To Serve and Protect

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To Serve and Protect  
Author(s) Bruce L. Benson
Language English
Subject(s) Crime and punishment
Publisher New York University Press
Pages 372, xxviii

To Serve and Protect is a book by Bruce L. Benson about how privatization can improve the law enforcement and prison systems. The book was praised by Mark Thornton, who wrote, "Small-government conservatives and law-and-order libertarians beware: this book will challenge your basic beliefs and ultimately change your mind about the role of government in the criminal justice system. Big-government civil libertarians and liberals face an even more difficult challenge because for them this book does not challenge their exception, but their rule that government should control the important institutions in society."[1]

Benson notes that reporting of serious crimes has now fallen to less than 50 percent, but nearly 100 percent of automobile thefts are reported because victims expect to get restitution from their insurance companies. Thus, restitution is viewed as key to getting victims involved in fighting crime. Benson notes that deterrence is a function of both likelihood and severity of sentences. He models it according to this formula: expected time in prison = probability that crime is observed × probability of observer reporting × probability of arrest × probability of prosecution × probability of conviction × probability of imprisonment × average prison sentence × portion of sentence served.


  1. Thornton, Mark (Summer 2000). "Review of Bruce Benson". Journal of Libertarian Studies 14 (2): 257–260.