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 Journal: In Fall 2017 the Journal of Criminal Justice and Law was formally adopted as the official journal of the Law and Public Policy Section. The Journal of Criminal Justice and Law: A Publication of the Law and Public Policy Section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (JCJL/LPPS) is a peer reviewed journal with a focus on both criminal justice and legal issues and their intersection with public policy.

The goal of the JCJL/LPPS is to address the lack of outlets in criminal justice research dealing with legal issues. The mission of the JCJL/LPPS is to publish high quality empirical, qualitative and legal research on legal issues in criminal justice and law.

Section Special Events:

Annual Meeting, March 2019 (Baltimore):

The section will be hosting two showcase events.

1. Wednesday, March 27, 2019, Fourth Floor: Harborside D 3:30 to 4:45 pm

136. Law and Public Policy Showcase: Section Journal Special Issue: Race, Police, and Criminal Justice

Chair: Arthur Garrison, Kutztown University


“#Black Lives Matter? Analyzing the Effects of Police-Caused Black Deaths on Media Coverage and Public Interest in the Movement” by Dale Willits, Washington State University & Francesca Bordonaro, Washington State University

Abstract: Black Lives Matter is a social movement, created-on and maintained by social media networks, spurred in part by Black men and women who have been killed by police officers in the United States. This research focuses on the relationship between police-caused deaths of Black men and women and media coverage of and public interest in Black Lives Matter (BLM). The primary goal of this research was to determine whether BLM coverage by traditional news was linked to the killings of Black citizens by police. We found that Black citizen deaths did not increase mentions of BLM either in newspaper articles or Google searches for BLM. We did, however, find that when police officers were killed at a protest, mentions of BLM in both news and Google queries increased at a substantial rate, as did searches for “Blue Lives Matter.” The implications for police use of force, BLM, and traditional news media are discussed.

“Measuring Disproportionate Treatment in Policing: One Department’s Experience” by Heidi S. Bonner, East Carolina University & Michele Stacey, East Carolina University

Abstract: Detecting disparate impact in policing practice is essential, but those tasked with developing such inquiry face significant challenges in designing the analyses. Racial profiling research has also been plagued by an inability to gain consensus on valid comparison groups, what is commonly termed the “denominator problem” in benchmarking analyses. The current inquiry details the process and outcome of investigating several enforcement actions at a mid-sized department in the southeastern United States using the disproportionality index (Dolan Consulting Group, 2016). The findings highlight the importance of combining the appropriate benchmark with the appropriate level of analysis, and the need for more scholarly inquiry on disproportionate treatment in a variety of law enforcement outcomes. Discussion of the effect of selected geographic locations on the disproportionality index when assessing disparity in traffic stops, field contacts, and arrest are provided.

“A Closer Look at the Eric Garner Incident: The NYPD Should Review Their Policy Instead of Trying Their Police Major” by Andrew Costello, NYIT

Abstract: By examining the death of Eric Garner, existing laws and current practices of the NYPD come into question.  By going through a step-by-step breakdown of the events after the death of Eric Garner, the outcome of legal decisions of the criminal process against Police Officer Pantaleo made by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office are explained.  An explanation and likely outcome of the NYPD’s upcoming administrative trial is presented from an insider’s point of view.  The author argues that the likely conviction of Officer Pantaleo on administrative charges resulting in his termination will not produce its intended effect and may be counterproductive to reduce future deaths in police custody.  Suggestions to change NYPD enforcement policy and training in addition to current New York State law involving the access to Grand Jury transcripts and evidence are presented.

“The Eric Garner Incident: Sentinel Event Calls for Greater Scholarly Support for Policymaking” by Joe D. Mazza, NYPD (Ret.)

Abstract: The Eric Garner incident serves as a sentinel event exposing weakness in our system of policing low-level offenses. The NYPD policy at the center of this encounter lacked a foundation of sound evidence. Administrative mandates forced officers to make a custodial arrest instead of releasing a low-level offender in the field. Combined, they created a condition ripe for tragic results. Custodial arrests should serve important public interests but none are apparent here. This incident presents a call for greater scholarly partnerships with police and other stakeholders to provide studies that provide evidence upon which to base better public policy.

2. Friday, March 29, 2019, Fourth Floor: Harborside D 8:00 to 9:15 am

290. Law and Public Policy Showcase: Race and Police Shooting Data Analysis: The Science and Disputes on Race Causation

Abstract: Panelists will debate the state of science in using police shooting databases, including the Washington Post, to determine relationships between police use of force and race. Debate will include discussion of causation and variable identification and use of statistics in assessing if race is determinative in police interactions with Blacks and police decisions to use deadly and non-deadly force. Concepts of implicit bias, threat discriminability, situational ambiguity, and schema motor pattern recognition in police encounters will also be discussed. 

Moderator: Arthur Garrison, Kutztown University


Geoffrey P. Alpert, University of South Carolina and Griffith University

Jon Shane, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Scott Bowman, Texas State University

Justin Nix, University of Nebraska Omaha

Annual Meeting, February 2018 (New Orleans):


The Law and Public Policy Section organized three showcase panels for the February 2018 conference.


The first panel entitled “Law and Public Policy Section Showcase: Reflections on Crime and the Criminal Justice System” occurred on Friday, February 16th 9:30 to 10:45 am.


Abstract: Panel will be comprised of practitioners and community leaders who will discuss the causes of crime and how crime policy should be made. Panelists will discuss both the politics and policy of criminal justice operations.


The second panel entitled: “Law and Public Policy Section Showcase: Reflections on Race, Crime and Politics occurred on February 16th 11:00 to 12:15 a.m.


Abstract: From slavery to Jim Crow, the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks has been a topic of debate within the academy and American politics. Theories on crime and race have ranged from the criminal justice system being racist to Blacks being criminogenic either by birth or by culture. Panelists of criminal justice practitioners will discuss the issue of crime and race.


Both panels hosted local New Orleans criminal justice and policy leaders.

From right to left: Flozell Daniels, Jr., Board of Directors, Chair of the New Orleans Urban League Policy Committee, Norma Broussard DuBois, Director of Felony DWI & Traffic Safety Outreach Jefferson Parish District Attorney, Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., Orleans Parish District Attorney and  Arthur Garrison, moderator, Law and Public Policy Chair.

The third panel entitled: “Law and Public Policy Section Showcase: The Goal of the Academy, Politics or Science? occurred on February 16th 12:30 to 1:45 p.m.


Abstract: Each year hundreds of articles and studies are published by academics on the causes of crime and theories on how to address the operation of the criminal justice system. The conclusions of these many studies are used to support the liberal or conservative political agendas of policy makers and politicians.



From top left to right: Arthur Garrison, Section Chair and Moderator, Faith Lutze, Washington State University; Francis M. Williams, Plymouth State University; Jason Williams, Montclair State University; Michael J. DeValve, Fayetteville State University; seated left to right: John Paul Wright, University of Cincinnati and Delores Jones-Brown, Professor, John Jay College (Retired)



Annual Meeting, March 2017 (Kansas City):


The Law and Public Policy Section organized two showcase panels at the March 2017 conference.


The first panel was titled, “Law and Public Policy Showcase Event: American Law Enforcement – What Police Want CJ Scholars to Understand about Policing” will occur on March 22, 2017 at 8 a.m.


Abstract: The literature of policing in America provides both depth and width in understating police operations, police administration and policy psychology. The purpose of the panel will be to provide an avenue for five local police chiefs to discuss their perspectives and critiques on how the profession of policing is studied by the academy and how its research could improve policing on the street and operational levels.


The second panel was titled, “Law and Public Policy Showcase Event: The “Ferguson Effect” Race and Police Interactions: Academics and Media portrayals” will occur on March 22, 2017 at 9:30a.m.


Abstract: In light of the events in New York (Eric Gardner), Baltimore (Freddie Gray), Ferguson (Michael Brown), Chicago (Laquan McDonald), Cleveland (Tamir Rice and John Crawford), St. Paul (Philando Castile), and Baton Rouge (Alton Sterling) among many other recent incidents of police use of deadly force on Black males; a narrative has developed that police are killing Blacks with impunity. This panel of police chiefs will discuss their perspectives on police use of force, types of force, race and policing, the intentional ambush and killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the legitimacy of the “Ferguson Effect” and how the police are portrayed in the media. The chiefs will reflect on whether the dynamics of race and policing is as bad as the academy and the media portray it to be and what impact does the media and the academy have on street level policing in Black and minority communities.



Both panels hosted local police chiefs from the Kansas City area.


From left to right panelists: Chris Skinrood, Chief, Riverside Missouri Police Department; Robert Kuehl, Major, Deputy Superintendent, Kansas Regional Police Academy, Arthur H. Garrison, panel moderator, Chair of Law and Public Policy Section; Det. Brad Lemon, President & Department Liaison, Kansas City, MO Police Union; and Captain Charles Huth, Staff Inspector, Chief’s Office, Kansas City Police Department.


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:

2018, New Orleans

Andrea Armstrong is a professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans, College of Law and a founding member of the Promise of Justice Initiative--a non-profit dedicated to the humane, fair, and equal treatment of individuals in the criminal justice system. Her work in criminal justice includes death penalty reform, conditions of confinement, eliminating poor representation of criminal defendants and ending racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. She serves on the board of the Capital Appeals Project.

2017, Kansas City
No award given

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 at the 2018 ACJS conference in New Orleans the section Justice Innovator Award was presented to Andrea Armstrong who spoke about prison conditions with an emphasis on the environmental conditions that impact behavior. She noted that local and state laws that govern the conditions of housing do not apply to prison construction. She also discussed the need for people to be engaged in criminal justice reform and advocacy for policy changes to address over representation of minority groups in prison. She thanked the section for hosting local political leaders and providing forums for them to engage in discussions on the nature of criminal justice in the locality of the conference site. She noted that the section showcase panels hosted in 2018 provided an open door for significant policy changes. For that she said she was very grateful.


The members discussed the upcoming elections for 2018-2020 officers. Elections will occur middle spring 2018. Members were briefed of the adoption of the Journal of Criminal Justice and Law as the official section journal. It was suggested that the idea of using the web page to showcase achievements by members should be attempted again. Prior attempts did not produce interest by the members but it was requested that a new attempt be made. After the formal meeting, members enjoyed an informal banquet.

Other Section Pictures:

Attendees at the 2017 Law and Public Policy Annual Meeting


Executive Officers for 2018-2020
Chair - Arthur H. Garrison, LP.D., Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 
Vice Chair - Nancy Marion, Ph.D., University of Akron 
Secretary - Melanie Worsley, J.D., Washburn University 
Executive Counselor - Brenda Rowe, J.D., Ph.D., Texas A&M University-San Antonio 
Executive Counselor - Michelle M. Watson, J.D., Washburn University
Executive Counselor - Vacant
Immediate Past Chair - Vacant