The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has released findings of what deters criminal behavior.

The NIJ offers five findings that it has learned from extensive research in criminal deterrence including the failure of prisons to deter crime. Prison the NIJ says instead can cause people to become more criminal.

The findings support restorative responses to crime instead of punishment.

The United States, excluding the federal government, spends $53 billion a year on prisons and in comparison only about $700 million is provided by the federal government for crime victims needs.

Our prisons are harming our communities. Recidivism is not surprising considering prisons are breeding grounds for making people more criminal. At the same time victims are left with unmet needs.

If we began to care more about helping those hurt by crime instead of imprisoning people who only become wiser criminals — by shifting large amounts from the $53 billion now spent on punishment to more help for victims — we could begin to make a difference.

Restorative processes are a vehicle for attending to victims needs, which are not always for restitution. Every victim has unique needs that restorative processes can address.