The Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research

The mission of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research is to utilize strategic social science research methodologies in the endeavor to assist government agencies, educational institutions and members of the private sector with the development, enhancement, and implementation of contemporary criminal justice policies. Directed by Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the center provides agencies with data analysis and technical assistance in both policy and program evaluation areas in order to develop and promote the most effective criminal justice programs and policies.

The center is funded primarily from external research grants and contracts. Recent contracts have been awarded to the Center by the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office of Community Orientated Policing, the Boston Police Department, the Chelsea Police Department and The Boston Foundation.

Institute on Race and Justice

The Institute on Race and Justice (IRJ) brings together experts from Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Department of African American Studies to examine questions on race and justice facing communities. Through the leadership of the Community Advisory Board, the Institute works on projects toward the goal of conducting nationally recognized research and providing leadership on race and justice issues.

The mission of the Institute is to utilize strategic social science research methodologies to assist government agencies, educational institutions, and community stakeholders in the development of policy changes to advance the cause of social justice. The Institute was founded on the premise that academic institutions can work with communities to provide rigorous and objective information that can be used to influence policy changes that advance the cause of social justice.

This research model attempts to enhance scientific inquiries with that input and experiences of community stakeholders who struggle with issues of racial injustice. The coupling of community practitioners and social scientists allows practitioners access to academic input while providing academics with more current and salient ideas and data on issues in the field.

Violence and Justice Research Laboratory

The Violence and Justice Research Laboratory (VJRL) supports and promotes research in the areas of violence and victimization, its impact and consequences, and the role of the justice system in addressing these issues. We have a particular focus on underserved and understudied populations, who are often particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence. Our scholarship aims to inform policy and move forward empirical knowledge as well as help develop future generations of scholars within this arena. The lab utilizes a structured mentoring system to prepare undergraduate and graduate student researchers in a variety of techniques and methodological approaches. As violence research is spread across various disciplines (psychology, criminal justice, sociology, public health, medicine, social work) the VJRL is an interdisciplinary entity, which aims to bring collaborators and students from various disciplines within the social sciences to help move forward our knowledge in these areas.

Institute for Security and Public Policy

The Institute for Security and Public Policy led by Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, in collaboration with the colleges of Computer and Information Science and Business Administration, deals with developing a deeper understanding of the security threats that face America and other countries in the 21st Century.

The Institute for Security and Public Policy is a strategic alliance to better understand the dynamics underlying security, risk management and public safety, as well as education on initiatives that engage private and public sector leaders in a meaningful discourse about how each contributes to the safety and security of people, property, information and ideas.

Research Initiatives

Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study

The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study (CSYS) is a delinquency prevention experiment embedded in a prospective longitudinal survey of the development of offending. The study was developed and directed by Richard Clarke Cabot (1868-1939), a professor of clinical medicine and social ethics at Harvard University. Planning began in 1935 and the delinquency prevention program officially started in June 1939. The CSYS is recognized as the first randomized controlled experiment in criminology, one of the earliest randomized experiments of a social program, and the earliest example of a longitudinal-experimental study with criminological outcomes.

International Self-Report Delinquency Project

The International Self-Report Delinquency Project (ISRD) is an ongoing research study of delinquency and victimization among youth, using standardized instruments and data collection procedures. The primary focus has been on Europe, but the ISRD project now includes a number of non-European countries (e.g., Brazil, China, Cape Verde, Venezuela).

The ISRD project has two primary objectives:

  • Observe and compare differences, similarities, and trends in offending and victimization between countries
  • Explore and test theoretical issues related to juvenile delinquency and victimization, while maintaining relevance for policy purposes

Data were first collected in 1990-1991 among 13 countries (ISRD1), and in 2005-2007 in 31 countries (ISRD2). The third data collection sweep (ISRD3) is currently on-going, with about 35 partners across the globe.