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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, often fascinating, but easy to put down, February 23, 2010
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This review is from: When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Hardcover)
Kleiman is a brilliant analyst, with seemingly no pre-conceived notions. Both liberals and conservatives will find lots to agree with and lots to challenge their current thinking. Much of the book is very interesting, but the one problem is that many of the policy discussions are just too detailed for the general reader.

More incarceration has helped bring the crime rate down, but at a great cost to society as well as the prisoners and their families. Sentencing must attempt to identify those offenders with the most potential for future crime, and give them longer sentences. To this end, even juvenile criminal history should be considered in sentencing, whereas currently it is not. If parole were more effective, more prisoners could be released without driving up the crime rate too much (or maybe not at all). While simply increasing parole supervision has had poor results, the H.O.P.E. pilot implementation in Hawaii shows smarter parole management can work: consequences for parole violations need not necessarily be severe, and should not be severe for minor violations, but they must be certain, and immediate; e.g. Honolulu tested for drug violations on the spot (rather than sending out the sample). Ankle bracelets providing location, and restrictions on movement, could be applied when there is some parole violation. Drug programs tend not to be cost effective, and should therefore be voluntary, which would increase the benefits per dollar spent. Many addicts cure themselves of clinical dependency (does this include participation in free programs like N.A. and A.A., Kleiman does not make this clear).

The effectiveness of incarceration as a deterrent depends less on the severity than it does on the certainty, and immediacy. In Philadelphia the new DA has vowed to fix the bail system, because "defendants had learned to "defeat the system" by failing to show up for court, wearing down witnesses and causing cases to collapse in large numbers each year". [...]

The "broken window" theory of crime control (don't tolerate minor infractions) works because it enhances perceptions of a strong police presence and encourages neighborhood cooperation. The type of drug dealing it is most important to control are public markets, not only because of perceptions, but because dealers out in the open invite violence for control of territory, and tend to be more violent themselves than the discreet dealer. Gangs should know that violence by some of their members will result in more police attention and enforcement against the entire gang for even minor offenses.

While social programs in general may not be cost effective if measured only by their impact on crime, some may be, or come close: home visits to expectant mothers, outreach to the mentally ill, and reduction in child exposure to lead. Higher taxes on alcohol would reduce crime.
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Location: philadelphia, pa United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 12,304