About      Experts     Research
March 2016


Criminal justice policy continues to be a prominent issue, with the Senate spending nearly two weeks considering the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act prior to its passage on March 10. We anticipate a range of justice issues will emerge during the Senate's consideration of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The Crime and Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) will continue to advocate for increased resources for justice research in letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership, conversations with reporters and forums like the Consortium of Social Science Associations meeting.
CJRA continues to follow the FY 2017 Appropriations process with interest and will encourage the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to increase funding for justice research, including the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). On March 17, CJRA released a statement in support of expanded funding for these agencies, particularly in light of the growing demand from policymakers at all levels for objective research to inform justice reform efforts. CJRA is monitoring various authorization bills working their way through the House and Senate on addiction, mental health and criminal justice reform.
Each month, CJRA highlights a recent study published by one of our experts. This month, CJRA promoted Race, Crime and the Micro-Ecology of Deadly Force by David Klinger, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.
Why do some neighborhoods experience higher rates of police shootings than others?
Higher rates of police shootings tend to occur in neighborhoods with higher levels of firearm violence, but only to a point. The relationship between violence and deadly force is curvilinear, with the use of deadly force tailing off after a threshold of violence has been reached. Police shootings are not as frequent in the areas with highest violence compared to areas with moderate levels of violence. 
How often do American police officers use deadly force against citizens?
We don’t know. And that is a big problem where understanding the use of deadly force goes. In fact, the key policy recommendation section of our study notes this problem and calls for a fix. We advocate for the establishment of a national database of police shootings to shed further empirical light on the interconnections among race, crime and police use of deadly force. 
What is the role of citizen race in the deadly force picture?
The racial composition of neighborhoods was not related to the use of firearms by St. Louis police officers. The most robust laboratory research indicates that race actually works in the favor of blacks when it comes to the amount of time police officers take to react to a threat. This issue is addressed in a forthcoming study.
Did anything surprise you during this study?
We did not expect the curvilinear relationship between violence and officer-involved shootings. There was no precedent for this finding in the research, nor was there any clear theoretical reason to expect it. In hindsight, as we note in the paper, there are social theories that can make sense of the finding.
"This is definitely a hot topic for state legislatures and for good reason." - Nancy La Vigne, CJRA Expert
"Even if the problem exists, I’m not convinced that hiding their names is the solution.” - John Worrall, CJRA Expert
"Voices that have not mattered in the past may actually be able to be heard." - Delores Jones-Brown, CJRA Expert
icon_circle-facebook icon_circle-twitter
Crime and Justice Research Alliance, All Rights Reserved 2016 ©