fbpx The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management | Harvard Kennedy School

Looking for a Harvard course on crime and punishment? The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management compiles an annual course guide as an introduction to the wide variety of Harvard courses that may be relevant to students interested in criminal legal system reform and policy.  

Click here for an updated Spring 2023 course guide.

New Report: Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have released a new major report, Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice: Science, Practice, and Policy. Edited by Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Bruce Western, the report "synthesizes the evidence on community-based solutions, noncriminal policy interventions, and criminal justice reforms, charting a path toward the reduction of racial inequalities by minimizing harm in ways that also improve community safety.”

Myths abound about what public safety is and how it is achieved. These myths have been the basis of efforts toward mass incarceration, aided in the destruction of lives and communities, and fed huge racial disparities all the while, research shows, making the public less safe. Through discussions about both lived experience and innovative research, we hope to guide policymakers, practitioners, advocates, researchers, and community members in envisioning new practices, procedures, and policies that will bring about safe and thriving communities for all. Recordings from the fall speaker series are available here.


"Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Social Costs of Pretrial Electronic Monitoring in San Francisco," a new paper by Sandra Susan Smith & Cierra Robson, examines the harms of pretrial electronic monitoring.


New research by Yanilda González and Lindsay Mayka looks at the  mechanisms through which democratic participation can reproduce, rather than ameliorate, inequality in citizenship and policing.


Arnold Ventures has published a new discussion paper by Sandra Susan Smith that looks at the evidence that pretrial release does not increase crime and actually increases public safety.


Chris Winship's chapter in The New Pragmatist Sociology looks at the partnership between Boston police and Black clergy during a period of rising gun violence in Boston.


Felix Owusu examines the Suffolk County DA misdemeanor declination and diversion policy which significantly reduced prosecution rates with no increase in recidivism.


"How the Shift Toward Presumptive Nonprosecution of Misdemeanor Offenses Affects Racial Disparities in Current and Future Penal System Outcomes."


New policy brief by Chris Herring and Sandra Susan Smith hopes to inform policies aimed at increasing employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals.


Rob Sampson argues that a neighborhood’s well-being depends  on the conditions of neighborhoods that its residents visit and are visited by.


Isabella Jorgensen and Sandra Susan Smith provide key considerations for jurisdictions interested in implementing bail reforms.


This policy brief  highlights some promising paths forward for decriminalization that also lead to reductions in racial disparities. 


This new study by Joscha Legewie and Nino José Cricco explores the consequences of policing for the educational outcomes of minority youth.


New research by Will Dobbie and colleagues looks at the pathways of racial disparities in judicial bail decisions.


New research by Sharad Goel analyzing driving data in 10 major US cities shows that speeding enforcement was more concentrated in non-White neighborhoods.


"No Justice, No Pleas: Subverting Mass Incarceration Through Defendant Collective Action" by Andrew Manuel Crespo takes a look at "plea bargain unions" as an act of resistance that could upend the system of coercive plea bargaining.

News and Commentary

Harvard Names Three New University Professors
The Harvard Gazette, November 28, 2022
Featured: Robert J. Sampson

Harvard Law School Graduates Discuss Careers in Death Penalty Defense
The Harvard Crimson, November 16, 2022
Featured: Carol Steiker

Creating justice in real time: The campaign for Callie House
HKS Policy Topic, November 16, 2022
Featured: Cornell William Brooks

Government can minimize racial inequality in criminal justice by reducing police stops, detention, and long sentences
Phys.org, November 15, 2022
Featured: Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Bail Reform
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), October 30, 2022
Cited: Research by Sandra Susan Smith and Isabella Jorgensen

We Need a New Paradigm to Halt the Unprecedented Growth of Electronic Monitoring
Truthout, October 24, 2022
Cited: Research by Sandra Susan Smith and Cierra Robson

Police stop Black drivers more often than Whites. We found out why.
The Washington Post, September 15, 2022
Analysis by Johann Gaebler, William Cai and Sharad Goel

More News and Commentary

The Roundtable brings together leaders from across the Commonwealth, including community organizers, social/racial justice organizers, academics/researchers, policymakers, criminal legal system agency heads, and judges. The overall goal of the Roundtable is to profoundly influence future policies, practices, and procedures in Massachusetts that will help to eradicate sources of racial inequities and resulting disparities in the courts. 

We are excited to announce the 2022 recipients of Program in Criminal Justice Graduate Student Research Grants. The award process was open to PhD candidates from any of the units on Harvard’s campus conducting research to address questions related to the criminal legal system. The grantees are Nicolette Bardele, DeAnza Cook and Chika Okafor.

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