Originally posted by finnegan
a) to reduce crime to zero
b) to reduce crime
c) to punish crime
Each of your big three are worthy goals, and need to work together instead of separately. Surely there are acts made criminal, that perhaps ought not be (the victimless crimes).
Reduction of crime is accomplished by punishment. A book I read several decades ago entitled "Criminal Justice" was a compilation of works of experts in the field, judges and prosecutors. Rehabilitation, though popular in some circles has shown little promise at that point or lately either. Recidivism remains as high or higher than before, and studies indicate that the only thing that stops young male criminals is growing older. By their 50s most recidivist get the picture and go straight.
Another useful consideration on the limits that punishment can do, or rehabilitation for that matter, is that most incarcerations occur well into a criminal career. Most criminals by the time they are caught, convicted and jailed, have committed dozens of crimes without being caught. They believe they are invincible, and that is often reinforced during their initial incarceration by others who rationalize how they can continue without getting caught again.
The one thing that does seem to work is that during incarceration the criminal doesn't commit further crimes or create additional victims. Society is protected by incarceration, whether the criminal is rehabbed or not.
Another thing standing out in this book was that first offenders are often treated with kid gloves, getting suspended sentences in hopes of them going straight. The big majority end up getting caught again and eventually doing time.