Futuring Paper – Criminal Justice and Law

James Acker (Criminal Justice)

  1. What forces are shaping your discipline today (learning, work, and professional practice)?
  • Demographics 
    • Age: baby boomers are aging 
    • Immigration
    • Race and Ethnicity
  • Technology
    • Big Data: Availability and use of abundant and interconnected information about individuals 
    • Distance Communications 
    • Cybercrime 
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations
    • As with many other areas, criminal justice and law increasingly are interacting with other disciplines, including medicine, the biological sciences (regarding implications, for example, for human behavior, forensic evidence), public health, social welfare, behavioral economics, immigration, international studies, geography and urban planning, information and technology, and (for law) science, engineering, intellectual property, and patents.
  • Law, Ethics, and Values
    • With rapid advances in technology, internationalization, health, domestic security, terrorism, and other concerns, come significant challenges regarding privacy, individual liberties, the equitable allocation of resources, and many other matters which implicate ethics and value choices. 

2. In 10 years, what forces will shape changes in your discipline?  How will professional practice be affected?

  • Demographics. 
    • Aging baby boomers.  Implications for CRJ/law include provision of health care (to populations including prisoners), health care and social security fraud; victimization of elderly
    • Immigration: Increasing diversification of population and implications re employment and education, cultural norms, enforcement of immigration policies
    • Race and Ethnicity: Continuing concerns about societal and criminal justice for persons of color and implications for formulation and implementation of criminal justice policies
  • Technology
    • Big Data: Industry is ahead of academia.  Need to know how to manage and effectively communicate beyond silos.  Important for CRJ systems: police, corrections, courts, health care, etc. 
    • Distance Communications.  Will affect with whom and how communicate, with tremendous implications for matters ranging from global networking to employment and education. 
    • Cybercrime.  Has begun to displace and can be expected to outpace traditional criminality.  Big implications for cybersecurity, enforcement, prevention, education.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations
    • (See #1, above)
  • Expanding Boundaries and Changing Nature of Crime and Social Control
    • Traditional types and conceptualizations of crime can be expected to change and keep changing.  Changes related to technology will continue to be important.  Increasingly, lines may blur between conventional criminality and acts of terrorism.  Although not new, corporate and environmental crimes may become increasingly important. 
    • Mechanisms of social control may be expected to continue to expand beyond traditional punishment techniques and modes of correction and supervision—e.g., reliance on offender registries and community notification, use of electronic monitoring, involuntary medication, more expansive and/or restrictive civil commitment, etc. 
    • The role of the police and techniques of policing, including the necessity of bolstering legitimacy within communities, may particularly be of continuing and increasing importance, calling further attention to the need for social justice as well as criminal justice. 
  • Law, Ethics, and Values
    • Even if anticipated actions are legal (i.e., we can do them lawfully), questions will continue to arise about whether we should engage in them (values, ethics).
    • Lawyers increasingly will have to know more in addition to legal doctrine.
    • The employment market clearly has not been good recently and in combination with the significant debt incurred by many students pursuing a law degree, has caused applications to law school and law school admissions to decline significantly, particularly for other than top-tier schools.  Projections about prospects for law school enrollment and employment for law school graduates in 10 years are speculative. 

3. What are the implications for your profession, continuous professional development, and teaching and learning?  Specifically, what new opportunities may be created in the future?

  • Demographics
    • Increasing racial, ethnic, class, national origin, gender identity, and age-related diversity among students; corresponding attention to education about law and other subjects related to diversity; increased interest in public and normative impact of research in these areas; increased anxiety among students about career opportunities.
  • Technology
    • Big Data: Important for CRJ systems: police, corrections, courts, health care, etc.  Will have to train people, respond to needs.
    • Distance Communications.  Many different populations available: geographic, age, employed, incarcerated, professionals (police, court administrators, corrections, etc.). 
    • Cybercrime.  Big implications for cybersecurity, enforcement, prevention, education.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations
    • Focus should be on maintaining disciplinary expertise but providing opportunities and incentives to further cross-disciplinary research and educational initiatives.
  • Expanding Boundaries and Changing Nature of Crime and Social Control
    • (See #2, above)
  • Law, Ethics, and Values
    • With rapid advances in technology, internationalization, health, domestic security, terrorism, and other concerns, come significant challenges regarding privacy, individual liberties, the equitable allocation of resources, and other matters which implicate ethics and value choices.

4. How will the future developments and opportunities affect the university—impacted departments or units?  How might UAlbany respond to these within the strategic planning process?

  • Demographics
    • Increasing racial, ethnic, class, national origin, gender identity, and age-related diversity among students; corresponding attention to education about law and other subjects related to diversity; increased interest in public and normative impact of research in these areas.
  • Technology
    • Big Data: (See above. Will have to train people, respond to needs.)
    • Distance Communications.  Implications for on-line education, including the need for first-rate, expert on-line educators.  Far less reliance on traditional geographic catchment areas for students, student recruitment.  Many different populations available: geographic, age, employed, incarcerated, professionals (police, court administrators, corrections, etc.), global.  No need to be wedded to traditional academic semester, degree requirements, etc.: “learning on demand.”  Corresponding changes in need for and use of physical (as opposed to virtual) libraries.
    • Cybercrime.  Implications for cybersecurity and related education.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations
    • Cross-disciplinary initiatives will be increasingly important for securing external funding (e.g., from the Pentagon, the National Institute of Health, from sources currently funding the basic sciences, and from industry such as Apple, Facebook, others).  Units within the University need the wherewithal to reach out to government, business, and industry, alert them to problems and issues they can expect to encounter, and provide related expertise and training.
    • Doctoral education, as well as education for Master’s degree and undergraduate students should consider cross-disciplinary blendings.
    • The University’s physical separation into three campuses (Main, Downtown, Health Sciences) creates special challenges for cross-disciplinary collaborations, as does the University’s physical separation from Albany Law School.  While communications at a distance of course are possible, research suggests that interactive (physical) space significantly facilitates initiating and engaging in collaborative activities.  Strategies should be developed to provide interactive space and otherwise foster collaborations.  Investment of seed funding to highlight and combine trans-disciplinary collaborations should be considered.
  • Expanding Boundaries and Changing Nature of Crime and Social Control
    • Traditional types and conceptualizations of crime can be expected to change and keep changing.  Corresponding changes will be required in education, research, and training. (See above.)
    • For example, consider creating an “institute of public security” that would focus on research and teaching about policing and the regulation and prevention of criminal behavior.
  • Law, Ethics, and Values
    • (See above.)  Criminal justice, for example, could take a leadership position by including a specific emphasis on ethics. The same could be said for law and security-related disciplines.
    • Emphasis should continue to be placed on liberal arts orientation that strengthens students’ critical thinking and writing schools.
    • With the need for lawyers to know more and more in addition to legal doctrine, law school education may increasingly broaden its focus (at the J.D. level as well as at the Master’s degree level (LLM or Master of Science in Legal Studies)) to encompass specializations in additional areas beyond what currently is available at Albany Law School (which offers the MSLS in Government Affairs and Advocacy, Health Care and Health Law Compliance, Social Entrepreneurship, and Cybersecurity and Data Privacy).  Illustrative focal areas include additional aspects of law and technology, the natural and behavioral sciences, forensics, and others.  Opportunities exist for collaboration with Albany Law School to develop additional combined degree and cross-institutional educational opportunities for students and programs at UAlbany, the Law School, and electronically for other students and professionals.
    • Many educational and career opportunities related to law do not require and are not best served by a law school education. Undergraduate and graduate students can also promote interests in law through studies in other disciplines, including political science, public administration, history, criminal justice, sociology, English, public health, and others.  Such interests would be promoted with the development of a program of study (minor or major) at UAlbany encompassing Legal Studies from a broad-based liberal arts perspective.
    • Employment and educational trends suggest all the more reason for UAlbany and Albany Law School to be alert for opportunities to develop creative cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional collaborative programs.