Criminologists to Trump: ‘Keep Science’ in Justice Department

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Twenty-five former presidents of the American Society of Criminology, worried that science may take a backseat in the Trump administration’s Justice Department, have sent President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter titled, “Keep Science in the Department of Justice,” the Washington Post reports. Co-authors John Laub of the University of Maryland and Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis said they hoped that politics didn’t intrude on the science-based approach that the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has fostered in recent years, while both agencies await the appointment of new directors.

Laub, who headed NIJ from 2010 to 2013, said that as the first director in the agency’s 40-year history with a Ph.D, in criminology, he wants “to ensure that DOJ does not slip backwards and continues to use science and evidence with respect to policies regarding crime and justice.” Rosenfeld said, “What we’re trying to do is institutionalize a scientific ethos in the Justice Department, which traditionally has been run, reasonably enough, by a lawyers’ culture. The NIJ and the Bureau of Justice Statistics are very, very important agencies, and we want to make sure they remain scientific agencies, not politicized.” The Justice Department created a Science Advisory Board in 2010 to assess the effectiveness of policing programs, much of which can be seen at crimesolutions.gov.

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