Criminal Justice/February 2012
Westat researchers study crime, victimization, and prison populations with innovative strategies to address sensitive issues.
Helping Campuses Be Compliant on Safety and Security Reporting
The Higher Education Opportunity Act mandates that all schools that receive Title IV student financial aid collect and report certain data associated with campus safety. It also mandates that schools have specific policies and procedures in place to facilitate these reporting responsibilities and inform their campus communities.
Westat has participated in the negotiated rulemaking process, assisted the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in writing and reviewing the final rules, and written a comprehensive compliance document, The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting. This handbook takes schools step by step through compliance and explains what the regulations mean and what they require of institutions. We have also written and produced a training video to support the 7,000 postsecondary schools that are required to comply with these rules. Westat maintains a help desk that schools can call for advice year round, conducts trainings at regional and national conferences each year, supports Federal student aid in its program review activities, conducts a web-based data collection each fall, and produces public-use data files for an ED web site.
Indian Country: Annual Snapshot of Jails
For the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Survey of Jails in Indian Country (SJIC) will collect data annually from 2012-15 from all known Indian country correctional facilities operated by tribal authorities or the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. For this collection, Indian country includes reservations, pueblos, rancherias, and other appropriate areas. The survey is used to describe changes in jail populations in Indian country as well as facility operations and staffing.
The SJIC is also used to collect data on an intermittent basis on facility programs and services. These include services related to health care, medical assessments, mental health, screening procedures, counseling programs, and education programs for the confined population.
On Probation and Parole: What Are the Numbers?
The Annual Probation Survey and the Annual Parole Survey (the P&P surveys) are separate data collections through which the Bureau of Justice Statistics annually obtains summary counts of the number of adults under probation and parole supervision at the beginning and end of each calendar year, as well as information on selected characteristics of the year-end population.
The surveys also collect information on the number of adults entering and exiting probation and parole supervision during the year. The P&P data are obtained from administrative sources maintained by state probation and/or parole agencies; municipal, county, or court agencies; and the Federal system.
Westat will transition the surveys from the U.S. Census Bureau and administer both surveys for 4 years. In the third year, Westat will also redesign the surveys to use a core survey and rotating supplement approach.
Surveying Victims: Can IVR Ease the Burden?
The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey is the Nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of households on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States.
Westat will examine the use of interactive voice response (IVR) as a mode of data collection for this sensitive topic. A self-administered survey meets two goals particular to this data collection challenge. Self-administration may improve the measurement of victimization, especially crimes that are considered too sensitive to report to an interviewer. This methodology would also drastically reduce data collection costs.
Sexual Assault of Youth in Custody
For the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Westat conducted the first National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC) in 2008-09 as part of a research program mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. The survey includes an analysis of the characteristics and rates of sexual victimization, characteristics of youth most at risk of victimization, and perpetrator characteristics.
We are currently conducting the second iteration of NSYC and will interview more than 10,000 adjudicated youth, aged 10-25, in 350 juvenile facilities nationwide. The survey procedures include strong confidentiality protections. Youth will see, hear, and answer survey questions via a touchscreen laptop using an audio computer-assisted self-interview methodology; the youth are not asked to respond to survey questions posed by an interviewer.
Does Justice Corps Do Justice for NYC Young Adults?
The New York City Justice Corps is a civic justice program serving New York City young adults (aged 18 to 24) who are or were recently involved in the criminal justice system. Sponsored by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity and administered by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, this program is intended to reduce recidivism and increase employment for the participating young adults, and strengthen their communities.
Westat developed and is conducting an implementation and outcome evaluation of the Justice Corps. After randomly assigning evaluation participants to the program or control group, the evaluation follows all participants for 30 months. The evaluation is examining young adult and community outcomes (development of job skills, community engagement, employment, and recidivism), using data from service provider management information systems, young adult surveys, employment records, criminal justice records, and community data. Based on analyses of these data, Westat is developing a number of reports.