Rosen on crime control

Nice piece in the current New York Times Magazine.

Jeffrey Rosen has a well-researched, well-written, and optimistic essay on the prospects for reinventing criminal justice in this week’s New York Times Magazine.  It starts out with Judge Alm’s HOPE project in Hawaii.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Rosen on crime control”

  1. I'm reading (and enjoying) your book right now and, I have to say, it seems to support even more strongly the idea of "Sentencing as if Budgets Mattered."

    That is, we should stop doing sentencing individually after each conviction; rather, we should wait and, depending on the size & crime rates in the jurisdiction, sentence all the felonies at a regular period — say, once a month (or quarter) — by having a sentencing panel look at all the factors:

    * the incarceration capacity (beds available, projected occupancies/turnover)

    * current and recent crime rates/trends

    * the severity of the current crimes to be sentenced (starting with the most violent/serious ones first) and the sentencing range/guidelines

    * the records of those convicted

    * budget projections

    It seems clear that this sort of sentencing system would far better allow the sort of "concentration" that you talk about (Al vs. Bob vs. Charlie) while allowing for the other factors that must be weighed too.

  2. Fascinating essay, Mark. I'm definitely buying your book on the subject.

    It does seem like a strategy that takes a lot of thought and careful consideration. Can most American police departments be trusted with that?

  3. Sorry, that came out wrong. What I meant is that, "do most police departments have the capability to undertake the study and careful efforts to pin-point and carry out the types of operations necessary to make this work?"

  4. @ Brett: Yes. I work with law enforcement and communities on these projects. With outside support for a year or so to develop the strategic logic, analysis, and information systems necessary, any good police department can (and often does) proceed on its own. Many are now proceeding without even that, as the core logic becomes more widely understood. This stuff isn't that hard once the basics are understood.

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