Empirical research has the potential to have profound impact on crime prevention and control. Such research can lead researchers to abandon ill-conceived policies and facilitate the development of new policies that may more effectively control crime or have a less disparate impact upon different populations. For example, research on the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity, established by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in the 1980s, reveals how these sentencing schemes have had a disproportionately negative impact on minority communities. As new research highlights how attempts to address a crime problem may be creating new problems, legislators must reexamine intent and outcome for existing laws.

For this Discussion, review the Learning Resources and identify a research-based change in policy relevant to crime. Examine how the policy changed after research on a topic indicated the need to modify the response to crime.

Post an example of a public policy that changed as a result of new findings in criminal justice research. Then, explain what you consider to be the most compelling evidence that influenced the change in policy. Finally, as a future criminal justice policymaker, explain how you might use research to make ethical, informed policy decisions.

  • Bardach, E., Patashnik, E. M.  (2016). A practical guide for policy analysis: The eightfold path to more effective problem solving (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.
    • Part 1, “The Eightfold Path” (pp. 1–82)This section provides an overview of the author’s Eightfold Path approach to problem solving. Note: Start familiarizing yourself with the steps presented in this section, and refer to it as you develop your Policy Project.
  • Wilson, J. Q., & Petersilia, J. (2011). Crime and public policy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    • Chapter 9, “Race and the Administration of Criminal Justice in the United States” (pp. 237–256)The chapter begins with an overview of the historical discrimination against blacks by the criminal justice system in the United States. The author then presents both sides of the contemporary debate over whether racial discrimination occurs in a number of areas including arrest and incarceration based on racial profiling, capital punishment, and drug arrests.
    • Chapter 13, “Drugs, Crime, and Public Policy” (pp. 368–410)The chapter explores the ways in which public policy and crime influence one another. The chapter examines the ways in which drug use can influence crime and the potential effects of various policy changes on drug use and crime. The authors make recommendations for policy in the areas of law, prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

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