Virginia researchers win top honors
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia criminal justice
researchers have again swept national awards that recognize outstanding efforts
to inform justice policy.
Analysis Center (SAC) at the Division of Justice and Community Services won
both categories of the Douglas Yearwood National Publication Award for 2018
from the Justice Research and Statistics Association.
The agency is part of
the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS). Its team was
honored by their peers for evaluating the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) Program
and for measuring contacts between minority youth and the state’s juvenile
justice system. The resulting reports were each published in January, and won in
the research-policy analysis and statistical-management categories,
research, and education provided by Justice and Community Services gives all
West Virginia first responder agencies an edge in preventing and fighting
crime,” said DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy. “I assure the public that every day,
Governor Justice and every agency within DMAPS perform outstanding services to
keep West Virginia safe from both foreign and domestic threats to our way of
West Virginia’s PRO
program goes beyond the widespread practice of assigning law enforcement to
schools. It trains and certifies officers to “prevent students from committing
crimes, mentor youth, provide a safer environment, improve student attitudes
and knowledge of criminal justice, and combine safety and child advocacy,” that
report noted. The researchers examined three years of data from all but eight
of West Virginia’s 238 middle and high schools, with 87 of those hosting a PRO
during at least one of those years.
The resulting analysis
found that schools with PROs present for all three years had lower rates of
violent crime and disorder than schools that did not have a PRO. The
researchers also found that the presence of a PRO during any of those years
increased the number of both reported drug crimes and out-of-school suspensions
for drug crimes.
One of the judges
praised the report in the scoring sheets for its “clear explanation of the
statistical techniques used and rationale for using them” and “good discussion
of policy implications of findings,” adding that it had no weaknesses worth
mentioning. “Easily the best paper I reviewed,” another judge wrote.
The report “Measuring
Disproportionate Minority Contact in West Virginia’s Juvenile Justice System” concluded
that minority youth are more likely than white juveniles “to be arrested,
detained, adjudicated, and placed in secure residential facilities.” The
researchers also found that minority youth were less likely to receive
probation or a diversion from the normal filing of formal charges.
“The total number of
minority juveniles experiencing arrests, detentions, and adjudications has
declined significantly in recent years, but these decreases have not reduced
racial disparities in rates of justice system involvement,” this report said.
crunched numbers for 2016 reflecting nine different indicators of contact with
the juvenile justice system. The judges found the results “very effectively
done” and with “a more concise and pleasing visual format.”
“Excellent that you have
highlighted some areas for lawmakers/policymakers to ponder,” one judge commented
in the scoring.
The SAC competed among
similar agencies with five or more full-time staff. It previously won both categories
in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Winners are ineligible
to enter in the same category the following year.
Both reports are
Evaluation of the Prevention Resource Officer Program in West Virginia Middle
and High Schools
Disproportionate Minority Contact in West Virginia's Juvenile Justice System