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John Jay’s President Travis Calls for a New Office of Justice Research in the U.S. Department of Justice

A new structure to better carry out the research and statistical obligations of the federal government

New York, NY, November 14, 2008 – In an open letter to the American Society of Criminology, John Jay College President Jeremy Travis proposed the creation of a new Office of Justice Research in the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to Travis, “The nation urgently needs a top notch research and development program to improve our understanding of, and responses to, the challenges of violent crime and the administration of justice.”

“The core rationale for this proposal is that the current systems in place to support research, statistics and technology are outmoded, under-resourced and insufficiently responsive to the needs of practitioners and policy-makers. For the scientific activities of the Department of Justice to thrive and meet the nation’s needs, they should be given greater independence and prominence,” said Travis.

The proposal that Travis recommends, would remove the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and create a new Office of Justice Research, headed by an Assistant Attorney General for Justice Research, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Having served as Director of the National Institute of Justice from 1994-2000, Travis argues that the scientific functions now performed by NIJ and BJS would be better served if they were not housed in an office (OJP) whose primary mission is the administration of programmatic grants to local governments. He believes that the inherent limitations of the current structure prevent significant advances in our scientific knowledge about crime that would improve the nation’s ability to reduce crime and enhance the administration of justice.

In the letter, Travis outlines the argument for creation of the new office and how the office would be structured. With the election of a new President and the advent of the 111th Congress, he hopes that the letter will “generate a lively debate within the justice policy and academic community on how best to structure the nation’s research and statistical programs in the criminal justice arena.”

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.