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NCJ Number: 156362 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Why Are We Ignored? The Peculiar Place of Experts in the Current Debate About Crime and Justice
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:31  Issue:4  Dated:(July-August 1995)  Pages:305-336
Author(s): S H Pillsbury
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 32
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Public debate about criminal justice is examined critically, with emphasis on the lack of a significant role of criminal justice experts in issues such as California's new three-strikes law.
Abstract: Criminal justice experts are those who have gained significant knowledge about the criminal justice system from extended practice or study and who are committed to making the system more just. However, experts had no significant role in the development of California's three strikes law, which is complex, poorly drafted, and expensive. Similarly, experts have little role in drug policies and other crucial areas. Although public policy decisions should be made in a dispassionate, deliberative way that promotes the long-term good of all, leaders often reach decisions based on the selfish, short-term, and highly emotional needs of a powerful segment of society. To change this situation, academicians must take politics seriously and recognize the legitimacy of short-term, selfish, and passionate appeals. They must focus more on immediate problems and reforms and resist institutional tendencies toward narrow and partisan scholarship. In interacting with the media, experts should admit to limitations of knowledge and insight, emphasize complexities of issues presented simplistically, and remind the audience that the law is not a game. While recognizing that the public's denial of reality is the most important reason for the irrationality of debates about criminal justice, experts must take the public seriously, speak out, and avoid letting their silence leave the field of debate clear for others.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Criminal justice system policy; Media coverage; Political influences; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Research uses in policymaking
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