Thirty years ago, when Rutgers-Newark alumna Nancy La Vigne entered the field of criminal justice, policy makers paid little attention to data.

“Research and evidence were not important at all,’’ she recalled. “It wasn’t about science or effectiveness, it was about retribution. It was about being tough and ‘keeping our streets safe.’’’

By the mid-90s that changed, and La Vigne, a 1996 graduate of RU-N’s School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) doctoral program, moved to the forefront of a trend in using research to prevent crime and recidivism.

Today, she is a widely recognized criminal justice policy expert who last month was appointed by President Biden to direct the National Institute of Justice, a component of U.S Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which works to reduce crime, assist victims, and advance racial equity in the administration of justice.