Swift and Certain Punishment: Gearing the criminal justice system to change behaviour

18 March 2014 18:15

Swift and Certain Punishment: Gearing the criminal justice system to change behaviour


The slides for this event can be found here

Policy Exchange is delighted to host Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, for a lecture and discussion about how policymakers can better gear the criminal justice system to change behaviour and substantially cut reoffending.

Professor Humphreys, formerly senior drugs policy advisor to President Obama, is a prominent advocate of a new generation of community supervision systems in the United States that are dramatically cutting substance misuse, crime and imprisonment. These programmes are based on a simple idea: punishment that is swift and certain but not severe will control the vast bulk of offending behaviour. These programmes, such as South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Scheme, combine much greater offender accountability and monitoring with a system of quick, consistent and modest sanctions.

The Swift and Certain principle is a key focus of Policy Exchange’s work in 2014, as we seek to reform our policing and criminal justice systems so that they are designed to really change behaviour, rather than simply process cases.

About Professor Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings’ College, London.  He has published over 200 research articles on health care, addiction, crime and public policy in scientific journals. He has also written about drug and alcohol policy for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Guardian and Crossbow magazine.

Professor Humphreys has been extensively involved in the formation of public policy, having served as a member of the White House Commission on Drug Free Communities under U.S. President George W. Bush and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under U.S. President Barack Obama.  He has testified on multiple occasions in Parliament and maintains that the two most important things in this world are love and Anglo-American relations. His latest books, co-authored with colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, are The Treatment of Drinking Problems and Drug Policy and the Public Good.

swift and certain punishment: gearing the criminal justice system to change behaviour