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October 7, 2013

"Evidence, Ideology, and Politics in the Making of American Criminal Justice Policy"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper available via SSRN authored by the prolific and profound Michael Tonry. Here is the abstract:

The development of a large and productive community of criminal justice programs, scholars, and researchers in the United States since the 1970s has not led to the emergence of a general norm of evidence-based policy making. Nor on many subjects have accumulations of improved knowledge had much influence. On a few they have.

The two best examples of influence are policing and early childhood prevention programs. Concerning policing, a plausible story can be told of an iterative process of research showing that police practices and methods do and do not achieve sought-after results, followed by successive changes in how policing is done. Concerning early childhood programs, a conventional scientific process of hypothesis testing and repeated pilot projects with strong evaluations led to widespread adoption of improved programs and techniques.

Concerning sentencing, sanctioning policies, firearms and violence, and drug policy, by contrast, strong bodies of accumulating evidence have consistently been ignored. Correctional rehabilitation research is a hybrid. Eclipsed in the 1970s by a gloomy view that “nothing works,” research on correctional treatment in the 1980s and 1990s demonstrated that a wide variety of programs can improve offenders’ lives and reduce reoffending. The findings have influenced the development of reentry and other programs that focus primarily on risk classification and reduction of recidivism rates, but only incidentally on addressing offenders’ social welfare needs.

October 7, 2013 at 07:51 AM | Permalink


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It is truly Wonderful how this generation of legal scholars and social policy experts has led to our current humane, intelligent, and effective justice system.

Posted by: Boffin | Oct 7, 2013 11:08:20 AM

Here is a major project for the DOJ to fund. A prenatal genetic test for anti-social personality disorder that is independent of ADHD genetics.

Experiments are needed to reduce the bastardy rates in poor communities. These communitiesw ould be among the wealthiest and most privileged in the world. It is not poverty, but bastardy that generates so much crime.

Apply Daubert to sentencing and disciplinary protocols, do not allow left wing coddling ideology hobble staff control of criminals without proof that such restrictions work. For example, do not reduce restraints or physical punishment without absolute proof of benefits from the restrictions on the staff.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 7, 2013 8:02:54 PM

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