Somehow I came across a paper by Walter Miller, published in 1973, that examined the role of ideology in criminal justice. I had read the paper some time ago......and then forgot about it. Hey, *hit happens.
There is a line in Miller’s article that is often quoted by criminologists. It goes “Ideology is the permanent hidden agenda of criminal justice.”
Most criminologists use that line as an indictment of others--legislators, cops, judges, and the public. However, they forget or avoid entirely the fact that Miller was also talking about THEM.
Published in 1973..........Miller’s paper is remarkable. He clearly understood the role and function of ideology in society, in the criminal justice system, and in the academy.
But what did he have to say about academic criminologists? Well, let me quote:
......the day-to-day ideological environment of the average academic criminologist....is highly artificial; it reflects the perspectives of a deviant and unrepresentative minority. Academic criminology, reflecting academic social science in general, is substantially oriented to the left, while the bulk of American people are oriented towns the right. Furthermore, the members of the large liberal academic majority do proportionately more writing and speechmaking than those of the small conservative minority, so that their impact on the ideological climate exceeds even their large numbers.
Miller’s paper is a genuine pleasure to read and many of his insights are still relevant today. Indeed, they are on full display across many campuses.
Incidentally, Miller referenced the work of Gunnar Myrdal, who in 1944 published an epic tome titled An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem in Modern Democracy. Miller specifically cited Appendix 2 in the book. Appendix 2 is titled “A Methodological Note on Facts and Valuations in Social Sciences. Myrdal addressed, in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s bias in social science.
I’ve attached Miller’s paper as well as a copy of Myrdal’s book.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology