Associating Cause With Effect: Building Bridges to the Application of Criminological Research in Policy/Practice and the Lawmaking Process

Tyrone Powers, Anne Arundel Community College

One method that Criminologists have used to help discern the causes of crime is ethnography or partricipant observation. Obviously, the researchers do not participate directly in crime but they live in the communities where crime is taking place. The objective is to more closely associate effect with cause or vice versa. Research garnered from this process, has been utilized to create and enhance theory, but seldom has it been utilized to create effective policy. Recently, we have seen how the study regarding the "Broken Window Syndrome" has been utilized to justify aggressive style zero tolerance policy. This attempt at using research material to create policy has been lauded by police officials and some politicians. But, many community activists have complained of the police state that has been created based on this approach. The community activists argue that a policy has been placed upon them that was not created by them or with their input. This paper will examine the social distance between academicians, practitioners and elected officials that has led to gulfs of misunderstanding. Unless rectified these gaps will lead to explosive pockets of violent crime, which do not fit neatly into existing and ever increasing laws. This paper will also examine solutions, which address this problem using as a document, "The People's Plan to Dramatically Reduce Crime in Baltimore City," created by community activists in Baltimore City.

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Updated 05/20/2006