I recommend Mark Kleiman’s book, When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment.
Kleiman is a liberal, but it would be best to characterize this book as centrist, or perhaps radical centrist, as it departs from liberal orthodoxies even as it challenges conservative orthodoxies.
The United States imprisons people at a greater rate than any other country, which is kind of amazing in the “land of the free.” Yet there really is a lot of crime in this country–even if you exclude victimless drug offenses–so something has to be done.
Kleiman’s main point is to propose changes to the system of probation, to make it more effective and thereby a legitimate alternative to incarceration. In most states, the probation system is poorly thought out, and doesn’t effectively deter people from further offenses that get them thrown into prison. Kleiman talks about a program in Hawaii that makes probationers know more clearly when their next offense will lead to prison, and this certainty has a deterrent effect–leading to less imprisonment.
Continue reading ‘A Humanistic Approach to Crime’