Less Law, More Order

The Truth about Reducing Crime

by Irvin Waller


Sheds new light on the problem of crime and argues that better prevention strategies, rather than stricter laws, will do more to reduce crime

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August 2006


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Crime/General
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Each year 24 million Americans are victims of crime. U.S. taxpayers spend more and more each year on police, prisons and judges—a record $200 billion at last count. They incarcerate more and more persons each year—two million plus. Yet prestigious commissions show not only that this standard way of responding to crime is ineffective but that there is scientific proof that many projects that tackle risk factors that cause crime are effective. Rather than sending more people to jail or hiring more and more police, the author, and the research, shows that addressing problems in the community does more to prevent crime. This timely book illustrates in convincing detail what needs to be done to prevent crime and keep people out of prison.

Here, Waller shows that hiring public health nurses and investing in helping youth at risk to complete school and get job training is better than hiring more police; preventing family violence, banning hand guns and dealing with drugs through public health saves more lives than incarceration; getting close neighbors to watch out for us and better industrial design are more effective than criminal courts; smarter policing is better than more police; paying for services to support victims and guaranteeing them rights is better than more rhetoric. Addressing the social issues that lead to crime, rather than addressing crime after it happens, or putting stiffer penalties in place, will contribute to creating a safer society and to keeping kids and adults from taking the wrong path toward a life of crime.



"In nine well-written, clearly documented chapters, Waller makes the case for adopting policies that privilege the prevention of crime over the current tough on crime response. He demonstrates how the punitive approach is actually tough on victims and taxpayers and produces questionable outcomes. The author offers a series of policy proposals that would focus on addressing the known causes of conventional crime, starting with programs to invest in more effective parenting and schooling. Many proposals are quite familiar (e.g., outlaw handguns), and some are especially ambitious (e.g., transform urban environments). Concluding chapters call for investing in order and busting causes, not budgets. Altogether, this brief but well-organized book offers a useful overview of the case for an alternative to the current crime-fighting public policies. Recommended. All public and academic levels/libraries."Choice

"[C]hallenges the conventional practices of law enforcement in reacting to crime. He presents scientific research, demonstrating crime prevention projects that have successfully tackled factors at the root of crime. Yet, despite findings by numerous prestigious commissions from both national and international sources, the current response appears to be increased incarceration and police force, which tends to lead to more incarceration. Waller details those programs that have proven successful in reducing crime by helping at-risk youth to complete school and get job training, preventing family violence, restricting hand guns, and addressing drug abuse through public-health services....[t]he clear challenge is to get responsible officials to see that a more effective deterrent to crime is to address social issues that lead to crime rather than the current reactive practice of increasing penalties and reacting to crime after it occurs."Booklist


"Powerful, passionate and persuasive writing, Less Law, More Order makes the case for prevention over punishment, for early investments in families and education over profligate incarceration. Evidence-based, Waller's approach will reduce crime and victimization and will save money. A must read for every voter."—John A. Calhoun, founding President and CEO, National Crime Prevention Council and former U.S. Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families

"Want to reduce crime and save taxes? Less Law, More Order is a profound critique of where America has gone wrong in the fight against crime--and an impressive prescription of how we can put it right. I strongly encourage my colleagues promoting victim justice in the U.S.--and around the globe--to delve into Professor Waller's analyses and put his proposals for change on their reform agendas. This is the authoritative diagnosis that the victims movement can use for prevention and justice."—Dr. Marlene Young, President, International Organization for Victim Assistance

"Successful policing uses facts to put crooks behind bars. Smart policing uses facts to organize to reduce crime. Less Law, More Order uses facts from the authoritative sources in the USA and England. It puts in question our standard practices but shows what we must do better to reduce violence. It puts government leadership at the center of the fight against crime. This is a practical and smart agenda to make our countries safer from crime that the next generation of political and police leaders must read and put into action."—The Lord Stevens, QPM, DL, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

"Less Law, More Order does not pull any punches. The solutions are not more police and prisoners. It uses the World Health Organization and other authoritative sources to show what must be done to reduce crime. It uses successes by cities from Birmingham to Bogota to show how city leadership can reduce crime by combining forces to tackle its causes. Mayors and their officials must not only read this book but put these simple conclusions into practice."—Senator Larry Campbell, formerly Mayor of Vancouver and Chief Coroner of British Columbia

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