Policy relevance and the future of criminology

by Joan R. Petersilia

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This paper is the text of the presidential address presented at the 1990 annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), celebrating its fiftieth year as a professional organization. The author reviews the ASC's history, examines signs that criminology's influence on criminal justice policy and practice is weakening, considers why this may be happening, and what might be done about it. The author suggests that criminologists must become more concerned with the policy relevance and practical implications of their theories and research. She recommends (1) establishing a collaborative framework that involves researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in focusing, brokering, and utilizing research; (2) reporting and disseminating research results more effectively; (3) defining the research mission to include direct assistance to practitioners; and (4) tailoring the academic model to accommodate the mission of criminal justice policy analysis.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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