Law and Public Policy
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Mission Statement: The ACJS Law and Public Policy Section seeks to raise the awareness of ACJS members to law and policy concerns relevant to criminal justice issues. Our objective is to support members of the ACJS with research, curriculum development and networking. Individuals are encouraged to offer their academic findings to all level of governments for law and policy development.

Membership: Any current member of ACJS is welcome as a new member of the Law and Public Policy Section. Section dues are $10. To join the section, current ACJS members should contact Cathy Barth, Association Manager, at; non-members of ACJS can join ACJS and the section online or by following the instructions available on the Membership page of the ACJS website.

Section Awards: Each year the section selects a local criminal justice professional in the location of the Annual ACJS conference whose work has been outstanding and innovative within the field of criminal justice. The recipients of the Law and Public Policy Justice Policy Innovator Award have been a diverse group of men and women.

Criteria: The Justice Policy Innovator Award recipient shall be a person who has made a significant and recognized contribution to the quality and improvement of criminal justice by implementing legal and/or criminal justice policy innovations. Designees may be citizens acting in civil society, employees and/or administrators of criminal justice agencies, members of the judiciary and/or the legal profession or academicians.  

The annual designee is selected by the executive board of the Law & Public Policy Section.   

Past winners:
2016, Denver

Mitchell R. Morrissey was elected District Attorney of Denver in November 2004 and was sworn into office on January 11, 2005. As the chief prosecutor for the Second Judicial District he is responsible for the prosecution of more than 6,000 felony and 18,000 misdemeanor criminal cases every year. He is nationally known for his expertise in DNA technology, applying that technology in criminal prosecutions and working to ensure that DNA science is admissible in our courtrooms. He recognized the potential of DNA science early on and prosecuted the first trial in Denver to utilize DNA. Mr. Morrissey is nationally recognized for establishing a systematic process for the use of DNA evidence to solve cold cases and DNA familial searches to identify suspects in rape and property crime cases; twenty-one percent of property crimes leave blood and saliva evidence. Mr. Morrissey believes that a prosecutor should be academically minded as well as practical in approaching methods for solving crime.

At the 2016 Law and Public Policy Section meeting in Denver, Colorado: From left to right: Melanie Worsley (Section Secretary), Brenda Rowe, Greggory LaBerge, Director, Forensics and Evidence Division, Denver D.A. Office – representing Mitchell R. Morrissey (2016 award recipient), Arthur H. Garrison (Section Chair), Amy Memaen.

2015, Orlando
Robert Westley, Public Defender, 9th Judicial Circuit Orange and Osceolo Counties Florida. Mr. Westley in an elected Public Defender with a dedication to making sure all defendants are to be treated as human beings by both his attorneys and the criminal justice system. He operationalizes this principle by telling his public defenders, “never waive speedy trial” and “always be ready to go to trial.” Mr. Westley asserts that by doing these two things consistently, you will always get the best result for your client. When it comes to pleas and engaging the prosecutor, he says, “Be a warrior and you will be treated as a warrior, be a beggar and you will be treated as a beggar.”

At the 2015 Law and Public Policy Section meeting in Orlando Florida: From left to right: Randall Grometstein (Immediate Past Chair), John Cencich (Vice Chair), Robert Westley (2015 award recipient), Arthur H. Garrison (Section Chair), Brenda Riley and David Jones.

2014, Philadelphia
Dr. John Kramer, of Penn State University, for his career as both an academic and a practitioner. Dr. Kramer was the executive director of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission (1979-1988) and staff director of the U.S. Sentencing Commission (1996-1998).

2013, Dallas
Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney, for his creation of the Conviction Integrity Unit that reviews and re-investigates legitimate post-conviction claims of innocence.

2012, New York
Michael Jacobson, Director, Vera Institute, for his career of policy innovation and research as a government analyst, director of the New York City Correctional Agency, academic and head of a leading criminal justice policy and research organization.

2011, Toronto        
Stephen Goudge, Ontario Court of Appeals judge, for his role as the Commissioner of the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario, Canada.

2010, San Diego     
George “Woody” Clark, San Diego trial court judge, for initiating a DNA review program as assistant prosecutor.

Section Updates: At the business meeting during the 2016 ACJS meeting in Denver, members discussed the formation of LPP panels for the 2017 Kansas City meeting with a focus on the politics of criminal justice and what the academy would like the new president to know. Suggestions included a panel on issues regarding the Supreme Court. The members also agreed that another attempt should be made to try and get members to link their professional web pages to the ACJS LPP web page in an effort to showcase the abilities and research of the members.

Executive Officers for 2015 - 2017
Chair - Arthur H. Garrison, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (2015-2017)
Vice Chair - John Cencich, California University of Pennsylvania (2015-2017)
Secretary - Melanie Worsley, J.D., Washburn University (2015-2017)
Executive Counselor - Nancy Marion, University of Akron (2014-2015)
Executive Counselor - Claire Angélique Nolasco, Texas A & M University (2014-2015)
Executive Counselor - Patty Ross Salinas, Missouri State University (2014-2015)