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Out-of-Control Criminal Justice
The Systems Improvement Solution for More Safety, Justice, Accountability, and Efficiency


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  • Date Published: November 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316614044

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About the Authors
  • Out-of-Control Criminal Justice shows that our system of criminal justice is broken; it is out of control. The author writes that a research-based strategy is needed that builds on the insights of those who work within criminal justice or are affected by it. Such a strategy must entail continuous evaluation and improvement, so that what works can be expanded and what does not can be eliminated. Out-of-Control Criminal Justice identifies how systems problems plague our criminal justice systems. It then presents a comprehensive strategy for bringing these systems under control to reduce crime, to increase justice and accountability, and to do so at less cost. The strategy can be used, too, to create greater responsiveness to victims and communities, effectiveness in reducing racial and ethnic disparities, and understanding of the causes and consequences of crime. After describing this new approach, the book identifies the tools needed to implement a systems solution to create a safer and more just society.

    • Identifies how systems problems contribute to more crime, injustice, a lack of accountability, and inefficiency
    • Shows how criminal justice operates as a system and how changes to any one part affects all others
    • Presents a comprehensive strategy for improving systems of criminal justice
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    • Winner, 2019 ACJS Outstanding Book Award, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

    Reviews & endorsements

    ''Criminal justice system' - no phrase is more often voiced and less often understood. In a remarkable scholarly achievement, Daniel P. Mears rectifies this knowledge gap, illuminating what makes our current system 'out-of-control' and offering theoretically informed and evidence-based ideas on how to fix it. Comprehensive in scope and clearly written, this volume should sit on every criminologist's shelf and be assigned in any course that seeks to understand and improve criminal justice.' Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati

    'No one writes more clearly or persuasively about the current state of the criminal justice system than Daniel P. Mears. Out-of-Control Criminal Justice is carefully grounded in a systems approach to the diagnosis of the problem and its solution. Every serious student of the criminal justice system, including practitioners and politicians, should pay careful attention to this work. This book has the potential to be truly transformative.' Scott Decker, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

    'Award-winning writer and criminologist Daniel P. Mears has done it again! In Out-of-Control Criminal Justice, he has given us a piercing, deliberative road-map for taking back our criminal justice system and delivering the crime reduction and justice - and, yes, cost savings - that American citizens expect and politicians and policymakers need to make good on.' Brandon C. Welsh, Professor of Criminology, Northeastern University, Massachusetts and editor of Experimental Criminology: Prospects for Advancing Science and Public Policy

    'Critics are often quick to point out the failures of American criminal justice policy, including mass incarceration, mandatory sentencing, and tough-on-crime judges and prosecutors. Rarely do they direct us to viable solutions. This is where Dan Mears parts company with most. In Out-of-Control Criminal Justice, Mears provides a framework for comprehensive, systemic, evidence-based policy change premised on a systems-focused view of criminal justice. Mears has provided the key missing piece for implementing true, comprehensive change in an extraordinarily complex criminal justice system. The promise of this approach is enhanced public safety, accountability, and cost efficiency. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in fundamental change in the American criminal justice system, including policy analysts, policy makers, practitioners, researchers, criminal justice experts, academics, and students of criminal justice.' William R. Kelly, University of Texas, Austin

    'The book promises a clear outline for criminal justice reform, and it delivers. This book will be widely appreciated by audiences in sociology, criminology, public policy, and social work. Students of criminal justice and social policy will want to read the entire book. It is impressive in its scope and brings much to bear on social inequality beyond criminal justice.' Jessica T. Simes, Contemporary Sociology

    'It is Mears's emphatic call for more openness and cooperation among practitioners, researchers, and everyone else impacted by the criminal justice system that makes this book an invaluable resource for criminal justice reform and the SIS a viable approach to consider when addressing current system failures.' Doris Schartmueller, Rutgers

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316614044
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: out-of-control criminal justice
    2. Systems problems are not specific to crime and justice
    3. What is a system?
    4. The criminal justice system
    5. The systems improvement solution for safety, justice, accountability, and efficiency
    6. Benefits of the systems improvement solution and pitfalls to avoid in implementing it
    7. Conclusion: criminal justice under control.

  • Author

    Daniel P. Mears, Florida State University
    Daniel P. Mears is the Mark C. Stafford Professor of Criminology at Florida State University. He has published widely, including over 100 articles and two books, including the award-winning book, American Criminal Justice Policy (Cambridge, 2010). His research studies and federally funded projects have examined a diverse range of crime and justice issues. And his views have been cited in such media outlets as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Previously, he served as a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center and as a Peace Corps Volunteer and a program counselor working with adolescents.


    • Winner, 2019 ACJS Outstanding Book Award, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

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