Offender-Desistence Policing & the Sword of Damocles


By Lawrence W. Sherman & Peter W. Neyroud
June 2012
Civitas
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781906837389
60 pages
$10.00 Paper original


As the criminal justice system faces unprecedented cuts in the wake of the financial crisis, many members of the public fear for their safety. Criminals will face fewer police on the streets and a prison system that will struggle to contain convicts. But is an increase in crime inevitable? In this report, world-renowned criminologist Lawrence W. Sherman and former Chief Constable Peter W. Neyroud say 'no'. They offer hope in the form of an efficient criminal justice strategy: Offender-Desistance Policing. This approach uses some of the latest crime control techniques to focus resources on encouraging individuals to desist from crime.

The authors set out a series of field trials to test the utility of these techniques. They include: 1. Crime-Harm Forecasting. Uses statistical models to predict likely serious repeat offenders. This allows prison sentences to be allocated to the most dangerous criminals rather than those who are unlikely to re-offend. 2. Increasing the certainty and swiftness of sanction. Focuses police supervision on known offenders so that they can be quickly, effectively, but not too punitively, sanctioned whenever they stray towards criminality. 3. Life-course criminology. Concentrate policing on long-term desistance from crime rather than the punishment of specific offences. Dealing with issues at the forefront of criminal justice, this is an essential report for policy-makers looking at the difficult trade-offs that the economic crisis has imposed on crime fighting.

 

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