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Could economics solve the prison crisis?

Fox, Chris and Albertson, Kevin (2010) Could economics solve the prison crisis? Probation Journal, 57 (3). pp. 263-280. ISSN 1741-3079

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Abstract

This article considers important developments over the last decade which have laid the foundations for a new approach to criminal justice policy; an approach in which economic analysis is central. These developments include aspects of the policy debate on sentencing; the government’s commitment to evidence-based policy; investment in the economics profession across government; and the rise of the Justice Reinvestment movement. While many of the opportunities presented for economic analysis of sentencing policy have not yet been exploited, there is reason to believe that they will be over the next few years. Various reasons are discussed including the current economic situation, which makes increasingly untenable the continuing commitment of government to increasing prison capacity without consideration of more efficient alternatives. The article concludes by suggesting some steps that the new government might take to ensure that the benefits of an economically efficient approach to criminal justice policy are realized.

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