There is a discernible urgency to the crime issue. Crime and the fear of crime rank as the most important issues in
public opinion polls. Some communities resemble war zones where gunshots ring out every night. Other cities
struggle to create islands of civility amid threats to public order posed by low-level criminal behavior that eludes
Appropriately, public policymakers and administrators in the criminal justice system are responding to the issue of
crime in all its complexity. Every aspect of the infrastructure of our traditional criminal justice policy is undergoing fundamental rethinking. Our approaches to policing, adjudication, sentencing, imprisonment, and community
corrections are changing in significant ways. Indeed, communities that are suffering from crime are changing their
interactions with the agencies of the criminal justice system as the concepts of community policing, community
prosecution, and community justice take on real meaning in cities and towns around the country.
This combination—a sense of urgency on the part of the public and a rapidly changing policy response—creates a
compelling need for policy-relevant research. When Attorney General Janet Reno addressed the American Society
of Criminology at its annual meeting in November 1994, she challenged Society members to translate their research findings into recommendations that would benefit the practitioners and policymakers who confront the
issues of crime and justice.
The reports presented in these pages are the response to that challenge. The Society established 12 task forces in
different areas of research activity and asked the task force members to distill their research findings into policy
recommendations that would advance the important public debate now under way in the Nation. In this regard,
the members of the Society have performed a valuable public service. We thank Dr. Freda Adler, then-president of
the Society, and the Society’s members for this remarkable contribution to improving our understanding of the
issues of crime and the challenge of justice.
National Institute of Justice