Linda’s topic idea. I just read a book on how to improve criminal justice policy, along with a lengthy special report in one of my better political magazines on the same subject.
The main gist of both is that our system focuses on the wrong goal and a false choice concerning the tools we use to try to prevent crime. The wrong goal is punishment for its own sake, as if overstuffed prisons were the social good that we should be maximizing. The objective really should be less crime and safer neighborhoods, however we can best achieve that. From what I’ve read, everybody pretty much thinks we’ve reached the practical and moral end of mass incarceration as “the” solution to crime.
The false choice (kind of) is between the two aspects of our topic: Punishment and “rehabilitation.” It’s not that we don’t face that choice. We do. But, that makes it sound simpler than it is (“lock them all up” versus “coddle them”), a subject I hope we can get into.
Linda, do you want me to give as brief opening on the topic, or do you want to do it?
LINKS — (some good ones)
- Major review of mass incarceration and crime control policy in this month’s American Prospect Magazine. Go to the link and click on the “contents” tab at the bottom to access all nine articles by title. I’d prioritize these two:
- “Smarter Punishment, Less Crime” (p A-4)
- “Permanent Lockdown” (p. A-16
- Two others, “The New Jim Crow” (A-19), and “Indefensible” on the public defender system, are also fascinating.
- Facts About Prisons and Prisoners.
- Long report which I’ve not read, pdf, on California’s prison disaster.
- UPDATE: Why do we have by far the highest incarcaration rate in the world?
- FYI, the book I read, When Brute Force Fails: How To Have Less Crime And Less Punishment.