Swift and Certain Punishment: Gearing the criminal justice system to change behaviour

‘Policy Exchange is delighted to host Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, for a lecture and discussion about how policymakers can better gear the criminal justice system to change behaviour and substantially cut reoffending.

Professor Humphreys, formerly senior drugs policy advisor to President Obama, is a prominent advocate of a new generation of community supervision systems in the United States that are dramatically cutting substance misuse, crime and imprisonment.

These programmes are based on a simple idea: punishment that is swift and certain but not severe will control the vast bulk of offending behaviour. These programmes, such as South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Scheme, combine much greater offender accountability and monitoring with a system of quick, consistent and modest sanctions.

The Swift and Certain principle is a key focus of Policy Exchange’s work in 2014, as we seek to reform our policing and criminal justice systems so that they are designed to really change behaviour, rather than simply process cases.’

This appeared on the Policy Exchange website in late March, where you can also find an audio version.