A book by UCLA public policy Professor Mark Kleiman challenges the traditional basis of American law enforcement that is crime is based on risk and reward: people take only those actions whose benefits exceed their costs. This model says that crime will be deterred if the expected punishment is strong enough – a prediction that has not been borne out in practice, says the New York Times. In his book “When Brute Force Fails,” Kleiman argues that instead of making punishments more severe, the authorities should increase the odds that lawbreakers will be apprehended and punished quickly.
Kleiman suggests that smarter enforcement strategies can make existing budgets go further. The important step, he says, is to view enforcement as a dynamic game in which strategically chosen deterrence policies become self-reinforcing. If offense rates fall enough, a tipping point is reached. And once that happens, even modest enforcement resources can hold offenders in check.