The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) annual meeting is in full-swing in Kansas City through tomorrow, and the number of panels on policing and issues of community and diversity has never been greater. Despite the adage that academics pay insufficient attention to real world problems, this conference appears to have shattered the ivory tower. In ACJS style, practitioners are hob-nobbing with scholars, and in fact, most here are the quintessential “pracademics.” Although the tensions between practitioner and academic (critical) perspectives remain palpable, there is something comforting in that these two realms are still co-mingling in a field that by definition is an applied one.
President of ACJS, Lorenzo Boyd, of University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, gave an opening address on Wednesday which outlined his vision for a grounded criminal justice academy in which criminal justice recognizes that it must be rooted in social justice. He said, we know the “symbolic assailant” (an urban, black male) and must continue to work toward influencing and affecting a larger system that will move beyond criminalizing blackness and address root causes of crime, such as poverty, homelessness, lack of economic opportunity, and disparities in education, to name a few. It was a refreshingly engaged address, which implored us in the academy to get off our tuffs and make a difference in our communities.