Criminology Group: ‘We Must Do More Than Research These Communities From a Distance’

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Photo by Geoff Livingston via Flickr.

A second organization of criminologists has called for “large-scale policy reforms, informed by rigorous empirical research …to prevent future injustices” against “communities of color” by police officers and private citizens in the United States.

In a statement issued this week, the executive board of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) condemned “the deplorable actions that led to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among too many others,” alluding to the deaths of African Americans in high-profile cases in Minnesota, Georgia and Kentucky.

The deaths of Floyd and Taylor were caused by police officers. Arbery was allegedly shot to death in a residential Georgia neighborhood by the son of a former police officer who suspected him of a burglary.

“We oppose injustice against all people in all forms; every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” the ACJS board said. “The current situation represents a systemic failure to address disparities within the criminal justice system and across our country.”

The group said it is “committed to conducting evidenced-based research that brings best practices to the foreground and leverages our partnerships with practitioners across the country to help translate that research into real-world change.”

ACJS declared that, “The last few weeks have been a time of heart-breaking pain for our nation, and particularly for communities of color. We must do more than research these communities from a distance; we need to join with them in order to find solutions to enduring and avoidable problems.

“We also acknowledge the vicarious trauma and racial/ethnic battle fatigue that many communities of color experience after each senseless death.

“This is a call to action for our colleagues across the discipline. We encourage our members, affiliates, and supporters to conduct research that helps solve the problems that lead to disparity and discrimination in treatment by law enforcement and other criminal justice officials.”

The ACJS statement parallels one issued Tuesday by the board of the American Society of Criminology backing policy changes aimed at ending “horrifying violence” by police officers in recent incidents.

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