What’s Wrong With How We Punish Criminals

Mark Kleiman, professor of Public Affairs at the UCLA, talks to ReasonTV about the overriding flaw in the U.S. criminal justice system: it’s “randomized draconianism” — that is, punishments are both too severe, and are applied irregularly, unfairly, randomly, etc., in different cases. For example, get caught violating your drug probation, and most likely nothing will happen, but there’s a small chance you will be hit with a twenty-five-year prison sentence. The solution? Modeling penalties on parenting techniques, in which punishment should be swift and certain, but not cruel or too drastic.

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  • Vox Penii

    “To say that a farm boy knows how to milk a cow is to say that we can send him out to the barn with an empty pail and expect him to return with milk. To say that a criminologist understands crime is not to say that we can send him out with a grant or a law and expect him to return with a lower crime rate. He is more likely to return with a report on why he has not succeeded yet, and including the inevitable need for more money, a larger staff, more sweeping powers, etc. ”

    Thomas Sowell

    • Nobilis

      Are you saying the ideas presented here are wrong?

      Or that they’re not worth trying?

      Are you saying that our system works?

    • Haystack

      Ever try thinking for yourself?

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Speculation
      Speculation
      Speculation

      …and not even from a respected source.

  • Vox Penii

    “To say that a farm boy knows how to milk a cow is to say that we can send him out to the barn with an empty pail and expect him to return with milk. To say that a criminologist understands crime is not to say that we can send him out with a grant or a law and expect him to return with a lower crime rate. He is more likely to return with a report on why he has not succeeded yet, and including the inevitable need for more money, a larger staff, more sweeping powers, etc. ”

    Thomas Sowell

  • justagirl

    i didn’t know einstein was a lawyer!

  • justagirl

    i didn’t know einstein was a lawyer!

  • Nobilis

    5% of the population, 25% of the prisoners.What this man doesn’t mention, is that prisons are a profitable industry with a powerful lobby.http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289It’s not just elected officials (though that’s also a problem) but large corporations have an interest in one of the modern forms that slavery has taken.

  • Anonymous

    5% of the population, 25% of the prisoners.What this man doesn’t mention, is that prisons are a profitable industry with a powerful lobby.http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289It’s not just elected officials (though that’s also a problem) but large corporations have an interest in one of the modern forms that slavery has taken.

  • Anonymous

    Are you saying the ideas presented here are wrong?

    Or that they’re not worth trying?

    Are you saying that our system works?

  • Haystack

    Ever try thinking for yourself?

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Speculation
    Speculation
    Speculation

    …and not even from a respected source.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    First…end privatization and the for-profit model that only benefits from higher incarceration rates…which aren’t necessary for the desired goal. Kill this beast first and the rest can be fixed…but leave this monster alive…and it will continue to endlessly consume ever larger piles of taxpayer cash while pressing for greater rates and lengths of incarceration. The beast must feed…so kill the beast.

    The ideal goal is to contain ‘worst case’ hardened offenders, rehabilitate moderate offenders, and deter minor offenders from making crime a way of life…the only goal presently well served is the containment for profit of both serious and minor offenders alike. I’d love to see level sentencing instead of a patchwork quilt of hotbutton priorities chosen by politicians and selectively enforced by DAs.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    First…end privatization and the for-profit model that only benefits from higher incarceration rates…which aren’t necessary for the desired goal. Kill this beast first and the rest can be fixed…but leave this monster alive…and it will continue to endlessly consume ever larger piles of taxpayer cash while pressing for greater rates and lengths of incarceration. The beast must feed…so kill the beast.

    The ideal goal is to contain ‘worst case’ hardened offenders, rehabilitate moderate offenders, and deter minor offenders from making crime a way of life…the only goal presently well served is the containment for profit of both serious and minor offenders alike. I’d love to see level sentencing instead of a patchwork quilt of hotbutton priorities chosen by politicians and selectively enforced by DAs.

  • BuzzCoastin

    The fact that the US imprisons more of its citizens than any country in the world is the result of he Homeland of the Free being a police state. The number of armed cops in the US is larger than the number armed soldiers in the US Army.

    The US rarely prosecutes the real crimes, like those committed by Bush, Cheney and the Military-Industrial-Bankster Complex, but instead focuses on small time, ethnic minority “criminals” or “crimes” against corporations, like file sharing or DOS attacks.

    There are about 1 million police personnel employed in the US, about 3 cops and 2.5 arrests per 1000 people. Cops have to justify being paid; they have to do something besides munch donuts. Maybe its time to rethink how “we” police ourselves. Maybe its time to stop the war on the citizens of the US.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    The fact that the US imprisons more of its citizens than any country in the world is the result of he Homeland of the Free being a police state. The number of armed cops in the US is larger than the number armed soldiers in the US Army.

    There are about 1 million police personnel employed in the US, about 3 cops and 2.5 arrests per 1000 people. Cops have to justify being paid; they have to do something besides munch donuts. Maybe its time to rethink how “we” police ourselves. Maybe its time to stop the war on the citizens of the US.

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