District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute

CourtroomEstablished with funding from the Executive Office of the District of Columbia Mayor (EOM), the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute (DCPI) is a nonpartisan, public policy research organization focused on crime and justice policy in Washington, D.C. DCPI’s mission is to support improvements in the administration of justice and public safety policies through evidence-based research. DCPI researchers seek to expand knowledge of juvenile and criminal justice challenges in the District of Columbia. DCPI produces timely research to help practitioners develop and implement evidence-based crime and justice policy.

DCPI Releases New Report: Variation in 2010-11 Truancy Rates Among District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) High Schools and Middle Schools

In the 2010-2011 school year, 2,500 high school students were chronically truant in District of Columbia Public Schools; at four schools over half of the students were chronically truant. High school truancy rates were moderately related to poverty and crime in students’ residential neighborhoods and to violence near school. But the absenteeism of students in eighth grade was the strongest predictor of high school truancy rates. Focusing on middle school attendance issues may therefore be the most effective means of lowering high school truancy rates.

To learn more about the DCPI's previous work on truancy in the District see our previous reports.

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DCPI Studies
Below is a sampling of DCPI's current and ongoing studies. For more information on the progress of current projects and findings in past reports, please refer to the DCPI Studies page.

Crime Contagion Model

Is crime contagious? Can it spread like an epidemic? DCPI researchers are developing a public-health focused epidemiological model of crime to answer these questions. Using the model, researchers will first test whether or not crime spreads. Once that research is complete, they will further analyze which policies are most effective at stopping crime from spreading further, with a particular focus on the cost-effectiveness of these various responses.

Improving Efficiency of Public Safety in Washington, D.C.

This project will identify and assess cost reduction opportunities for District of Columbia public safety services by examining existing efforts across the nation. A particular emphasis will be placed on improving efficiency in corrections and policing. DCPI researchers will identify candidates from a variety of sources; examine the evidence on cost savings and on effects on performance; and estimate the likely transferability to the District.

Social Network Analysis of Crew Involved Youth

DCPI researchers, using a modified definition of gang-involvement, have conducted surveys of Washington, D.C. youths who are involved with so-called “street crews.” They are currently analyzing this survey data to understand the progression of individual and group-based criminal behavior. Findings concerning the local gang context and how it functions within neighborhoods will assist policymakers, law enforcement, and community practitioners in developing locally appropriate prevention and intervention efforts.

Social Networks and Behaviors of Youth in the District of Columbia: An Interim Research Report details the progress of this project and outlines the preliminary findings.

Truancy and Crime

DCPI is evaluating two pilot projects to combat truancy in the middle and secondary public schools of Washington, D.C. In addition to analyzing the implementation, efficacy, and scalability of these programs, DCPI researchers are analyzing the connection between school attendance, academic achievement and crime. This research will provide results at the individual and school level, providing policy makers with data regarding both the role school attendance plays in academic achievement and which schools could do better along a number of outcomes.

Research on Youth Commitments

Youth commitments to the custody of the Department of Youth and Rehabilitative Services have been higher recently than in earlier years. This has been happening against a background of changes in DYRS and its facilities as well as changes in crime and arrest patterns. To attempt to understand why youth commitments have risen, DCPI researchers will study the process by which youth are committed, and explore who is and is not committed to DYRS and to alternative placements, and how these have changed over time.

Cost-Benefit Model

DCPI has developed an empirical model that combines meta-analysis and cost-benefit analysis to begin to answer this question: How do we make streets safer while spending less money?  This single-stage cost-benefit model uses Bayesian processes to test whether the expected outcomes of implementing a policy or combination of policies in Washington, D.C. is worth the investment. In the future, the model can be used to make evidence-based decisions when policymakers are confronted with difficult choices between successful programs when the resources to fund those programs are limited.

To learn more about the DCPI cost-benefit model, click here.

Effect of 2009 Omnibus Act on Pre-Trial Detention

The Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009 is a comprehensive anti-crime bill focusing on crime in the District of Columbia. One of the policy changes introduced by the Act concerns the pretrial detention for defendants charged with certain offenses, such as violent or dangerous crimes. The Act mandates that the court shall exercise its authority to determine, on the basis of dangerousness to the community, whether or not to detain certain defendants charged with serious offenses. This study uses multivariate analysis to determine whether this legislative change affected the use of pretrial detention in the District.

Research on Crime and Justice

Implementation Evaluation of the District of Columbia Put Families First Program: Final Report

Authors: Joshua Markman, Akiva Liberman, and Jocelyn Fontaine

The goal of this evaluation was to understand the planning, implementation, and execution of the Put Families First program as it is administered by Functional Family Therapy (FFT) in the District of Columbia. The primary question is whether FFT has been implemented with high fidelity and quality, and whether there are local factors or circumstances that either facilitate or interfere with its reliable implementation. The current implementation evaluation shows promise for the effective implementation of FFT for youth at risk of out-of-home placement in the District. For those who do complete the program, implementation is generally close to program benchmarks and showing improvement.

Library Update
This library will be updated regularly. Use the links below to review research and reports for each of these subject areas.
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