SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 9.1

Visher, C. A. (2016). Unintended consequences: Policy implications of the NAS report on criminal careers and career criminals. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency53(3), 306–320. 

Almost 30 years ago, the National Research Council published Criminal Careers and “Career Criminals.” This report reviewed research on the initiation, continuation, and termination of individual offending patterns over a lifetime, otherwise known as criminal careers. The landmark report set in motion a research agenda focused on how antisocial behavior rises and falls during a lifetime and the antecedents to those patterns. But what about the report’s policy implications for the criminal justice system? Did the report have any impact on criminal justice operations? This article argues that it is difficult to ascertain the report’s direct impact, in part, because of the crime and criminal justice climate that was pervasive at the time of the report’s release. Indirect impacts of the report, however, are plausible. And although unintended, the report may have accentuated short-term attention to individual explanations of criminal behavior and individual-focused crime control policies, to the exclusion of social explanations and community-focused crime control policies.

Article 9.2

Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (2016). The criminal career perspective as an explanation of crime and a guide to crime control policy: The view from general theories of crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 53(3), 406–419. 

Students of criminal careers seek distinct longitudinal sequences of offenses committed by individual offenders. Their approach is explicitly theory free: It assumes that meaningfully different careers may be identified by close examination of the criminal activity of individuals over extended periods of time. They first locate in justice system records a set of careers defined by such parameters as length, trajectory, and specialization in particular crimes. Once the various types have been shown to be sufficiently abundant—explanation, prediction, and policy are expected automatically to follow. By some standards, the criminal career perspective has been successful. It has been assimilated by the life-course perspective and has generated a large body of research. Our alternative approach takes theoretically based research as its guide to explanation of crime and crime prevention policy. In particular, it focuses on the implications for theory and policy of the versatility of offenders, the relative stability of their tendency to offend, and the general invariance of the age effect on crime. On all counts, the evidence sides with general theory and its advocacy of research and crime prevention outside the criminal justice system.

Article 9.3

Ismaili, K. (2006). Contextualizing the criminal justice policy-making process. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 17(3), 255–269. 

This article is an attempt at improving the knowledge base on the criminal justice policy-making process. As the criminological subfield of crime policy leads more criminologists to engage in policy analysis, understanding the policy-making environment in all of its complexity becomes more central to criminology. This becomes an important step toward theorizing the policy process. To advance this enterprise, policy-oriented criminologists might look to theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have established histories in the political and policy sciences. This article presents a contextual approach to examine the criminal justice policy-making environment and its accompanying process. The principal benefit of this approach is its emphasis on addressing the complexity inherent to policy contexts. For research on the policy process to advance, contextually sensitive methods of policy inquiry must be formulated and should illuminate the social reality of criminal justice policy making through the accumulation of knowledge both of and in the policy process.

Article 9.4

Taylor, C. J., & Auerhahn, K. (2015). Community justice and public safety: Assessing criminal justice policy through the lens of the social contract. Criminology & Criminal Justice15(3), 300-320.

A reconceptualization of the idea of “community justice” is framed in the logic of the social contract and emphasizes the responsibility of the justice system for the provision of public safety. First, we illustrate the ways in which the criminal justice system has hindered the efforts of community residents to participate in the production of public safety by disrupting informal social networks. Then, we turn to an examination of the compositional dynamics of California prison populations over time to demonstrate that the American justice system has failed to meet their obligations to provide public safety by incapacitating dangerous offenders. We argue that these policy failures represent a breach of the social contract and advocate for more effective collaboration between communities and the formal criminal justice system so that all parties can fulfill their obligations under the contract.