SEARCH to Honor Former Assistant Attorney General for OJP with 2012 National Justice Policy Leadership Award

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Laurie Robinson
SEARCH extends its congratulations to Ms. Laurie Robinson, former Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice, who will receive our 2012 Justice Policy Leadership Award.

Ms. Robinson—who stepped down from her position at OJP at the end of February 2012—is the longest-serving head in OJP's 44-year history. She has served as AAG for OJP twice—for nearly 7 years during the 1990s, and most recently from November 2009 to February 2012.

The Board selected Ms. Robinson for the award during their 2012 Winter Meeting in late January. The JPL award is one of three national awards SEARCH hands out each year.

SEARCH is recognizing Ms. Robinson's leadership in the area of criminal justice information law and policy that has enabled OJP to—
  • make significant progress in building strong partnerships with law enforcement and other parts of the state, local, and tribal criminal and juvenile justice field.
  • spearhead new initiatives in a number of important areas, emphasizing innovative partnerships with the agency's federal, state, local, and tribal stakeholders.

JPLA Recognition

The Justice Policy Leadership Award formally recognizes the efforts and achievements of a member of Congress, or an elected or appointed leader in federal or state government, who has exercised exemplary and outstanding leadership in promoting the effective and appropriate development of public safety or justice information law and policy with national implications.

In addition, Ms. Robinson's actions and leadership demonstrate a support for the ideals of SEARCH in this area—particularly supporting national data sharing models and standards.

SEARCH Member At-Large, Dr. Al Blumstein, J. Erik Jonsson University Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research, the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie-Mellon University, nominated Ms. Robinson. In his nomination letter, he stated that she is not only the longest-serving head of OJP, she is also "arguably the most effective."

When Ms. Robinson returned to helm OJP in 2009, she set 10 goals for improving the OJP, most importantly to ensure that program is trumping process.

"SEARCH has worked closely with OJP for decades to help deliver solutions to the information management and information sharing challenges of justice organizations at all levels," Dr. Blumstein wrote. "And we have forged a close, strong working relationship with Ms. Robinson. She, meanwhile, committed herself to an open dialogue with those of us in the field."

Accomplishments

In announcing her departure from OJP, Attorney General Holder credits Ms. Robinson with "helping transform OJP's role in the criminal and juvenile justice field, bringing scientific rigor, a true sense of partnership, transparency, and accountability to the agency. ...The United States is a safer and fairer nation due to her efforts."

During Ms. Robinson's tenure, she has made science and evidence-based approaches a primary focus. In her words, she wanted to ensure that OJP is "respecting the science" and supporting basic social science research and expanding its inventory of evidence-based approaches. For example—

  • In 2009 she launched an Evidence Integration Initiative (E2I) to better integrate evidence into OJP's programs and policy decisions and improve translation of evidence into practice.
  • She oversaw the launching in June 2011 of a "what works" clearinghouse, crimesolutions.gov, and an internal diagnostic center, whereby OJP will help jurisdictions to identify what OJP services could provide them assistance with the challenges they face.
  • She also appointed a Science Advisory Board for OJP, which Dr. Blumstein chairs.

Under her leadership, OJP spearheaded new initiatives, including—

  • In law enforcement, OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance created the attorney general's VALOR program, which provides critical nationwide training to prevent and respond to the ambush-style violence against law enforcement officers.
  • In juvenile justice, Ms. Robinson played a leading role to develop the White House's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, the attorney general's Defending Childhood Initiative, and along with the Department of Education, the Supportive School Discipline Initiative.
  • In corrections, she supported the creation of the attorney general's federal interagency Reentry Council, a cabinet-level effort to ensure those returning from prison become productive, law-abiding citizens.
  • For crime victims, OJP's Office for Victims of Crime is spearheading the Vision 21 Initiative to expand the vision and impact of the victim services field.
  • OJP is working with the SMART Office to improve the management of sex offenders and ensure flexible implementation of the Adam Walsh Act.
  • In consultation with tribal leaders, OJP also partnered with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Office on Violence Against Women to streamline the grant application and awards process for American Indian and Alaska native communities, creating a single application for multiple purpose areas and facilitating comprehensive planning.

Ms. Robinson has made it a priority to ensure OJP's grant process is fair, accessible to stakeholders, and accountable to Congress and the public in managing scarce federal dollars. Her focus in grant management has been transparency and rigorous supervision of the grants process. She required that all OJP funding decisions be posted on the agency's website, oversaw the introduction of a new high-risk grantee monitoring program, and drove a focus on competition in the grants award process.

SEARCH plans to present the 2012 Justice Policy Leadership Award to Ms. Robinson at a ceremony later this year.

SEARCH is a nonprofit organization governed by a Membership Group of governor appointees from the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the territories. It has 43 years' experience supporting the information sharing, interoperability, communications, information technology, electronic crime investigative and criminal records systems needs of State, local, and tribal justice and public safety agencies and practitioners nationwide.