Josh and Joel expose the problem of trying to incarcerate our way out of violent crime and violent criminals.

Full Episode

Notes From Episode 2


The Cost of Incarcerating Our Way Our Of Violent Crime

Costs from over-punishment of violent crime are high.

Much of the research we discuss came from this Justice Policy institute paper:

Defining Violence: Reducing Incarceration by Rethinking America’s Approach to Violence.

Incarceration increases cost, learn more from this 2015 study from Michael Mueller-Smith.

Prison doesn’t reduce recidivism, learn more from this 2011 study titled (appropriately):

“Prison Doesn’t Reduce Recidivism.”

How We Fail With Violent Crime and Violent Criminals

Violent crimes have low recidivism rates.

Learn more from this paper from Michigan.

Our claim that “violence is a moment of time not a sign of inherent criminality” comes from the Justice Policy Institute paper cited above and from the work of John Pfaff.

Read more about violence in Mr. Pfaff’s book “Locked In” available from

Mr. Pfaff also provided the research behind the “aging out of violence” argument made during the podcast.

Here is a summary of his suggestions for alternative answers to violence.

Our Response to Violent Crime is Racially Problematic

There are racial disparities in how we incarcerate violence.

Consequently, here is a good overview of racial disparity in terms of homicide and also some overall statistics in terms of likelihood to be convicted or falsely convicted.

You Can’t Deter Violent Crime With Punishment

The arguments I made about deterrence are summarized in this overview on the overall deterrent effects of incarceration.

You can also read this very comprehensive meta-analysis that suggests limited deterrence from incarceration.

I promised to share a video about sex offender recidivism. Here is the video (the director of this video also made a full-length documentary about sex offender registries called Untouchable).

Find the major studies describing sex offender recidivism in this Amicus brief from the 6th Circuit Doe’s v. Snyder decision.

Shame is a Trigger for Recidivism and Violent Crime

James Gilligan has written several books about Shame and Violence. Preventing Violence and Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic are two of them.

Restorative Justice As a Solution

Here is a quick link to information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (there are hundreds of studies available on this subject).

The groundbreaking Vera Institute paper by Danielle Sered about Restorative Justice is a great starting point. You could also read: The Little Book of Restorative Justice, by Howard Zehr, Good Books, Intercourse, PA, 2002.

If you want to learn more on this topic, read this article by John Pfaff and this book. In addition, here is a study of the deterrent effects of hot-spot and other “in the moment” styles of policing. Finally, while this is correlative, releasing more prisoners does not seem to be having a massive cost in increasing crime.

Okay, that’s it. Hopefully, I will have Episode 3 up soon. Enjoy!

Josh and Joel talk about violent crime and violent criminals in Epsiode 2
Decarceation Nation with Josh and Joel

Decarceration Nation is a podcast about radically re-imagining America’s criminal justice system. Subscribe and leave a rating or review from iTunes. We will answer all honest questions or comments you leave. Support Decarceration Nation from Patreon.