Importance of Research as it Relates to Policy Development within the field of Criminal Justice

Purpose and the types of policies within the field of criminal justice

The policy serves various purposes within the field of criminal justice. Policies provide the general framework that guides the operations within the criminal justice system. In this regard, the policies support the execution of strategy within the criminal justice system (Garrison, 2009). The policies also help to ensure that the people involved within the criminal justice system understand their work and comprehend the consequences of their actions. In relation to this, the policies help to influence the employee behavior and support ethical and compliant decision making. Besides, the policies also help to create the needed credibility and trust for people dealing with criminal justice. On the other hand, the policies also help in the internal controls and to limit the behavior of those concerned with the criminal justice. The policies also help the organizations to prevent, detect, and respond to the criminal code of conduct. Finally, the policies help give the organizations in charge of criminal justice the legal mandate to operate (Lomas, 2000).

There are several types of policies within the field of criminal justice. Crime prevention policies are one of the policies within the criminal justice system (Garrison, 2009). Crime is often unacceptable and such policies are meant to reduce the levels of crime within the society. The new crime prevention policies are meant to come up with new approaches that would help to reduce the crime levels within a country. The new crime prevention policies are also meant to give the police a greater freedom while undertaking their duties. Such policies aim at creating community triggers to tame the antisocial behavior by enhancing the community partnerships.

The other criminal justice related policy relates to the sentencing policies. For the past five years, the incarceration rates have been changing dramatically. In relation to this, the costs of running such correctional facilities are becoming prohibitive (Vigne & Samuels, 2012). There have been renewed attempts by the policy makers to consider rehabilitation centers as the primary punishment for some criminal offenders.

The relationship between research and policy development

It is evident that policy making vertical and horizontal political dynamic. Essentially, the criminal justice policy research seeks to provide an assessment and analysis of crime and the strategies that could help reduce the rates of crime (Garrison, 2009). The local and the state agencies such as the correctional facilities, the judiciary, the law enforcement agencies, and the NGOs utilize such criminal policies to support their functions. In order to receive proper federal funding, the criminal justice policy agencies need to have good policies. Such sound policies are often supported by research findings.

In most cases, the criminal justice policies are based on moral-based identities. The criminal justice questions deal with the arena of determining whether it is right or wrong. The presence of the moral attributes and the field of the criminal justice and policy making presents a delicate balance. However, the research studies can be structured in such a way that they capture the moral dilemmas faced by the policy makers. On the other hand, the criminal justice policies utilize the languages with inherent social and moral connotations. The theories of criminal justice research focus on the theories on personal and societal causes of crime and poverty. In this regard, the criminal justice policy is aimed at controlling social dysfunction and creating societal order. Research has established that the causes of social dysfunctions stem from internal and external factors such as the poverty, lack of political power, low levels of education, lack of economic viability. Since criminal justice is subjected to the general public, it easily relates to developed opinions.

The criminal justice policy development is also linked to the political, moral, and ideological. For example, the mere presence of criminal activities within the communities is a public health concern. The policy makers need to assess whether the crime is an individual matter of if the crime is caused by the environmental settings. Therefore, it is necessary to have research findings that can provide the data and the link between these interlocking factors.

How research assists the policy makers by informing their policy decisions

According to Garrison (2009), the criminal justice system is the results of the vertical and horizontal decision-making systems. Essentially, the policy decision makers make their decisions in a dynamic process where the what, how, and when takes center stage. Policy decision making takes care of two levels: the establishment of broad policy parameters and the translation of the policy parameters. Since the political influence governs the criminal justice, the criminal policies are phrased politically and the proposals need to get political approval. However, the policy does not come until there is some level of convergence of ideology, beliefs, and interests and this is where research comes in (Reiljan & Paltser, 2015). Unless a social condition has been defined as a pressing problem by the researchers, there may be no interests from the political decision makers. Research gives the policy makers the parameters of potential action that should be agreed upon (Wuelser, Pohl, & Hirsch, 2012). With credible research, there is the high likelihood that the policy decision makers will be receptive of such results and make sound decisions based on the outcome of such results. Research also helps the policy decision makers by giving them the program of activities and the means and ways of implementing such activities. In most cases, the policy makers do not want to act on anything without any framework and program of activities. Therefore, the researchers come in by providing the policy decision makers by providing them with the adequate data and information that they need to act upon. The policy makers need to utilize the research that that has clear objectives and give relevant conclusions of the criminal issue being studied. In most cases, the policy makers love to use the results from research since they lack the political bias. In most cases, they represent the exact situation of a social phenomenon as it is. 

In order to take carry out relevant research, the researchers need to rely on the media since criminal issues are always reported on the media platforms (Garrison, 2009). After getting the relevant information from the media, the researchers then carry out research as to why such a phenomenon takes place. In their research, the researchers can give recommendations that can be relied on by the policymakers to inform their decisions. For example, the media can report that there has more teenagers are involved in the latest criminal activities. The researchers then take advantage of such reporting to investigate why teens are increasingly getting involved in the criminal activities. They may then give recommendations on the causes of such social problem and provide recommendations for solving such a societal challenge. Eventually, the policy makers can read and analyze the objectives, results, and the recommendations provided by the researcher to guide their policy making process.

In another scenario, it can be reported that the correctional facilities are not doing the society any good since most of the people who are released from such places continue with their criminal behaviors. The researchers will then take advantage of such reporting, go to the correctional facilities and make observations and gather evidence of the nature of the correction offered by such institutions. By gathering the evidence, the researchers will observe the patterns and the nature of the correction and notice the gaps that can be filled in order to come up with proper correction measures for the criminals. In their research, they may provide conclusions and recommendations that will be relied on by the policy makers. They may recommend the new correctional measures that the policy makers can find convincing and implement it within the correctional facilities. 

Examples of recent policies that resulted from research within the field of criminal justice

There are several policies that have resulted from research within the field of criminal justice. One of the recent policies implemented within the U.S prisons is to encourage the inmates to keep in touch with their families. Traditionally, it was very expensive for the inmates to keep in touch with their families. Therefore, there were few contacts between the criminals and their families. However, a recent research established that increased communication between the inmates and their families reduce recidivism and provides the inmates with the smooth transition from criminal life to proper communal life (Shanahan & Agudelo, 2012). In response to this, the Federal Communications Commissions voted put price caps on the companies that charge inmates to communicate with their families. This is an attempt by the policy makers to enable the criminals to have a reformed life once they finish their prison sentence.

In another research, Vigne and Samuels (2012) established that the American government spends more than $60 billion to keep the 2 million inmates behind bars. Surprisingly, about 25% of these people have not been convicted of any crime and are awaiting trial. About two-thirds of the 25% have been deemed by the magistrates to be low risks persons to the community yet they often remain in jail for about one year as they await trial. During such time, the government provides these people with food, clothing, security, and healthcare and this costs translate to billions of dollars. The research by Vigne and Samuels (2012) established that better tools, methods, and technologies can be adopted by the state to supervise the low-risk offenders to keep these people out of jail and save billions of taxpayers’ money. The thousands of individuals who possess no risk can be identified, released, and monitored at a lower cost than keeping them in jail. The results of this study prompted the Pretrial Release Reform that is aimed at removing the old, outdated and the expensive policy of keeping the low-risk offenders in jail. This reform aims at reducing the prohibitive costs of jailing the low-risk offenders.


Garrison, A.H. (2009). The Influence of Research on Criminal Justice Policy Making. Professional Issues in Criminal Justice, Vol 4 (1), 2009 9

Lomas, J. (2000, Spring). Connecting research and policy. ISUMA, 140–144.

Reiljan, J., & Paltser, I. (2015). The influence of research and development policy: The case of estonia in the EU. European Journal of Innovation Management, 18(3), 307-329.

Shanahan, R & Agudelo, S.V. (2012). The Family and Recidivism. American Jails. 17-22

Vigne, N.G & Samuels, J. (2012). The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions.

Wuelser, G., Pohl, C., & Hirsch Hadorn, G. (2012). Structuring complexity for tailoring research contributions to sustainable development: A framework. Sustainability Science, 7(1), 81-93. doi: