Center for Justice Research Receives $2.6 Million NIH Grant
to Study Structural Racism and Maternal Health
Robot Police Dogs Are on Patrol
Numerous cities have acquired dog-like robots for policing. Researchers say the lack of transparency is worrying.
America’s Startling Intimate Partner Firearm Threats
The recent Tory Lanez case has once again brought to the forefront the disturbing issue of intimate partner violence.
Training for Impact
Comprehensive, inclusive, and empowering training courses tailored to individuals and agencies, ensuring professional growth and real-world skill acquisition.
Reforming Prosecution
Autonomy, secrecy, complex laws, and powerful sentencing tools endow prosecutors with enormous leverage.
Chicago Community-Based Needs Assessment
A model for expanding public defender engagement with the community.

Who We Are

Researcher Development Institute

I’ve been able to network with and learn from other Black scholars when we would not have crossed paths if not for the program.


The areas that I have seen tremendous changes both professionally and scholarly lay within my strategic planning, time management, and organization.

dr julian scott, iii

It is within the realm of the institution that I am often confined by a sense of not belonging… through the empowerment of being in a space with like-minded individuals, I am better equipped to work and learn among colleagues, who can empathize with the duality of my experience as both a minority and an educator.


Participating in this program has been life-changing for professional and personal reasons. The program allowed me to be a part of a cohort of doctors and doctoral candidates who looked just like me and experienced the same academic barriers and systematic issues that I have while trying to navigate in this field.


…the RDI not only prepares its cohorts to thrive in academic spaces but also administers the tools required to be affluent in research, teaching, and service, which is an essential component in sustaining a career in higher education.

DR. serita whiting

CJR in The News

Latest from CJR

In the news
Suits Shed Light On Alleged Baton Rouge 'Torture Warehouse'
Schools Just Won’t Stop Policing Black Bodies
USA Today
'We shouldn't be shocked': Wrong-place shootings have plagued US communities for decades
Studies Show a Need for Procedural Justice in ‘Hot Spot’ Policing
Houston Chronicle
HPD's use of force incidents that cause major injuries disproportionately affect Black residents
USA Today
A former Colorado officer is the first to be convicted of failure to intervene under state law
Why New Mexico has one of the highest rates for killings by police
How engagement drives successful community-centered policing and builds public trust
Texas Southern University: A catalyst for research-based solutions in Houston and beyond
ABC 13
Tyre Nichols' death shows reform is slow, but there has been progress, TSU professor says
NBC - Houston (KPRC)
Texas Southern University to develop crime hub with focus on violent crime, incarceration
TSU to launch hub for criminal justice research
Houston Public Media
Texas Southern University receives grant to become HBCU hub for criminal justice research
U.S. News
Is crime up or down? In Houston, concerns are hard to allay
Has the BLM Movement Influenced Police Use of Lethal Force?
VOA News
Biden Signs Police Reform Order on Floyd Death Anniversary
NBC News
Many cities are putting hopes in violence interrupters, but few understand their challenges
Spectrum News
Racial disparities in marijuana arrests increase in Texas despite overall decline as more cities seek to decriminalize marijuana in the state.
The Sunday Post
Almost two years after George Floyd’s murder and police killings in the US continue to rise, chiefs stand accused
Smart-City Dive
Los Angeles Moves Forward with Diverting Some 911 Calls to Mental Health Professional
The Crime Report
Rural Whites Face Same Barriers to Employment After Prison as Urban Blacks
Houston Chronicle
First Daughter Ashley Biden Speaks at Gun Violence Town Hall on TSU Campus
The Hill
How Violent Crime has Gone up Since the Pandemic
USA Today
Police Attacked in 5 States: Are Officers Being Targeted?
War on Cops: High-Profile Violence Against Police
ABC 13
HBCU Researchers Looking for Nuance Behind Gun Violence Affecting Black Men and Boys
ABC 13
Houston City Council Member Raises Concerns Over Bail Bond Debate
Houston Chronicle
Harris County Homicides Increase in 2021 Amid Similar Trends Nationwide
ABC News
Police Shootings Appear to Dip in 2021
Houston Public Media
Houston Leaders Combat Violent Crime with New Gunshot Detection Technology
Spectrum News 1
Elections Required Before Changing Police Funding
Associated Press
U.S. Cities Adding Funding to Police Departments
USA Today
Minneapolis Residents Vote on Police Reform Efforts
A Push for Equity in the Classroom
Spectrum Local News
New Gun Legislation and the Impact on Shootings
Black and Brown Communities Grapple with Impact of Gun Violence
ABC 13
Removing Racial Bias in the Classroom
ABC 13 Houston
Proposed Redistricting is Silencing Minority Communities
Houston Public Media
CJR Director Weighs-in as the Conversation of Bail Reform Continues
No Research Supports Atlanta's Curfew
NBC News
In Louisville, KY, Homicides go Unsolved as Number of Killings Climbs
The Washington Times
Reform Efforts call for Incorporating Social Workers and Mental Health Professionals into the Conversation
Spectrum Local News
Legislation Targeting Texas Bail System Heads to Texas Governor
ABC 13 News
Deadly fentanyl epidemic striking Texans already weary by COVID-19 fight
Jackson, Miss., turns to innovative program to lower its gun deaths
Texas Public Radio
SAPD's New Text Alert System: Transparency Or An Unchecked Narrative?
Fox 4 Dallas FT- Worth
Here & Now: National Gun Violence Study
ABC 13
2020 DHS memo revealed strain from pandemic would possibly 'increase some to turn to violence'
Red State Police Reforms Hit Stifling Political Roadblocks
U.S & World Report
Law Enforcement Agencies Struggle to Recruit Since Killing of George Floyd
San- Antonio Current
Researcher Howard Henderson on reimagining policing in the U.S.
4 New York
Washington Governor Signs Sweeping Police Reform Measures
4 New York
Washington Officers Face Charges in Restraint Death of Black Man
Impelled By Tragedy, Police Reform Advocates Make Meaningful, If Uneven, Progress Across Region
4 New York
3 Washington Officers Plead Not Guilty in Black Man’s Restraint Death
VC Star
Calls for Police Reform Gain Traction Locally
With Slow Progress On Federal Level, Police Reform Remains Patchwork Across U.S.
Understanding Houston
Five key insights from our webinar on Criminal Justice
Houston Public Media
Ending ‘Qualified Immunity’ For Police Was Key To Texas’ George Floyd Act. It Went Nowhere In The Legislature
Police Reform in Colorado
Houston Public Media
With Slow Progress On Federal Level, Police Reform Remains Patchwork Across U.S.
As Nation Rethinks Policing, Colorado Offers Blueprint Toward Reform
Texas lawmakers aim to ban no-knock warrants
The massive slowdown of Texas courts and the impact on justice
Defender Network
This is America: Is criminal justice reform possible?
Houston Chronicle
With new CDC grant, Houston trauma surgeon to study gun violence like it's a disease
KPRC 2 Investigates examines crime trends during Acevedo’s time as Houston police chief
The Source
George Floyd Act and Bills Seeking Police Reform Face Staunch Opposition From Law Enforcement
Entire US justice system under scrutiny as ex-officer goes on trial in George Floyd’s death
‘Stakes extremely high’ as US readies for Chauvin trial
Center for Advancing Opportunity
Center for Advancing Opportunity Executive Director Participates in Supporting HBCUs Panel Discussion
Houston Public Media
Texas Republican Lawmakers Take Aim At Local Bail Practices This Legislative Session
Drug Overdose Deaths Surge Among Black Americans During Pandemic
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
The Crime Report
Stop Turning Your Head: Black Cops Speak Out Against ‘Blanket of Racism’
U.S & World Report
Department of Justice COPS 'The Beat' Podcast: Black Voices in Policing
The CW 39 Houston
$20 Million Heading To Houston Groups Fighting Racism and Social Injustice
BVU Radio
Policing & Race
Howard Henderson on Data-Driven Criminal Justice Reform
The Houston Sun
George Floyd, Policing and the Paradigm Shift
ABC 13
ABC13 hosts 'Police & Our Communities of Color' town hall
ABC 13
Director Howard Henderson examines voter suppression
Inaugural conference on race justice to feature internationally known scholars
FOX News
NHL, Players Unveil Series of Anti-Racism Initiatives
Clarion Ledger
Could public health approach to gun violence make Jackson a model?
Portland, Oregon Rejects Bid to Cut $18M More From Police
Mass. Senate Unveils Plan for Sweeping Police Reforms
Center for Justice Research Police Reform Action Brief: Ban chokeholds
Vaccinating the Prison Population Will Help Protect All of America
The Trace
The Trace - A $1 million grant project will explore why young Black men carry guns - USA
Is Mass Incarceration Driving Racial Disparities in the Pandemic? - Massachusetts
America’s Fragile Communities: Valuing A College Education, But Doubting They Have Access To It
5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, Sept. 17
It's a Very Unusual Situation.' What the Motion to Release the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Records Says About the Case - USA
Houston Public Media
Texas Lawmakers File ‘George Floyd’ Bill To Ban Chokeholds, Amid Calls For Nationwide Police Reform
U.S & World Report
TSU’s Center for Justice Research creates action brief banning chokeholds
Houston Chronicle
Houston murders on the rise
City officials want to reform police union contract but experts say change is unlikely
The Washington Post
How Foreign Influence Efforts are Targeting Journalists- USA
Texas Forensic Science Commission
Governor Abbott Reappoints Dr. Jasmine Drake To Texas Forensic Science Commission
The Intersection of Human Rights and Criminal Justice
The Center for Justice Research’s Dr. Howard Henderson recently spoke with Dr. Alzahrani (whose university affiliation has been redacted to protect his identity) on the intersection of human rights and criminal justice across global communities.
Center for Justice Research Welcomes New Research Associate
Jack Sevil recently joined the Center for Justice Research as a Research Associate and is ready to spearhead evidence-based research that drives the center’s criminal justice reform partnerships and solutions to the next level. 
CJR Works to Improve Research Training and Communities
The prospect of transforming from a college student or everyday worker into a full-fledged criminal justice researcher can seem impossible, especially if you come from an underrepresented community.
Testifying Before Congress on Failed Drug Policies  
On March 11, 2021, I had the opportunity to provide expert testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
CJR Scholarship Recipients
The Center for Justice Research proudly supports students on their educational journey at Texas Southern University.
Will Violence Interrupters be the Answer?
Accepting Challenges To Improve Our Nation – that is precisely what A.C.T.I.O.N. CDC stands for in both name and mission.
From Research to Reform: Policy and Communication Strategist Joins CJR
The work generated by the Center for Justice Research (CJR) is made available to the masses in an easily digestible manner.
The Next Generation of Advocacy-Centered Researchers  
Meet Domenique Montgomery, the Center for Justice Research’s (CJR) Summer 2021 intern.
The Crown Act
National Crown Day (7/3) is a day of awareness and a day of celebration towards African American natural hair styles that have been mocked, attacked, and used to discriminate against people of color for centuries in schools and professional workplaces.
CJR Recognizes LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2021
In our ongoing mission to transform America into a country with a procedurally just society that treats people of all creeds and orientations equally, the Center for Justice Research (CJR) recognizes the contributions of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community to justice reform and the community’s continuous fight for equality.
Corporate Social Justice
The Center for Justice Research is leading when it comes to collaborating on corporate social justice projects.
Research Commitment to Antiracism
Antiracism demands that research be used to combat racist policies.
I’m Not My Hair: The Criminalization of Black Hair
Whether it’s in school, at the workplace, or even at home, Black people face scrutiny and discrimination for their natural hairstyle choices.
From Historic Third Ward to Harvard: The Next Generation of Academic Justice Reformers
Dr. Whitney Threadcraft-Walker, 34, grew up in Houston’s Historic Third Ward - a neighborhood so close to downtown that the massive office towers where high income professionals work literally casts a shadow over the tiny row houses of its historically-marginalized residents.
Criminal Justice Reform is a Global Fight
In the wake of police brutality and authorities violating Nigerian citizens’ human rights, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, also known as the famous young musician Wizkid, staged the EndSARS protests in London on October 11, 2020. 
Plea Bargains Are Not an Admission of Guilt
Former President Barack Obama and multiple other prominent figures voiced opinions about the US Justice Department’s decision to drop all charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Dr. Jasmine Drake is Shaping the Future of STEM in Criminal Justice Reform
Dr. Jasmine Drake’s impressive leadership and personal accomplishments continues to grow, even after achieving so much already.
Limiting Traffic Stops
This research brief addresses pretextual stops disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and highlights the implications of these stops on public safety, trust in law enforcement, and civil rights. The brief presents key policy reforms and initiatives aimed at addressing disparities and improving traffic safety for all communities.
The Intersections of COVID-19, Police Brutality, and Black Mental Health
Restructuring Civilian Payouts for Police Misconduct
Restructuring police liability payouts will reduce police killings and use of force.
An Analysis of Incarceration, Crime, Unemployment and Rural Spaces
Civilian review boards provide independent oversight to ensure accountability and transparency in policing.
A centralized database of police misconduct records is crucial to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement and prevent repeated instances of abuse.
Police officers require ongoing education and training to promote professionalism, cultural sensitivity, and ethical behavior, leading to improved community relations and reduced instances of police misconduct.
Redirecting police funding towards community-based programs and services promotes public safety while addressing systemic issues in policing.
Reforming qualified immunity to hold police officers accountable for excessive use of force and misconduct is crucial for promoting justice and restoring trust in law enforcement.
Adopting legislation to restrict or ban the use of no-knock warrants is a crucial step towards ensuring police accountability and protecting citizen’s rights and safety.
Empowering and mandating law enforcement officers to intervene in instances of excessive use of force by their colleagues is a crucial step towards promoting accountability and improving public trust in the police.
Advancing Criminal Justice Reform
School Suspension Disparities
Housing Disenfranchisement
Incarcerating Democracy
Solutions for eliminating dangerous and unnecessary police chokeholds and promoting safer, more humane law enforcement practices.
Evaluation of the Dallas County Diversion Male Court
A Call for Racially-Responsive Strategies and Resources
Prosecutor Caseload Report
Pretrial Disparity
The Need for Prosecutorial Caseload Standards
Academic publications
Pathways to Offense Charging: Examining Defense Decision-Making During Case Processing
This study examined factors influencing defendants' decisions to waive grand jury proceedings in favor of preliminary hearings, and how charging mechanism (grand jury vs information) affects case dismissals, deferred adjudication, and convictions. Results show race, sex, age, offense severity/type predict waiving grand jury rights. Charging mechanism also significantly predicted all case outcomes.
Determining Racial Equity in Pretrial Risk Assessment
Unlocking Gun-Violence Solutions: The Necessity and Power of Lived Experience
The Predictive Utility of the Wisconsin Risk Needs Assessment Instrument in a Sample of Successfully Released Texas Probationers
Predictive actuarial risk needs assessment research has focused on probation completion. This research examines the predictive utility of the Wisconsin Risk Needs Assessment instrument as used with Texas probationers.
On the Precipice of Intersectionality: The Influence of Race, Gender, and Offense Severity on Probation Outcomes
The Forgotten: The Impact of Parental and Familial Incarceration on Fragile Communities
Socioeconomic Status and Crime in Four Cities: An Exploratory Study
Community level analysis suggests that class-related measures, not race per se, are most related with violent crime.
Predicting Staff Assault in Juvenile Correctional Facilities
Assessing Risk Among Correctional Community Probation Populations: Predicting Reoffense With Mobile Neurocognitive Assessment Software
Cultivating Police Use of Force Perceptions through Cinema: Maintaining the Racial Divide?
Findings revealed that White officers were overwhelmingly represented in use of force scenes, while minority officer scenes were isolated to specific years and films. Findings also demonstrated a dependence on a White officer’s presence when minority officers used force on Whites. The historical origins and role of such depictions in cultivating current public perceptions of use of force are discussed.
A Tale of Two Cannabinoids: Marijuana vs. Hemp
In this paper, the new definitions of legal Hemp vs. illegal Marijuana will be presented along with the potential considerations and implications for the criminal justice system and crime laboratories in Texas.
Exploring the Impact of the Opioid Epidemic in Black and Hispanic Communities in the United States
In recent years, due to an alarming increase in the number of opioid-related overdose fatalities for White, Non-Hispanics in rural and suburban communities across the United States, they have been considered as the face of this epidemic. However, there has also been a staggering rise in the number of opioid overdoses in urban, minority communities, which have not been thoroughly addressed by the literature. Read the full article in the Journal of Drug Science, Policy & Law.
Examining Defense Decision-Making During Case Processing
Criminal Justice Students’ Perceptions and Awareness of Racism and Discrimination
A Descriptive Analysis of Police Shootings in Houston
Understanding the nature of officer-involved shootings is of critical interest to policy makers, scholars, and the public. In the current article, we examined descriptive trends in officer-involved shootings in the Houston Police Department between the years 2005 and 2019. Overall, the incidence of such shootings declined over time. Officer-involved shootings reflected demographic changes in the underlying police department composition. Officer-suspect shooting dyads tended to reflect same-race characteristics, and most suspects were armed at the time of the shooting (though approximately 20% were not). Officers’ race appeared to be a minor component of officer-involved shootings. Female officers were underrepresented in officer-involved shootings. We conclude that institutional factors related to officer training rather than officer race are more crucial to consider in regard to reducing police shootings.
Examining Defense Decision-Making During Case Processing
Prosecutors are afforded significant discretionary power in the current justice system. while much attention has been given to the factors that influence charging decisions, little is known about decision-making in the charging process itself. Moreover, research has yet to examine the mechanisms used to initiate charging: grand jury indictments or the information. As these charging processes are characteristically different and may have significant implications for case processing and justice outcomes, it is important to explore what factors influence decision-making at this early stage. The current study addresses these shortcomings using case-processing data from a large urban jurisdiction. Results indicate significant differences between defendants charged via grand jury and information processes. In addition, charging pathways have important consequences for case outcomes.
Separate and Still Unequal: An Analysis of School Discipline
This chapter will examine the disproportionate rate of minority school suspensions relative to race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, grade level, and school population size.
Relative Rate Index, Racial Disparity and School Suspensions
This chapter will analyze school disciplinary actions across large metropolitan school districts. In recent decades, K-12 school disciplinary practices have garnered national attention from researchers, policymakers, and educators. Racial disparity among school discipline raises serious questions about continued violations of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. The purpose of the chapter is to provide a series of evidence-supported recommendations for the dismantling of the school to-prison pipeline
An Exploratory Study of Environmental Stress in Four High Violent Crime Cities: What Sets Them Apart?
Class-related measures, not race, influence the occurrence of violent crimes, highlighting necessary public policy efforts.
Rethinking Prisoner Reentry
Prisoner reentry is a critical piece of any racial justice agenda as the lack of education or vocational training within carcer institutions impose barriers to job opportunities that, coupled with societal stigmas, often make reintegration extremely challenging. Read recent publication in Context, a publication of the American Sociological Association.
The Criminal Justice System: George Floyd Bill & Qualified Immunity
Qualified immunity is a legal protection that law enforcement and government officials utilize when they are sued for money or damages in a civil suit. In the panel discussion "The Criminal Justice System: 'George Floyd Bill' & Qualified Immunity," attorneys, scholars, and legal experts debate the use of qualified immunity, and how it has been used to prevent police from being held accountable for misconduct. This panel discussion on qualified immunity was published in "The Bridge: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Legal & Social Policy" from Texas Southern University.
Enabling Individualized Criminal Sentencing While Reducing Subjectivity: A Tablet-Based Assessment of Recidivism Risk
According to conservative estimates, the country spends a minimum of $25,500-$26,000 per year on each person incarcerated. Incarceration also has long-term costs for both offenders and society. For example, a young person with a prison record may be precluded from becoming a citizen who votes, participates in community-building, and contributes to the community. Someone’s re-offending (i.e., in the case of recidivism, defined broadly as re-offending with any jailable offense) means social resources were squandered without rehabilitating the offender (i.e., without resulting in future behavior for which one could be arrested). Unfortunately, the United States has high rates of recidivism: two separate Bureau of Justice Statistics studies have found that more than 62 percent of offenders released from prison are rearrested within three years. Society thus achieves minimal rewards in return for its costly expenses, because nearly two-thirds of convicts re-offend and return to the criminal justice system. Moreover, incarceration is potentially criminogenic: as a result of foregone employment opportunities and broken social circles, a person sent to prison might be more likely to return to crime after release. Specifically, research suggests that offenders who receive a suspended sentence instead of incarceration are less likely to re-offend. Therefore, to make the most effective use of incarceration and limited social resources, researchers should strive to develop recidivism risk assessment and measurement tools. Some progress has been made toward this goal with data-driven interview-based questionnaires, but we believe more can be done by harnessing advances from neuroscience and cognitive psychology. We briefly review the history of existing tools and describe our efforts to create a promising assessment battery through Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law to measure cognitive and empathetic traits associated with recidivism. In addition to its practical contributions, this project touches on a fundamental ethical question: should individual profiles affect the treatment modalities used for offenders convicted of the same crime? This is a thorny problem, but, ultimately, we believe that, in a criminal justice system that already makes person-by-person judgments, our tablet- and game-based approach will make the process more objective and results-oriented.
Predicting Risk in Community Corrections
In this study, we use machine learning to examine the predictive validity of the NeuroCognitive Risk Assessment (NCRA) in a forensic community corrections population. We seek to address current limitations of forensic risk assessments by introducing the first mobile, self-scoring, risk assessment software that relies on neurocognitive testing to predict reoffense. This assessment, run entirely on a tablet, measures decision-making via a suite of neurocognitive tests in less than 30 minutes. The software measures several cognitive and decision-making traits of the user, including impulsivity, empathy, aggression, and several other traits linked to reoffending. Our analysis measured whether this assessment successfully predicted recidivism by testing probationers in a large urban city (Houston, TX, United States) from 2017 to 2019.
Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Prediction: Risk in Behavioral Assessment
Utilizing risk scores from the Wisconsin Risk Needs Assessment Instrument and other contextual variables (location and offense severity) the present analysis examines probation outcomes across a sample of female minority probationers.
Predicting Staff Assault in Juvenile Correctional Facilities
This study examines the predictive utility of the community-based Positive Achievement Change Tool–Prescreen (PACT-PS) for staff assault in a sample of 787 state-committed male youth.
Psychometric Racial and Ethnic Predictive Inequities
The discussion presents issues for consideration by policy makers, practitioners, and future researchers motivated by the minimization of predictive bias.
Predicting Youth Assault and Institutional Danger in Juvenile Correctional Facilities
This research proposes a promising avenue for future research that could have a significant practical impact on classification.
The Influence of Race, Gender, and Offense Severity on Probation Outcomes
This analysis examines the impact of established predictors on probation failure utilizing a large randomly selected sample of adult probationers. Initial findings suggest that race, gender, location, offense severity as well as risk assessment scores significantly predict probation failure. This study then examines interaction effects between race and gender as well as race and offense severity.
The (Twice) Failure of the Wisconsin Risk Need Assessment in a Sample of Probationers
This study examines the original instrument and is the first to examine the proposed reweighted risk scale’s relationship to recidivism with an independent sample of 194 male probationers.
Differential Racial-Ethnic Predictive Validity
Recent findings indicate that including White offenders in the sample biases the predictability of risk and needs assessment instruments. As a result, this study examines the predictability of the Los Angeles County Needs Assessment Instrument (LAC) on a sample of African American and Hispanic juvenile probationers.
Criminal Justice Students’ Perceptions and Awareness of Racism and Discrimination
The recent focus on the controversial deaths of minorities at the hands of police officers has led to increased attention on racial bias among the law enforcement community. However, this focus does not extend to criminal justice students. Instead, research examining undergraduates’ racial attitudes focuses on the general student body. In addition to reviewing literature related to criminal justice students’ attitudes toward a variety of criminal justice and social issues, the current study used multiple regression analyses to examine racial and gender differences in a Southwestern University’s criminal justice students’ perceptions of and sensitivity to racism.
Reflections on race, personality, and crime
We argue that the research suggests that there are no genetic components of personality disorder and also that this disorder has been found to be equally distributed across racial/ethnic groups. Understanding why there appears to be a racial/ethnic personality disorder disparity within the criminal justice system may be more a function of social class and historical circumstance than genetic composition.

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