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NCJ Number: 173556 Find in a Library
Title: Minimizing Harm as a Goal for Crime Policy in California
Editor(s): E L Rubin
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 108
Sponsoring Agency: California Policy Seminar
Berkeley, CA 94704
Sale Source: California Policy Seminar
2020 Milvia Street
Suite 412
Berkeley, CA 94704
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Several of the Nation's leading criminologists -- Franklin Zimring, Gordon Hawkins, Peter Greenwood, Joan Petersilia, and Jerome Skolnick -- present four policy papers that consider ways to address the critical problem of crime in California, followed by comments on each paper by other leading criminologists.
Abstract: This effort was initiated by the Crime Policy Project, whose researchers have concluded that the guiding principle of crime policy in California should be the minimization of harm. All four of the principal papers speak to the need for rational public policy and the need to address citizen concerns. Zimring and Hawkins argue that criminal justice resources should be directed toward violent crime, because that is the real source of citizen concern, even if the citizens themselves displace that concern to other areas. Greenwood maintains that policy makers should focus on prevention programs that are directed at potentially violent individuals and that produce reasonably fast results. Petersilia argues that alternative sanctions should be explored only for those offenders who have not committed violent crimes that anger citizens, and that even these offenders must be subjected to a regime that citizens regard as punitive. Skolnick advises that the harm caused by drugs is best minimized in the short run through treatment programs and nonpunitive approaches such as methadone maintenance and drug courts, not by a war on drugs and the large-scale imprisonment of the enemy. The papers suggest a policy that represents a compromise between the best current research and citizens' concerns. Research suggests that prevention is generally more effective than punishment, that alternative modes of punishment are generally more effective than incarceration, and that mild sanctions or treatment for drug offenders are more effective than harsh punishment. Such policies, however, must convince the public that they are safer due to the policies. Five suggestions for further reading
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): California; Corrections policies; Crime control policies; Intermediate sanctions; Violence prevention; Violent crimes
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