What Might Be Some of the Consequences of Large-Scale Early-Release Programs for Drug Dealers and Those Convicted of Property Crimes?
Twenty years later, that number is estimated to be near 400 000. Drug offenders now make up over 30% of all inmates in state and federal prisons, compared to less than 8% in 1980.
Also, because recidivism rates decline markedly with age and prisoners necessarily age as they serve their prison sentence, lengthy prison sentences are an inefficient approach to preventing crime by incapacitation unless the longer sentences are specifically targeted at very high-rate or extremely dangerous offenders. A large body of research has studied the effects of incarceration and other criminal penalties on crime. Much of this research is guided by the hypothesis that incarceration reduces crime through incapacitation and deterrence. Incapacitation refers to the crimes averted by the physical isolation of convicted offenders during the period of their incarceration. Theories of deterrence distinguish between general and specific behavioral responses. General deterrence refers to the crime prevention effects of the threat of punishment, while specific deterrence concerns the aftermath of the failure of general deterrence—that is, the effect on reoffending that might result from the experience of actually being punished. Most of this research studies the relationship between criminal sanctions and crimes other than drug offenses. A related literature focuses specifically on enforcement of drug laws and the relationship between those criminal sanctions and the outcomes of drug use and drug prices.
Modeled after drug courts, reentry courts manage offenders’ return to the community by applying graduated sanctions and positive reinforcement, as well as marshaling resources to support reintegration and promote prosocial behavior. The court essentially performs a resource triage. Releasees who are the most dangerous are identified and given the most resources during supervision. The goal is to reduce the recidivism rate of returning prisoners and establish a broad-based coalition to support successful reintegration.
More than 500,000 law enforcement personnel, community members, and government leaders have been trained through COPS Office-funded training organizations.
Beck, A., and B. Shipley, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1989, NCJ 116261.
Petersilia, J., “Probation and Parole,” in Handbook of Crime and Punishment, ed. M. Tonry, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Fabela, T., “Technocorrections,” in Sentencing and Corrections for the 21st Century, Papers From the Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections, Volume 5, Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, May 2000, NCJ 181411.
MacKenzie, D.L., “Using Science and the U.S. Land-Grant University System to Attack This Nation’s Crime Problem,” The Criminologist 23 (2) (1998): 1–4.