What is the National Institute of Peace
This institute is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. This agency under the Department of Justice is involved in the detail operations and decisions made by the Department of Justice. The functions and responsibilities this institute provides to the Department of Justice plays a significant role not only to the Department but to state and local governments as well. The director is one of the positions that is appointed by the President but confirmed by the Senate. The director establishes the objectives of the institute, guided by the priorities of the Office of Justice Programs, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the needs of the field.
There are five basic principles in which this institute believes and directs their actions. The first is that research can make a difference. This involves not only individual lives but the health of communities. The second principle is that government-funded research must be awarded through open competition and be subjected to anonymous critical review from both scientists and practitioners. The third principle is that their research agenda must be driven by professionals in the real world. This involves those who deal with crime and justice problems every day. The final principle is that partnerships with other government agencies and professional associations are critical to determining what works.
The institute is structured to accomplish four basic criteria. The first is to emphasize outcome and cost-benefit evaluations of criminal justice programs and technologies. The second is to keep the social and physical sciences together under one research agency to maximize collaborations, cost-effectiveness and benefits to the field. The next one is to elevate the forensic sciences, as recommended in the National Academy of Sciences Report titled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. The final objective is to group the core organizational functions under autonomous offices that report directly to the Deputy Director.
Part of the structure includes four offices. There is the Office of Communication, the Office of Operations, the Office of Research and Evaluation and the Office of Science and Technology. With this structure there are a number of activities with which this institute is involved including performing research on high-priority goals. The high priority research goals each have specific details as to the objectives under them. Overall the topics falling into a high priority status include ten areas which are identified below:
Justice Systems (sentencing, courts, prosecution and defense)
investigative and forensic sciences
violence and victimization
drugs, alcohol and crime
interoperability, spatial information and automated systems
As you can see the scope of these high priority topics are important to our country but the depth of involvement of this institute is huge and much needed. As part of the activities identified above there is also the process of performing tests, evaluations of programs, practices and equipment. In any testing perform the value of the testing must be evaluated prior to it being initiated. Along with this comes the validity of the evaluation must also be determined. Part of the evaluation process involves ensuring the equipment doing the testing is reliable and meets the standards for the equipment being utilized.
This institute performs a vital service not only to the Department of Justice but also to the country. The activity with which it is involved is hard to comprehend the amount of details necessary to accomplish the objectives identified in this article. Our justice system is great but sometimes problems exist and the function of this agency helps to identify where it appears it may have failed and to make adjustments to improve it. There are many agencies such as this that perform vital services for which we have no clue that they exist or what they do in supporting our country in all its needs.