Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Selective Incapacitation Report


Selective incapacitation is when certain crimes are targeted heavily than others, while lesser offenses get more lenient violations. An example would be to have murderers incarcerated for a longer time in maximum security while giving those guilty of drug possession of a minimum amount lesser sentences and even putting them in county jail. This idea sounds excellent on paper but does have its issues. It is a practice that must be exercised with caution as the practice could likely be abused for racist purposes. This model can also lead to horrible unintended consequences.

Literature Review

Duwe explains in his article how sex offenders commit the same offense again. Two different tools were used to complete the study. The first was a screening tool used in the state to gauge the recidivism rate within four years. The other instrument used was Integration of Survival with Quality of Life software. For this following software, it was to look at the recidivism rate for a longer term of up to five decades.

These methods concluded that nine percent of 105 offenders would commit a similar offense in just four years. Now, looking with a longer-term lens, the researchers concluded that 28 percent would commit another offense within their lifetime. This may look trivial, but sex offenders were used in this study; this is a highly heinous crime for what it is. Therefore, it is fair to say that selective incapacitation must be harsher on these types of offenders. Or, at the very least, be extremely careful of who is being released.

New urban studies and social science publications were established during this period, and conceptual forerunners may be seen in the 1990s when proactive police ideologies and community problem-solving tactics were applied entirely. In response to Herman Goldstein’s 1979 research on problem-oriented, rather than event-oriented, police tactics, proactive policing strategies were created in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, grant sources, and social service providers (Turney & Wakefield, 2019). Early advocates of problem-oriented policing, such as George Kelling, James Q. Wilson, and Goldstein, met, examined each other’s work, and advocated unique, though coinciding, practical regulating techniques for addressing gang violence, drug, and disorder violence.

Sex Offenders

A study done in Minnesota concluded that out of 105 sex lawbreakers, nine percent would re-offend in four years. The results also concluded that 28 percent of the sex offenders would commit this crime in their life past the four-year mark (Duwe, 2014). Sex offenses are incredibly severe crimes that have an impact on many people. Therefore, it can be said that these types of offenders should not have lighter offenses. This is where the selective part of the practice comes into play; because selective incapacitation analyzes the criminal and offense done, sex offenders will be seen as a danger to the public. High-risk sex offenders such as those who solicit sex from minors online should have the harshest sentencing under this practice as they are a massive danger to society and children in specific. However, sex crimes need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, the offender is not dangerous but obtained a statutory rape charge because they were dating an age gap of one year, and the “victim’s” parents did not like the individual. Unfortunately, cases like this happen, and sometimes the charged must label being as sex offenders for their entire lives.

Drug Users

In addition, those guilty in possession of drugs should receive lesser sentences. Note: find a source to back this one up. However, drug offenders should be looked at under a more sensitive lens. If they are caught with illicit substances with the intention of distribution, then the law should not be lenient on them as they are pushing the plague of drug addiction in society. Those caught in possession with smaller amounts and with simple intents to do said drugs should receive more leniency with sentencing.

According to research, drug users should be treated as those with a disorderly condition (Fattore & Diana, 2016). Rather than send likely and potential drug addicts to prison where they will not learn anything, they should be sent to a drug rehab facility. They should be selected not to be incapacitated but rather focus on the rehabilitative aspect of the justice system. Although, it can also be argued that drugs can lead to violent crime; therefore, drug offenders should not be exempt from harsh sentencing. This is still a moot point as the whole point of selective incapacitation is crime prevention. If the offense were severe and involved drugs, of course, they would be given a harsh sentence. However, if they were caught with illicit substances, there is still time to cure them of their vice and, as a beneficial consequence, prevent the violent crimes drug addiction would cause. Though if the first drug offense puts them in prison for a lengthy amount of time, this would encourage them to engage in the cycle of recidivism. This is a result of the easy access to drugs in prison.

Cities, neighborhoods, and community centers have been in the forefront of crime reduction efforts on city streets, neighborhood blocks, and community centers for many years now. At the municipal and state levels, they partnered with national law enforcement researchers and academics to develop grant-funded community-based crime reduction programs as well as patrol experiments that were implemented (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). A specific police district was controlled by individual officers and unit commanders, who worked together to organize the clergy, social service providers, civic and corporate groups that operated in that particular police district. In metropolitan areas, communities of color have faced an increase in targeted surveillance and violence, while authorities have used community-based and service-oriented law enforcement strategies, as well as proactive preventative measures, to combat crime.

In the 1970s, as part of a more liberal approach to law and order, police officers and other law enforcement officials were encouraged to try out novel concepts such as community policing and police-community task forces with “respectable” communities and local partners. In the 1970s, nonprofit organizations such as the Police Foundation and PERF were founded as a consequence of financing from both public and private sources (Turney & Wakefield, 2019). These groups were founded as clearinghouses and training facilities for both local and international law enforcement personnel. The American Bar Foundation Survey on the Administration of Criminal Justice was undertaken in the early 1950s by well-known legal scholars and urban sociologists affiliated with the Foundation. The study relied on unprecedented field research and testing in major US cities as well as smaller local police departments.

A Racist System

Furthermore, this incapacitation model could be abused for racist purposes. According to research, African Americans are more likely to be sent to incarceration than Whites (Berk et al., 2020). As a result of the “rough on crime” agenda since the last quarter of the 20th century, 2.2 million have been incarcerated (Berk et al., 2020). When the math is done, it can be estimated that half of this number consists of African Americans. To add on, they must also deal with the harsh conditions of the American prison system. The violent atmosphere, the easy access to drugs and how likely it is to be addicted, and the guards’ abuses are all negative aspects to be avoided, so there certainly needs to be reform there. However, a point could be made that the severe offenders should be selected to these conditions to deter them and others from committing crimes in the first place.

To explain racial inequities in American elite’s criminal justice (including elected officials and academics) and associations aggressively encouraged the hierarchical assumption that Black Americans are essentially more “criminal” than others, whether due to genetics or culture. However, fundamental, hierarchy-eliminating racial equality gained popularity among the general people throughout time. Many white Americans felt that segregated public transportation should be maintained. Those white people should be given preferential treatment in the job market over black people in early U.S. national surveys on racial attitudes conducted in the 1940s (Turney & Wakefield, 2019). A few decades later, white Americans were so unanimous in their support for equal access to public transit and employment that identical questions in the following surveys were eliminated. Consequently, the rise in egalitarian racial attitudes tends to signal a move away from support for a more hierarchical, racially stratified society.

At the same time, the number of incarcerated ethnic minorities, most notably African Americans, started to rise. Inmates in U.S. jails and prisons surged from around 300,000 in 1970 to more than 2 million less than 30 years later (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). The number of African-Americans in prison climbed by 27 between 1983 and 2000 when mass incarceration was at its peak in the United States (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). A legal system founded on the systemic effect of racism is untenable in this new age of racial equality. Other reasons for our current racially stratified criminal justice systems are now necessary to account for systematic racial inequalities in criminal justice outcomes.

Logistical Problem

Another problem with selective incapacitation is it has no practical way to focus on the individual, only seeing things from a macro perspective (Monteiro & Frost, 2015). A way to remedy this would be to see something on a case-by-case basis on sentencing with psychological testing. Granted, this will cost extra, yet this is the price to pay to reform American society whatever sentences do not work, as seen by the recidivism rate. As there is no effective rehabilitation system for convicts, they have nowhere else to turn to aside from what they already know- crime.

To add on, the harsh sentences are handed out generally to every offender no matter what crime was done. This does not make any sense whatsoever if the goal is to combat crime yet also encourage minor offenders to commit more crimes simultaneously. Rather than target extreme dangers to society, the justice system seeks to punish all offenders; this, in turn, brings about unintended consequences with recidivists stuck in a cycle- unable to get a job, so they must rely on crime to feed themselves possibly their loved ones. It is a vicious system that is set up for failure (Monteiro & Frost, 2015). A possible reason is that this is done to allow access for borderline free labor with the American prison system. At the very least, these issues can be minimized by a large margin. Furthermore, minor offenders should also be paired up with a trade program to help them prepare to adjust back to society.


The prison system in Norway thrives more than in the United States. Norway also has lower recidivism rates than the U.S. (Sterbenz, 2014). They are more focused on treating what caused the criminal to do said crime rather than punishing them. The punishment is that they lose their freedom until their sentence is finished. A prisoner noted that prisoners would act how they are treated, i.e., if they are treated like animals, they will act as such (Sterbenz, 2014). It is common knowledge that the American prison system is unfavorable towards those convicted of crimes. Perchance a modifier with selective incapacitation would be that certain offenders receive special treatment depending on their offense. That is the point of selective incapacitation, to begin with.

The Goals of Selective Incapacitation

Given the intercounty variation in our identification approach, this part examines the pre- change disparities between high- and low-incarceration counties. Counties are divided into thirds based on their imprisonment rates before Realignment, and each is provided some basic descriptive information. The disparities between these three groups are remarkable, with average speeds of 234, 402, and 612 county citizens incarcerated in a state prison per 100,000 county population (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). Furthermore, these countries are distinct on several other levels. Poverty grows linearly in counties with low imprisonment rates. Before the Realignment, counties with high imprisonment rates had high violent and property crime rates.

According to one research, individuals in high-incarceration counties had a more unfavorable opinion of recent sentence changes, showing significant ideological divisions between the locations. According to a chart in this article, Proposition 36, a proposed amendment to California’s three-strike statute, had the most support from Californians in 2012. Provision for Scheme 36 is substantially inferior in high-incarceration regions, where the typical age is 70.2 percent, 65.2 percent, and 62.4 percent, respectively, in the top third, middle, and the bottom counties (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016).

Because of prison overcrowding, politicians have been forced to be more discriminating in picking criminals. Selective incapacitation advocates target and imprison a small number of violent criminals who commit a substantial number of crimes to minimize crime.

More research is needed to determine the study’s validity in choosing habitual offenders. The selection method and the data necessary to use might raise legal and philosophical concerns. Some of these problems have been raised in the context of expected future crimes rather than convictions and the potential that selection tools may be flawed by design or information input. Legally and philosophically, using a selection tool to achieve selective incapacity may be justified provided the selection is legal and the punishment imposed does not exceed the maximum duration authorized for the underlying crime. A mechanically operated instrument should never be utilized.

Recent changes in Selective Incapacitation

According to the annual-over-annual alteration prototypes for violent crime, a decrease in jail has hurt crime rates. Without accounting for county or month static effects, a statistically noteworthy estimation of 0.034 ferocious misconducts per 100,000 people averted each month may be constructed for every one-person upsurge in the jail imprisonment rate. As a result, the impact is decreased by roughly half when monthly fixed effects are included in the specification for this estimate. The 0.04 crime avoided per 100,000 estimate is somewhat higher but statistically significant when county-fixed variables are incorporated into the model (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). After correcting month and county fixed effects, the final specification shows a positive but statistically insignificant relationship.

The difference-in-difference categorization models show more minor variance in county imprisonment rates influencing county violent crime rates. Specific coefficients are not anticipated to be positive, and they are statistically insignificant in four of the five specifications. Only when we account for county fixed variables, and the local prison detention rate change does the coefficient have the anticipated sign and become statistically significant. However, when state-level trends are included in the specification, the coefficient is reduced to zero.

Mass Criminalization

Surveillance of persons of color is common, particularly of the poor and disadvantaged ethnic groups such as Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. The influence of police monitoring on crime rates and minority cynicism has received much attention in sociology and criminology. Being stopped, questioned, assaulted, and detained by police has become the norm in many Black communities. Ordinary uncomfortable police encounters are likely inexplicable to white citizens of prosperous regions.

From arrest through conviction and jail, the criminal justice system is riddled with racial and socioeconomic inequities. According to the most conservative estimates, direct discrimination, which is unaccounted for by lawful issues such as the nature of the offense or immoral record, accounts for a large share of these discrepancies (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). Racism, both implicit and explicit, is likely to have a role among judges and prosecutors.

Reducing prosecution authority and raising funding for public defense counsel are only a few of the many adjustments that are required. In addition to the piecemeal changes that have already been achieved, we must continue to consider reform and the role of the courts in the elimination of the police and prisons. Activists and philosophers such as Dorothy Roberts, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Angela Y. Davis talk of abolition. Instead of using police and prisons to tackle social problems and inequality, they push for a more just society. Investments in health care, education, and food security should be prioritized.

In New York, organizations such as the Center for Court Innovation are experimenting with alternatives to conventional criminal courts. These programs, founded on restorative justice ideas, aim to reach a mutually beneficial resolution between the injured party and the perpetrator. It is possible to abolish prisons and police forces via the courts. Suppose activists and elected officials fight to modify the institutional norms of the courts. In that case, they may result in people being freed from jail and resisting harsh police activities rather than accepting them.

Collective Incapacitation

There has been a lapse in the collective consciousness. It is essential that when someone commits a specific crime, they be treated uniformly to safeguard society as a whole. Consider the consequences of minimum wage regulations to understand collective incapacity better. A mandatory minimum prison term of a particular time is required for certain offenses (Rucker & Richeson, 2021). These punishments are imposed regardless of the defendant’s previous history or current circumstances (mitigating factors). Concerns about the degradation of justice due to judges’ inability to customize punishments to the individual and cases of their crimes make this kind of incapacity critical to examine more. In addition, collective incompetence contributes to jail overcrowding and expensive taxes and diverts funds away from other deterrence, enforcement, and rehabilitation tactics.

Furthermore, there is a great deal of controversy about the effect of mass incarceration on low-income areas. Mass imprisonment, according to some, has the effect of reducing crime by removing local predators and separating them from the rest of society. Many people, including those who believe that removing large numbers of young males from the community causes job market collapse, a lack of family unity, and strain on the community when men recently released from prison are reintegrated, believe that the benefits of “incapacity” are outweighed by “the deterioration of the very fabric of communities (Rucker & Richeson, 2021).” This disparity is noteworthy because it demonstrates that many black males are imprisoned compared to their white counterparts.


Over the past decade, there has been a surge in the study of incapacitation tactics to decrease crime. There are numerous estimations of potential crime decreases, each based on the researcher’s assumptions. During the 1970s and 1980s, collective incapacitation techniques in sentencing processes avoided between ten and thirty percent of prospective crimes (Rucker & Richeson, 2021). While expanding the use of imprisonment may help deter future crimes, measures such as mandatory minimum terms would result in a significant rise in the prison population. Convicted criminals who commit serious crimes will be targeted for jail under selective incapacitation tactics. It is difficult to identify these high-rate violent offenders using official criminal history data. If early research is adopted, selective incapacitation might reduce adult robberies by 5 to 10% while increasing the jail population (Rucker & Richeson, 2021). In light of current research and understanding of severe criminal conduct, the future of selective incapacitation is examined.

“Dangerous” criminals who conduct a disproportionately significant amount of criminal activity may be identified and hospitalized to keep them from committing other crimes. Furthermore, this approach exaggerates science’s ability to identify “career” criminals while underestimating the importance of institutional racism and societal instability in assuring a continual supply of offenders. While increasing society’s control over traditional criminals, rule changes exacerbate the long-term repercussions of incapacity by disregarding the necessity and desirability of offering non-incarceration options for enhancing offender care (Rucker & Richeson, 2021). In any case, a more favorable balance between incarceration and non-incarceration options is essential. The focus on “street” criminality in the guidelines obscures a lack of accountability for corporate and white-collar misdeeds.


Berk, J., Macmadu, A., Kaplowitz, E., & Rich, J. D. (2020, September 24). COVID-19 Exposes a Broken Prison System. Issues in Science and Technology.

Duwe, G. (2014). To what extent does civil commitment reduce sexual recidivism? Estimating the selective incapacitation effects in Minnesota. Journal of Criminal Justice, 42(2), 193–202.

Fattore, L., & Diana, M. (2016). Drug addiction: An affective-cognitive disorder in need of a cure. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews65, 341–361.

Lofstrom, M., & Raphael, S. (2016). Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic Inequality. The Journal of Economic Perspectives30(2), 103–126.

Monteiro, C. E., & Frost, N. A. (2015). Altering trajectories through community-based justice reinvestment. Criminology & Public Policy14(3), 455–463.

Rucker, J. M., & Richeson, J. A. (2021). Toward an understanding of structural racism: Implications for criminal justice. Science374(6565), 286-290.

Sterbenz, C. (2014). Why Norway’s prison system is so successful. Business insider11.

Turney, K., & Wakefield, S. (2019). Criminal Justice Contact and Inequality. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences5(1), 1–23.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics