I’m delighted to report that my colleague Prof. Mark Kleiman — one of the leading criminal justice policy scholars in the country — will be guest-blogging next week about his new book, When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton University Press, 2009). Readers of this blog and of Prof. Kleiman’s doubtless realize that he and I differ on many things, but I’ve long admired his work, and think our readers will find it very interesting. Here’s his paragraph-long summary of the book:
We have too much crime and vastly too many people behind bars. Is it possible to have less of both? Yes, if the criminal justice system can learn what everyone who has ever successfully raised a child or trained a puppy knows: the right amount of punishment is the minimum that gets the message across, and that minimum effective dose is smaller if rules are clearly communicated and if punishments follow violations swiftly and predictably. There are now working examples of successful strategies based on these principles, but the political and journalistic debate about crime has yet to catch up to progress on the ground. Doing things we already know how to do, we could have half as much crime and half as many people in prison ten years from now as we have today.