The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-to-3 decision in June that fleeing the police in a vehicle could be a violent felony, and could also lead to 15-year prison terms for offenders. The court came to this ruling after vigorously debating research by Cynthia Lum, a member of the Criminology, Law and Society faculty, and George Fachner, MA '09, Criminology, Law and Society.
Lum and Fachner developed the research, "Police Pursuits In An Age Of Innovation And Reform," at George Mason University in 2008 and produced the report for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring, and Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, dissenting, referenced the report, which reviewed research and data on police pursuits.
The court majority found that fleeing police meets the guidelines of what can be considered a felony, namely, the potential risk of serious, physical injury.
Fachner is currently a research analyst for the non-profit research organization CNA, where he continues to conduct research on law enforcement and public safety issues for the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, among other federal, state, and local entities.
Lum is the deputy director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at Mason.
July 14, 2011