Though, as this story from the New York Times reports, the statistics show that criminals do reach a certain age where they no longer commit crimes, my experience is that the main reason older professional—excluding rapists, pedophiles, and informers—criminals do not get caught is because they become smarter; so building a sentencing policy on that will result, in my opinion, in more crime.
Criminal justice practitioners have been coming up with these type of arguments for decades, but still have not been able to produce a program that actually reduces recidivism, because, they do not understand criminals, especially professional criminals who commit the majority of crimes in America.
An excerpt from the Times article.
DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV is facing the death penalty or life in prison for the Boston Marathon bombing. But what if, instead, the maximum prison sentence were just 21 years?
That was the sentence that Anders Behring Breivik received in 2012 after killing 77 people, most of them teenagers attending a summer program, in Norway in 2011. It was the harshest sentence available. That doesn’t mean Mr. Breivik will ever walk free. Judges will be able to sentence him to an unlimited number of five-year extensions if he is still deemed a risk to the public in 2033, when he is 53.
The idea of a 21-year sentence for mass murder and terrorism may seem radically lenient in the United States, where life without parole is often presented as a humane alternative to the death penalty. Yet in testimony last week to a congressional task force on reforming the federal prison system, Marc Mauer, the director of the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group, suggested exactly that approach. He made the case for a 20-year cap on federal prison terms with an option for parole boards or judges to add more time if necessary to protect the public.
Such a policy would “control costs” in a system that is now 40 percent over capacity, Mr. Mauer told the task force, and would “bring the United States more in line with other industrialized nations.”
This proposal has little chance of becoming law. But a compelling case can be made for it nonetheless. Research by American social scientists shows that all but the most exceptional criminals, even violent ones, mature out of lawbreaking before middle age, meaning that long sentences do little to prevent crime.
Homicide and drug-arrest rates peak at age 19, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, while arrest rates for forcible rape peak at 18. Some crimes, such as vandalism, crest even earlier, at age 16, while arrest rates for forgery, fraud and embezzlement peak in the early 20s. For most of the crimes the F.B.I. tracks, more than half of all offenders will be arrested by the time they are 30.
And criminal careers do not last very long. Research by the criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon and colleagues has found that for the eight serious crimes closely tracked by the F.B.I. — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, arson and car theft — five to 10 years is the typical duration that adults commit these crimes, as measured by arrests.
Property criminals, like burglars and car thieves, tend to stop in their 20s, while violent criminals are more likely to continue into their early 30s. Drug-crime careers can be lengthier, stretching into the mid-30s, yet long sentences have had little effect on the drug trade. “When you lock up a rapist, you take his rapes off the street. When you lock up a drug seller, you recruit a replacement,” Professor Blumstein said.