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Letter To The Editor – Apr. 3, 2014

Will Fine Ultimatum Work Or Will It Just Increase Crime


Dear Editor,
Studying at Ole Miss in the psychology department I have learned to treat new actions as experiments and to monitor outcomes to see how well they work. With the recent ultimatum to felons to pay their fines or go to jail, I hope someone will monitor whether crimes go up in the search for quick cash. Of course, ideally there would be a baseline for the month before the ultimatum, and then monitor changes from that baseline.
Perhaps the ultimatum will work without harmful unintended consequences. Or perhaps other solutions are necessary. From individuals I met while working at a crisis center, I learned that, 1) jail is sufficiently aversive but does not teach new skills and, 2) people would like to achieve a stable productive life that attracts zero interest or attention from authorities. Yet the obstacles to that life are often characterized by unrealistic expectations of sudden changes without helping people grow in steps.
Just some thoughts.
Fernando Alessandri, M.A.
Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology
University of Mississippi

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