The criminal justice system plays a key role in reducing public health threats, especially the problems resulting from alcohol and other drug use.

PIRE is a leader in research and programs that recognize the importance of legal structures and enforcement to improve public safety and health. We support national centers for the study of alcohol control laws and for the enforcement of underage drinking laws.

To the effort to combat alcohol-related crime, PIRE researchers are at the forefront of testing detection and deterrence technologies, such as ignition interlocks and alcohol sensors.

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PIRE's work with respect to the criminal justice system has focused primarily on prevention and early intervention. A secondary focus has been on illegal substance use that either leads to or occurs during incarceration.


Courts and Sentencing

PIRE has had a long-standing interest in the role of the judiciary and of various courts in a comprehensive solution to pressing public health, substance abuse, and criminal justice problems.


Interpersonal Violence

Although the self-reported rate of interpersonal violence in 2004 was virtually unchanged from 2003, it was at the lowest level recorded since the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) began polling US residents in 1973. While the NCVS and Vital Statistics data together track homicide, physical assault, rape, sexual assault, and robbery trends, they fail to capture an estimated 90% of sexual assaults and also dramatically undercount domestic violence against elders, partners, and children. The continuous decline in violence rates since 1995 stems from a combination of a robust economy and growing social pressure to reduce youth, domestic, and sexual violence. A range of promising prevention efforts, both environmental and attitudinal, are being implemented and evaluated. Still, 9 million people, many of them children, are victims of personal crime annually, keeping this problem atop the list of societal ills.


Juvenile Justice

PIRE has a long history of research, program development, and program evaluation in the juvenile justice field. The agency has also provided training and technical assistance to juvenile justice agencies on various topics, with emphasis on those related to youth substance abuse, particularly underage drinking.  PIRE has produced a vast amount of juvenile justice-related research and research-based documents for dissemination to the public health field.  Many of these documents pertain to law enforcement, and specific policy development as it relates to juvenile justice issues.  In its attempt to address all parts of juvenile justice systems, PIRE has recognized that research and work with minority populations is important, and several programs have been carried out by PIRE researchers (specifically related to African-American and American Indian populations).


Law Enforcement

PIRE has provided technical assistance and evaluation services to law enforcement personnel at many levels. PIRE has worked with local police, military police, sheriff’s offices, the DEA, State enforcement agencies, and enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia. PIRE has done more research on enforcement officer-led school-based prevention than any agency in the nation.



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