Kleiman on Crime and Punishment

Remind your fiscally conservative politician that all these have severe public costs:

  • Crime
  • Prison cells
  • Disease spread in overcrowded prisons
  • Reduced number of working citizens
  • Broken families and lack of role models
  • Public fear of victimization

Evidence shows we can have a criminal justice system that actually convinces most criminals to give up crime while handing out far shorter and fewer jail and prison sentences, and without spending more money. Mark Kleiman’s new book shows how it can be done, and here’s to hoping smart-on-crime may someday overtake the dumb tough-on-crime rhetoric that got us into this terrible mess.

I highly recommend watching Mark’s recent talk on the subject. Here’s a summary:

Since the 1960s, the U.S. prison population has increased fivefold. Prisons today hold one inmate for every one hundred adults — a record rate in American history, and one unmatched by any other country. But despite the high prison population, crime has stopped falling. Punishments can seem random in their severity and implementation, minorities and the poor still disproportionately become victims and inmates, and enforcement — particularly of probation and parole — is haphazard. How can crime be controlled? UCLA Public Policy professor Mark Kleiman, author of When Brute Force Fails, visits Zócalo to offer a new strategy for cutting crime, reducing the prison population, and still enacting swift, certain, and fair punishment. [video]

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