1997-98 Academy Text Supplement
Dynamics of the Criminal Justice System and the Current Status of Victims' Rights
- At mid-year 1997, an estimated 1,725,842 persons were incarcerated in the nation's
prisons and jails. Federal and state prison authorities held in their custody 645 persons
per 100,000 U.S. residents. (Gilliard, D. & Beck, A. (1998, January). "Prison and Jail Inmates at
Midyear 1997," NCJ-167247. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
- The total number of prisoners held under federal and state jurisdiction increased 4.7
percent from mid-year 1996 to mid-year 1997. However, this is less than the annual
average since 1990 of 7.7 percent. The states and the District of Columbia added 48,760
prisoners and the federal system an additional 6,438 prisoners. (Ibid.)
- Eleven percent of these offenders (70,239) were supervised outside of jail facilities in
programs such as community service, work release, weekend reporting, electronic
monitoring and other alternative programs. (Ibid.)
- In the year ending June 30, 1997, the capacity of the nation's jails rose by 19,713 beds.
Jails were operating at 97 percent of their rated capacity, up from 92 percent at mid-year
- Over half of jail inmates in 1996 were already being supervised by the courts or
corrections staff at the time of their most recent arrest. Almost one-third were on
probation, an eighth were on parole, and an eighth were on bail or bond. (Harlow, C. (1998,
April). "Profile of Jail Inmates 1996," NCJ-164620. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
- More than 7 of every 10 jail inmates in 1996 had prior sentences to probation or
incarceration. Over 4 in 10 had served 3 or more sentences. (Ibid.)
- Over a third of all jail inmates reported some physical or mental disability. (Ibid.)
- Forty-eight percent of jailed women reported having been physically or sexually abused
prior to admission; 27 percent had been raped. (Ibid.)
- During 1994, 138 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty and 260,341
were assaulted (the highest number of assaults against law enforcement personnel to
date). (Federal Bureau of Investigation. Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted - 1995.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
- The incarceration rate in federal and state prisons and local jails almost doubled during
the last decade. Between year-end 1985 and mid-year 1996, the incarcerated population
grew an average of 7.8 percent a year -- from 744,208 to 1,630,940 inmates. (Bureau of
Justice Statistics. Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
- Almost three quarters of the men and women under correctional supervision in 1994 were
supervised in the community, on probation or parole. (Billiard, D. & Beck, A. (1995). The
Nation's Correctional Population Tops Five Million. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S.
Department of Justice.)
Results of Recent Federal Legislation Regarding Law Enforcement
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 authorized funds to promote
community policing and to add 100,000 community policing officers over six years. As of 1997,
the following initiatives have occurred with respect to enhancing community policing efforts:
- The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), within the U.S.
Department of Justice, was established as the federal office responsible for
carrying out the new directives under the Act for community policing.
- As of May 1997, COPS has awarded grants for the hiring or redeployment of
more than 57,000 police officers and sheriff's deputies.
- The COPS Youth Firearms Violence program supports innovative community
policing approaches to fight firearm violence among young people, while COPS
More Equipment Grants are increasing law enforcement technologies.
- In addition, the COPS Community Policing to Combat Domestic Violence
program provides grants to local communities to fight domestic violence through
(Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Public Law No. 103-322, Title IV)
Implementation of Victims' Rights
With support from the National Institute of Justice, the National Victim Center released the
results of a study in the spring of 1997 about the implementation of victims' rights laws in four
states. The Center selected two states that had strong statutory protections for victims' rights
and two states whose statutes provided more limited victims' rights protections. The study
determined the following:
- The survey of over 1,300 crime victims found that even in the two states that had
enacted strong legal protections for crime victims, many victims were still denied
- Regardless of the degree of statutory protection of victims' rights, the National
Victim Center found that these states failed to implement state statutory and
constitutional rights for victims in a significant number of cases.
- Nearly half of all victims did not receive notice of the sentencing hearing -- even
in the states that had enacted strong protection statutes.
- While the strong protection states had laws requiring that victims to be notified
of plea negotiations, victims were often not informed of such negotiations. The
weaker protection states had not passed laws requiring plea notification. Overall,
regardless of the level of statutory protection, victims were not being notified in
almost half of all violent crime cases.
- The study concluded that state statutory protections alone appear to be
insufficient to guarantee the provision of victims' rights.
(National Institute of Justice. (1997). "Crime Victim Responses Regarding Victims' Rights." Research
in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
Research Summaries Available from the U.S. Department of Justice
In 1997, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) within the U.S. Department of Justice published
two reports summarizing the vast research that has been conducted with support from NIJ within
the past few years. These two publications are important resources for those who strive to keep
up-to-date on the myriad research being conducted in the justice- and victim-related fields. A
brief summary of these publications is provided below.
Criminal Justice Research Under the Violent Crime Control
and Law Enforcement Act -- 1995 to 1996
The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (Crime Act) was enacted by
Congress in response to concern over the continuing high rates of violent crime. Over the six-year
life of the Act, Congress authorized the expenditure of $30.2 billion to support local criminal
justice. In the first three years (1994-1997), $11.1 billion was appropriated by Congress.
Literally thousands of local and state programs have been funded under the Act. Among others,
these include community policing initiatives, domestic violence intervention programs, drug
courts, and new prison construction.
As a result, tremendous innovations are occurring at an accelerated rate across the justice system
and in local communities across our nation. There are increased opportunities for the assessment
and evaluation of programs, policies, and practices to determine what works and to disseminate
research on effective interventions.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) was assigned the responsibility for much of the research
and evaluation to be conducted under the Crime Act. The research agenda of NIJ has been
developed with significant input from all offices within the Justice Department that administer the
program components of the Crime Act, including the Violence Against Women Grants Office and
the Office for Victims of Crime. The many research projects that have been initiated with support
from NIJ include, for example, studies that are intended to determine:
- Whether juvenile gun violence can be curbed by an intensive focus on truants and
- How effectively gun markets can be tracked with computer technology.
- How effective law enforcement can be in cooperating with social service agencies
to stem elder abuse.
- What makes boot camps designed for drug-involved teenaged offenders
- What are the consequences of a state's no-parole policy.
- How changes in sentencing laws affect a probation office.
- In what ways stalking affects its victim.
- Whether provision of drug treatment within the context of judicial supervision can
make a difference.
(Reardon, J. (1997, September 13). Criminal Justice Research Under the Crime Act -- 1995-1996, NCJ-166142. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.)
Research Portfolio from the National Institute of Justice
In November of 1997, NIJ released its research portfolio for projects supported through June of
1997. Of the many projects currently being funded by NIJ, many aspects of crime victimization
are being addressed, including issues relating to homicide, domestic violence, gangs, HIV/AIDS,
the impact of legislative initiatives, community policing and many other subjects. (National Institute
of Justice. (1997, November). "1997 Research Portfolio [Interim]," NCJ-166374. Research in Brief.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.