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

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

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