National Institute of Justice | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Research Methods

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is an organization that uses science and research to improve the justice system and public safety.

Overview of the National Institute of Justice

First of all, what exactly is the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)? Part of the U.S. Department of Justice, the NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the federal government. It was established to use science to improve criminal justice and public safety. The NIJ operates under the Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

The Mission of the National Institute of Justice

The NIJ has a clear mission: to advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to enhance the administration of justice and public safety. But what does that mean, exactly? Simply put, the NIJ aims to use science and research to make the justice system work better.

The Work

The NIJ carries out its mission in a few key ways. For instance, it sponsors research projects that help us understand crime and justice issues. These studies might focus on crime trends, sentencing strategies, or the best ways to prevent crime.

The NIJ also develops and tests new technologies. This includes tools for law enforcement, like DNA analysis equipment or systems that can help corrections officers monitor offenders.

Importance of the National Institute of Justice

Why is the NIJ important? Consider this: Without the NIJ, we wouldn’t have many of the tools and strategies that are now standard in law enforcement and corrections. Its research has led to better policies and practices in policing, court proceedings, and corrections.

Not only that, but the NIJ’s work helps to ensure fairness in the justice system. Through its research and evaluations, it helps to inform policymakers, practitioners, and the public about what works in criminal justice.


In conclusion, the National Institute of Justice plays a vital role in the criminal justice system. It helps us understand how to prevent and control crime, ensure fair and impartial administration of justice, and enhance public safety. Understanding the role of the NIJ gives us a better understanding of how science and research can improve the justice system.

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Last Modified: 06/27/2023

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