Crime is low when crime dosen't pay, is the motto of this provocative essay by Charles Murray. He challenges the prevailing view amongst the criminal justice establishment that locking up criminals solves nothing and argues that 'prison works'. It can deter crime and it can prevent crime, in the sense that incarcerated felons cannot commit felonies whilst 'inside'. Increasingly, however, crime has been allowed to pay. While crime statistics have been soaring upwards, the number of crimes cleared up by the police and the percentage of cleared-up cases resulting in a guilty verdict has been falling. Comparing the 1950s with the 1990s, Murray shows that the risk of being sent to prison if you commit a crime has declined by 80 per cent. Under such conditions, he argues, it is hardly surprising if crime has gone through the roof. Like other volumes in this series, Does Prison Work? features a number of critical responses to Murray's thesis, in order to give students a range of views on the issue. Jock Young makes international comparisons to argue that there is no correlation between high rates of imprisonment and low crime rates.
Andrew Rutherford questions the statistical basis of Murray's claims regarding risk of imprisonment. Malcolm Davies argues that the behaviour of the judges in sentencing convicted criminals has been more erratic that Murray allows for. Does Prison Work? makes an important contribution to the contemporary on crime and punishment and the relationship between the two. "Charles Murray is a brilliant polemicist and his essay is powerful." Community Care.show more