A new Science Advisory Board has started work at the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, which provides billions of dollars in anticrime aid to states ad localities. The board will provide advice on how to make programs conform to scientific principles. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed its first meeting last Friday. The 15-member panel is chaired by criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University.
In opening remarks to the panel, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson asked members to “look at the broad role of science” within the agency and recommend “how we can better integrate what we learn from science into our programmatic design and spending.” The mandate includes not only the agency’s grant making but also the research arm, the National Institute of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Robinson also called for suggestions on broad priorities on which research might be focused, and institutional ways to protect the role of science at the agency in the future. She noted that the parent Justice Department “is a lawyer culture and we know from history that it can be hostile to science.”