Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Part II: The Crime Report examines policing

This is the second in a regular series of posts derived from Ted Gest's article Crime and Justice Trends in America: How We Got Here; Where We Go Next on cutting edge evidence-based crime fighting practices posted at The Crime Report.

Lawrence Sherman, Cambridge University and University of Maryland

Sherman analyzed policing in terms of three functions: predicting crime, preventing it, and detecting it. There is a historic divide between police who "think fast," using their personal experience to make "split-second decisions," and what Sherman calls a more skeptical view that urges police to think more slowly, relying more on scientific-based evidence.

Sherman said it is a challenge to distinguish decisions that can be based on one officer’s experience from the kind that require the far greater experience of corporate data. He urged a strategy of improving the results of police decisions.

The goal, he said, should be to increase the value added by police to building a safer society, "using fairer procedures, under a rule of law and democratic control."

His vision would send far fewer people to prison, with far more offenders supervised by police in community-based diversion from prosecution. Sherman outlined a plan for "restorative policing" to achieve remorse, repentance and reintegration, often with reconciliation and restitution.

He argued that "the evidence suggests that diversion to restorative justice will greatly increase the odds that an arrested offender will be held accountable," when compared to criminal prosecutions---in which cases are dismissed at a high rate for lack of evidence and defendants fail to appear.

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