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John Roman

John Roman

Senior fellow

The crime rate in America has steadily declined for the past two decades but still remains appallingly high compared to rates in other developed nations. Unfortunately, crime policy is not evidence-based—it is driven by ad hoc reactions to tragic events—and moves generally toward ever-more-serious penalties. We have a large knowledge base of effective anti-crime policies and programs that are cost-effective alternatives to prison; we lack only the political will to implement them.


John Roman is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where his research focuses on evaluations of innovative crime control policies and justice programs. Roman is directing several studies funded by the National Institute of Justice, including two randomized trials of the costs and benefits of using of DNA in motor vehicle thefts and burglary investigations, a study investigating why forensic evidence is rarely used by law enforcement to identify unknown offenders, and a study on wrongful conviction. He is also adapting social impact bonds to public safety reform efforts for the Bureau of Justice Assistance and is evaluating the Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Roman is the coeditor of two books, Cost-Benefit Analysis and Crime Control and Juvenile Drug Courts and Teen Substance Abuse, and the author of dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters. He is also a regular contributor to CityLab and the Huffington Post.

Roman is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and an affiliated professor at Georgetown University.