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Using Social Science to Reduce Violent Offending$
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Joel A. Dvoskin, Jennifer L. Skeem, Raymond W. Novaco, and Kevin S. Douglas

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384642

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384642.001.0001

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What If Psychology Redesigned the Criminal Justice System?

What If Psychology Redesigned the Criminal Justice System?

(p.291) 13 What If Psychology Redesigned the Criminal Justice System?
Using Social Science to Reduce Violent Offending

Joel A. Dvoskin

Jennifer L. Skeem

Raymond W. Novaco

Kevin S. Douglas

Oxford University Press

Protecting public safety is the overarching goal of imprisonment and, indeed, the entire criminal justice system. Although reasonable experts will disagree about the optimal pathway (e.g., deterrence, treatment, or retribution), there can be little argument that the ultimate goal is to make our communities safer. Using this simple yardstick, the current response to crime is failing, in large part because it ignores what the social sciences have learned about why people behave as they do and how to change behavior for the better. The criminal justice system would look quite different, if it were guided by psychological knowledge about behavior change. This chapter outlines key principles of behavior change, many of which overlap with the content covered throughout this book. Next, the chapter summarizes how these principles could be applied to make key changes to our criminal justice system. It concludes by arguing that we cannot afford not to implement these principles as soon as possible.

Keywords:   imprisonment, public safety, criminal justice system, behavior change

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