When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment

Princeton University Press
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Since the crime explosion of the 1960s, the prison population in the United States has multiplied fivefold, to one prisoner for every hundred adults--a rate unprecedented in American history and unmatched anywhere in the world. Even as the prisoner head count continues to rise, crime has stopped falling, and poor people and minorities still bear the brunt of both crime and punishment. When Brute Force Fails explains how we got into the current trap and how we can get out of it: to cut both crime and the prison population in half within a decade.

Mark Kleiman demonstrates that simply locking up more people for lengthier terms is no longer a workable crime-control strategy. But, says Kleiman, there has been a revolution--largely unnoticed by the press--in controlling crime by means other than brute-force incarceration: substituting swiftness and certainty of punishment for randomized severity, concentrating enforcement resources rather than dispersing them, communicating specific threats of punishment to specific offenders, and enforcing probation and parole conditions to make community corrections a genuine alternative to incarceration. As Kleiman shows, "zero tolerance" is nonsense: there are always more offenses than there is punishment capacity. But, it is possible--and essential--to create focused zero tolerance, by clearly specifying the rules and then delivering the promised sanctions every time the rules are broken.

Brute-force crime control has been a costly mistake, both socially and financially. Now that we know how to do better, it would be immoral not to put that knowledge to work.

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About the author

Mark A. R. Kleiman is professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results and Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 17, 2009
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781400831265
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Criminal Law / Sentencing
Political Science / Public Policy / General
Social Science / Criminology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Should marijuana be legalized? The latest Gallup poll reports that exactly half of Americans say "yes"; opinion couldn't be more evenly divided. Marijuana is forbidden by international treaties and by national and local laws across the globe. But those laws are under challenge in several countries. In the U.S., there is no short-term prospect for changes in federal law, but sixteen states allow medical use and recent initiatives to legalize production and non-medical use garnered more than 40% support in four states. California's Proposition 19 nearly passed in 2010, and multiple states are expected to consider similar measures in the years to come. The debate and media coverage surrounding Proposition 19 reflected profound confusion, both about the current state of the world and about the likely effects of changes in the law. In addition, not all supporters of "legalization" agree on what it is they want to legalize: Just using marijuana? Growing it? Selling it? Advertising it? If sales are to be legal, what regulations and taxes should apply? Different forms of legalization might have very different results. Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know? will provide readers with a non-partisan primer about the topic, covering everything from the risks and benefits of using marijuana, to describing the current laws around the drug in the U.S. and abroad. The authors discuss the likely costs and benefits of legalization at the state and national levels and walk readers through the "middle ground" of policy options between prohibition and commercialized production. The authors also consider how marijuana legalization could personally impact parents, heavy users, medical users, drug traffickers, and employers. What Everyone Needs to Know? is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.
"Marijuana legalization is a controversial and multifaceted issue that is now the subject of serious debate. Since 2012, four U.S. states have passed ballot initiatives to remove prohibition and legalize a for-profit commercial marijuana industry. Voters in Washington, D.C., took the more limited step of passing an initiative to legalize home production and personal possession. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to experiment with legalization nationwide. In May 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that required the Secretary of Administration to provide a report about the consequences of legalizing marijuana. This report was produced for the Secretary of Administration in response to that legislation. The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. The goal is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition. The principal message of the report is that marijuana policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model we see in Colorado and Washington. Legalization encompasses a wide range of possible regimes, distinguished along at least four dimensions: the kinds of organizations that are allowed to provide the drug, the regulations under which those organizations operate, the nature of the products that can be distributed, and price. These choices could have profound consequences for health and social well-being, as well as job creation and government revenue"--Description del’éditeur.
"Marijuana legalization is a controversial and multifaceted issue that is now the subject of serious debate. Since 2012, four U.S. states have passed ballot initiatives to remove prohibition and legalize a for-profit commercial marijuana industry. Voters in Washington, D.C., took the more limited step of passing an initiative to legalize home production and personal possession. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to experiment with legalization nationwide. In May 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that required the Secretary of Administration to provide a report about the consequences of legalizing marijuana. This report was produced for the Secretary of Administration in response to that legislation. The report does not make a recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. The goal is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of marijuana policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition. The principal message of the report is that marijuana policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model we see in Colorado and Washington. Legalization encompasses a wide range of possible regimes, distinguished along at least four dimensions: the kinds of organizations that are allowed to provide the drug, the regulations under which those organizations operate, the nature of the products that can be distributed, and price. These choices could have profound consequences for health and social well-being, as well as job creation and government revenue"--Description del’éditeur.
While there have always been norms and customs around the use of drugs, explicit public policies--regulations, taxes, and prohibitions--designed to control drug abuse are a more recent phenomenon. Those policies sometimes have terrible side-effects: most prominently the development of criminal enterprises dealing in forbidden (or untaxed) drugs and the use of the profits of drug-dealing to finance insurgency and terrorism. Neither a drug-free world nor a world of free drugs seems to be on offer, leaving citizens and officials to face the age-old problem: What are we going to do about drugs? In Drugs and Drug Policy, three noted authorities survey the subject with exceptional clarity, in this addition to the acclaimed series, What Everyone Needs to Know®. They begin, by defining "drugs," examining how they work in the brain, discussing the nature of addiction, and exploring the damage they do to users. The book moves on to policy, answering questions about legalization, the role of criminal prohibitions, and the relative legal tolerance for alcohol and tobacco. The authors then dissect the illicit trade, from street dealers to the flow of money to the effect of catching kingpins, and show the precise nature of the relationship between drugs and crime. They examine treatment, both its effectiveness and the role of public policy, and discuss the beneficial effects of some abusable substances. Finally they move outward to look at the role of drugs in our foreign policy, their relationship to terrorism, and the ugly politics that surround the issue. Crisp, clear, and comprehensive, this is a handy and up-to-date overview of one of the most pressing topics in today's world. What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.
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