If punishments for wrongdoing are sporadic and delayed, increasing severity has only modest impact. That's why quintupling the prison and jail population has failed to get us back to the crime rates of the early 1960s. So says public policy Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman of UCLA in When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment, from Princeton University Press this summer. An excerpt appears in the current Washington Monthly.
Kleiman urges focusing on probation reform, taking a close look at Hawaii’s HOPE program (Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement), previously described in Crime & Justice News. Says Kleiman: “It is mandatory, not voluntary. It targets the most challenging offenders and is open to any probationer whatever his previous criminal record. Where drug court aims to get the offender into treatment, HOPE's punishments and rewards are all designed around the objective of actually stopping offenders from using illegal drugs.”