News

Mears Op-ed Featured in Houston Chronicle

January 26, 2017

In an op-ed featured in the Houston Chronicle, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice professor Dr. Daniel P. Mears teams with Dr. William R. Kelly  from University of Texas at Austin to suggest treating criminal justice like a business.

In the op-ed, Mears and Kelly explain that the previous “tough-on-crime” approach to public safety is not working and that though this position, consisting of more and lengthy punishment, sounds like a good idea, in actuality is does not result in a good return on investment.  Instead, this approach has resulted in U.S. prison and probation populations more than tripling during the past 30 years. As a result, the U.S. is home to the most expensive correction system in the world.

Mears and Kelly go on to explain that the tough on crime practice is not addressing the root of crime in this country. It is not working because the punishment does nothing to treat the underlying circumstances that contribute to crime, such as broken homes, disadvantaged and impoverished communities, mental illness, addiction and cognitive dysfunction.

Instead of continuing with the status quo, Mears and Kelly are calling for a comprehensive reinvention of American criminal justice policy that recognizes the importance of punishment, but that focus on behavioral change, recidivism reduction and improving the justice system. They suggest running the government like a business by identifying what works and learning how to improve efficiency. To do this, Mears and Kelly suggest investing in research and development. They explain that states and the federal government should invest in identifying the prevalence and cause of crime in particular areas, then use the assessment to guide policy. Mears and Kelly also encourage policymakers to create mechanisms to bring together policymakers, practitioners, researchers and other relevant parties to build decision making related to criminal justice.

Read the full article on the Houston Chronicle website.