Violent Crime, Violence Against Women, and Family Violence

For over 20 years, ILJ has conducted research and training projects on the impacts of violent crime, violence against women, and family violence and the outcomes of programs designed to address these crimes. ILJ has demonstrated expertise in many areas of criminal victimization and criminal justice system response, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. ILJ has worked with clients at all levels of the criminal justice system to research and provide training on these and other critical subject areas.

Current and Past Projects

Analysis of the Journey to Violent Crime

The question of how people end up at the same place and time, but in the different roles of offender and victim, is one that has long intrigued researchers and police. Using funding from the U. S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, ILJ shed light on this complex dynamic by measuring the distance traveled from home address to the location of the incident for both offender and victim. Using violent crimes committed in Washington, D.C., during 2001 and 2002, ILJ staff measured travel distance using two different methods: street network and ‘as the crow flies’. These distances were then analyzed by victim characteristics, offender characteristics, and motive. The relative spatial locations were also examined to better understand whether certain types of crimes are neighborhood-focused or involve either victims or offenders that do not live within the neighborhood. Finally, innovative cartographic techniques were used to represent these spatial relationships. Findings from this research will assist police practitioners with respect to investigations (e.g., aid in refining suspect lists), problem solving, and crime prevention (e.g., by developing richer information about areas where violent crime is concentrated).

Exploring the Spatial Configuration of Places Related to Homicides

ILJ conducted a comprehensive study of the spatial characteristics of homicides over a 13-year period in Washington, DC. The study included information on the location of the victim’s home, offender’s home, and homicide event. The research focused on the spatial relationship between the three locations. In total, ILJ developed 2,773 triads for the homicides (more than one triad was possible because of multiple victims or multiple offenders). The final report on the analysis of the distances between victims, offenders, and events show considerable variation depending on a variety of characteristics. In addition, ILJ divided the triads into three groups: dots (all three locations were the same), lines (two of the three locations were identical), and triangles (all three locations were difference). Finally, a multinomial regression analysis identified the differences in characteristics of victims, offenders, and events associated with particular mobility triangles.

Homicide Case Management, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC

Launched by the Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia (MPDC), Targeted Organizational Performance Sessions (TOPS) used a team approach to bringing open homicide investigations to closure. It combined elements of the COMPSTAT process of data analysis and case review with community policing and problem solving approaches. ILJ worked under the direction of MPDC’s Office of Quality Assurance to help coordinate TOPS and assist with programming, technology, and evaluation. TOPS evolved into Homicide Incident Review sessions that brought together local and federal law enforcement, probation, and the United States Attorney’s Office to address open and closed homicide cases.

Homicide Clearance Project in Phoenix, Arizona

Under a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Homicide Clearance Project in the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department provided support for the transfer of four crime scene specialists to the department’s homicide unit with duties devoted entirely to evidence collection at homicide scenes. Prior to the grant, homicide investigators were responsible for evidence collection, which greatly reduced the amount of investigative time available for homicide investigations. The National Institute of Justice awarded a separate grant to ILJ to conduct an extensive process and impact evaluation of the project. The three-volume final report includes (1) results from a quasi-experimental evaluation of the Homicide Clearance Project, (2) extended analysis on the characteristics of homicides in the city over a two-year period, and (3) use of forensic evidence at murder trials.

Legal Assistance for Victims

With the sponsorship of the National Institute of Justice (USDOJ), ILJ partnered with the National Center for Victims of Crime to conduct a three-year study of approximately 180 grantees receiving funds under the Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) Program to provide civil legal assistance to victims of domestic violence around the country. ILJ also examined ten jurisdictions that did not receive LAV funds in order to identify the range of civil legal assistance sources otherwise available to these victims. Annual surveys of grantees, process evaluations of 20 grantees, and impact evaluations for eight of the sites were done.

Survey of Victim Assistance Programs for the National Institute of Justice, National Assessment Program

As part of three nationwide surveys of 3,000 criminal justice practitioners, ILJ collected and analyzed information on 382 crime victim assistance programs operated by police, sheriffs, prosecutors, and independent agencies. Results were published as an NIJ Research in Action.

Evaluation of Law Enforcement and Prosecution Programs, Violence Against Women Act (STOP Grants)

For the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), ILJ assessed the impact of local law enforcement and prosecution programs funded under the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) formula grant program. The police and prosecutor priority area under STOP addressed both domestic violence and sexual assault and included training efforts; special units operated by police and prosecutors; development of policies, procedures, and protocols; and stalking. After reviewing VAWA-funded law enforcement and prosecution programs in all 55 states and territories, ILJ conducted process evaluations of 12 local sites and impact evaluations of six projects, using both official crime data and unique measures to assess program impact on victim safety and well being. ILJ also conducted a state-by-state review of police and prosecutor training efforts funded under the STOP grant program.

Evaluation of Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies Program, Violence Against Women Act

ILJ conducted a national evaluation of projects funded under the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies Program. The methodology included a survey of grantee agencies; process evaluations in 20 sites; and impact evaluations in six sites. The impact evaluations involved analyses of official crime data; development of measures unique to each site; and individual interviews and focus groups with victims of domestic violence. To conduct this comprehensive evaluation, ILJ worked with a national advisory board of experts in domestic violence research and victim services, as well as with local criminal justice agencies and victim service providers.

State Stalking Laws and their Implementation in the 50 States

This project for the National Institute of Justice involved two research tracks. In the first track, ILJ researched legal and related materials (including reviews of legislation in the 50 states, court cases, research literature, bibliographies, and survey findings) for the Violence Against Women Office's Report to Congress. For the second track, ILJ studied promising projects to address stalking in San Diego, San Jose, Colorado Springs, and Los Angeles.

Violence Against Women on Campus

Under a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), ILJ conducted a process evaluation of 39 grantees funded under the Violence Against Women Act to address sexual assault, stalking, intimate partner violence, and other forms of violence against women on campus. As part of this study, ILJ conducted Internet-based student surveys to identify levels of victimization, student reporting, and student perspectives of campus safety and administrative responses to violence against women.

Evaluation of Law Enforcement and Prosecution Programs, Violence Against Women Act (STOP Grants)

For the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), ILJ assessed the impact of local law enforcement and prosecution programs funded under the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) formula grant program. The police and prosecutor priority area under STOP addressed both domestic violence and sexual assault and included training efforts; special units operated by police and prosecutors; development of policies, procedures, and protocols; and stalking. After reviewing VAWA-funded law enforcement and prosecution programs in all 55 states and territories, ILJ conducted process evaluations of 12 local sites and impact evaluations of six projects using both official crime data and unique measures to assess program impact on victim safety and well being. ILJ also conducted a state-by-state review of police and prosecutor training efforts funded under the STOP grant program.

Assaults and Threats Against Internal Revenue Service Employees

This was a nationwide study for the Internal Revenue Service to examine acts and threats of violence against IRS employees. ILJ surveyed 1,900 employees, developed recommendations for improving employees' advance knowledge of potentially dangerous situations, and recommended measures to increase employee safety.

Victim Assistance Training Manual

For the National Sheriffs' Association, ILJ created a comprehensive Victim Assistance Program Guide and Training Manual. The manual was designed to help law enforcement practitioners involve community crime prevention groups, such as Neighborhood Watch, in assisting crime victims. Subtopics included basic victim needs and expectations, crisis intervention techniques, and assessing community needs and resources. A step-by-step training session was also included for law enforcement use with community crime prevention groups.

Victim Assistance Training Key

ILJ prepared Police Victim Assistance for distribution to police officers nationwide as part of the "Training Key" series published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. It provided specific suggestions to patrol officers on meeting victims' needs, included background information on victims' crisis reactions, and discussed federal and state resources for victim assistance.

Groff, Elizabeth (2008). Modeling the Dynamics of Street Robberies

U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. This project combines the core elements of routine activity theory (a motivated offender, suitable target, and lack of capable guardians) with agent-based modeling to simulate street robberies.

Sample Publications and Products

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