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Why is criminal justice reform so difficult? Lessons from historical and international comparative research

  • Date: 4 May 2023

  • Location: Online

Online booking for this event has now closed. If you wish to attend the event and haven’t yet RSVP’d please email

The Howard Journal for Crime and Justice are pleased to present their event – ‘Why is criminal justice reform so difficult? Lessons from historical and international comparative research’ – Thursday 4 May, 5pm to 6pm.

This online event will bring together the guest editors and contributors to a recent special issue of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice to reflect upon the challenges and opportunities of criminal justice 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, than criminal justice. And yet, despite a longstanding 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 system.

Chaired by Professor Ian Loader, Editor-in-Chief of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, the guest editors and contributors to this special issue will reflect upon the theoretical potential of ‘path dependence’ 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.

Specifically, speakers will draw upon a wide-range of historical and international examples of policy and practice to explore: the ‘stickiness’ of existing criminal justice arrangements and obstacles to policy radicalism; the importance of policy windows and how policy entrepreneurs, penal reformers and activist compete to frame these moments of opportunity; the prospects for progressive reform in a broadly punitive climate.

The event will be chaired by Editor-in-Chief of the Howard Journal Ian Loader, and speakers will include:

  • Ashley Rubin, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
  • Henry Yeomans, Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Leeds.
  • Nadejda Burciu is State Secretary in the Moldovan Ministry of Justice.
  • Nicola Kaufman is Associate Professor of Sociology at Ohio University.
  • Ron Dudai is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University.
  • Thomas Guiney, Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham

This event will be recorded, so if you’d like to receive this after the event please RSVP as normal and you’ll receive the link when ready.

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