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State Justice Statistics Program for Statistical Analysis Center, 2016

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $195,874)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the State Administering Agency (SAA) for Vermont. On November 4, 2014, Governor Peter Shumlin signed Executive Order #06-14 designating DPS the Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) for the State of Vermont. Crime Research Group (CRG) is the research partner for DPS and will provide SAC services through a contract with DPS. Crime Research Group was contracted and selected for their expertise and prior experience with criminal justice efforts. Their efforts are to accomplish the following goals: 1) to collect and analyze criminal justice information; 2) to produce general information and statistical reports on crime, criminal offenders, and the administration of criminal justice; 3) to provide and coordinate technical assistance to the legislature and to state and local law enforcement agencies, the courts and corrections and 4) to create an evidence-based criminal justice system.

Under this award, the VT SAC will conduct two (2) studies - 1) Fair and Impartial Policing and 2) The impact, if any, of Opiate/Other Drug Use on crime in Vermont.

Under project one (1), the VT SAC will conduct a thorough review and a gap analysis of current data to develop a plan for improving data quality regarding traffic stops and race. For the past two years, Vermont law enforcement agencies have been required to collect and publish data on traffic stops and race. For a variety of reasons this has not happened. One of the major reasons is the inability to extract the data from the law enforcement databases. This project will facilitate the data extraction through the identification of the appropriate tools and processes to obtain the data, analyze the current quality of the data, and improve the quality of the data by assessing the needs of law enforcement regarding professional development and technology. The VT SAC will develop an independent public website for publishing traffic stops and race data.

Under project two (2), the VT SAC will conduct a study to identify, if any, the impact of opiate and other drug use on the increased crime rate in Vermont. Law enforcement agencies throughout Vermont have reported a dramatic increase in the connection between the number of heroin/opiate crimes and drug-related property crimes. This project will determine if this perception is reality. Using text and sentiment analysis in R to scan case narratives, researchers will identity cases where the narrative mentions the motivation of the offender which are likely to be related to a person addicted to illegal drugs. The software will scan for the following words: addict, drugs, heroin (etc), fence, prescription, illegal, methadone, treatment, paraphernalia, fix, bags, habit, dealer, supplier, etc. The result of the text analysis will be a graphic of the most common words and associated sentiments in property crime narratives, and the relationship those words have with drug types or indicators of addiction. Using this process, the VT SAC will be able to identify incidents that are drug-related. The VT SAC will develop a final report to be posted on the CRG and DPS websites as well as submitted to BJS.(CA/NCF)

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.

Date Created: August 26, 2016