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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 150134 Find in a Library
Title: Increasing Imprisonment To Prevent Violent Crime: Is It Working?
Journal: Popular Government  Dated:(Summer 1994)  Pages:16-24
Author(s): S H Clarke
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 9
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After reviewing some basic concepts of penal sanctions, this article considers data relevant to the issue of whether increasing imprisonment reduces violent crime, examines people's concern about the dangers of crime, and discusses other approaches to the prevention of violent crime.
Abstract: A review of crime rates in North Carolina, California, and the United States as a whole suggests that substantial expansion of per capita incarceration from 1975 to 1992 did not substantially reduce per capita rates of either violent index crime or motor vehicle theft. It may have reduced the rate of burglary and larceny somewhat, especially the less serious instances of these crimes. One theory that supports imprisonment as a means of reducing crime is selective incapacitation, which seeks to identify persons at high risk of repeating their criminal behavior and imprisoning them for long periods. The problems with this theory are that habitual offenders may be identified late in their criminal careers or may not be identified at all under current prediction methods. Americans' fear of crime did not decline from 1975 to 1992 during the period of rapid expansion of imprisonment, according to opinion polls. Although imprisonment has not been effective in curbing violent crime to any significant degree, it may have some impact and should not be abandoned as one method of managing violent behavior. Still, other strategies are clearly needed if violent crime is to be prevented. Strategies should include primary prevention, which focuses on preventing children from ever becoming involved in crimes; and secondary prevention, which identifies children with a higher-than- average risk of engaging in serious criminal behavior and intervening with programs designed to curtail such behavior. The article concludes with the American Psychological Association's list of characteristics of promising violence- prevention programs. 37 notes
Main Term(s): Corrections effectiveness
Index Term(s): Community crime prevention programs; Crime Statistics; Deterrence effectiveness; Incapacitation theory; Incarceration; Violence prevention
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