Yawn, not this again.
While I do think the US penal system is very broken... this research is trivially shown to be a pile of garbage.
It ASSUMES the only cause of recidivism can be the length of prison sentence, and therefore that relation is cause.
It totally ignores that harder criminals, when caught tend to end up with longer sentences (because, well, they do worse crimes..) and that
these same harder criminals are more likely to not change their ways.
Having spent some significant time with people who actually work with criminals in the prison systems I can tell you that the VERY unpopular
but well proven fact is that there are generally two types of people. The prison psycologists often call them the sheep and the wolves.
The sheep are usually these because of a bad situation or foolish mistake that spun out of control. They were late for a meeting, not thinking,
and crashed into someone in their car killing them. Their personal/family situation got desperate so they had to steal to make things meet. They
didnt usually drink much, but had a few that night, arrived home to find their partner in a screaming rage and punched them. etc. All very stupid
and faulty, but not their usual actions. Punishment usually gives them a pretty big reality check.
The wolves however are very different, and not that rare. To them things are for the taking. They have the 'right' to do these things, and the
punishment is just an unfortunate side effect. Next time they will just be 'tougher' and wont get caught. These people tend to spiral up not down
and little if anything works to reduce their damaging effects on society because they see society as theirs to use/abuse as they want.
Prison is often, but not always, overkill for the sheep - they will usually see their mistake.
Prison is often a requirement for the wolves, because is KEEPS THEM AWAY FROM SOCIETY.
Prison is not primarily a punishment, it is a way to protect society as a whole.
This is where the system is falling down - we are not separating those two groups and treating them suitably... because the crime itself does not
tell you which type they are.
Unfortunately there is a strong feeling among quite a bit of modern society that 'bad boys will become good, they just need more love'. The wolves
live on this..It is their free ride and they know it.
We need to judge more on intent and less on crime.
We need a wider range of 'suitable' punishments, and many more 'unpleasant but not prison' options.
We need to accept that some people should not be part of society.
And we need to stop wishing everyone would just love each other more.. Because some people are good, some are bad. Deal with it.
This kid, of course, needs a damn good kick in the entitlements. Not a prison sentence (yet). Only time will tell where he goes.