This is the sixth 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.
Deterrence--Daniel Nagin, Carnegie-Mellon University
Nagin said there is substantial evidence that the certainty of punishment substantially deters criminal behavior.
Measures with this effect include increasing the visibility of the police by hiring more officers and/or allocating existing officers in ways that raise the risk of apprehension, such as “hot spots” policing.
They also include the use of certain, moderate punishments in the form of short periods of incarceration to enforce court-ordered fine payments or conformance with court-ordered conditions of probation or parole.
Nagin also believes there is little evidence that increasing the length of already long prison sentences leads to deterrent effects that are large enough to justify their social and economic costs.
This includes “Three Strikes and You’re Out” and other forms of mandatory minimum sentencing such as life without the possibility of parole. There is little evidence of a specific deterrent effect arising from the experience of imprisonment compared with noncustodial sanctions like probation.
Instead, the evidence suggests that that re-offending is either unaffected or increased. Since policing is relatively more effective as a deterrent than are other parts of the criminal-justice process, police should retain a larger share of declining government budgets, Nagin believes.