Factors and Conditions Influencing the Use of Research by the Criminal Justice System

By Innes, Christopher A.; Everett, Ronald S. | Western Criminology Review, August 2008 | Go to article overview

Factors and Conditions Influencing the Use of Research by the Criminal Justice System


Innes, Christopher A., Everett, Ronald S., Western Criminology Review


Whither We Are Tending

"If we could know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it," said Lincoln in his famous "house divided" speech in 1858 (Angle, 1991). While we might imagine that the debate over criminological research and its applicability to practice is inconsequential compared to the coming crisis Lincoln was addressing, such a judgment ignores the reason the debate is so important. On any given day, over two million people are being held against their will in jails or prisons in the United States and over twice as many more are under community supervision or otherwise entangled in the criminal justice system (Harrison and Beck, 2006; Glaze and Bonczar, 2006). Collectively, they represent tens of millions of victims. About 350,000 people a year are seriously injured in a crime and over the last decade an average of 20,000 have died violently each year (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990-2000; Rennison, 2001). One in three Americans are afraid to walk alone in their own neighborhoods at night (Gallup, 2000). These and many other statistics may define where we are, but the fact is that our own professional house has long been divided between researchers and practitioners and this has hobbled our society's response to crime and violence.

What is most interesting about Lincoln's remark is the distinction he drew between what to do and how to do it within the context of the goals we wish to set. This manner of framing the issue is a classic statement of Pragmatism; Lincoln was speaking at a time when that tradition was emerging as the dominant philosophical perspective in America (Menard, 2001). Much later, John Dewey (1929:7-8) captured the Pragmatic spirit of inquiry when he argued that knowledge should be tested by asking the questions

Does it end in conclusions which, when they are referred back to ordinary life-experiences and their predicaments, render them more significant, more luminous to us, and make our dealings with them more fruitful? Or does it terminate in rendering the things of ordinary experience more opaque than they were before, and in depriving them of the having in 'reality' even the significance they had previously seemed to have?

For Dewey and the Pragmatists this test applies equally to any type of inquiry, including those that use the methods of science. Like everyday knowledge, science must begin and end with experience and its ultimate test is how it can be used. From the Pragmatist perspective, a science that begins with experience, but ends with a published report providing an explanation is incomplete. In this paper, we will discuss the contrast between this perspective and the more common practices of social science research inherited from a Positivistic view of the scientific enterprise to examine a number of issues that influence the relationship of research and practice.1

Central to the Pragmatist critique of Positivism is the argument that the latter relies exclusively on an attenuated understanding of experience. In Pragmatism, the concept of "experience" joins the dual meanings of the term in ordinary language to include, 1) experience of something as when we observe the world around us and 2) experience with something when we participate in an activity (Dewey, 1925; Murphy and Rorty, 1990; Ratner, 1939). When we have observational experiences, including when our observations are systematic as in scientific research, it produces empirical evidence. When we have participatory experiences, we develop skills. We can say, for example, that a person has a great deal of experience in substance abuse programs and mean by it either 1) they have done many studies, 2) have run programs for many years, or even 3) have been treated for dependency several times. It is the union of these differing senses that constitutes the full meaning of experience in the Pragmatic sense. Keeping these multiple aspects of the concept in mind helps us think through the supposed division between research and practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Factors and Conditions Influencing the Use of Research by the Criminal Justice System
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.