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Confine the Worst and Manage the Rest: Considering a Shift in Criminal Justice Spending

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2011
2 pages
Publication Series
This article from the December 2011 issue of Corrections Today discusses costs of criminal justice policies that place a greater emphasis on putting offenders in prison.
This article examines the shifts in criminal justice policy away from those that place a greater emphasis on putting offenders in prison and towards those that use preventive policing techniques. The author notes that current research has shown that certainty-based sanctions have a more positive effect on reducing and preventing crime than do severity-based sanctions. Research has shown that the use of deterrence-based policing can deter crime not only at high-risk locations but among high-risk individuals as well. This in turn can lead to reduced overall rates of crime and imprisonment. It is noted that use of deterrence-based policies should be tailored to specific jurisdictions and localities. The author also examines the problems associated with the use of severity-based sanctions for reducing crime rates. Research in this area has shown that the use of imprisonment may actually increase an individual's risk of criminal offending, leading to increased hostility and resentment towards society as a whole. Finally, the author discusses the positive benefits derived from the use of actuarial risk assessments and noncustodial sentences for certain types of offenders. 5 endnotes

Date Published: December 1, 2011