Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Call: Continuity and change in criminal justice reform

 (We share the following Call for Abstracts. The deadline is 5 March 2021.)

Howard Journal of Crime & Justice

Special Issue Call for Abstracts

Path Dependencies and Criminal Justice Reform: 

Investigating Continuity and Change across Historical Time

Thomas Guiney (Oxford Brookes University), Ashley Rubin (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa) and Henry Yeomans (University of Leeds) have been invited to submit a proposal to the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice for a special issue on "Path Dependencies and Criminal Justice Reform."

For as long as there has been criminal justice there have been calls for its reform. Few areas of public policy invite greater scrutiny of practical effectiveness and the contestability of fundamental liberal democratic principles, such as legitimacy, justice, authority and human rights. And yet, despite an almost constant reform narrative, recent events – the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to defund the police, the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing challenge of reversing the momentum towards mass incarceration – offer a potent reminder of how difficult it can be to alter the central institutions of the criminal justice systems.

This special issue will reflect upon the dynamics of criminal justice reform. In particular we are keen to explore the theoretical potential of "path dependency" to explain the complex picture of institutional stability, incremental reform, and occasional periods of rapid policy change that we see in so many criminal justice settings across time and place.

Potential topics for proposed papers may include one or more of the following themes:

Path dependence, continuity and institutional stability: Why do some institutions and processes possess a "stickiness" that enables them to consistently resist significant change? Why is there so little appetite or opportunity for innovation, reform or radical departures within some spheres of criminal justice? What are the mechanisms that enable some criminal justice institutions to stay the course despite calls for reform?

Path dependence and policy change: How do we account for policy change within path dependent structures? How do the conditions for policy radicalism emerge within institutionally dense policy spheres (e.g. criminal justice)? Why do path dependent processes breakdown during critical junctures and moments of punctuated equilibrium, and what factors best explain these fleeting policy windows?

Path dependency, structure and agency: What role does agency play in the initiation of path dependent processes and their later reproduction? How do individuals (e.g. policy entrepreneurs, penal reformers and activist criminologists) interpret, navigate and exploit path dependent conditions in the pursuit of their strategic objectives? What role do ideas and culture play in the development and reimagining of criminal justice reform narratives?

Path dependence and criminology: While theories of path dependence are often applied to institutional change and stasis, what other elements of criminology can benefit from a path dependence perspective? What are the benefits and limitations of combining path dependence analyses with theories of criminality and criminalization? How well does path dependence theory scale across individual, organizational, and institutional units of analysis? What are the implications of such intellectual projects for criminal justice reform?

We are keen to receive submissions that provide either theoretical explorations of path dependency, careful empirical applications of path dependent approaches to the study of criminal justice reform, or both.

We invite submissions that concern a broad range of criminological topics including, but not limited to policing, prosecution and penology as well as broader regulatory responses to crime and deviance. We particularly welcome submissions from scholars working in or on the Global South.

Indicative Timeline

Deadline for abstracts: 5th March 2021.

Please submit your abstract (300 words maximum) and short biography (100 words maximum) to the Guest Editors: Dr Thomas Guiney (tguiney@brookes.ac.uk), Dr Ashley Rubin (atrubin@hawaii.edu) and Dr Henry Yeomans (h.p.yeomans@leeds.ac.uk)

Guest Editors select abstracts and invite full submissions by 6 April 2021.

Working papers are submitted for review symposium by 8 October 2021.

Review symposium (all papers circulated in advance): November 2021 (Date TBC).

Full papers submitted for the journal’s regular peer review process by 11 February 2022.

Publication of Special Issue: by Spring 2023.

--posted by Mitra Sharafi