Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Is South Jersey a safe place to live?

This critical question drives our work in this area as we deploy a multi-pronged approach to supporting programs and policies that aim to keep our residents safe. We seek out partners and stakeholders in need of objective research, program evaluation, technical assistance, and more to help policymakers and community leaders make informed—often innovative—decisions about criminal justice and safety policies and programs.

Working with community partners, WRI conducts research, collects and analyzes data, and shares these findings with a broad range of stakeholders including policy makers, community leaders, service providers and more. We evaluate policies and programs for effectiveness, and provide evidence-based insights about the efficacy of a project, program, or model that can help stakeholders improve results and/or refine their goals.

And our work is making an impact.

In Cumberland County, WRI provides staffing and technical support for the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition (CCPYDC), a county-wide juvenile delinquency prevention effort funded by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and Cumberland County Freeholders. Since inception, efforts in delinquency prevention and intervention helped close the Cumberland County Detention Center, saving over $1.5 million annually, and decreased juvenile arrests from 2012 to 2016 by nearly 45 percent.

Current and Ongoing Projects

Opioid Abuse Jail Diversion Program Planning and Evaluation

WRI is working with Camden County Correctional Facility to plan and evaluate their US Department of Justice-funded opioid abuse diversion program.

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Steered Straight Inc. Back to Classroom Evaluation

WRI is working with Steered Straight, Inc. on an evaluation of their Back to Classroom Initiative.

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Countering Violent Extremism Global Peace Foundation

Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Global Peace Foundation partnered with WRI to evaluate an effort addressing violent extremism in New Jersey.

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CC THRIVE: Addressing Youth Gang and Gun Violence

WRI is leading the strategic planning and facilitating implementation of CC THRIVE, a U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention-funded initiative.

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Burlington Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Planning Board

The Burlington County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Planning Board is a juvenile delinquency prevention planning and implementation effort funded by the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

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Co-Occurring Reentry Program Evaluation

WRI is evaluating the Second Chance Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders at Camden County Correctional Facility.

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Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition

The Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition is the first county-wide juvenile delinquency prevention planning and implementation effort in the state.

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Juvenile Delinquency Planning and Prevention

Funded by the NJ Office of the Attorney General, WRI provides technical assistance to municipal juvenile delinquency prevention coalitions as part of state-wide crime prevention efforts.

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Youth for Success Initiative Evaluation

WRI is evaluating the implementation and impact of the Youth for Success Initiative, an effort to keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system.

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The Latest


WRI welcomes John Childress to lead Burlington Prevention Efforts

WRI is pleased to welcome entrepreneur and training facilitator John Childress to coordinate and lead WRI’s work with the Burlington County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Planning Board (BCJDP). In this role, he will provide technical assistance to Burlington City, Pemberton Township and Willingboro for juvenile delinquency prevention planning and implementation activities, as well as support the Burlington County Partnership for Youth Success initiative.

Mental Health Panel Supports Youth Needs

On October 8, members of the Burlington County Partnership for Youth Success (BCPYS) presented a panel discussion on mental health among Burlington youth as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

#wearorange and more

Hundreds of community members took part in a host of activities planned by CCPYDC for Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Month in Cumberland County.

Public Reports and Resources

New Jersey Urban Peacebuilding Project Evaluation

WRI evaluated the Global Peace Foundation’s New Jersey Urban Peacebuilding Project, which aimed to develop and provide training and foster community engagement to counter extremist violence by raising awareness and strengthening community and law enforcement partnerships through community engagement events.

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An Analysis of Curfew Projects in Five Cities

To assist the Camden City Curfew Project, WRI analyzed curfew projects operating in Denver, Colorado, Jacksonville, Florida, North Little Rock, Arkansas, New Orleans, Louisiana and Phoenix, Arizona. The analysis looked at how the programs are funded and staffed, as well as how they use volunteers, involvement of service providers, and what type of services they provide to youth. Findings indicate that the Camden project is uniquely dependent upon volunteers and has a relatively broad coalition of partners.

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Camden Juvenile Arrest Record Report

Using data collected from the Camden City Police Department, WRI has developed a descriptive analysis of Camden City Juvenile Arrests. Arrest statistics are offered by month, age and type of crime for 2006, while yearly totals are compared to those of previous years.

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Camden Safer Cities

The goal of the Camden Safer Cities Initiative (CSCI) was to make Camden a safer city through a sustained collaboration among the criminal justice community and local leaders from Camden’s faith-based, neighborhood, governmental, and social service organizations. WRI served as neutral convener and facilitator, regularly bringing together stakeholders across sectors to meet CSCI goals. WRI also provided regular analysis of crime data focused on Camden’s 18-24 year olds, probationers, parolees, and other individuals at-risk of killing or being killed.

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Crime in Camden City

This report offers three different viewpoints for incidents of Part I crime in Camden City. The report, based on data collected from the Camden City Police Department, provides longer and short term looks at one of Camden City’s most pressing policy concerns.

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Five City Crime Report

Highlighting five major cities in New Jersey, this report compares crime statistics from 2000 through 2005 in Camden, Trenton, Newark, Atlantic City and Jersey City. Data for these comparisons are collected from the 2000 Census and Unified Crime Reports. Crime incidents and rates in all five cities are compared, broken down into violent and non-violent crimes.

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Half-Year Analysis of Part I Crime in Camden City

WRI analyzed Part I Crime in Camden City based on UCR Crime Data. Part I Crime is the most violent, serious and frequently occurred offenses (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson). Findings show that while crime rose in 2006, it is still well below the previous five-year average.

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PRI-RE$PECT (Reentry Employment Service Programs Enhancing Community Transition)

WRI evaluated two prisoner reentry programs for the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Office of Transitional Services. The evaluations of these programs measure impact on re-offense rates.

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Project Safe Neighborhoods

WRI managed two Project Safe Neighborhoods grants as a part of the Institute’s public safety work in Camden City. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to succeed. With this federal funding, awarded by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, WRI has provided important data analysis and technical assistance to several key crime prevention and suppression initiatives in the city.

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Related Projects

Camden County Police Department Crime Analysis

WRI provided the Department with an analysis of its Citywide Crime Intervention Efforts, which included Calls for Service, Cameras/Eye in the Sky Program, and Liquor Establishment Checks. WRI also conducted evaluations on some of the Department’s police operations, such as its Foot Patrols Initiative and five of its major multi-jurisdictional task force efforts. As well, WRI examined overall arrests and compared them to reported incidents and clearance rates. Results show all of the multi-agency criminal organization task force operations increased arrests and provided short-term gains in lowering crime and violence. Three different evaluation models analyzing the effects of foot patrols also indicated positive results, with the greatest impacts associated with reducing violent crime rates.

WRI also provided training to the Department’s crime analysts on Street Segment Analysis, Predictive Analysis, and Risk Terrain Modeling Analysis.

Camden Safer Cities Initiative

The Camden Safer Cities Initiative brought together law enforcement, supervision agencies and social service providers to improve offender re-entry services.

District Community Collaborative Boards

Four District Community Collaborative Boards were established in Camden to increase community engagement by providing structured opportunities for citizens, police and government entities to engage in collaborative problem-solving.

High-Risk Youth Offender Reentry and Family Strengthening Initiative

Funded by the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), WRI evaluated the High-Risk Youth Offender Reentry and Family Strengthening Initiative in Atlantic County, assessing both implementation and outcomes of the effort.

Jean Krauss Career Education Forums

The New Jersey Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee (JJDP), with Title II grant funding from the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, contracts with WRI to plan and implement Youth Forums in Southern and Central New Jersey. The Forum for the Southern part of the state covers Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties; and the Forum for the Central region covered Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union Counties.

Measuring Outcomes and Impact of Juvenile Reentry Services and Sanctions

The Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) contracted WRI to evaluate the range of services they provide to respond to the challenges of youth returning to their communities from a period of confinement. WRI examined the effectiveness of services provided to youth, including transitional living programs, interaction between JJC components and external partners, and effectiveness of JJC’s existing data system to evaluate the program’s success.

Opportunity Reconnect-Camden

WRI received a grant from the Nicholson Foundation to coordinate the development and operation of a reentry center in Camden to serve ex-offenders being released from state prisons in New Jersey – Opportunity Reconnect-Camden (OR-C). The center targeted those released within the past three to six months under the supervision of the NJ State Parole Board. WRI worked to replicate Opportunity Reconnect in Newark, which has been in operation for almost eight years. The Newark center is housed in Essex County College.