When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment


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When Brute Force Fails: Since the crime explosion of the s, the prison population in the United States has multiplied fivefold, to one prisoner for every hundred adults--a rate unprecedented in American history and unmatched anywhere in the world. Even as the prisoner head count continues to rise, crime has stopped falling, and poor people and minorities still bear the brunt of both crime and Since the crime explosion of the s, the prison population in the United States has multiplied fivefold, to one prisoner for every hundred adults--a rate unprecedented in American history and unmatched anywhere in the world.

Even as the prisoner head count continues to rise, crime has stopped falling, and poor people and minorities still bear the brunt of both crime and punishment. When Brute Force Fails explains how we got into the current trap and how we can get out of it: Mark Kleiman demonstrates that simply locking up more people for lengthier terms is no longer a workable crime-control strategy. But, says Kleiman, there has been a revolution--largely unnoticed by the press--in controlling crime by means other than brute-force incarceration: As Kleiman shows, "zero tolerance" is nonsense: But, it is possible--and essential--to create focused zero tolerance, by clearly specifying the rules and then delivering the promised sanctions every time the rules are broken.

Brute-force crime control has been a costly mistake, both socially and financially. Now that we know how to do better, it would be immoral not to put that knowledge to work. Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about When Brute Force Fails , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about When Brute Force Fails. Lists with This Book. Mar 12, Aaron Gertler rated it it was amazing. Patrick's review says most of what I'd like to say, but in more detail.

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My own short review: Recommended to anyone with an interest in the subject matter, or U. This book seeks to apply our knowledge of economics and psychology to criminal justice policy in the U.

By relying on commonsense principles and well-executed case studies, Kleiman leaves very little room for disagreement. Of course it's absurd that we think "30 years in prison" is Patrick's review says most of what I'd like to say, but in more detail. Of course it's absurd that we think "30 years in prison" is twice as scary as "15 years in prison", or that criminals are calculating the expected value of their crimes before they rob stores or sell drugs.

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Of course it's better to focus our energy on small punishments for small crimes, rather than a few enormous punishments for moderate crimes. And so on, for a few hundred clear and readable pages of polite suggestions. I won't ignore the possibility that I, as a total non-expert, might be missing some key flaw in Kleiman's research.

Book TV: Mark Kleiman, "When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment"

But even if he isn't telling the whole story of criminal-justice policy, he's telling an important part of that story, thoughtfully and with admirable modesty. Despite the subject matter, I couldn't help but smile as I read "When Brute Force Fails" -- it's a masterful example of how to write about controversial issues without overshooting the evidence.

Jun 12, Amber rated it it was amazing. Wonderful, easy-to-read, thought-provoking book about the American criminal justice system, how it has changed during the last 40 years, its current failings, and what to do to fix them. Even-handed, non-partisan analysis of which tactics works and which don't, based on several pilot programs and lots of independent research. Should be required reading for any sociology student. Very sobering on the social justice aspect: Many of his findings wou Wonderful, easy-to-read, thought-provoking book about the American criminal justice system, how it has changed during the last 40 years, its current failings, and what to do to fix them.

Many of his findings would not be expensive to implement, and the research surrounding effective punishment--immediate, but not severe--was both intuitive but something I'd never really thought about. Much to be hopeful about in terms of the effectiveness of probation relative to incarceration. Feb 19, Patrick rated it really liked it. Kleiman is one of the few self-identified centrists who actually seems really centrist to me.

When brute force fails: how to have less crime and less punishment | University College London

Unlike someone like Shermer, he isn't ideologically committed to the idea that liberals and conservatives are equally right and equally wrong. Instead, Kleiman has few ideological commitments, and seeks pragmatic solutions to problems. He agrees with liberal views when the data supports them, and conservative views when the data supports them instead. It's a refreshingly nuanced approach. I'm also thrilled to see science applied to moral questions; I want to see more of this. Kleiman is a professor of public policy, but he's also really a criminologist and a behavioral economist.

He analyzes the problem of crime and incarceration in the United States in behavioral economic terms, asking how much harm crime does and how much it would cost to fix it by various means. His basic methodology is "let's look at the data and see what is most cost-effective, and then do that"; it's pretty hard to disagree with frankly. Ironically, it's also vastly different from the standard approaches, which are bound up in ideological assumptions.

The pragmatic approach does have some flaws, though, as it fails to create a unified vision to follow and risks being reduced to a series of unrelated bullet points. Indeed, the last chapter is literally a list of bullet points, without much to connect them. The closest Kleiman gets to unifying principles are "treat arrests and punishments as costs, not benefits" and "shift the mix of correctional budgets away from prisons to community corrections". Beyond that, he gives a long list of ideas to implement, most of which sound pretty good; but the whole thing doesn't feel like a cohesive vision.

He also has a tendency to qualify his own statements, never making them as forceful as they should be. But we might also wind up with worse-managed jails and hospitals as a result of divided managerial attention. Are we reorganizing hospitals or not? Doing it halfway could well be worse than not doing it at all.

My favorite joke about false compromise is becoming perilously close to reality: The Republicans want to build a pipeline, the Democrats don't, so we'll compromise and build half a pipeline. Most of his suggestions just seem like common sense, which is alas not so common in our political system: A few of his suggestions are notable for being bold in our political climate, yet well supported by the scientific data: In general, I'd like to see some policymakers read this book and apply its suggestions.

As Kleiman himself admits, they might not work; but they might work, and they could offer us the chance to have less crime with fewer people imprisoned and less spent on incarceration. Who could disagree with that? Sep 16, Liam rated it it was amazing. Borrow existing capacity from other areas, offenses, or offenders to concentrate on the chosen target. Once offenders have gotten the message, in the words of the old music-hall song, 'You can't do that there here,' and reduced their level of activity accordingly -- once that original target has been 'tipped' from high offending to "One approach to finding those resources might be called 'dynamic concentration.

Once offenders have gotten the message, in the words of the old music-hall song, 'You can't do that there here,' and reduced their level of activity accordingly -- once that original target has been 'tipped' from high offending to low offending -- the temporary increase in enforcement directed at that sector can be relaxed without letting the target 'tip' back. Severe punishments eat up resources: To do that, Kleiman believes that police need to make specific threats to specific people.

Kleiman cited two examples in which such enforcement worked. In the first instance, a judge in Hawaii wanted a better method for reducing parole violations among drug offenders. Only those who had several violations would ever appear before the judge, who wanted instead to stop the first violation. Anyone who tested positive would go to jail right away. Of the 35, Kleiman reported, fewer than half ever faced sanction.

Of those who did, fewer than half had a second violation. Today, 1, people are in the program, and they are two-thirds less likely to go to prison. In a city in North Carolina, police officers pulled off something similar with specific threats, this time to crack dealers. Officers found the number of dealers to be a mere Four of those left the city, and three were serious, violent criminals — the kind it was worth putting in jail, Kleiman said.

The police quickly captured the 13 dealers selling on video, built cases against them, and called them into the department.

All of them stopped dealing. Tamper-proof ankle bracelets could keep criminals at home for certain hours of the day, doing the work of a prison without costing taxpayers room and board.

When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment

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