Hands behind prison bars
Published on: Nov 30, 2021

By Heather Pfeifer, PhD, President, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and John Worrall, PhD, Executive Director, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

Police agencies across America are in the hot seat. Frontline officers’ every move is scrutinized, and anything that resembles excessive force is recorded and shared on social media. Extreme acts of police violence, including wrongful shootings, garner even more attention. They make for viral videos and shocking news headlines. They spur community groups and politicians into action. In response to real and perceived police abuses, a movement is now afoot to “defund” the police. It sounds serious, implying that money should be stripped from policing budgets as punishment for law enforcement misdeeds. Proposals to defund the police, however, are much more complex and nuanced than these discussions typically let on. Many people misunderstand what defunding entails, and relatively little research exists on which supporters can base their proposals—and in some cases, the research is ignored altogether. This is where criminal justice and criminological researchers and educators come in.

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