Justice Department Launches Site to Review Effectiveness of Criminal Justice Programs

By Carlton Purvis


Wednesday marked the official launch of, the new Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Web site designed to provide researchers and policymakers, with credible information on the effectiveness of a wide range of criminal justice programs. The site includes more than 150 justice-related programs and assigns ratings based on how well a program was able to achieve its intended purpose.
“We wanted to bring order to a body of information strung throughout a wide range of publications,” Phelan Wyrick, senior policy advisor at OJP said during a presentation on at the 2011 National Institute of Justice conference this week.
OJP predicts the main users of the site will be researchers and academics, law enforcement, state agencies, judges, and congressional staff looking for effective programs to replicate, adapt, or peg for additional research.
The site consists of a searchable database of evidence-based programs in criminal justice and provides detailed information on each including the outcomes, study methodology, and cost, when available. Contact information for program directors is also available for many of the programs, Wyrick said.
Programs are added to the database from peer-reviewed journals and other existing literature as well as from nominations by users of They are rated ‘effective’, ‘promising’ or ‘no effects,’ by a panel of reviewers.
“We get pressure from lawmakers to keep funding things that just don’t work. This lets us have an objective source to show how well it works,” Wyrick said. However, in a bit of a contradiction, Wyrick added that ratings on the site shouldn’t influence policymakers’ decisions when choosing whether to fund a program.
“We don’t want to say to just fund things off this list because that would stifle innovation and discourage programs where more research is needed,” he said.
Speaking in the same presentation, Edward Latessa director of the University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice said having an official review process for programs will lead to increased confidence in criminal justice research.
“We know that smoking is bad because [a body of] research concluded that if you smoke, that it would lead to lung cancer or emphysema. The challenge is to create this body of research in policing or drug programs. This process will help us get there. It’ll tell researchers what gaps are in the research and where we need to do more work,” Latessa said. Highlights:

  Ways to find information: Keyword search, browse by topic, advanced search, and a list of all topics.
  Topics covered: Corrections and Reentry, Courts, Crime and Crime Prevention, Drugs and Substance Abuse, Forensics and Technology, Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, and Victims and Victimization.
  The programs are reviewed by a panel of experts certified by the Department of Justice and rated on their effectiveness.
   Four areas of each program are reviewed: conceptual frame work, research design, outcome evidence and fidelity.
   Programs reviewed are aimed at reducing crime or related behaviors, target an at-risk population, prevent victimization, or improve the justice system.
   See the complete review process here.

Photo by ryanjreilly from flickr


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