UC Press is proud to be part of the Association of University Press’s seventh annual University Press Week, whose overall theme this year is #TurnItUP: The university press community amplifies voices, disciplines, and communities. Today’s theme is “The Neighborhood.” We encourage you to visit our fellow university presses blogging today: University of Manitoba PressSyracuse University PressFordham University PressNorthwestern University PressTemple University PressUniversity of Alberta PressUniversity of Washington PressJohns Hopkins University PressOhio State University PressUniversity of Illinois PressRutgers University PressOregon State University PressColumbia University PressUniversity of Georgia Press, and University of Toronto Press

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference from November 11 – 14 in Atlanta. #ASCATL2018 

By Kathleen A. FoxJodi Lane, and Susan F. Turner, authors of Encountering Correctional Populations: A Practical Guide for Researchers

Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum want some variation of criminal justice reform. Liberals aim to dismantle policies that breed racial discrimination, end mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, enhance the transition to reentry among released inmates, and prioritize treatment and rehabilitation for offenders. Conservatives promote a tough-on-crime approach in an effort to maintain truth-in-sentencing, support mandatory minimum sentences, and crack down on drug offenders.

The question is, how will science influence the debate about criminal justice reform?

One way researchers answer questions to inform policy is to leave their offices and see what is really happening in the agencies and facilities that are serving correctional clients. The correctional population – prisoners, jail inmates, incarcerated juveniles, probationers/parolees, and even correctional staff – have a wealth of knowledge that can help scientists inform policies.

But how does one do this kind of research?

Conducting Research with Correctional Populations

Our book provides a step-by-step toolkit for conducting research with those in the correctional system. For those interested in “breaking into” the correctional system, we offer practical advice about gaining access and building rapport with correctional populations, the types of data that can be collected, research ethics, and the logistics of doing research with correctional populations. While many criminologists study offenders, offending, and its consequences, fewer actually journey into the correctional world. Over the years, we have been actively involved in research with offenders and the people who attempt to control them through the correctional system. Along the way, we have learned for ourselves many valuable – and sometimes painful – lessons. Sometimes we learned them through trial and error and other times we learned from researchers more experienced than we were. These are the kind of lessons that are generally absent from textbooks and graduate-level courses – the kind of lessons (or stories) that are often shared among scholars after hours over coffee or cocktails. The purpose of Encountering Correctional Populations is to share our lessons in the hopes of equipping others with the knowledge we have accumulated in our experiences. We hope this book will share strategies for overcoming hurdles to this type of research and, in turn, fuel excitement for new projects.

Attend the author meets critic session on Thursday, November 15, 3:30 – 4:50pm, Marriott, A702, Atrium Level

And visit Booth # 24 to see a copy of the book as well as other titles for course adoption consideration.