Today, we know that crime is often not just a matter of making bad decisions. Rather, there are a variety of factors that are implicated in much criminal offending, some fairly obvious like poverty, mental illness, and drug abuse and others less so, such as neurocognitive problems. Today, we have the tools for effective criminal behavioral change, but this cannot be an excuse for criminal offending. In The Future of Crime and Punishment, William R. Kelly identifies the need to educate the public on how these tools can be used to most effectively and cost efficiently reduce crime, recidivism, victimization and cost.
Since the first publication of The Future of Crime and Punishment in 2015 there have been some significant changes in American criminal justice. While some efforts are moving in the right direction they are still nowhere close to meaningful criminal justice reform that focuses on large scale diversion and appropriate, expert treatment and rehabilitation of the majority of offenders. In this updated paperback edition, Kelly provides readers with updated crime, recidivism and the cost of crime statistics; notes the recent trends such as the modest reduction in incarceration; and discusses the impacts of the election of Trump, including his “law and order” stance as a candidate, his blurring of crime and immigration, the Justice Department’s renewed war on drugs and the opioid crisis by emphasizing a criminal justice response to a public health problem.
The justice system of the future needs to be much more collaborative, utilizing the expertise of a variety of disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, addiction, and neuroscience. The path forward is one characterized largely by change from traditional criminal prosecution and punishment to venues that balance accountability, compliance, and risk management with behavioral change interventions that address the primary underlying causes for recidivism. Moreover, it requires a radical shift in how we think about crime and punishment. Our thinking needs to reflect a perspective that crime is harmful, but that much criminal behavior is changeable.