Monitoring with Swift, Certain, and Moderate Sanctions to Reduce Alcohol-Related Crime

The South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program

by Gregory Midgette

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Cesare Beccaria first theorized 250 years ago that crime can be deterred by some combination of speed, certainty, and severity of sanctions. He further posited that the severity of punishment was least important of the three factors, as an uncertain and delayed punishment is unlikely to be a deterrent, no matter its severity. The South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program (hereinafter 24/7) is novel among programs targeting alcohol-related crime in its adherence to these principles. Rather than face traditionally uncertain, delayed, and possibly expensive or lengthy sanctions for a crime, individuals arrested for an alcohol-related crime are subjected to high-frequency testing and an immediate, but short, stay in jail if they violate. After encouraging initial anecdotal evidence, RAND began a systematic review of the program's structure, effectiveness, and cost. This document informs all three components.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2014 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Paul Heaton (Chair), Beau Kilmer, and Jonathan Caulkins.

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