across many different crime types; and, 2) to evaluate theoretically- and empirically-grounded risk-based interventions targeted at high-risk micro-level environments. High-risk areas will be defined using risk terrain modeling methods and matched with equivalent control areas through a Propensity Score Matching technique. Six police agencies are participating in the project: Arlington, TX; Chicago, IL; Colorado Springs, CO; Glendale, AZ; Kansas City, MO; and Newark, NJ.

Project Title: Correctional Program Checklist Training Proposal

Funding Agency: New Jersey State Parole Board

Principal Investigator: Michael Ostermann

Co-Principal Investigator: Shenique Thomas

Abstract:  The Rutgers University Evidence-Based Institute (EBI) proposes co-hosting a training curriculum sponsored by the New Jersey State Parole Board’s (SPB) Community Programs Division (CPD).  The proposed training will be on the administration of the Correctional Program Checklist (CPC) and will be delivered by faculty and staff members from the University of Cincinnati.  The proposed training will be held at Rutgers’s Newark campus and will allow both university faculty and staff as well as SPB CPD staff to become certified in the administration and interpretation of the CPC. The CPC is an instrument that allows for the analysis of how well programs that are administered to criminal justice involved populations coincide with established evidence-based principles.       

Project Title: Community Education Center’s Alumni Association Proposal

Funding Agency: The Community Education Center’s Alumni Association

Principal Investigator: Michael Ostermann

Abstract: Those who are released from prison and attempt to reenter their communities face significant challenges that span multiple domains.  Challenges include, but are not limited to, securing stable housing, finding and retaining employment, reconnecting with their families, and dealing with potential substance abuse issues.  Often, recently released inmates do not have a strong social support network to help them navigate this period of transition.  Limited research has examined how these networks are accessed and used by the formerly incarcerated.

Community Education Centers (CEC) operates an Alumni Association, which is intended to serve as a support network for its graduates.  The Association is comprised of former offenders who have successfully completed a CEC program.  Members serve in a mentor capacity, encouraging offenders to set goals, utilize social services, and remain crime-free. Rutgers seeks to research the following questions:

Project Title: Reentry/Continuity of Care Cross-site Evaluation

Funding Agency: The State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General

Principal Investigator: Bonita Veysey

Co-Principal Investigator: Shenique Thomas

Abstract:  In November 2009, the Office of the Attorney General released a Notification of Availability of Funds to support Comprehensive Jail-based Reentry Strategies.  Four counties competed and were awarded funds, including Atlantic, Camden, Cumberland, and Hudson. Each site provides different services through different jail-community partnerships.  Target groups vary as do the estimated number of individuals to be served through this funding.  Because of the complicated nature of each county’s proposed activities, it is important to describe each site’s funded reentry strategies and the process and implementation of the project components in addition to the more traditional outcomes-based evaluation.  Therefore, the evaluation of this initiative will be comprised of three components: (1) a process evaluation to monitor program implementation, changes to the program or service system interactions over time, and to fully describe the program and its components for the purposes of replication, (2) routine collection of common performance measures to assess system performance, and (3) a participant outcome study to assess overall program effectiveness.

The Rutgers evaluation team will provide continuous feedback to the sites and the OAG to help to improve program performance and to improve the chances of long-term sustainability. In addition, the evaluation team will work with all project partners (i.e., sites, OAG, COCHS) to disseminate findings from this important initiative.