Public Safety Issues

This page offers an easy way for policymakers to access Public Safety research and analysis that is relevant to current Congressional agendas. For additional information, to request documents, or to arrange a briefing, contact the RAND Office of Congressional Relations at or (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Recent Findings

  • Commentary

    Should California Drop Criminal Penalties for Drug Possession?

    Jul 20, 2017

    Californians have a lot to consider when it comes to decriminalizing possession. But now is the time for a rigorous discussion about removing criminal penalties for drug possession, rather than rushing to judgment in the heat of a future election season.

  • Report

    U.S. Weapons Are the Main Source of Illegal Arms on the Dark Web

    Jul 19, 2017

    The dark web enables an illicit market for firearms, explosives, and ammunition. Its potential to anonymously arm criminals and terrorists, as well as vulnerable and fixated individuals, is the most dangerous aspect. Sixty percent of the arms for sale are from the United States.

  • Commentary

    A Colombian Survivor's Crusade to Strengthen Punishment for Acid Attacks

    Jul 17, 2017

    Acid attacks, one of the most extreme forms of violence against women and girls, can have devastating consequences. Officials could address this problem by making it tough to get dangerous chemicals, punishing perpetrators, and helping survivors.

  • Commentary

    Lessons for First Responders on the Front Lines of Terrorism

    Jul 10, 2017

    Given the persistent risk of terrorist attacks, it is critical to learn from past incidents to prepare for future ones. Medical and nonmedical first responders need more training in basic lifesaving skills. Open communication lines such as a dedicated radio frequency could help responders better coordinate. Disaster drills are also essential.

  • Commentary

    How to Harden America's Soft Targets

    Jul 5, 2017

    The U.S. government has to make choices about where to apply limited resources to the defense of soft targets. But it could expand its information-sharing efforts with other governments and local law enforcement. Broad intelligence sharing and more training could help identify potential attackers before they can execute their plans.

More Research on Public Safety


  • States vs. the Federal Government: Marijuana Legalization in the United States

    Jun 9, 2017

    As the marijuana policy landscape continues to change from state to state, the substance remains illegal under federal law. How can action abroad help inform policy in the United States, and what are Congress' options?

  • Insights About Marijuana Legalization in the United States

    Jan 21, 2015

    Marijuana legalization is a complex issue under serious debate. As Vermont prepares to vote on legalization, this briefing reviews a RAND report that analyzes income-earning potential for the state, marijuana policy in the U.S. and abroad, alternatives to marijuana prohibition, and how federal-state conflicts can impact policy choices.

  • Correctional Education: How Effective Is It and What Can We Do to Make It Better?

    Feb 18, 2014

    Ex-offenders do not have the knowledge and skills to support a successful return to their communities. Trying to reduce re-incarceration rates is partly why states devote resources to educating and training individuals while in prison. Lois Davis will present results from a comprehensive RAND study on the effectiveness of correctional education.

  • Marijuana Legalization: What We Know and What We Don't

    Jul 17, 2012

    This November, voters in multiple states will be asked to consider propositions concerning decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. Join RAND experts for a panel discussion on marijuana laws and policies at both the state and federal level.

  • Prisoner Reentry and Public Health: Is Your State Ready?

    Jun 21, 2012

    Lois Davis discusses prisoner reentry—how health affects reentry into a community; the critical roles that health care providers, other social services, and family members play in successful reentry; and recommendations for improving access to care for this population in the current fiscal environment.

More Public Safety Briefings

Alerts & Newsletters

RAND periodically sends alerts and newsletters to update Congress on highlights of recent work about public safety issues.

  • 24/7 Sobriety Project: A Promising New Way to Curb Problem Drinking and Reduce Costs

    Aug 20, 2015

    Recently, the Senate took steps to expand funding for 24/7 Sobriety Programs, like one in South Dakota. These programs are a promising and innovative way to help curb problem drinking and improve public health.

  • Police-Community Relations: Respect and Legitimacy Is a Two-Way Street

    May 12, 2015

    What can be done to help repair the fractures in trust between some police departments and the communities they serve? Much of the responsibility does in fact fall to local communities, but several actions can be taken at the federal level to help shape and drive change.

  • Improving Community-Police Relations in Ferguson's Wake

    Oct 6, 2014

    While the Ferguson incident serves as a flashpoint for heated discussion, policymakers representing areas facing similar tensions should not delay their own serious examination of potential policing problems and the pursuit of effective solutions. RAND provides objective analysis and offers effective solutions for police and community leaders.

  • RAND Experts Available to Discuss Hurricane and Natural Disaster Preparedness

    Aug 26, 2014

    Although this year's hurricane season has been mild, communities should not be lulled into a false sense of security. Experts from the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute are available to discuss how communities can best prepare for and recover from hurricanes.

  • Lessons for Marijuana Legalization from Alcohol and Tobacco Regulation

    May 29, 2014

    It is one thing for a jurisdiction to decide that it no longer supports the prohibition of marijuana; it is another to figure out how to establish and regulate a legal market. RAND researchers examined some of the issues that have to be considered when establishing a market.

  •'s Redesign: New Homepage and Navigation Optimization for All Devices

    Mar 20, 2014 has been reimagined to make high quality research and insights more accessible to Hill staff like you. The new homepage and updated navigation optimize content delivery for your preferred device and place our most timely content at your fingertips.

  • Drugs and Drug Policy in America: What's Next for Policymakers?

    Mar 13, 2014

    RAND has research and experts available to provide information for policymakers preparing legislation related to drug policy. Topics include substance use and trends, marijuana policy, drug treatment programs, prevention strategies, economics of drugs markets, and more.

  • Predictive Policing: An Effective Tool, but Not a Crystal Ball

    Jan 16, 2014

    As policymakers and governments attempt to trim budgets, methods that might help police solve crimes with fewer resources are needed. “Predictive policing” uses statistical techniques to identify promising targets for police intervention with the goals of preventing crimes, solving past ones, and identifying potential offenders and victims.

  • Is Correctional Education Cost Effective?

    Sep 16, 2013

    Prison inmates who receive general education and vocational training are significantly less likely to return to prison after release and are more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities.

  • Firearms, Gun Control, and the Science on Gun Research

    Mar 4, 2013

    With Congress beginning to consider several gun policy bills and executive actions in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, RAND researchers look at what the current state of research can tell us about gun policy and mental health.

  • SOTU Policy Preview

    Feb 11, 2013

    Preparing for the State of the Union address? Here is a preview of topics from President Obama's inaugural address that he may cover on Tuesday night, along with helpful links to related RAND analyses, reports, and commentary.

  • Gun Safety, Community Recovery, and Student Mental Health

    Jan 23, 2013

    As lawmakers grapple with how to best implement laws that would ensure that a tragedy like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happens again, RAND experts describe what we know and what we don't about firearm-related deaths in the United States and offer insights into mental health and community recovery.

  • Surveying the Drug Policy Landscape: A Non-Partisan Primer

    Oct 26, 2012

    In just over a week, voters in three states—Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—will decide whether to legalize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana. Passage would be historic as no modern jurisdiction has ever fully removed the prohibitions on marijuana for recreational purposes and allowed it to be taxed and regulated like alcohol.

  • Looking at the Issues Surrounding Marijuana Legalization

    Aug 2, 2012

    Three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) will have marijuana legalization measures on the ballot this November. But legalization is more complex than just a single "yes" or "no" proposition—it is a whole series of questions.

  • How Much Does Your Lawyer Affect the Outcome of Your Case?

    Feb 23, 2012

    Since April 1993, every fifth murder defendant in Philadelphia has been randomly assigned at the preliminary arraignment to the public defender, while the other four were assigned appointed private counsel. This allowed researchers to isolate the effects of representation types in cases from 1994 to 2005.

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2010 and prior

June 11, 2010
Public Health Implications of Prisoner Reentry in California

Lois M. Davis

Testimony presented before the California State Assembly, Select Committee on Re-Entry.

Testimony unavailable — oral remarks only.

April 14, 2010
An Assessment of the Scientific Support Underlying the FY2011 Budget Priorities of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

Testimony presented before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Domestic Policy.

March 18, 2010
Public Health Implications of Prisoner Reentry in California

Lois M. Davis

Testimony presented before the California State Assembly, Select Committee on Re-Entry.

Testimony unavailable — oral remarks only.

April 30, 2009
Summary of the RAND Report on NYPD's Stop, Question, and Frisk

Greg Ridgeway

Testimony presented before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Civil Rights.

March 12, 2008
What Research Tells Us About the Reasonableness of the Current Priorities of National Drug Control

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

Testimony presented before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Domestic Policy.

February 20, 2008
Investigating the Costs of the Death Penalty in California: Insights for Future Data Collection from a Preliminary RAND Effort

Susan S. Everingham

Testimony presented before the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice.

January 4, 2007
Nanomaterials in the Workplace: A Summary of the RAND Policy and Planning Workshop on Occupational Safety and Health

Eric Landree

Testimony presented to Public Meeting on Research Needs Related to the Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanoscale Materials.

March 17, 2005
School-Based Drug Prevention and Other Strategies For Reducing Drug Use

Susan M. Paddock

Testimony presented to the Oregon State Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

February 10, 2005
An Assessment of ONDCP's Budget Concept

Peter H. Reuter

Testimony presented to the House Committee on Government Reform.

June 1, 2001
School Violence Prevention

Jaana Juvonen

Testimony presented to the California State Assembly Select Committee on School Safety.

June 15, 2000
Should the U.S. Direct More Law Enforcement Effort at XTC?

Jonathan P. Caulkins

Testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives.

April 4, 2000
Testimony on Drug Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration

Martin Y. Iguchi

Testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

February 17, 2000
What Is SAMHSA Doing to Help Communities Make Good Decisions About the Allocation of Scarce Treatment Resources?

Martin Y. Iguchi

Testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

October 21, 1999
Effects of Substance Abuse Parity in Private Insurance Plans Under Managed Care

Roland Sturm

Testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

More Testimony


More Public Safety Briefs