After a long delay in naming a permanent leader of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), President Obama has announced his intention to appoint Nancy Rodriguez, a criminologist at Arizona State University, to the position. Rodriguez also is associate dean of the College of Public Programs. Her research interests include sentencing policies, juvenile court processes, and substance abuse. The research has included evaluations of drug courts, restorative justice programs, and three strikes laws. William Sabol, acting director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, has also been serving as acting director of NIJ since a previous acting director, Greg Ridgeway, left last summer. The NIJ directorship no longer is subject to Senate confirmation. In August, The Crime Report described the leadership gap at the agency, which directs crime research at the Justice Department.
DOJ also named a new deputy director and chief of staff at NIJ, Dr. Howard Spivak. The agency described him as “a pioneer in recognizing the link between violence and public health” who has published two books on youth violence. Spivak has been serving as director of the Division of Violence Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. He was responsible for CDC research and programs to prevent homicide, suicide, family, intimate partner and sexual assault, child abuse, and youth violence. Dr. Spivak began his career as Director of Adolescent Services for the City of Boston, where he cofounded the nation’s first community-based public health youth violence prevention program.