Cap and Trade Sentencing

The “Grits for Breakfast” blog reviews John Pfaff’s criminal justice reform treatise “Locked In,” finding his recommendations wanting: specifically, that his two big recommendations cannot be followed simultaneously. Focus on reducing “admissions” to the criminal justice system requires a focus on nonviolent offenses. Focus on violent offenses, as Pfaff insists, and they are only a fraction of those annual criminal justice admissions. Per Grits these are contradictory suggestions. There is hope, though, in another suggestion: a Cap-and-Trade system for incarceration similar to the system used for pollution controls. Basically each county would receive an allocation of sentencing time, and if they wanted to punish people more they’d have to purchase it from other counties in a market setting. That would place financial responsibility for over-incarceration on the local actors most responsible for it. The idea comes from “The Small Prison” by  Cheryl Lero Jonson, John E. Eck & Francis T. Cullen, in  The American Prison: Imagining a Different Future
cited here.

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