Smart Suite

Transforming Criminal Justice through Research and Innovation


Summer 2016 Academy Picture

The last two decades have witnessed increasing commitment from local to federal levels for the development of research capacity in local, state, federal, and Tribal criminal justice agencies. Such efforts are intended to encourage strategic problem solving and the integration of evidence-based strategies into practice for more effective, efficient, and economical criminal justice operations. One of the key benefits of the integration of research into criminal justice practice is that such analytical skills and processes support the development of highly focused interventions that have been shown to be the most effective in terms of crime prevention and control.

The Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), has made a major commitment to bring more "science" into criminal justice operations by leveraging innovative applications of analysis, technology, and evidence-based practices with the goal of improving performance and effectiveness while containing costs. BJA has accelerated the adoption and integration of research and evidence in the field by growing the number of BJA programs that encourage robust researcher-practitioner partnerships in order to implement data-driven approaches to reduce violent crime, improve community safety, reduce recidivism, and enhance the efficiency, fairness, and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. To support and enhance the effectiveness of these Smart Suite programs, BJA has partnered with a team of training and technical assistance experts led by the Michigan State University, School of Criminal Justice

BJA supported the Team by providing funding and guidance with development of a Fellows Academy.  The Fellows Academy builds on MSU’s experience with PSN and similar data-driven initiatives as well as the Violent Crime Reduction Workshop that was originally developed for newly funded PSN sites. 

The Academy’s primary goal is to help researchers and practitioners work more effectively and efficiently on crime reduction strategies. The Smart Suite Researcher-Practitioner Fellows Academy (formerly known as the “Innovations Suite”) is a multi-day experience focusing on the importance of using science and data to: (a) support criminal justice planning and programming; (b) develop capacity to translate research into practice; (c) support the implementation of evidence-based practice; and (d) enhance public safety and improve the delivery of fair and cost-effective justice.

The Academy perpetuates a “community of practice” and develops “Fellows,” by providing training in action research, linkage to proven processes and strategies, and supporting the partnerships post Academy through ongoing training and technical assistance (TTA). TTA includes a resource and communication network for continuous learning, support, sharing, and building capacity for identifying and responding to emerging and chronic crime problems, analysis of these problems, linking strategies to research-based practice, and developing a culture of experimentation to further develop and sustain evidence-based practice.  After 9 Academies, more than 650 Fellows have graduated!