Criminology and Public Policy

V. Conclusion

The purpose of this research paper was to review the position of criminology and criminal justice relative to the world of public policy. Despite an obvious relevance, the field of criminology has historically exhibited a reluctance to engage in questions of public policy in any systematic or concerted manner. Although there are some notable individual exceptions, as a group criminologists have been reticent to participate in the process. Criminological associations have expressed even more reservations regarding such participation.

We should be clear that the state of criminology as a field related to public policy is changing. Where it is headed we cannot say, but there is almost a certainty that the extremely limited participation of the field that has characterized its history is ending. Debates today are less about whether to participate and more about how best to participate in the policy arena.

Browse criminal justice research papers or view criminal justice research topics.


  1. American Society of Criminology. (n.d.). Policy positions. Retrieved from
  2. Austin, J. (2003). Why criminology is irrelevant. Criminology & Public Policy, 2, 557–564.
  3. Barak, G. (1988). Newsmaking criminology: Reflections on the media, intellectuals, and crime. Justice Quarterly, 5, 565–587.
  4. Barak, G. (2007). Doing newsmaking criminology from within the academy. Theoretical Criminology, 11, 191–207.
  5. Barlow, H. (Ed.). (1995). Crime and public policy: Putting theory to work. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  6. Blumstein, A., &Wallman, J. (2005). The crime drop in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Braithwaite, J. (2005). For public social science. British Journal of Sociology, 56, 345–353.
  8. Burawoy, M. (2004). Public sociology: Contradictions, dilemmas and possibilities. Social Forces, 82, 1603–1618.
  9. Burawoy, M. (2005). For public sociology. American Sociological Review, 70, 4–28.
  10. Chancer, L., & McLaughlin, E. (2007). Public criminologies: Diverse perspectives on academia and policy. Theoretical Criminology, 11, 153–173.
  11. Clarke, R. (2004). Technology, criminology, and crime science. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 10, 55–63.
  12. Clear, T. R. & Frost, N. A. (Eds.). (2007). Criminal justice policy [Special issue]. Criminology & Public Policy, 6(4).
  13. Clear, T. R., & Frost, N. A. (2007). Informing public policy. Criminology & Public Policy, 6, 633–640.
  14. Clear, T. R., & Frost, N. A. (2008). Rules of engagement: Criminology and public policy. Criminal Justice Matters, 72, 37–38.
  15. Cullen, F. (2005). The twelve people who saved rehabilitation: How the science of criminology made a difference. Criminology, 43, 1–42.
  16. Currie, E. (2007). Against marginality: Arguments for a public criminology. Theoretical Criminology, 11, 175–190.
  17. Garland, D., & Sparks, R. (2000). Criminology, social theory, and the challenge of our times. British Journal of Criminology, 40, 189–204.
  18. Laub, J. H. (2006). Edwin H. Sullivan and the Michael–Adler Report: Searching for the soul of criminology seventy years later. Criminology, 44, 235–258.
  19. MacKenzie, D. (2000). Evidence-based corrections: Identifying what works. Crime & Delinquency, 46, 457–471.
  20. MacKenzie, D. (2006). What works in corrections: Reducing the criminal activities of offenders and delinquents. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  21. Miller, J. G. (1989, March). The debate on rehabilitating criminals: Is it true that nothing works? Washington Post. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from
  22. Petersilia, J. (1991). Policy relevance and the future of criminology. Criminology, 29, 1–15.
  23. Petersilia, J. (2008). Influencing public policy: An embedded criminologist reflects on California prison reform. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4, 335–356.
  24. Sampson, R. J. (2000). Whither the sociological study of crime? Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 711–714.
  25. Savelsberg, J. J., & Sampson, R. J. (2002). Mutual engagement: Criminology and sociology. Crime, Law and Social Change, 37, 99–105.
  26. Sherman, L. W. (2005). The use and usefulness of criminology, 1751–2005: Enlightenment justice and its failures. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 600, 115–135.
  27. Sherman, L.W., Gottfredson, D., MacKenzie, D., Eck, J., Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. (1999). Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  28. Stanko, B. (2007). From academia to policy making: Changing police responses to violence against women. Theoretical Criminology, 11, 209–219.
  29. Tittle, C. (2004). The arrogance of public sociology. Social Forces, 82, 1639–1643.
  30. Welch, M., Fenwick, M., & Roberts, M. (1998). State managers, intellectuals, and the media: A content analysis of ideology in experts’ quotes in feature newspaper articles on crime. Justice Quarterly, 15, 219–241.