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.

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