On SAGE Insight: Toward an “Age of Imposed Use”? Evidence-Based Crime Policy in a Law and Social Science Context

From Criminal Justice Policy Review

Marking Evidence week with access to this must-read article 

Central to the evidence-based paradigm is the explicit goal to increase the influence of scientific research on public policy. One of the major developments of the research utilization literature has been to identify distinct routes or pathways by which evaluation research can exert influence on policy decisions. One of the major developments of the research utilization literature has been to identify distinct routes or pathways by which evaluation research can exert influence on policy decisions, including conceptual, instrumental, and political. An evidence-based approach to crime policy demands that the best available scientific evidence be used to assess where, when, and if different interventions reduce crime, as well as helping to establish why an intervention does or does not work. Imposed use represents a promising tool for evidence-based crime policy; that is, by mandating the instrumental use of evidence-based programs and practices to ensure that crime policy is rational and effective. The aim of this review article is to explore the potential of Weiss’s concept of the “imposed use” route of research influence in the context of evidence-based crime policy. Specifically, the paper is interested in examining whether imposed use represents an appropriate mechanism for advancing evidence-based crime policy.

Abstract

Central to the evidence-based paradigm is the explicit goal to increase the influence of scientific research on public policy. The research utilization literature delineates a number of ways that evaluation research can exert an influence on policy decisions, including conceptual, instrumental, and political. Limitations of these routes of research influence on policy and a growing interest in the evidence-based paradigm have given rise to “imposed use,” first coined by Carol Weiss. To better understand the potential promise of imposed use, this review article explores the role of social science research in a law and policy context. Legal reasoning differs from scientific reasoning in important ways, illustrating that law is part of a normative context in which scientific evidence presents one consideration among many. This context helps frame how imposed use can play a role in advancing evidence-based crime policy. Consistent with Weiss’s reflections on imposed use, it also suggests important limitations for doing so.

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Article details
Toward an “Age of Imposed Use”? Evidence-Based Crime Policy in a Law and Social Science Context
Steven N. Zane, Brandon C. Welsh
First Published March 1, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/0887403417694068
From Criminal Justice Policy Review

     
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