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National Institute of Justice’s Courts Research: Examining Alternatives to Incarceration for Veterans and Other Policy Innovation

Human Trafficking Data Collection Activities, 2021

Post-Prison Employment Quality and Future Criminal Justice Contact


Identifying Supports for Struggling Students

Understanding the Effects of Doubling Pell on State Grant Programs

Reimagining School Sports: Small Suburban Public High Schools


Developing Public-Facing Language Products Guidance from the 2020 Census Language Program

2020 Census: Big Cities Grew and Became More Diverse, Especially Among Their Youth

Future Paths of Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States: Predictable Determinants, Obstacles and Opportunities


Urban-Rural Differences in Unintentional Injury Death Rates among Children Aged 0–17 Years: United States, 2018–2019

COVID-19 Vaccination Rates and Youth Unemployment During 2021

Practice Expense Data Collection and Methodology: Phase II Final Report

November 12, 2021


This article profiles key studies in the National Institute of Justice’s Courts Research Portfolio on pretrial, prosecution, and sentencing policies that address alternatives to incarceration, including veterans’ treatment courts and other problem-solving courts. Collectively, these research projects demonstrate a history of successful collaborations with federal agencies, court professionals, and expert research teams. This article also highlights findings from National Institute of Justice’s multisite evaluation of veterans’ treatment courts and discusses recommendations for practice and future research. Together, all of these underscore the need to promote data and research capacity to inform practice and policy, which inspired National Institute of Justice’s Courts Strategic Research Plan, 2020-2024. The plan documents National Institute of Justice’s commitment to furthering the U.S. Department of Justice’s mission through court research, evaluation, and policy analysis.

Source: National Institute of Justice Journal

This report details ongoing and completed efforts to measure and analyze the nationwide incidence of human trafficking, to describe characteristics of human-trafficking victims and offenders, and to describe criminal justice responses to human-trafficking offenses. The first National Survey of Victim Service Providers was conducted in 2019 to gather data on this relatively understudied source of information on victims of crime and the services available to assist them. Additionally, the number of states participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program's Human Trafficking (UCR-HT) data collection program has grown from 37 in 2015 to 47 in 2020. The report also highlights several findings from this data. In 2020, 42 states reported at least one human-trafficking offense related to commercial sex acts to UCR-HT, and 35 states reported at least one human-trafficking offense related to involuntary servitude. The number of arrests reported for human trafficking involving involuntary servitude increased from 66 in 2015 to 146 in 2019, but declined to 92 in 2020. Reported arrests for human trafficking involving commercial sex acts increased from 684 in 2015 to 880 in 2016 and declined to 301 in 2020.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Several theories linking post-prison employment to recidivism suggest that the quality of employment has a causal effect on future criminal justice contact. However, previous work testing these theories has not accounted for differential selection into high-quality employment. Using six years of post-release employment records, the author documents how post-prison job quality varies by industry, then uses inverse propensity score weighting to estimate the effect of job quality on future arrests and incarceration. Some evidence indicates that parolees who find high-quality employment experience fewer arrests or returns to prison than otherwise similar parolees who find low-quality employment, with the effects most evident when comparing employment in the highest- and lowest-quality industries. Low-quality employment does not appear to reduce future criminal justice contact relative to unemployment.

Source: Journal of the Social Sciences


Teachers commonly rely on many sources of information to diagnose student needs and to identify the most-appropriate resources to support those needs. In this brief, the authors use nationally representative survey response data from the 2021 Learn Together Surveys (LTS) to examine how secondary teachers leverage different types of information to guide them to the supports and interventions that they use in the classroom. Drawing on responses from 3,605 6th- to 12th-grade teachers, the authors focus their discussion on survey items from the Supporting Struggling Students and Sources of Information and Support portions of the survey. The authors compare teacher responses across various school-level characteristics, including school free and reduced-price lunch enrollment, percentage of non-white students, and school locale, and various self-reported teacher-level characteristics, such as main subject taught, grade band taught, race and ethnicity, and their school's mode of instruction during the 2020–21 school year. The brief highlights three key findings, including (1) teachers rely most often on information that they gather from personal interactions with students and from students’ performance on teacher-created classroom tasks to support students’ academic needs; (2) when finding an intervention to support students, more than 50% of teachers first look to school and district colleagues for information; and (3) less than 80% of respondents overall indicated that they know where to find information for interventions that specifically support students who are experiencing poverty, English language learners, or the incorporation of anti-racist teaching methods or materials.

Source: RAND Corporation

Widespread concern over college affordability and student debt has generated strong support for doubling the maximum Pell grant—or at least increasing it significantly. The Pell grant is a federal grant provided to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree. Doubling the maximum Pell grant award would increase the federal grant aid available to current recipients and, under the current program structure, provide aid to additional students whose incomes are too high for them to qualify at the current maximum grant level. In this brief, the authors estimate the significant declines in unmet need that would result from expanding the Pell program, incorporating the current levels of state and institutional grant aid. But the design of some state grant programs leads to automatic reductions in awards for students whose federal grant aid increases. Although only a few states reduce aid in direct response to a Pell grant increase, the allocation of grant aid in many states is likely to be affected by the reduction in unmet need among Pell and state grant recipients. Colleges and universities are also likely to modify the distribution of some of their institutional aid in response to a significant increase in Pell grants.

Source: Urban Institute

The Project Play initiative recognizes the essential role that high schools play in preparing young people for life – and the cognitive, educational and health benefits that flow to students whose bodies are in motion. The initiative aims to make quality sport and physical activities accessible to all students by identifying strategies that administrators and other leaders can adopt, aligned with the mission of schools and within the context of a comprehensive education. Athletes at suburban schools are much more likely to participate in sports outside school settings than their urban or rural peers, being 2.6 times more likely to belong to a sport league outside of school than rural students. This can increase the risk of burnout or overuse injury in students with participate in a particular sport year-round. This also can increase the talent gap between students who play outside of school and those who do not, especially for reasons of cost. Male students at suburban public schools were three times more likely than urban male students to identify expenses as a reason they don’t play school sports. Suburban female students (18%) also listed costs as a barrier more than urban female students (11%). Key findings from this report include that 26% of Hispanic suburban students who don’t play high school sports say it’s because no offerings interest them, verses 13% each for Hispanic students at urban and rural schools. On a 1-5 scale, with 5 being best, suburban students rated their school's ability to prevent bullying in sports 3.67 -- lower than urban and rural schools. Seventy-nine percent of suburban students say they’re motivated to play sports to have fun and 41% say they play sports for a college scholarship.

Source: Aspen Institute

Government Operations

The 2020 Census language program was successfully executed and became the most robust language program ever built for the decennial census. For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau provided an opportunity for people to respond in 12 non-English languages (online and phone) and offered video and print guides in 59 non-English languages. Final translations reached millions of households across the nation, providing them with critical information about the census. The creation of these complex, interrelated products required thorough planning and the engagement of multiple teams of experts and professional translation staff. The purpose of this handbook is to share detailed information about best practices and to provide guidance for organizations planning similar language translation projects.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

For much of recent history, big cities have led the nation in reflecting increased racial and ethnic diversity. For many decades, a large number of cities had primarily white and Black populations. Now, the impact of White and Black city flight is being eclipsed by the growth of Latino or Hispanic and Asian American populations as well as those identifying with two more races. These groups have helped contribute to city gains in the last decade and could provide a roadmap to the ways the nation’s population will change in the years ahead. Among the 36 big cities where the white population is less than half of the population, Latinos or Hispanics constitute the largest race-ethnic population in 12, with greatest shares in El Paso, Miami, and San Antonio, where more than six in 10 residents identify as Latino or Hispanic. In Miami, 70% of the population is Latino or Hispanic. Newly designated minority-white (less than 50% of the population) cities since 2010 are Jacksonville, Fla., Tulsa, Okla., and Oklahoma City. One aspect of these shifts that is especially noteworthy is the pronounced racial diversity of these cities’ youth populations. It means that urban schools and other institutions that serve families with children will be on the forefront of understanding the needs of the next generation of multicultural Americans.

Source: Brookings Institute

This paper identifies and quantifies major determinants of future electric vehicle (EV) demand in order to inform widely-held aspirations for market growth. This model compares three channels that will affect electric vehicle market share in the United States from 2020-2035: intrinsic (no-subsidy) electric vehicle demand growth, net-of-subsidy electric vehicle cost declines (e.g., batteries), and government subsidies. Geographic variation in preferences for sedans and light trucks highlights the importance of viable electric vehicle alternatives to conventional light trucks; belief in climate change is highly correlated with electric vehicle adoption patterns; and the first $500 billion in cumulative nationwide electric vehicle subsidies is associated a 7-10% increase in electric vehicle market share in 2035, an effect that diminishes as subsidies increase. The rate of intrinsic demand growth dwarfs the impact of demand-side subsidies and battery cost declines, highlighting the importance of non-monetary factors (e.g., charging infrastructure, product quality and/or cultural acceptance) on electric vehicle demand.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Health and Human Services

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children aged 0–17 years. In 2018–2019, 14% of children in the United States aged 0–17 years resided in rural areas but accounted 24% of all childhood injury deaths. Urban-rural differences in injury mortality have been associated with a variety of factors, including differences in types of activities, use of safety equipment, practice of safety-related behaviors, built environments, and access to care. This report presents rates of unintentional injury death among children aged 0–17 for 2018–2019, highlighting the differences in rates by mechanism of injury and urban-rural status. Key findings include that in 2018–2019, the unintentional injury death rate was higher for children in rural areas (12.4 per 100,000) than in urban areas (6.3 per 100,000). In both urban and rural areas, children aged under 1 year had the highest rate of unintentional injury death, largely due to deaths from suffocation. Among children aged 1–4 years, the rate of unintentional injury death due to fire or flame was four times higher in rural areas (1.7 per 100,000) than in urban areas (0.4 per 100,000). Motor vehicle traffic was the leading mechanism of unintentional injury death among children aged 5–13, with the rural rate (3.1 per 100,000) twice as high as the urban rate (1.5 per 100,000). Among children aged 14–17, rates of unintentional injury death by poisoning, which includes drug overdose, were similar in urban and rural areas.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The first half of 2021 was marked by important trends in rapidly increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and steadily declining youth unemployment rates. However during the summer, vaccine uptake lost its momentum and youth unemployment rates in most states increased once again after the second quarter of 2021. Despite these trends, youth unemployment rates in some states, such as California, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia, continued to decline. However, in most states, such as Hawaii, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, youth unemployment rates increased once again after the second quarter of 2021. Florida’s youth unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2021 was 9.6% and was relatively flat for the first three quarters of 2021.

Source: Mathematica

Each year, Medicare allocates tens of billions of dollars for indirect practice expense across services on the basis of data from the Physician Practice Information (PPI) Survey, which reflects 2006 expenses. Because these data are not regularly updated, and because there have been significant changes in the U.S. economy and health care system since 2006, there are concerns that continued reliance on PPI Survey data might result in practice expense payments that do not accurately capture the resources that are typically required to provide services. In this final report of the second phase of a study on practice expense methodology, the authors address how the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services might improve the methodology used in practice expense rate-setting, update data that inform practice expense rates, or both. The authors conclude that this information is best provided by a survey; therefore, they focus on the advantages and disadvantages of survey-based approaches. They also describe the use of a lean model survey instrument, a substantially shorted model survey instrument intended to ease survey burden, as well as partnering with another agency to collect data. Finally, the authors describe a virtual town hall meeting held in June 2021 to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback on practice expense data collection and rate-setting. The system of data and methods that the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uses to support practice expense rate-setting is complex; thus, the organization must take into account a number of competing priorities when considering changes to the system. With this in mind, the authors offer a number of near- and longer-term recommendations. Key findings include that instituting a system of recurring data collection—for example, a survey of a rotating panel of practices—would ensure that payment rates reflect current practice expense cost structures. Both monetary and non-monetary incentives should be considered as a means of increasing survey response, with potential improvements to data quality, bias due to selective participation and gaming, and attrition. Some specialties are exposed to high levels of sampling variation under a survey design that collects an equal number of observations from the specialties that have been surveyed for practice expense per hour values; other specialties experience very low levels of sampling variation.

Source: RAND Corporation

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