Pragmatism: Framing Criminal Justice

The Frameworks Institute recently released an e-blast detailing current research on the issue of framing criminal justice reform. Their findings — most of what we use doesn’t work. We should be focusing on pragmatism.The following is from their e-blast:

Criminal Justice Policy Support Greatly Affected by Reframing Strategies, According to Two New FrameWorks Reports
September 11, 2013 – Americans are ready to think about criminal justice reforms if experts and advocates can help them understand where the system is breaking down, how it leads to differential outcomes among groups and how a pragmatic approach could improve its functioning. These are the conclusions from two new research reports conducted by the FrameWorks Institute in partnership with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University with funding from the Ford Foundation, now published at

Contrary to conventional wisdom, FrameWorks found that: (1) most values currently recommended in the field of practice do not elevate support for policy reform, while only the value of Pragmatism – taking a common sense approach to reforms that use proven practices – proved highly effective in doing so; (2) most facts in use among advocates do little to alter Americans’ thinking about criminal justice policy; (3) when facts about racial disparities in the criminal justice system are combined with the value of Pragmatism, support for reform increases on a wide range of policies; (4) newly crafted metaphors of Justice Maze and Justice Gears, emphasizing structural deficiencies in the system, further advance people’s interest in reforms.    
This new research charts a communications strategy that explicitly raises issues of racial disparities and helps people converse about structural problems in the criminal justice system that produce these outcomes.