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NCJ Number: 186844 Find in a Library
Title: Incapacitation and Just Deserts as Motives for Punishment
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:24  Issue:6  Dated:December 2000  Pages:659-683
Author(s): John M. Darley; Kevin M. Carlsmith; Paul H. Robinson
Date Published: December 2000
Page Count: 25
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two experimental studies examined the role of incapacitation and just deserts as motivations for a person’s desire to punish persons who commit intentional harms counter to norms.
Abstract: The 54 university students who participated in the first study read a series of 10 criminal cases. The 83 undergraduates in the second study completed a questionnaire designed to determine how an offender’s brain tumor influenced their assessments of the appropriate punishment. The research participants assigned punishments to actors whose offenses were varied with respect to the moral seriousness of the offense and the likelihood that the perpetrator would commit similar future offenses. Results revealed that participants increased the punishment as the seriousness of the offense increased. However, variations in the likelihood of committing future offenses did not affect their sentences. This finding suggested that just deserts was the primary sentencing motive. The only case in which participants desired to incarcerate the individual to prevent future harms rather than assigning a punishment based on just deserts was the case in which the cause of the individual’s violent action was a brain tumor. Figures, tables, appended case summaries and methodological information, and 23 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Incapacitation theory; Just deserts theory; Public Opinion of Corrections; Public Opinion of Crime; Punishment
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