Read more:

Download the briefing paper

A brief guide to reducing violent offending, based on the book. Recommended for policymakers, practitioners, or anyone interested in reducing violent offending.

Purchase the book

Using Social Science to Reduce Violent Offending won the American Psychology-Law Society's 2013 Book Award!

The Problem

Since Martinson’s “Nothing Works” article in 1978, American concepts of public safety, rehabilitation, and corrections have been replaced with a system that is unapologetically punitive. Political rhetoric screams “Tough on Crime,” but delivers policies that are merely tough on criminals. With few exceptions, Psychology has stood by and watched this transformation with little protest. Psychology has decades of empirical evidence on how to change human behavior...

...what if Psychology designed a criminal justice system? To offer an alternative perspective, the American Psychology-Law Society has authorized a Presidential Initiative to distill what behavioral scientists know about changing human behavior into a set of recommendations for criminal and juvenile justice policies that would make America safer and reduce the drain on human and economic resources by ineffective, wasteful, and even counterproductive penal systems. The result, a book titled, “Applying Social Science to Reduce Violent Offending,” consists of a series of practical summaries of how social science can inform more effective criminal and juvenile justice policies.


What people are saying about the book:

"Anyone interested in human beings in the United States should read this book and consider its recommendations. These are not just armchair musings. Careful consideration of the problems and science-based solutions leads to a call to action...Read this book. If you agree with these science based solutions, take action." Gregory DeClue, PhD. Review published in Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology, November, 2011.

"Despite its detailed descriptions of high recidivism rates and programs that are expensive but not effective, the book will leave readers with a sense of renewed hope. Throughout the book, the authors examine an incredible amount of empirical evidence regarding violent offending and treatment programs; hopefully, this book will spur social scientists to work alongside key stakeholders to apply that research." Jason A. Cantone, JD, PhD. Review published in PsycCRITIQUES, November 2012.

"Overall I felt this text had considerable content to offer, with value not just in enhancing academic understanding but also in providing guidance and, crucially, reassurance to those seeking to implement interventions...Overall I warmly recommend this text. I feel its varied approach ensures there is content relevant and of interest to all. It should prove itself an invaluable resource." Professor Jane L. Ireland, School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, UK. Review from December 2012 bulletin of the International Society for Research on Aggression.

"Violent crime is an enormous problem that Americans have been taught they simply have to accept. The evidence marshaled so effectively in this excellent volume suggests otherwise. Data-driven, strategically planned interventions with offenders can make a difference in reducing violence. Finally we have the long-awaited blueprint for revitalizing our criminal justice system."—Paul S. Appelbaum, MD, Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, & Law and Director, Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

"Using Social Science to Reduce Violent Offending is a survey of practices that have successfully changed human behavior. When this tool is put into practice, the world will be a better and safer place."--Andrew Vachhs, Founder and National Advisory Board Member of PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children