June 4, 2017 In the News

Learn From Criminal Justice Failures: Follow The Data

By David Trone
Palm Beach Post

I tell those considering a career in business that you have to get comfortable with failure.

That’s how you figure out what works and what doesn’t. To find the right way forward, you study those setbacks, collect data, and change course accordingly. Setbacks are not failures unless you fail to learn from them.

Ideally, this would be true in the public sector as well. But the recent chest-thumping about “getting tough on crime” suggests those in charge have learned nothing from one of the biggest public policy failures of the last half-century.

Several decades ago, American lawmakers from both parties decided that ramping up punishments would reduce crime. As a result, the U.S. incarceration rate more than quadrupled between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s, becoming the highest of any country in the world. Annual corrections spending climbed from $21 billion in 1982 to almost $80 billion today.

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