Laurie O. Robinson

Laurie O. Robinson

Laurie O. Robinson

Clarence J. Robinson Professor

Crime and public policy, federal role in supporting translational criminology and criminal justice innovation, policing, public management and strategic leadership in criminal justice

Laurie Robinson serves as the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and has been involved in national criminal justice policy for more than three decades.  Reflecting that ongoing engagement, she was named by President Obama in 2014 to co-chair the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, set up to develop recommendations in the wake of Ferguson on ways to build greater trust between law enforcement and citizens.  She was also appointed in 2014 to a Congressionally created body, the Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, charged with examining crowding in the federal prison system, and was named in 2016 to an independent commission in New York City to explore the potential for closing the city's jail complex on Riker's Island.  More recently, she was named Chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Criminal Justice, a new national bipartisan think tank and invitational membership organization created to advance understanding of the criminal justice policy challenges facing the nation and build consensus for solutions based on facts, evidence, and principles of justice.

Robinson twice served as a Senate-confirmed, Presidentially-appointed Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, the research, statistics and criminal justice assistance arm of the Department. Her three years of service in the Obama Administration, coupled with seven years in the Clinton Administration, make her the longest serving head of the agency in its 45-year history. Robinson’s recent tenure heading the $2.5 billion agency was marked by a focus on science: She set up a Science Advisory Board, launched an initiative to better integrate evidence into OJP’s programs, and created a “what works" clearinghouse for the criminal justice field.  Between her stints at DOJ, Robinson directed the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Science Program in Criminology and served as a Distinguished Senior Scholar in Penn’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology.

During her first tenure at DOJ in the 1990s, she led the federal government’s engagement with states and localities on community-based crime control. Her agency’s annual budget grew from $800 million in 1993 to over $4 billion in 2000 and she oversaw the largest increase in federal spending on crime-related research in the nation’s history.  She also spearheaded major federal initiatives on violence against women, drug treatment courts, and law enforcement technology.  She has frequently testified before Congress and has also served on a number of national boards, including those of the Vera Institute of Justice (which she chaired from 2006 to 2009) and the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), a non-profit think tank.  Robinson also served for six years as co-chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)'s Research Advisory Committee and currently serves as a member of the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS).

Selected Publications

Robinson, L., “Five Years after Ferguson: Reflecting on Police Reform and What’s Ahead,” ANNALS, AAPSS, 687. January 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0002716219887372.

Robinson, L., “Policing in the U.S.: From the Kerner Legacy Looking Forward,” in Fred Harris and Alan Curtis (eds.), Healing our Divided Society – Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report. Temple University Press. (2018).

Robinson, L., Ramsey C. The Future of Policing Reform: The Way Forward? Public Administration Review, Vol. 77, Iss. 2. March/April 2017. DOI: 10.111/puar.12736.

Lum, C., Koper, C., Gill, C., Hibdon J., Telep, C., & Robinson, L. An Evidence-Assessment of the Recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Implementation and Research Priorities. Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police. (2016).

Robinson, L. & Abt, T., “Evidence-informed Criminal Justice Policy: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” in Thomas Blomberg, Julie Mestre Brancale, Kevin Beaver and William Bales, (eds.), Advancing Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy. Routledge. (2016)

Davis, E. & Robinson, L., "Modeling Successful Research-Practitioner Partnerships," Translational Criminology (Fall, 2014).

Robinson, L., "An Introduction to Fidelity," Advancing Practice (May 2014).

Braga, A., Robinson, L., & Davis, E., "Encouraging a Broader Set of Criminologists to Form Research Partnerships with Police Departments," The Criminologist, Vol. 38, No. 4 (July/August 2013).

Robinson, L., "Bridging the Gap between Science and Criminal Justice Policy: The Federal Role," Translational Criminology (Spring 2013).

Robinson, L., "Federal Leaders: Larger Role on Reentry," Advancing Practice (April 2013). 

Robinson, L., Foreword to From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy and Prevention.  Loeber, Rolf, and Farrington, David, eds.  New York: Oxford University Press (2012).

Robinson, L., "Bringing Science to the Forefront of Criminal Justice Policy," The Criminologist," Vol. 37, No. 2 (March/April 2012). 

Robinson, L., "Exploring Certainty and Severity: Perspectives from a Federal Perch," Criminology and Public Policy, Vol. 10, Issue 1 (February 2011).

Robinson, L., “Restoring Federal Leadership on Crime Policy,” Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 20, No. 5 (June, 2008).

Robinson, L., “Commentary on McCoy -- Problem-Solving Courts,” American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 40., No. 4 (Fall, 2003).

Robinson, L., “Sex Offender Management: The Public Policy Challenges,” in Robert A. Prentky, Eric S. Janus, Michael C. Seto, (Eds.), Sexually Coercive Behavior: Understanding and Management, Ann. NY. Acad. Sci., Vol. 989 (2003). 



Courses Taught

CRIM 517   Research Practicum in Justice Policy and Practice

HNRS 353   Effective Responses to Crime: Policies & Strategies