Moving the National Institute of Justice Forward: July 2010 through December 2012

AuthorJohn H. Laub
DOI10.1177/1043986221999857
Published date01 May 2021
Date01 May 2021
Subject MatterEssay
https://doi.org/10.1177/1043986221999857
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2021, Vol. 37(2) 166 –174
© The Author(s) 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/1043986221999857
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Essay
Moving the National Institute
of Justice Forward: July 2010
through December 2012
John H. Laub1
Abstract
Criminologists are often frustrated by the disconnect between sound empirical
research and public policy initiatives. Recently, there have been several attempts to
better connect research evidence and public policy. While these new strategies may
well bear fruit, I believe the challenge is largely an intellectual one. Ideas and research
evidence must guide public policy and practice. In this article, I present highlights from
my tenure as the Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research,
development, and evaluation agency in the Department of Justice. One of the ideas
that I emphasized at NIJ was “Translational Criminology.” I believe translational
criminology acknowledges NIJ’s unique mission to facilitate rigorous research that
is relevant to the practice and policy. I also discuss the challenges I faced in bringing
research to bear on public policy and practice. I end with a call for my colleagues in
criminology and criminal justice to become more involved in government.
Keywords
translational criminology, research evidence, public policy
Introduction
Social scientists are often frustrated by the perceived disconnect between sound
empirical research and public policy initiatives. This occurs across a number of
domains, including education, health, labor, and the focus of this article—crime and
criminal justice. Recently, there have been several attempts to better connect research
evidence and public policy. However, these attempts have focused somewhat narrowly
on improving research methodology (e.g., using more randomized controlled trials in
1University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
Corresponding Author:
John H. Laub, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Email: jlaub@umd.edu
999857CCJXXX10.1177/1043986221999857Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeLaub
research-article2021

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