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Reflections on Frank Remington, the ABF Survey, and the Wisconsin Law School



Reflections on Frank Remington, the ABF Survey, and the Wisconsin Law School




This paper is about the significance and impact of Frank Remington and Herman Goldstein’s research on criminal justice administration flowing from the large American Bar Foundation project on the administration of national justice in the 1950’s (funded by the Ford Foundation). The focus of the project was revolutionary for its time: a study of the discretion exercised by public officials at every stage of the criminal justice system: police, prosecutors, bail bondsmen, probation officers, lawyers, and judges. The goals of the project, to produce a new type of scholar of criminal law and to improve the administration of justice, were realized across a range of impacts on research, research institutions, and academic disciplines. Impacts on research included five large monographs written by the project staff, major law review articles written by professors who visited Madison and studied the project’s findings, and Goldstein’s pioneering work on problem-oriented policing. Impacts on academic disciplines included the Wisconsin Law School’s criminal justice administration course, Wisconsin’s clinical law programs, the curriculum of the School of Criminology at Berkeley, and the expansion of the focus on criminal law in departments of sociology, criminology, and political science. Impacts on research institutions included the establishment of the School of Criminal Justice Administration at SUNY Albany, the Vera Foundation (later Institute) in New York City, the Police Foundation in Washington DC, the Center for Court Innovation, and the President’s Commission on Crime and Law Enforcement. The Wisconsin work is seen as in the tradition of Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy in regarding the primary purpose of criminal justice system as providing institutions for solving concrete problems and achieving situational justice rather than as the interpretation of rules. In that tradition, the author calls for more research on problem-oriented prosecution and judging in addition to the existing research on policing.

Public Note

This paper was presented in part at the Legal Realist Innovation in the Wisconsin Law School Curriculum 1950-1970: Four Influential Introductory Courses session given at the University of Wisconsin Law School on March 8, 2019.