The Challenge of Crime: Rethinking Our Response (Paperback)
  • The Challenge of Crime: Rethinking Our Response (Paperback)

The Challenge of Crime: Rethinking Our Response (Paperback)

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Paperback 384 Pages
Published: 01/03/2006
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The development of crime policy in the United States for many generations has been hampered by a drastic shortage of knowledge and data, an excess of partisanship and instinctual responses, and a one-way tendency to expand the criminal justice system. Even if a three-decade pattern of prison growth came to a full stop in the early 2000s, the current decade will be by far the most punitive in U.S. history, hitting some minority communities particularly hard.

The book examines the history, scope, and effects of the revolution in America's response to crime since 1970. Henry Ruth and Kevin Reitz offer a comprehensive, long-term, pragmatic approach to increase public understanding of and find improvements in the nation's response to crime. Concentrating on meaningful areas for change in policing, sentencing, guns, drugs, and juvenile crime, they discuss such topics as new priorities for the use of incarceration; aggressive policing; the war on drugs; the need to switch the gun control debate to a focus on crime gun regulation; a new focus on offenders' transition from confinement to freedom; and the role of private enterprise.

A book that rejects traditional liberal and conservative outlooks, The Challenge of Crime takes a major step in offering new approaches for the nation's responses to crime.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674021068
Number of pages: 384
Dimensions: 227 x 146 x 24 mm


Henry Ruth and Kevin Reitz have distilled a generation's worth of learning into a fresh and nonideological examination of American crime and crime control. Clear, well-informed, and candid, The Challenge of Crime is a major study of the current state of criminal justice and the prospects for its reform. - Franklin E. Zimring, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

This meticulous survey of the last thirty years of American criminal justice amounts to a powerful indictment. But Ruth and Reitz go beyond mere criticism, recommending rational policies to escape from our excesses of crime and punishment and to clear the way to lower rates of crime that will be met by proportional, fair, and effective responses. Further proof that at last criminology is coming of age, The Challenge of Crime merits serious attention. - Norval Morris, University of Chicago Law School

Ruth and Reitz have produced a powerful and exceptionally useful critique of how the United States grapples with crime. Their sharp analysis and valuable prescriptions will frame crime policy development throughout this century. - John E. Eck, University of Cincinnati

The Challenge of Crime seeks to understand and improve America's response to crime through a system-wide, long-term, empirically based approach. The authors refute many frequently heard arguments of both liberals and conservatives, and propose solutions that can gain broad political acceptance. Modern criminal justice simply cannot be properly understood and significantly improved without this kind of comprehensive, pragmatic approach. - Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School

The Challenge of Crime should be required reading for anyone interested in improving our justice systems. The authors have not only documented the last thirty years of research and reform but have also helped us understand our successes and failures. No serious student of criminal justice can afford to ignore this book. - Charles Wellford, University of Maryland

Having displaced both South Africa and the former Soviet Union as the world's top jailor, America urgently needs the kind of unflinching analysis offered by these two leading authorities on dealing with crime. The authors show why our police, state prosecutors, juvenile courts, and penitentiaries have grown increasingly punitive in the three-and-a-half decades since Lyndon Johnson's 1967 National Crime Commission, which stressed the rehabilitation of offenders and the establishment of government programs for the disadvantaged as the best hope for reversing the alarming upsurge in crime...Balanced and sober, an indispensable reference for students of criminal justice. - Bryce Christensen, Booklist

Ruth and Reitz compellingly argue that crime control policies are dramatically flawed and that sweeping changes are essential, for reasons ranging from financial crises to moral legitimacy. The cogency of their argument and the abundance of their timely data merits careful attention and will be eye-opening to most readers. - R. Zingraff, Choice

This important study by two leading experts on criminology and criminal law in the U.S. should be read wherever the policy of being 'tough on crime' is on the political agenda. The authors provide a wealth of descriptive, historical and statistical data, a competent methodological critique of their quality, a critical examination of explanations, and carefully argued policy recommendations...In depressing detail Ruth and Reitz show how punishment of the already deprived makes things worse for them and their kin. This book shows us some of the inadequacies of our approaches and their disastrous consequences for the most vulnerable. - Ib Martin Jarvad, European Legacy

The Challenge of Crime is a timely, practical, well-reasoned book that is required reading for anyone interested in justice...It should prove illuminating to politicians, policymakers, and anyone interested in how to fix our response to crime. - Craig Hemmens, Perspectives on Political Science

The Challenge of Crime is a remarkable book...In essence, [it] is a morality tale. Ruth and Reitz capably highlight many of the wrongs of contemporary crime policies and practices and detail how they can be corrected. Will those invited into the conversation do more than listen? - Katheryn Russell-Brown, Washington Post

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