1st Edition

Smart on Crime
The Struggle to Build a Better American Penal System





ISBN 9781498703130
Published July 28, 2015 by Routledge
263 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

USD $90.95

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Book Description

The most punitive era in American history reached its apex in the 1990s, but the trend has reversed in recent years. Smart on Crime: The Struggle to Build a Better American Penal System examines the factors causing this dramatic turnaround. It relates and echoes the increasing need and desire on the part of actors in the American government system to construct a penal system that is more rational and humane.

Author Garrick L. Percival points out that the prison boom did not naturally emerge as a governmental response to increasing crime rates. Instead, political forces actively built and shaped the growth of a more aggressive and populated penal system. He is optimistic that the shifting political forces surrounding crime and punishment can now reform the system, explaining how current political actors can craft more constructive and just policies and programs. The book shows how rationality and humanitarianism lead to a penal system that imprisons fewer people, does less harm to the lives of individual offenders and those close to them, and is less expensive to maintain.

The book presents empirical data to concretely demonstrate what is working and what is not in today’s penal system. It closely examines policies and practices in Texas, Ohio, and California as comparative illustrations on what progress has been made or needs to be made in penal systems across the United States. The book includes a comprehensive discussion of highlighted issues, and relates more than two dozen interviews with pivotal political actors who clarify why there is a major shift underway in the American penal system. Their insights reveal paths that can be taken to improve the current penal system.

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Smart on Crime Politics
Introduction
Crime Politics in the American Political System
Coalition Politics and Reform in the Criminal Justice Subsystem
Rise of the Smart on Crime Coalition
Explaining the Emergence of the Smart on Crime Coalition
Policy Learning
Bringing Policy Back into the Picture
When Is Reform Really Reform?

Collapse of the Rehabilitative Model and Rise of the Tough on Crime Coalition
Calm before the Storm
The Storm: The Rehabilitative Model Gets Blown Away
Politicalization of Rehabilitation Research
Sagging Support for Rehabilitation on the Left
Building an Institutional Legacy
Tough on Crime Coalition

Crisis and Opportunity in the American Penal System
To the Victors Go the Spoils
Problems on the Ground: Consequences of the Tough on Crime Regime
The Penal System and Inequality
Diminishing Marginal Returns of Mass Incarceration
Conditions Facilitating the Search for Alternatives and Policy Learning
Economic Crisis
The Contemporary Prison System Is a Different Beast
Examining Changes in Public Attitudes on Crime and Punishment
Fear of Crime
Saliency of Crime

Prisoner Reentry and the Politics of the Second Chance Act
Pressure from the Bottom Up
Conceptualizing Prisoner Reentry
Ohio Plan
Developments in Corrections Policy Research
Conservatives Begin the Push for Prisoner Reentry
Introduction of the SCA
Prison Fellowship Ministries
Fight to Protect Inmates’ Religious Freedom
Framing the Meaning of the SCA
Correctional Associations
Second Chance Advocacy in the Senate
Political Progress in the House
Roadblocks in the Senate
Closing the Deal

Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
Policy Context
Challenging the Unique Dangers of Crack Cocaine
Proposals for Change
Legal Challenges to the Federal Sentencing Process
New Proposals for Crack Sentencing Reform
Mobilizing Support for Crack Sentencing Reform

Texas
Introduction to the Problem Environment
Bringing an Engineer’s Perspective to the Texas Penal System
Emergence of New Organized Groups
Justice Reinvestment
Broad-Based Smart on Crime Coalition
Texas Penal System and the Shifting Dimensions of Political Debate
Appendix

Ohio
Diffusion of Smart on Crime Policy Ideas
Ohio Seeks Technical Assistance
Policy Learning among Conservatives in Ohio

California
Shifting Political Environment
Return of the Structural Injunction
Prison Realignment in California

Evaluating the Smart on Crime Movement
De-Incarceration and Crime
Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

References

Index

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Author(s)

Biography

Garrick Percival is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at San José State University. His work focuses on American politics, primarily the nexus between crime policy, racial politics, and inequality at the state and local levels of government. His work has appeared in State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Policy Studies Journal, among other outlets. He teaches courses at San José State University in state and local government, public policy, and American politics. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Riverside.

Reviews

"Percival (San José State Univ.) takes readers on a journey informed by a political science approach to understand how the US has gone from the wars on crime and drugs that led to mass incarceration to what is now termed a 'smart on crime' approach aimed at evidence-based policies and decarceration. Percival rejects as too simplistic the idea that economics has driven this new approach to criminal justice in favor of a more nuanced explanation that examines the political coalitions that have emerged because of a convergence of a number of driving factors. He largely credits conservative politicians and their allies with guiding the 'smart on crime' movement. His method is to conduct a policy history of past 'tough on crime' policies, a current legislative history of the Second Chance Act and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, and an assessment of policies in three states—Ohio, Texas, and California—to support his contention that conservatives have played a pivotal role in advancing policies that focus on evidence-based rehabilitation policies and fiscal restraint. Summing up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections."
—S. E. Blankenship, Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio, USA, for CHOICE, March 2016