Focus Point - Fixing Crime

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. U.S. prison populations fell in the '60s and early '70s. Americans got fed up with crime and criminals, and government started incarcerating more people. By the early '90s, the prison population was up nine percent, and crime was down: Potential criminals were deterred by the prospect of prison.

But as the NCPA's Morgan Reynolds explains it, if we want to change criminals, we have to have prisons that truly correct.

First, prison systems must innovate and experiment, relying less on government jailers and more on market rules. Corrections Department should be judged on their recidivism rates and the ones that do the best job should be rewarded. They should try contracting out incarceration management to private organizations, especially faith-based, nonprofit prisons. Corrections officials should recruit private enterprise to employ inmates inside or nearby prisons. This is crucial: Study after study shows that real employment before release not only improves behavior behind bars, but is the strongest known antidote to crime after release.

We're innovative everywhere else. Why not in prisons?

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Deregulating the Inner City.