Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure

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Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure

Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure

By Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox

In Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure (Rowman & Littlefield), Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox take a hard look at the challenges of reforming our criminal justice system.  The reluctance of policymakers to talk openly about failure, the authors argue, has stunted the public conversation about crime in this country and stifled new ideas. It has also contributed to our inability to address such problems as chronic offending in low-income neighborhoods, an overreliance on incarceration, the misuse of pretrial detention, and the high rates of recidivism among parolees.

Berman and Fox offer students and policymakers an escape from this fate by writing about failure in the criminal justice system. Their goal is to encourage a more forthright dialogue about criminal justice, one that acknowledges that many new initiatives fail and that no one knows for certain how to reduce crime. For the authors, this is not a source of pessimism, but a call to action.

Along the way, Berman and Fox tell the stories of committed reformers—judges, cops, attorneys, parole officers, researchers, educators, and politicians. For example, they introduce readers to a parole officer who has to make a tough judgment call, a legislator who endures political pressure to rewrite sentencing laws, a judge who attempts a new response to drug offenses despite local resistance, and many others.

Originally published by Urban Institute Press, Trial & Error in Criminal Justice Reform has been re-released in a new edition from Rowman & Littlefield. The revised edition of the book includes an introduction from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. who writes: "The philosopher John Dewey once wrote that understanding things the way they are is the first step in making them different. This book tells us that understanding failure is the first step to creating a fairer and safer community for everyone."

Writing in the Harvard Law Review (129 Harv. L. Rev. 1318), Joan Petersilia and Kathryne M. Young praised the book:

If we want today’s reform efforts to produce fundamental change, we would be well advised to heed Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox’s warnings in their award-winning book, Trial & Error in Criminal Justice Reform. They argue that many previous reform attempts might have been successful if we had stayed the course rather than pulling the plug when instant results failed to materialize. We should expect and plan for serious implementation challenges, commit to a sustained reform agenda, and nurture flexible organizations prepared to learn from failure. In short, by moving at a slower and more deliberate pace, we create a promising path for criminal justice reform in America.

To purchase Trial & Error, go to Amazon.com, Rowman & Littlefield or Barnes & Noble.

Selected Coverage of Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform

Greg Berman discusses failure at the National Institute of Justice in Washington DC.Greg Berman discusses failure at the National Institute of Justice in Washington DC.
















Praise for Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform

"Berman and Fox provide some fascinating examples of large-scale efforts designed to address mammoth crime problems that ultimately failed...For beginning an inquiry into criminal justice failure, Berman and Fox are to be commended."
– Criminal Justice Review

"In Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox tell interesting and instructive stories about criminal justice initiatives and draw lessons from them to help others avoid failure."
Judicature

"Berman and Fox provide interesting and useful thoughts on how we can learn from failure."
Criminal Justice Policy Review

Click on the image above to see Greg Berman discuss criminal justice reform at the Urban Institute.Click on the image above to see Greg Berman discuss criminal justice reform at the Urban Institute.

"An important and engaging book...this is not a dry, academic tome.  The authors know how to tell a good story."
Probation Journal

"A rich and valuable source of new ideas."
Prison Service Journal

"An excellent exploration and assessment of why policies collapse...The honest and straightforward research and writing style enhances the findings...Highly recommended."
Choice
 
"Not only a good read but a must read."
 Bill Bratton, Commissioner, New York Police Department
 
"Peter Drucker would love this book."
 Ira Jackson, Dean, Drucker-Ito Graduate School of Management
 
"By writing honestly about failure, the authors reveal what reform can and cannot achieve."
 Florida Bar Journal

"Criminal justice practitioners are often reluctant to learn from failure. Berman and Fox set out to change that paradigm."
Reference and Research Book News

Honorable Mention
2010 PROSE Award, Law and Legal Studies

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