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“Nothing Works” Debate

The everyday phrase nothing works has taken on a particular significance in criminal justice, affecting practice, policy, and research in the field, with particular relevance to the question of offender rehabilitation and the reduction of criminal recidivism. Also often known as the what works debate, this debate refers to one of the core questions in criminology, penology, and criminal psychology: that of whether or not individuals who have broken the law, and especially those who have done so on repeated occasions or who have committed serious crimes, are likely to do so on subsequent occasions—and what approaches if any society can use in trying to ensure that they do not.

The objective of this entry is to provide a background and history of the debate and ...

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