The Division of Experimental Criminology (DEC) was established formally by the Executive Board of the American Society of Criminology in April 2009. Through its work, the Division seeks to advance the development of experimental scholarship within all subject areas, as well as promote the use of evidence-based crime policy. The Academy of Experimental Criminology (AEC) was founded in 1998 by efforts led by Lawrence Sherman and other experimental criminologists.* 

The formation of the DEC was first initiated by leaders within the Academy of Experimental Criminology (AEC) to promote engagement in experimental criminology in ASC, especially among graduate students and younger scholars.

Since its formation, the DEC has worked to advance applied and field research methods, as well as to increase the visibility of experimental and non-experimental evidence.  Today DEC remains the only Division focused on a particular set of methodological approaches, as opposed to a substantive area of research. The DEC seeks to achieve its goals in multiple ways including:  a) a series of activities during the ASC annual meetings and throughout the year, b) posts to social media and the website, c) a newsletter, and as of 2018, d) a mentoring program. The Journal of Experimental Criminology (JoEX), a top-tier academic journal focused on publishing high-quality experimental and quasi-experimental scholarship, is the official journal of the DEC. 

Additionally, DEC recognizes outstanding achievements in experimental criminology through the Jerry Lee Lifetime Achievement Award, the Award for Outstanding Experimental Field Trial, and the Student Paper Award.  AEC similarly recognizes experimentalists through the Joan McCord Award and the Outstanding Young Experimental Criminologist Award.

The DEC and the AEC, though independent entities, continue to work closely together to advance shared goals.  The AEC today primarily serves to recognize scholars who have successfully led randomized controlled field experiments in criminology through their election as Fellows. Fellows are elected annually by a vote of the entire Fellowship upon nomination by any Fellow and are installed at the annual meeting held in conjunction with the DEC events at the ASC annual meeting. 

In 2012, recognizing the value and efficiency of a shared governance, DEC Chair David Weisburd and the AEC President Anthony Braga initiated a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the close relationship between the AEC and the DEC.


* Specifically, following the 2008 ASC Joan McCord Lecture at the American Society of Criminology (ASC) meeting in St. Louis, MO (USA), AEC President and former presidents Lawrence Sherman, David Farrington, David Weisburd, and Doris MacKenzie identified a need for a formalized Division focusing on experimental methodologies that would cross disciplinary boundaries.  Doris MacKenzie circulated a required petition to ASC which led to the establishment of the DEC. At the first meeting, Professor Sherman was elected as first operating chair of the Division.

By 2009, DEC was recognized by ASC as a permanent Division of the ASC, and DEC membership subsequently elected Lawrence Sherman as the inaugural chair.



The DEC Executive Board is comprised of the Division’s current officers, immediate past Chair and three Executive Counselors. The Board forms policies for the Division, provides advice and decides the budget for the Division, and approve committee chairs. The Division Chair will convene the Executive Board.

The Chair:  

  • The Chair will provide executive direction for the Division and will preside over Division meetings.

  • The Chair or their designee will serve as liaison with the ASC Annual Meeting Program to ensure the inclusion of panels relating to issues on corrections and sentencing in the program.

  • The Chair or their designee shall bring issues regarding research using experimental methods, as decided by the Division, to the attention of the ASC Executive Board and to appropriate ASC committees for their consideration.

  • The Chair will appoint all committees and committee chairs, with the approval of the Executive Board.

The Vice-Chair:

  • The Vice-Chair will preside over Division meetings in the absence of the Chair and shall be empowered to conduct all necessary business of the Division if the office of Chair is vacant or if the Chair is unable to serve.

  • The Vice-Chair or their designee will be responsible for assistance to, and oversight of, the Newsletter Committee.


  • The Secretary/Treasurer will keep the records and minutes of the Division.

  • The Secretary/Treasurer will record minutes of each meeting of the Division and will forward a copy to each member of the Executive Committee and the Newsletter Committee Chair for publication in the next issue of the Division newsletter.

  • The Secretary/Treasurer will remain in contact with the Treasurer of ASC who will maintain a separate account in the ASC treasury for the Division. The Secretary will inform Division membership of the Divisions balance, debts, credits, etc. at the Divisions Annual Membership Meeting. The Secretary will notify the Executive Board of any financial issues that arise between Annual Membership Meetings.

Executive Counselors:

  • There will be three Executive Counselors, elected in alternating years.

  • Executive Counselors will assist the Chair with executive decisions for the Division, and each will chair at least one committee of the Division.