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Bulletin Reports

Bulletin Reports

Volunteers Provide Victim Assistance

Good Samaritans: Volunteers Helping Victims Program Handbook and Training Guide, a new e-guide from the Office of Victims of Crime, is designed to train volunteers to provide services that include securing victims’ homes after a break-in, offering emotional support, and linking victims with community services. Before the Good Samaritans program began in Mobile County, Alabama, many vulnerable crime victims had no one to turn to. Since 2003, however, these victims have been able to call on these volunteers to help them feel more secure in their homes after a crime and to refer them to the services they need.

A community initiative led by the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office and supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, Good Samaritans has been replicated in several communities in Mobile County, Alabama, and Jackson County, Mississippi. The program unites law enforcement and faith-based and community organizations to train and mobilize volunteers who can help the most vulnerable victims of crime. “This is an important service to the community because serious crime continues to plague Mobile County,” said District Attorney John Tyson, Jr. “According to state and federal crime statistics, our countywide crime rate is substantially higher than the rest of the nation. There are far too many crime victims and not nearly enough law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and victim service professionals to help them all.” To obtain more information about the training guide (NCJ 225703), access the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, http://www.ncjrs.gov.

People with Mental Illnesses

Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice, a Bureau of Justice Assistance-sponsored guide, examines studies on law enforcement interactions with people with mental illnesses and translates the findings to help policymakers and practitioners develop safe and effective interventions. Some specialized law enforcement strategies presented in the guide include improving officer safety; increasing access to mental health treatment, supports, and services; decreasing the frequency of these individuals’ encounters with the criminal justice system; and reducing certain costs incurred by law enforcement agencies. The research contained in the guide serves as a useful foundation for making data-informed decisions about policies and practices related to law enforcement encounters with people with mental illnesses. But, it is just that—a starting point. Each community still must conduct an analysis of its unique strengths and challenges. Once policymakers identify programmatic goals that specifically respond to the findings from this analysis, they can design, implement, or modify a program that best fits their community’s needs. To view the guide (NCJ 226965), access the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, http://www.ncjrs.gov.

Drug Control Budget Summary

The National Drug Control Strategy: FY 2010 Budget Summary from the Office of National Drug Control Policy identifies resources and performance indicators for programs within the Executive Branch that are integral to the President’s drug control policy. The administration’s plan for reducing drug use and availability includes substance abuse prevention and treatment, domestic law enforcement, and interdiction and international counterdrug support. The drug control programs of the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Veterans Affairs, and the Small Business Administration principally focus on demand reduction activities, such as substance abuse prevention and treatment. The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation, and the Treasury are involved in supply reduction operations, such as domestic law enforcement and interdiction and international counterdrug support. The Office of National Drug Control Policy conducts activities in both areas. Each agency is an important partner in the drug control mission. For additional information, readers can view the summary (NCJ 226765) at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, http://www.ncjrs.gov.

Criminal Victimization, 2007

This Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) bulletin features estimates of rates and levels of personal and property victimization for 2007 and describes the substantial fluctuations in the survey measures of the crime rates from 2005 through 2007. These do not appear to be due to changes in the rate of criminal activity during this period but, rather, to variations in the sample design and implementation of the survey. BJS and the Census Bureau are continuing to research the impact of the differences, and readers should focus on the comparisons of the 2005 and 2007 rates until these issues are resolved. A technical report discussing these matters is expected at a later date. The estimates were drawn from the National Crime Victimization Survey, an ongoing household survey that includes the results of interviews conducted of about 73,600 persons in 41,500 households two times in 2007. The report includes data on violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and property theft), and personal theft (pocket picking and purse snatching), along with the characteristics of victims of these crimes.

Specifically, violent crime rates in 2007 (20.7 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older) were not significantly different from those in 2005 (21.1 per 1,000 persons). U.S. residents age 12 and older experienced an estimated 23 million crimes of violence and theft. The violent crime rate was 20.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older; for property crimes it was 146.5 per 1,000 households. The bulletin (NCJ 224.390) can be found at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s Web site, http://www.ncjrs.gov.