What If Nothing Works? On Crime Licenses, Recidivism, and Quality of Life

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"We accept uncritically the 'recidivist premium,' which is the notion that habitual offenders are particularly blameworthy and should be punished harshly....

...I offer a counterintuitive proposal, which is to provide 'crime licenses' to recidivists. But I limit this prescription model to only a collection of quality-of-life offenses, like drug possession, vagrancy, and prostitution.... I present the crime license as a modest opportunity to test bolder concepts like legalization, prison abolition, and defunding police....  I draw upon successful prescription-based, radical-pragmatic reforms, like international addiction-maintenance clinics, where habitual drug users receive free heroin in safe settings. I endorse 'harm reduction,' the governance philosophy that grounds those reforms. And I imagine our system reoriented around harm reduction, with crime licenses as one pragmatic, experimental step in that direction." 

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