Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice
Preventing crime is complex and difficult to assess, given the many determinants of criminal activity and the difficulty of specifying counterfactual levels of crime in the absence of a given policy. Social science research has focused largely on various strategies designed to either deter criminal activity or incapacitate individuals who would otherwise commit crime. Deterrence strategies can be broad-based, such as through the imposition of severe sentences, or quite focused, such as through hot-spot patrols or swift-and-certain sanctions. Incapacitation strategies rely on surveillance and the suppression of liberty, with intervention ranging from regular check-ins with a probation officer to solitary confinement. Empirical researchers have tried to estimate the deterrence and incapacitation effects of incarceration and other forms of punishment (e.g., Hawken and Kleiman, 2009; Nagin, 2013; Paternoster, 2010).