When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime (and Less Punishment)

Since the crime explosion of the 1960s, the prison population in the United States has grown fivefold--a rate unprecedented in American history. Is there an alternative to incarceration?

In his new book, When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton University Press, 2009), Mark A. R. Kleiman, director of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Affairs's drug policy analysis program, argues that smarter enforcement strategies are the answer. He makes the case for concentrating resources on the worst offenders, such as gangs that commit the most serious crimes, rather than dispersing those resources evenly among all inner-city gangs. The goal of corrections must be to reduce reoffending, instead of letting most misconduct go unpunished and lashing out occasionally with ferocious punishments, as our probation system does now. Data support the value of imposing swift and certain, but not necessarily severe, punishment as an effective form of behavioral control. For example, strictly monitored, nonviolent drug offenders who receive immediate jail stays for probation violations are significantly less likely to commit new crimes. Such enlightened practices are already underway in a handful of cities across the country, with promising results so far. The new policies are even more cost-effective than existing policies.

At this AEI conference, Mr. Kleiman will present the thesis of his new book. Distinguished experts in domestic drug policy and criminology, Robert L. DuPont, M.D., of the Institute for Behavior and Health and James Q. Wilson of Pepperdine University, will comment on the feasibility and limits of such a strategy. Sally Satel, M.D., a resident scholar at AEI and the staff psychiatrist at the Oasis Drug Treatment Clinic in Washington, D.C. will moderate the discussion.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Sally
Satel

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.