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William Kelly

From Retribution to Public Safety

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Over the past fifty years, American criminal justice policy has had a nearly singular focus – the relentless pursuit of punishment. Punishment is intuitive, proactive, logical, and simple. But the problem is that despite all of the appeal, logic, and common sense, punishment doesn't work. The majority of crimes committed in the United States are by people who have been through the criminal justice system before, many on multiple occasions.

There are two issues that are the primary focus of this book. The first is developing a better approach than simple punishment to actually address crime-related circumstances, deficits and disorders, in order to change offender behavior, reduce recidivism, victimization and cost. And the second issue is how do we do a better job of determining who should be diverted and who should be criminally prosecuted.

From Retribution to Public Safety develops a strategy for informed decision making regarding criminal prosecution and diversion. The authors develop procedures for panels of clinical experts to provide prosecutors with recommendations about diversion and intervention. This requires a substantial shift in criminal procedure as well as major reform to the public health system, both of which are discussed in detail.

Rather than ask how much punishment is necessary the authors look at how we can best reduce recidivism. In doing so they develop a roadmap to fix a fundamentally flawed system that is wasting massive amounts of public resources to not reducing crime or recidivism.
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