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 is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor Emerita of Criminology, Law and Society.  She joined the CLS faculty in 2012 after more than three decades of involvement in national criminal justice policy.  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 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 New York City commission to explore the potential for closing the city's Riker's Island jail complex.  More recently, she was named Chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Criminal Justice, a new national bipartisan think tank created to advance understanding of the criminal justice policy challenges facing the nation and build consensus for solutions based on facts, evidence, and justice principles.

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 50-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 was founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Criminology Master of Science Program.

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 to over $4 billion 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, the National Police Foundation, and the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA).  Robinson also served for six years as co-chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 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)

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

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).