Learning Lessons and Lessons Learned: The National Institute of Justices' Research Demonstration Project Strategy

Edwin W. Zedlewski, National Institute of Justice

In recent years, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has been experimenting with the use of Research Demonstration Projects in an attempt to facilitate the transfer of research findings into applications in Criminal Justice. The approach is designed to use theory based models that build upon the available research and to implement those models as demonstration projects integrated with a qusi-experimental research design intended to demonstrate program's effects. The strategy involves a strong collaboration between NIJ, the researchers on the project, and practitioners at the sites in which all three share responsibilities for ensuring program implementation integrity and operational consistency. One of the projects NIJ has carried out with this strategy has been the Braking the Cycle program, a pretrial diversion program for drug involved offenders that has been implemented at three adult sites and one juvenile site. These demonstrations are now nearing completion and the research has begun producing results on the programs effects on drug use, recidivism, and other measures of well-being. This provides an opportunity for a critical assessment of the strategy itself and its effectiveness as a means of encouraging research-based practices.

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Updated 05/20/2006