Crime Response Strategies Must Change, Experts Say

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“America’s crime response strategies of the past three decades will have to change,” Henry Ruth and Kevin R. Reitz delare in a significant new book on anticrime policy. In “The Challenge of Crime,” the authors base their conclusion mainly on two trends: terrorism threats’ taking resources from traditional law enforcement, and economic downturns that mean fewer jobs for the many thousands of former offenders on the streets.

Ruth and Reitz call for more crime prevention programs and a wider sweep of response to crime beyond the justice system to embrace both community and private-sector efforts. They also support more research on effective anticrime techniques. One specific step they advocate: combining the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ victimization survey in a research organization outside the Justice Department.

On specific subjects, the authors urge a focus on “crime gun regulation” rather than a broad debate over the “meaningless” phrase gun control. They support a “national audit of incarceration policy” that would examine the costs and benefits of confinement, by offender types. They propose a 12-step approach to reforming policy on drugs and alcohol. On juvenile crime, “the single most important recommendation…is the call for greater investment and investigation in early prevention.” Taking effective actions now instead of concentrating on “short-time-horizon politics,” say Ruth and Reitz, will do the most good in the long run for victims and offenders, their respective families and the community.

Their book provides an excellent explanation and summary of current research on crime subjects.


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