Translational Criminology: Research and Public Policy

The purpose of this study is to better understand how research is translated into criminal justice policy. Historically, criminal justice policy has been largely influenced by ideology, public opinion and media coverage of isolated but powerfully stirring incidents. In addition, our understanding of how research evidence is used to shape policymakers’ assessments of social problems and potential solutions is limited. We are conducting a theory driven case study to test and describe the knowledge translation process in the field of criminal justice, specifically examining the translation of knowledge and use of research evidence by Florida’s state-level decision makers in the field of juvenile and adult corrections. The case study involves gathering, analyzing and triangulating data from multiple sources including interviews with state-level decisions makers, observations of public hearings and a review of relevant policies and documents. The study is guided by the following goals:

  1. Identify the mechanisms for the translation of knowledge that are most commonly used by Florida’s criminal justice policymakers to inform their decision making.
  2. Describe the process of how research knowledge is translated into policy.
  3. Identify the non-research based factors that influence the translation of knowledge into policy.
  4. Assess the impact or level of influence that formal researcher-practitioner partnerships have on policy development.
  5. Identify strategies to improve the use of research evidence in state-level policy development and criminal justice decision making.


Principal Investigator: George Pesta, Ph.D.

Graduate Student: Javier Ramos and Andrew Ranson

Dates: 2015 – 2015

Funding Agency: National Institute of Justice

Funding Amount: $58,545