Conversations on Urbanization

Paul Romer & Mark Kleiman on Crime and Punishment

Brandon Fuller Brandon Fuller

Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at UCLA, and Paul Romer recently discussed crime and punishment in the United States. Their conversation was motivated by the following observations: 

The United States has about four times the homicide rate, and about six times the incarceration rate, of Canada or Western Europe. Both problems are concentrated in cities, and among the socially and economically disadvantaged. Crime is down dramatically over the past two decades, but the prison headcount remains at near-record levels. What is to be done?

For more content related to this discussion read Mark Kleiman's essay, Thinking About Punishment: James Q. Wilson and Mass Incarceration, part of the Marron Institute's working paper series, and Paul Romer's blog post about the paper, The Great Crime Wave & the Tragedy of Mass Incarceration.

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy, UCLA School of Public Affairs

Mark Kleiman is Professor of Public Policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He teaches courses on methods of policy analysis, on imperfectly rational decision-making at the individual and social level, and on drug abuse and crime control policy. His current focus is on reducing crime and incarceration by substituting swiftness and predictability for severity in the criminal justice system generally and in community-corrections institutions specifically. Recent projects include studies of the HOPE probation system and of the relationship between drug policy and violence in Afghanistan and Mexico.

Mr. Kleiman is the author of Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control; of Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results;  and of When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment, listed by The Economist as one of the "Books of the Year" for 2009.  Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (co-authored with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) was published in July 2011 by Oxford University Press. He edits the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis.

Paul Romer

Director, NYU Stern Urbanization Project

Paul Romer, an economist and policy entrepreneur, is University Professor at NYU and founding director of the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, where he also leads the Charter Cities initiative. He is also the director of NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management. Whereas the Urbanization Project focuses on rapidly urbanizing countries, the Marron Institute conducts research on the challenges faced by cities in all countries.

Before coming to NYU, Romer taught at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. While there he took an entrepreneurial detour to start Aplia, an education technology company dedicated to increasing student effort and classroom engagement. Prior to Stanford, Romer taught in the economics departments at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester. In 2002, he received the Recktenwald Prize for his work on the role of ideas in sustaining economic growth.

Romer earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago after doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Queens University.

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