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Selectively Incapacitating Frequent Offenders: Costs and Benefits of Various Penal Scenarios

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 23 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 327-353
Arjan A.J. Blokland; Paul Nieuwbeerta
Date Published
December 2007
27 pages
This study used data from the Netherlands Criminal Career and Life-course Study to estimate the incapacitative effects of alternative selective prison policies, specifically targeting some predefined group of offenders.
Selectively incapacitating presumed frequent offenders on the basis of the number of offenses they have committed in the past, or in the preceding 5 years, leads to substantial decline in crime. This decline is the greatest in the first years after the introduction of the selective policy as a rising share of offenders are selectively imprisoned. Imprisonment aims to reduce crime in three ways: general deterrence, specific deterrence, and incapacitation. This study deals with the latter, the incapacitative effect of imprisonment. In particular it focuses on the effects of selective incapacitation, that is, imprisonment policies specifically targeting some predefined group of offenders. This predefined group of offenders is the small number of offenders responsible for the disproportionate share of total crime. The rationale behind selective incapacitation policies is straightforward: reducing crime at lower cost. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of various selective incapacitation policies in the Netherlands. This is accomplished by simulating the effects of various hypothetical selective scenarios, varying in both selection rate and disparity ratio using data from the Criminal Career and Life-course Study, a longitudinal study of a Dutch conviction cohort followed up to age 72. Figures, tables, and references