Criminal Justice Practice and Policy Institute

The Criminal Justice Practice and Policy Institute at American University Washington College of Law seeks to study and improve the practice of criminal law and justice.

Much of the work of the Institute is aimed at law reform, whether changing the law on the books or altering the policies and behaviors that impact the criminal justice system.

Practice broadly includes the on-the-ground efforts of all criminal justice system participants – police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, legislators, lobbyists, non-governmental institutions, and grassroots change agents who work domestically or internationally, locally or federally. Their work may involve street crime, white collar crime, terrorism, international criminal justice institutions, or public corruption. Understanding how they operate and how they can do better is necessarily an interdisciplinary project. Therefore, the Institute promotes research involving social scientists, neuroscientists, and humanists, as well as law professors.

Public support is also needed to accomplish certain changes in the justice system, yet the public is too often misguided about the nature of the criminal justice system. The Institute will reach out to media outlets, high schools, colleges, and citizens’ groups in an effort to better inform the public.

Three values guide the Institute's work:

  • Encouraging effective voice by everyone with a stake in the system.
  • Fostering individual and inter-group equality.
  • Promoting systemic accuracy and procedural rights.

For more information about the Institute, please contact Professor Ira Robbins: robbins@wcl.american.edu.