Criminology in Public Policy


How criminology has been integrated into public policy

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Criminology in Public Policy

Crime is an action or omission that is considered wrong, evil, shameful and that is punishable by imprisonment, fine or even death. No act is declared a crime except by the laws of the country. Criminology is the scientific study of the causes, prevention and consequences of criminal behaviour as well as the functioning of institutions criminal justice. It draws from various disciplines such as psychology, sociology and medicine. It seeks deals with issues crime, justice, deviance, way of life and power. In addition, it deals with the subject of deviance and social control that affect punishment and criminal justice. Criminologists study data and come up with theories on how execute these theories into social (public) policy.

Public policy is the system by which a government uses to maintain order according to the constitution. This topic looks into legal policy, which concerns the laws used to determine crime, the people in charge of handling the punishment of errant members. For instance, robbery with violence is a crime that is often punished with a lengthy prison sentence or sometimes a death penalty. Categorizing robbery with violence as a crime and the type of punishment accorded to it is a way the government uses public policy to act in response of a problem. Public policy is therefore a compilation of rules and laws used to administer a society (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2013). It is an ideology that is based on a number of theories composed by sociologists and criminologists, and lawmakers implement it.

Administrative criminology focuses on the type of the crime and the setting on which it took place. It aims at making crime less attractive to lawbreakers. Thus while put into operation, criminal justice system in crime control helps policy makers to integrate practical crime control into aspects of public policy. In Unite Kingdom Clarke, a higher-ranking researcher at the Home Office came up with an approach to ‘common place’ that allowed conventional criminological theories and sensible policy recommendation (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2013). In his point of view, policy makers on criminal justice cannot do much relation to young men taking part in crime and delinquency. On the other hand, most criminals are making rational decisions that involve evaluating the professed risks in committing the particular crime and the incentives likely to be rewarded as well as the resources and proficiency required to successfully carry out a criminal activity.

As a result, criminal justice law makers channel their efforts on reducing the substantial opportunities for committing a crime and increase the chances of catching the criminals and getting them punished. This focal point on how an offender’s choice is in a given circumstance is subjective to his opinion about the risk, effort and incentive has given rise to a suite of techniques to reduce chances of committing crimes. It multiplies the risk of crime and trim down the rewards of crime furthermore eliminate justifications for crime.

Such circumstances have enabled criminologists to come up with evidence –based technique to resolve problems leading to reduction in crime. In recent cases, criminology has been highly involved in formulating and implementing public policies (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2013). Individuals in support of more involvement of social science in the process of public policy recommend that the best obtainable evidence should be the basis for policy making, rather than taking part in various way of false assertion of evidence. Moreover, carrying on with injustices and criminology can influence agency practices without necessarily, directly engaging in the lawmaking process.

It proposes that policies should be based on the best evidence obtained. It does not matter which political party is in power. The possible way to affect that is by presenting available evidence to policy makers (Petersilia, 2008). This falls to criminologists to inform policy makers of the proof. Since the evidence is usually dynamic, this ought to be done in a both interactive and practical way possible. Policy can only be a reflection of evidence when proficient associations can help the policy makers in interpreting evidences and translate the evidence into policy.

Not involving criminology in public policy making paves way for impostors to control false claims of evidence. Support groups fill Washignton D.C., seeking to Marshall Evidence in support of their preferred policies. The organization of evidence is usually slanted on the side of the preferred policy position not paying attention to studies that disagree with the existing positions being promoted leading to a hodgepodge of policy strategies, time and again opposing, but citing evidence as the basis of their claims.

In such a case criminology plays the role of sorting out evidence, providing significant evaluation of what is known, and assist lawmakers in considering which claims nearly everyone is supporting by what is well known and what is absurdity. Eliminating criminology from policy debates allows gross injustices to continue dominating in the field. A big number of public policies are destructive. Eliminating criminal activities through formulation of policies can worsen the problem or result in unsustainable consequences.

A good example is the juvenile transfer laws where juveniles are charged in the same way as adults. By doing so they fail to prevent youthful crime at the same time youngsters get worse treatment when adult laws are applied. Failing to speak out on such issues leaves the ill-treatment of juveniles uncontested. It is fundamental for criminology professionals to speak out against unjust policies (Miller, 2014). In the present day there is an argument in criminology as to whether, to which extent criminology and criminal justice has influenced policies on crime .there are both Proactive and passive responses towards the same.

One of the arguments against criminal justice is that it is innately political. It is influenced by political demands, partisan interests, and it compromises of conducts mismatched with science.  The case in point is crime and imprisonment. In the following three decades, the war on crime has been caught up in a get-tough direction in dealing with the problem of crime. Due to the increase in the rates of crime, and in some measure political and practical convenience, the strategies used presently to address the crime issue has resulted in extraordinary growth in the number of prisoners. Imprisonment is seen as a solution to crime crisis (MacKenzie, 2006). However, social science argues that a sentence is limited in its ability to stop and control crime. The research stressing on this issue has been politically unpopular, since the politicians who seek out to attend to the concerns of their supporters see hardly any other politically viable alternatives.

Another argument against criminology and public policy is that criminal evidence produced from social science research, in most cases is by no means definitive and mostly nuanced. Studies on the number of people found guilty for sexual offences have revealed that danger represented by this group is multifaceted, depending on the type of crime along with their individual background. Normally such nuances are not considered in the process of formulating policies, and different types of sex crimes are treated as the same for legal action purposes. What is more, criminological evidence is constantly changing, implying that the information within the field a lot more dynamic than the policies on crime.

There is a heated discussion amongst criminologists indicating why policy positions are challenging. They disagree on what really works and how best. As for the death penalty, some criminologists argue that it does not prevent crime or puts off no more than a prolonged prison sentence, whilst some argue that the death penalty is meaningful. Economists have written a series of empirical papers saying that death sentences decreases the number of homicides (Sherman et al., 1999). This has challenged the extensively accepted consensus that it does not have that effect.

Heated academic disagreement exists around the most controversial criminological debates. The “crime decline” concept has been subject to criminological consideration (Chancer & McLaughlin, 2007). A number of criminologists have highly developed theories and provided evidence to back them up. Others have argued that revolutionizing of policies has significantly contributed to decline in crime. Some dispute that regulation and more strict control of guns has reduced crime rate. Such debates draw attention to how little knowledge we in fact have about crime.

Up until now, not all changes in public policy are attributed to administrative criminology. From time to time hypothetically driven academic analysis has changed criminal justice policy. However, the extent that the government picks up criminal research to be use in public policy  is often dependant on various factors such as forces of market demand , media coverage ,agency support ,community and political interests. .these factors are usually beyond the control and know-how of academic researchers.

Numerous debates surround the role of criminology in the development of public policy.  Some argue that the influence of criminological justice is influential. They argue that it represents ideas and opinions, and data that are often integrated into public policy. Some departments in criminology work in conjunction with newly developed entities to enhance policy relevant research. For example, in 2001 a criminology department in the University of Melbourne formed an association with the commercial arm of the university to form Melbourne Criminology Research and Evaluation Unit. Its aim was to strengthen its commitment to remaining policy relevant.

Criminology and criminal justice has made a significant impact in public policy making. Even though, criminology is pertinent in policy formulation and implementation, it has shown signs of unwillingness in engaging in the subject of public policy in a consistent manner. However exceptional individuals have been actively participating in the process. Criminology’s current interface with public policy continues to offer a means by which criminologists take on researches relevant to policy making. It offers an opportunity to bring changes to the system and improving the existing system of criminal justice.


Chancer, L., & McLaughlin, E. (2007). Public criminologies: Diverse perspectives on academia and policy. Theoretical Criminology, 11, 153–173.

MacKenzie, D. (2006). What works in corrections: Reducing the criminal activities of offenders and delinquents. New York: Cambridge University Press.

McLaughlin, E., & Muncie, J. (2013). The Sage dictionary of criminology. London:          SAGE.

Miller, J. M. (2014). The encyclopedia of theoretical criminology.

Petersilia, J. (2008). Influencing public policy: An embedded criminologist reflects on California             prison reform. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4, 335–356.

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.


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