Expert: Punishment Serves Function, Must Be Proportional


St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario comments on the report cited last week by Crime & Justice News in which nine criminologists, including Joshua Page of the University of Minnesota argue the the U.S. could save $20 billion annually and possibly reduce crime in the process by locking up fewer people. Noting that more than half of annual admissions to state prisons involve parole or probation violators, the report says, “For those that suggest that by incarcerating people for non-felony crimes or noncompliance with the terms of probation or parole we are preventing more serious crimes to occur, there is no scientific data to support such a claim.’

“I understand fully well that if you do the crime, you do the time,” said Page, who is directing a study on the reintegration of juvenile offenders into society. “Punishment can serve as a positive social function,” he said. “But that punishment should be proportional to what the offender did.” Rosario notes that he never has seen a “politician or key policymaker risk re-election or reappointment by arguing that we need fewer offenders locked up.” Says Page: “we are not political hacks. We don’t work for a lobby group. We do believe we have perspective, though. We are trying to be as public as we can be about what’s going on and what needs change.”


Comments are closed.