What Works in the Criminal Justice System (And What Doesn't): A 2000-11 Update on Policing, Courts, and Corrections

Pousadela, Inés M.
Jul 2014
As crime has become a serious cause of concern in most of Latin America, the "nothing works" era in criminal justice has given way to a shift towards evidence-based crime prevention in North America and Europe. The program evaluations conducted so far have yielded growing knowledge about what works, what does not work and what is promising, especially regarding recidivism outcomes. However, policymaking in Latin America remains ignorant to the available evidence, and most crime prevention policies, practices and programs are still being based on tradition, opinions, ideology, trends and anecdotal evidence rather than scientifically validated studies. On the basis of a review of the current literature on evidence-based crime prevention and an extensive search, analysis and systematization of the most recent program evaluations in policing, courts and corrections, this paper summarizes a series of lessons for Latin America and proposes a research and policy agenda for the region.