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Research Policies and Their Importance in The Field of Criminal Justice


Institutional Affiliation:

Research policy development in criminal justice

Policies regarding research in criminal justice seek to provide an evaluation and analysis

of crime in the pursuit of providing strategies for its mitigation. Researchers have come up with

journals, books, and reviews that show policy analysis in criminal justice and criminology as a

whole. The criminal justice system comprises various parts that involve laws and policies which

police and other law enforcers implement from the perspectives of juvenile and adult offenders.

Using the United States as an example, a recent research examined the practices involved in the

criminal justice policy and found out that most of the actions operate under the broad umbrella of

criminal justice and occur in realms governed by various sets of policies which are shaped by

various factors. This paper transcends into discussing the importance of research and how it

contributes to the development of policies in criminal justice in terms of describing these

policies, their relationship with research, and so forth.

Purpose and types of policies in criminal justice

I tend to concur with Bachman & Schutt (2013) who pointed out that there has been an

increased level of crime in the United States since the 1980s thereby forming a popular topic in

social science research regarding the development of stronger policies. One purpose of these

policies is to govern every phenomenon related to crime after researchers develop an explanation

for that crime. In the United States, law breakage is often accompanied by imprisonment with

more forms of punishments that are more severe than in other nations based on the policies

followed. While incarceration may be punitive in the criminal justice system, it is worth noting

that this method only captures a single aspect of crime policy without putting much consideration

on other policies that could involve the use of death penalty, juvenile treatment and other

conditions of imprisonment.

Carp & Stidham (2001) identify various policies that can be used to shape the criminal

justice system. These policies include sex offenders policy, drug policy, juvenile justice and so

forth. Nevertheless, a variety of factors could be the major influence of these policies, and they

may include, minority size, percentage of high school graduates, violent and property crime rates

among other factors.

The relationship between research and development of policies.

Based on how policies evolve, it is worth mentioning that there is need to conduct

research periodically to get updated with the new policies. Practically and from an analytical

perception, external and internal research, collection of data and policy development have been

noted to occur simultaneously and are closely related (National Research Council (U.S.)., 2008).

Research has a role to play in policy development while from another perspective policy

development also influences research. Researchers interpret research messages into policies and

practices with the aim of providing improvement. Nevertheless, the relationship between these

two processes still seems to be complex. Policy makers often want clarity in the research

messages, relevancy and unequivocal that tend to concur with impending priorities. Since a

sound research should take note of social factors, there is need to mirror the complexities and

other implications that may come with any research practice as this may hamper effective

interpretation of the findings. Most frequently, research is viewed as retrospective and looks back

into the entire system together with the outcomes and interventions of the program involved.

Every office has an input to the process of policy making. Timeliness is critical if the

input is to be considered (Hyder et al., 2010). For instance, if a decision has to follow timeliness

then it becomes difficult to develop new information to follow an ideal plan. Instead,

policymakers summarize already existing information and maybe analyze it in new ways before

coming up with a decision. This, therefore implies that policy makers can only use already

available research from time to time to make decisions regarding policies. Research informs

policy through shaping a common knowledge in the pursuit of coping with an issue.

How research can assist policymakers in decision-making

It is worth mentioning that policy makers view research as a linear fashion implying that

research follows linearity to come up with findings that policy makers can use. This can be

referred to as instrumental use of research. Taking a typical example of social care research,

some commissioning is often done for the government departments to obtain evidence before

finalizing a policy. Many services are paid for since they shape the policy in one way or another.

The groups involved in commissioning the research pave the way for a new thought regarding

ways in which the evidence can be controlled and shaped to fit the social world. Control in this

way is enhanced in three ways that include funding, weight of the content that meets publishing

and findings the strongest voice in the evidence being considered. Researchers have a role of

advocacy in a way that can influence the formal and informal policies developed by the policy

makers (Neocleous, 2000).

Research clearly addresses a problem and the methods a researcher recommends for

addressing the problem should augur well with success required. In a case where this ideal fails

to be realized then it turns out that a persuasive approach is required but not in a way that is

likely to show that the research is appearing to be compelling.

Policies developed in the past 10 years due to research in criminal justice

The court has developed policies that in one way or another have impacted the public

policy in the field of criminal justice. For instance, the Mapp v. Ohio rule which focused on

exclusions had been applied to the state government for a long time. The rule required courts to

exclude evidence acquired illegally by police. The police force administrators in most cases and

particularly in the urban areas have attempted developing some specific guidelines that their

officers can follow to obtain evidence although the efforts have turned out to lack universalness

in the application. The different variations in the practices the police follow and the

interpretations that differ in courts constitute search of seizure and an implementation that has

not yet proven to be successful in the entire United States due to inconsistency (Hyder et al.,


From a critical perspective, the exclusionary rule could have caused lack of support from

the supreme court justices in the effort to mitigate the anticipated impact of Ohio rule. To begin

with, the decision lacked privacy supported with the evidence that over the years some justices

had been openly made and critical of the rule affiliating the exclusionary. Moreover, it is pointing

out that subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court have broadened the assessment of legal

searches thereby limiting the application of the rule as far as criminal justice is concerned.

Additionally, there was another policy developed by Gideon V. Wainwright which

emphasized the need for the defendants to be given attorneys during the trial process in case the

felony is in the courts of the state. This resulted in many states providing the attorneys even

before the courts decision. Other states followed a different path of compliance that led to the

establishment of more public defender programs in most regions. Nevertheless, in other regions

local associations cooperated with the judges to implement some techniques that facilitated

compliance with the new policies of the Supreme Court.

Comparing these two policies, it turned out that Gideons policy had a higher level of

clarity than the Ohio policy. One reason for this was that most states had already implemented

the policy that Gideon had called for. Another factor explaining more acceptance of this policy

was that it had sharp definitions as announced by Gideon in comparison to the announcement

Ohio established regarding their policy. Although the court never specifically never took sides

regarding the provision of lawyers, it is still clear that the defendant must get assistance from an

attorney. Also, the supreme court, under the leadership of the chief justice that followed never

retreated from the policy of Warren regarding the provision of the attorney for the defendants as

it did much to address the search of seizure by Ohio ("Facts and Case Summary - Gideon v.

Wainwright", n.d.). All these factors combined show the contribution of Gideons policy during

that time.

Conclusively, the policies used by the supreme court to apprehend criminal justice in one

way or another are jumbled up based on the discussion provided in this paper. To a greater

extent, ambiguity forms the major issue of the entire matter while in other circumstances, there is

erosion of these policies as the courts replace them with others. All these variables put together

amount to greater discretion for the implementers. Some of the policies of the judiciary impose a

greater impact on the society. Research is, therefore, important in developing a nations policy in

a way that prevents envisioning of constitutional framers in the judicial system.



Bachman, R. & Schutt, R. (2013). The practice of research in criminology and criminal

justice (5th ed.). SAGE.

Carp, R. & Stidham, R. (2001). Judicial process in America (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ


Facts and Case Summary - Gideon v. Wainwright. United States Courts. Retrieved 28 December

2016, from


Hyder, A., Corluka, A., Winch, P., El-Shinnawy, A., Ghassany, H., & Malekafzali, H. et al.

(2010). National policy-makers speak out: are researchers giving them what they

need? Health Policy and Planning,26(1), 73-82.

National Research Council (U.S.).,. (2008). Rebuilding the Research Capacity at HUD (1st ed.,

p. Chapter 9 The Relationship Between Research and Policy Development). National

Academies Press.

Neocleous, M. (2000). The fabrication of social order (1st ed.). Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.