This paper provides an overview of the incapacitation issue, highlights information on recent estimates of criminal careers that are useful to the incapacitation model, and outlines an ambitious research agenda for continued and expanded work on incapacitation and crime that centers on developing better estimates of the characteristics of criminal careers and their relevance to policy … The logic breaks down when we appreciate that incarcerating an offender does not necessarily eliminate the crime. The incapacitation effect literally keeps crimes from occurring. But that incapacitation is a costly way to deter future crimes by aging individuals who already … The early release of prisoners, brought on by budgetary and financial difficulties, causes crime to increase, especially in the large urban areas to which criminals usually return. A more severe (i.e., lengthy) prison sentence for convicted individuals who are naturally aging out of crime does achieve the goal of punishment and incapacitation.

Incapacitation seems like a proper rationale, at least from a distance. The first has to do with the phenomenon of replacement, as discussed in Box 5-1.

From the inception of research on incapacitation, it has been recognized that incarceration of drug dealers is ineffective in preventing drug distribution through incapacitation because dealers are easily replaced.