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Al Capone, The Sword of Damocles & the Police: Prisons Budget Ratio Lawrence Sherman Institute of Criminology University of Cambridge.

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Presentation on theme: "Al Capone, The Sword of Damocles & the Police: Prisons Budget Ratio Lawrence Sherman Institute of Criminology University of Cambridge."— Presentation transcript:

1 Al Capone, The Sword of Damocles & the Police: Prisons Budget Ratio Lawrence Sherman Institute of Criminology University of Cambridge

2 Al Capone Very Harmful No evidence to prove his murdering Prosecution on tax evasion Died in Prison

3 High Neither Low Average Charges for MURDER or Attempted Murder Within Two Years of Probation Start: Philadelphia

4 Papers Richard Berk, Lawrence Sherman, Geoffrey Barnes, Ellen Kurtz and Lindsay Ahlman 2009 “Forecasting murder within a population of probationers and parolees: a high stakes application of statistical learning” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) 172: 191– Lawrence Sherman (2011) “Al Capone, the Sword of Damocles, and the Police–Corrections Budget Ratio” Criminology & Public Policy 10: Lawrence Sherman (2010). Less Prison, More Police, Less Crime: How Criminology Can Save the States from Bankruptcy. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice Video posted at

5 Neither Crime nor Criminals Are All Equal in Their HARM What does it mean to say “crime” dropped? All crimes are not created equal Some far more harmful than others Yet governments publish “crime” totals Completely unweighted by harm Total crime down, homicides X 100 How to interpret?

6 Crime Harm Index (CHI) (Sherman, 2007) Tool for combining elements of different weights into a single scale value E.g., murder = 200, car theft = 5, shoplift = 1 What is 100 crimes in CHI? Example: 10 murders X 200 = 2, car thefts X 5 = 250 1,000 shop thefts X 1 = 1,000 TOTAL = 3,250

7 Cut Costs, Manage Criminals Stop summing crimes Start weighing harms Provide a transparent, total harm “level” Not a confusing flood of undigested data

8 Use Crime Harm Index (CHI) Evaluate national trends in harm levels Compare police force areas Make decisions about criminals Apportion CJ costs in relation to harm prevention benefit

9 Keep It Simple? Manage less harmful offenders in communit (key role of police) Lock up dangerous people forever (main role for prisons) Keep testing value for money

10 Apply CHI to Justice CJ Act 2003 Judge must assess dangerousness Take CHI Forecasts Into Account Early diversion for low risk Probation on tight license Certainty, swiftness—not severity

11 Sword of Damocles Braggart at King’s Table Not Punished Merely Threatened with Punishment Curbed Behaviour

12 Percent of USA CJS Budgets: Local Police vs. Prisons

13 US: 50,000(?) Police Laid Off

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15 Nieuwbeerta, Paul, Daniel Nagin and Arjan A. J. Blokland (2009). “Assessing the Impact of First-Time Imprisonment on Offenders’ Subsequent Criminal Career Development: A Matched Samples Comparison” Journal of Quantitative Criminology.

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17 Which Can Prevent Crime Better? Prisons?Police? Probation?

18 The Politics of Early Release

19 Petrosino Campbell 2009

20 Blending Two Thinkers on Prevention Jeremy BenthamSir Robert Peel

21 Bentham: Deterrence Certainty Celerity (speed) Severity

22 Peel, 1829 Certainty Celerity Cessation: --Stopping the crime in progress Abolished death penalties Australia? Transportation Today Still Possible

23 Peel’s Principles 1829 Minimum Force Necessary Minimum Cost to Taxpayers Test of Success: NOT punishment BUT the demonstrable absence of crime Prevention, not detection Management of crime and criminals Deter, intercept thieves, break up fights Reserve prosecution for the very worst

24 Operation Damocles! Deferred Prosecution You are under arrest We can charge you Put you in Jail But we suspend action So you can go straight Go to drug treatment Get a job Do Restorative Justice Relocate “Turning Point” Plan Or-- we will prosecute

25 The Regulatory Pyramid

26 Certainty, Swiftness: the Project Hope Example Hawaii Offender Probation Enhancement Chronic Drug-Abusing Property Criminals Drug-Testing as a condition Failure COULD mean 5 years in prison Typically failure had not been reported 5, 10, 15 times—no sanction 17 th time? Or 19 th ? Or 13 th ? Unexpected, sudden, very severe penalty

27 How Does HOPE Improve, In Theory? Certainty—call every day, Mon-Fri Swiftness—Immediate processing of tests Immediate jail time Severity Low at first Steadily rising with repeats

28 How Does HOPE Improve, In Effects? Randomized Controlled Trial Prison Days 50% lower for HOPE New Crimes 50% lower for HOPE NIJ to replicate in multiple states

29 Risk-Based Policy: Foundation of Cost-Effectiveness Pew Trust Report Parole Guidelines on Release Virginia sentencing Guidelines—risk, not desert RAND 1982 Report on Selective Incapacitation Idea rejected by 1986 NAS Report on Error False positives too high for values But prison rate has tripled False positives are embedded in sentencing Actuarial Risk could keep them out, not put them in

30 Police as Offender Managers 1.Classify Risks 2.Prosecute highest risk, maximum prison 3.Divert Lowest Risk, minimal cost 4.Manage for desistance 5.More emphasis on offender-victim future 6.Test specific tactics—RJ, drug treatment, even “transportation” by consent

31 Where to Start Not Hard-Core Recidivists Diamond Districts results (Met) But where diversion alone does best First Offenders—or early

32 Turning Points 500 Offenders Age 70 In & out of crime Key Turning Points John Laub Robert Sampson

33 Big Ones Partner (spouse) Job Change of community Cut off ties to old friends—family!

34 Relocation Strategy: Funding Incentive, All Stages

35 Prisoner Resettlement Re-Location “Experiment” Whether they went back to their “hood” Unrelated to their choice Most US states require same community Louisiana does not

36 David S. Kirk “A Natural Experiment on Residential Change and Recidivism: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina” American Sociological Review 2009

37 Cause and Effect If re-imprisonment rates differ “Returners” higher than “Relocaters” Likely to be caused by relocation Not self-selection bias But were they unknown to police? QUESTION: long-term effects—not 1-year Would three years be convincing?

38 3-Year Results: Brand new

39 Relocation  Less Prison? Four-Year Re-imprisonment Rates (Louisiana or other states) 1-Year4-Year Returners = 26%65% Relocators = 11%35% 1-year Difference = 15% raw, 58% relative 3-year Difference = 30% raw, 54% relative

40 Further the Better For every ten miles they moved from their old neighbourhood, at one year out, One Percent Less Re-Imprisonment

41 Managing Offenders in Community: Summary Regulatory Pyramid Escalating control, sanctions Low to moderate severity But also individual needs, crime by crime: --restorative justice --relocation --drug treatment --curfews --not associating with other offenders

42 “Turning Point Policing” (funded by Monument Trust) 1.Develop Risk Assessment Tool UK 2.Develop Damocles Tactics 3.Divert sample of first offenders to Damocles 4.Then test overall forecast-based triage

43 Randomized Controlled Trial RCT: COMPARISON or NET difference

44 Research & Development British Society for Evidence-Based Policing Testing “rehabilitative policing” or “Offender Desistance Policing (ODP) or “Turning Point Policing” Managing desistance as a lifelong task Comprehensive studies of what works

45 Thank You Lawrence W. Sherman Jerry Lee Centre of Experimental Criminology University of Cambridge


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