Distinguished University Professor John Laub of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is the special guest editor of a new issue of the journal Future of Children entitled “Reducing Justice System Inequality.” Accompanying the volume is a policy brief that focuses on helping children of incarcerated parents and children in foster care.
The policy brief was written by Professor Laub and Ron Haskins, Cabot Family Chair in economic studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, and senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The new issue of Future of Children examines the deeply rooted inequalities that exist in society and that are prevalent in the American criminal justice system. Each author takes stock of the policies, programs, and practices that may reduce those inequalities at each stage of the process, from police stops on the street through sentencing and incarceration. It also examines how schools and foster care contribute to justice system inequality—and how they can help relieve it—as well as how to best help the children of incarcerated parents.
Children with incarcerated parents and children in foster care, who come disproportionately from poor and minority households, face many threats to their healthy development and lifelong wellbeing.
In their policy brief, Laub and Haskins suggest a number of policies that could help these children. For children with incarcerated parents, they call for expanding the use of alternatives to incarceration; making it easier and less traumatic for children to visit their incarcerated parents; and creating school- and community-based programs to help them overcome the challenges they face.
For children in foster care, the authors propose reducing the number of children placed in foster care by keeping them at home more often, and for increasing the quality of foster parents through better training and support.
“Overall, a rigorous system of targeting, testing, and tracking could determine which problems are causing the most harm for these two groups of children,” Laub said. “We must develop and test intervention programs to tackle those problems, and assess the children’s progress.”
About Professor Laub
In addition to his service at UMD, from July 22, 2010 to January 4, 2013, Laub served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice in the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. The position of Director is a presidential appointment with confirmation by the United States Senate. In 1996, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology, in 2002-2003 he served as the President of the American Society of Criminology, and in 2005 he received the Edwin H. Sutherland Award from the American Society of Criminology. In 2015, he was awarded the Thorsten Sellin Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Laub, along with his colleague Robert Sampson, was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2011 for their research on how and why offenders stop offending.
Laub’s areas of research include crime and the life course, crime and public policy, and the history of criminology. He has published widely, including Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life (Harvard University Press, 1993), co-authored with Robert Sampson. With Robert Sampson, he wrote Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70 (Harvard University Press, 2003), which analyzes longitudinal data from a long-term follow-up study of juvenile offenders from a classic study by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck. Both books have won three major awards: The Albert J. Reiss, Jr, Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Crime, Law, and Deviance Section; the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences; and the Michael J. Hindelang Book Award from the American Society of Criminology.