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The Big Answer

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Impose Time, Prevent Crime

an article in Businessweek by Gene Koretz

(our site's article review)

Koretz studied dozens of American cities regarding crime and incarceration from 1971 to 1992. The evidence suggests that "more severe punishment does successfully deter potential criminals from engaging in targeted criminal activities. Indeed, the state of Washington, whose voters adopted a three-strikes law in 1993, has seen a significant drop in violent crime."

More severe punishment does successfully deter potential criminals
More severe punishment does successfully deter potential criminals

A good follow-up study would be comparing the amount of money the criminals cost us when they are in jails and prisons and compare that to the amount of money their crimes cost society. Of course, the suffering and negative psychological effects they have on citizens cannot be monetized, but the economic losses can be added up. Another issue is that by making prisons places that brutalize inmates, the society is stupidly creating individuals that are going to come out and take out their anger on the rest of us, passing on the brutalization. A better idea is to find a way to keep inmates locked up until they are rehabilitated, but remove all the brutalization from prisons. Instead, teach them how to become productive citizens that respect themselves and others.

Prison brutalization bites society in the butt when the cons get out
Prison brutalization bites society in the butt when the cons get out