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Piquero: Biden Justice Budget Skimps On Building Evidence Base

The Biden administration's former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Alex Piquero, challenged the administration to put more money into research to evaluate the effectiveness of the crime-fighting programs it is supporting. In an op-ed in DC Journal, Piquero, now a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Miami, wrote that Congress' "woefully underfunded" appropriations for BJS and the National Institute of Justice went unchallenged in the administration's latest Justice Department budget proposal. "With the lone exception of hate crimes, there was no mention of data and statistics to evaluate such efforts and improve the nation’s crime and justice data systems," Piquero wrote. "Worse yet, the section of the president’s budget that focused on research and development does not mention research to inform public safety."

Together, the NIJ and BJS budgets have totaled around $70 million to $80 million a year, "well below the amounts provided to other federal science and statistical agencies," Piquero wrote. Congress has long championed evidence-based policymaking, but hasn't put the necessary research money into its justice priorities, he said. "Investing in prevention strategies, understanding risk factors and evaluating the efficacy of interventions are essential steps toward creating a society where safety and justice are not privileges but universal rights," Piquero wrote. "By adequately funding research initiatives and improving the crime statistics infrastructure, Congress can pave the way for a safer, more just future for generations. We can be smarter about crime by being smarter about people and places. But we can’t do that if we do not adequately support the science that should guide public safety policies."


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