When worlds collide

The very famous and very impressive James Q. Wilson has been blogging over at Volokh.com, here is one of his posts.  Excerpt:

It is not hard to study deterring crime, but I
can’t imagine trying to teach someone in a blog how to do a regression
analysis. I wish I could do that, but it would take time, and blog
commenters seem not to have much time.

Now for a few more facts, but I warn you that to believe my
assertions you will actually have to go out and read something.
Intensive Probation: This is a good idea, but so far the studies of it
have not suggested it lowers the crime rate. I wish it did, because it
is cheaper than prison. The chief study, done at RAND, compared
probationers under intensive supervision with similar ones not under
such control. There as no difference in their crime rates while under
supervision. There are two possible explanations for this: Either there
was no difference in crime rates, or those under intensive supervision
had more crimes noticed by their probation officers.

This earlier post was instructive:

Some readers have asked whether the population of American prisons is
large because we lock up so many drug users. It is true that the
proportion of inmates described as drug offenders has gone up
dramatically, but as Jonathan Caulkins and Mark Kleiman point in their
essay in Understanding America, very few are in prison because of drug
possession. Many are either major dealers or plead down to a drug
possession charge in order to avoid being convicted of a more serious
offense. There are more than one million arrests every year for drug
possession, but very of them result in prison or jail time. Cannabis
possession, when it is punished at all, is typically with a fine or


Comments for this post are closed