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Date: July 10, 2009
Contacts: Sara Frueh, Media Relations Officer
Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bureau of Justice Statistics Has High-Quality Programs But Needs Greater
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects and disseminates statistics on crime and criminal justice in the
The bureau has sustained "major shocks" to its independence in recent years, the Research Council report says. Among these challenges were an attempt in 2005 by Justice Department officials to alter the findings presented in a statistical press release -- an incident that led to the dismissal of a BJS director -- and legislative changes that have the effect of inappropriately leaving a statistical agency under the direct oversight of a program administrator.
BJS should serve as a statistical resource to DOJ, not a tool to justify the programs of the department, the report says. The bureau's chief strategic goal should be to establish and maintain a strong position of independence. Congress and the administration should make the BJS director a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee reporting directly to the attorney general or deputy attorney general; the director's term of service should be at least four years.
BJS' data collection is generally well-justified by public information needs or legal requirements, the report says. However, the report also identifies several major gaps or weak areas in BJS' coverage of criminal justice issues. White-collar crime, including fraud, public corruption, and Internet crimes, and civil justice -- including property crimes and custody disputes -- are two significant areas that are not well-addressed by existing programs at the bureau. The report notes that these gaps are sufficiently challenging that they cannot be adequately addressed at BJS' current level of funding.
BJS' National Crime Victimization Survey and the other major source of data on
The report follows an interim report released by the committee last year, Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey, which examined ways to improve the survey.
The report was sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering,
Copies of Ensuring the Quality, Credibility, and Relevance of U.S. Justice Statistics are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Committee on National Statistics
Committee on Law and Justice
Committee on Review of the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics
Robert M. Groves (chair)
Professor of Sociology and Director
William G. Barron Jr.
Professor of Criminal Justice and Dean
Janet L. Lauritsen
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Violence Research Group
James P. Lynch
Ruth D. Peterson
Professor of Sociology, and
Professor of Biostatistics and Research Professor
Institute for Social Research
Steven R. Schlesinger
Administrative Office of the
Wesley G. Skogan
Professor of Political Science
Institute for Policy Research
Bruce D. Spencer
Professor of Statistics
Institute for Policy Research
Professor of Sociology
RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF
Senior Program Officer