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Punishment doesn’t work!

Arthur, Lindsay
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Juvenile and Family Court Journal. 51(3): 37-42.

Incarceration does not reduce the likelihood of future crime, although increasing numbers of criminal and juvenile courts have recently established punishment as the basis for sentencing based on just deserts or consequences. Probation cannot work with current caseloads, because it usually amounts only to telephoning an overworked probation officer once a month or so. Fines and restitution are useless in most cases, because the average criminal has no money. Suspension of drivers’ licenses is not a restraint. Electronic bracelets have not been adequately developed. Rehabilitation requires larger budgets than most communities are willing to provide; it is particularly effective with first-time and second-time offenders and juvenile status offenders. Incarceration is effective for violent criminals. Community group homes are effective for criminals who require a residential setting for various types of treatment, those who need placement while a new setting is developed, and those who need only to report to the group home during the daytime. Probation can be effective only if the caseload is about five to allow several personal contacts with each probationer and several contacts with the home, job, and leisure activities each month. Restorative justice is a fairly new and sometimes very successful sentencing approach that brings the offender, the victim, the police, and community representatives together in a conference to develop a program to restore the victim and return the offender to a useful role in the community. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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