Criminologist Charis Kubrin of UC-Irvine went head to head with former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley yesterday on the issue of prison downsizing in California. In my view, Professor Kubrin’s presentation here is as sharp, clear, and thoughtful as her academic writing. I’ve always found the long-form live interview to be a terrific forum for public criminology, since it leaves a bit more space for academics to introduce social scientific evidence to explain how they arrived at their opinions — and to question those who arrived at opinions based on anecdotal evidence or other means. This one comes from SoCal Insider, a PBS program hosted by Rick Reiff, but similar issues are being debated in many communities. Dr. Kubrin is appropriately cautious about whether crime rates will rise with realignment, but she nicely counters the premature conclusion that California’s experiment in prison downsizing has been a disaster — and she makes an excellent case for conducting a more systematic scientific evaluation.
Though these pages might seem a little quiet lately, rest assured that we’re plugging away on some extra-good crime and punishment features. I’m happily immersed in final edits on some really exciting new pieces for TSP — and our crime volume, due out this fall with WW Norton.
Like what? Look for a moving account of prison and close relationships by Megan Comfort, a social welfare approach to crime control from Rick Rosenfeld and Steve Messner, a roundtable on the International Criminal Court with Susanne Karstedt, Kathryn Sikkink, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and Wenona Rymond-Richmond, and a powerful piece by pubcrim’s own Michelle Inderbitzin and colleagues on the young leaders of a prison “lifers club,” who will be locked up for decades for crimes committed as juveniles.
In addition to this fine work coming in over the transom, we’ve got a great mix of in-house as well as external (please don’t call them out-house) features forthcoming and under review. I’m helping out on a couple of them, including a soon-to-be-released feature with Sarah Shannon (Visualizing Punishment) and a just-released feature with Suzy Maves McElrath on the big U.S. Crime Drop. More soon!