History of Criminology

VI. The Future of Criminology and Criminal Justice

During the past 40 years, criminology has emerged as one of the most dynamic social sciences and certainly the fastest growing. Today, it stands on clear foundations of commitment to scientific rigor, interdisciplinary theory of crime, and improving the operation and “justness” of the criminal justice system. It stands firmly on the shoulders of many individuals, most importantly Beccaria and Lombroso. Although federal funding for criminological research has diminished in recent years, there is every reason to believe that it will increase as the role of criminology in preventing and controlling crime through theory and evidence-based approaches becomes more widely known and appreciated.

Few major initiatives in criminal law and criminal justice during this period have been developed without significant criminological involvement. Hot-spots policing, problem-oriented policing, crime mapping and analysis, sentencing guidelines, specialized courts, sex offender programming, effective models of rehabilitation, reentry programs, problems of eyewitness identifications, procedures for police lineups and interrogations, the role of DNA in courts and policing—the list goes on and on. The point is that criminology is making a difference. As long as it continues to be rigorous in methods, interdisciplinary in approach, and guided by a commitment to justice, it will flourish and continue its emergence as a vital scientific enterprise.

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