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August 31, 2012

Special issue of JRP on "Evidence-Based Policy and Practice"

Cover-mediumVia an e-mail, I just learned that the Justice Research and Policy, which isthe semiannual, peer-reviewed journal of the Justice Research and Statistics Association, has just published this new special issue focused on "Evidence-Based Policy and Practice." The issue's extended introduction by Roger Przybylski is available at this link, and here are two notable paragraphs from its start:

The emergence of the evidence-based movement is arguably one of the most significant developments to occur in criminal and juvenile justice over the past 20 years (Travis, 2012; Lipsey, Howell, Kelly, Chapman, & Carver, 2010; and the Howell and Lipsey article in this special issue).  In the early 1990s, the term “evidence-based” was largely unknown in the criminal and juvenile justice communities.  Looking back, it is difficult to imagine how any of us at that time could have envisioned how the evidence-based movement would affect crime control policymaking, practice, and even research in the coming years.  Today, the imprint of the movement is widespread.  Crime control policy and program development processes are increasingly being informed by scientific evidence, and many practices in policing, corrections, delinquency prevention, and other areas have been, and continue to be, shaped by evidence generated through research. Incentives and even mandates for evidence-based programming are now frequently used by funding sources, and virtually anyone can now access an unprecedented amount of information about what works to prevent and control crime using online repositories such as CrimeSolutions.gov.  Moreover, the demand for trustworthy, research-generated evidence and evidence-based applications is rapidly increasing....

Despite the intuitive appeal of using science to guide policy and practice, it would be wrong to assume that crime control and prevention efforts have become largely evidence-based. Granted, there is growing interest in evidence-based ways to address crime problems, and numerous jurisdictions and organizations have made progress implementing evidence-based programs, practices, or policy reforms, but much of what we do in criminal and juvenile justice continues to be based on tradition, ideology, anecdote, or conventional wisdom.  Of course, legislators, police chiefs, correctional administrators, and other decisionmakers have to contend with many influences and constraints when making policy decisions, and debates about the role science should play in decisionmaking are legitimate and often beneficial, but it is still far too common to encounter situations in which scientific evidence is ignored or paid little more than lip service.

August 31, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Permalink


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I strongly support and encourage all efforts to bring empirical evidence to the practice of law.

Yet, caution is due.

1) There is no evidence to support any advantage to evidence based praxis.

2) Fatal methodological flaws can be found in nearly all scientific studies. These flaws make nearly all scientific studies in the social sciences garbage science.

3) The list of effective solutions on CrimeSolutions.gov is arbitrarily narrow, and only of a certain type. All are soft on crime. All involve the hiring of social services providers. The site should be renamed, government union workers propaganda. Example, mandatory sentencing guidelines, the greatest achievement of the lawyer profession that dropped crime across the board by 40%. Not a mention. Never mind advocacy of flogging, and the execution of 10,000 adolescent repeat violent offenders and career criminals each year, to end all crime in the US.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 31, 2012 11:56:38 PM

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