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NCJ Number: 64547 Find in a Library
Title: DETERRENCE RESEARCH AS A BASIS FOR DETERRENCE POLICIES
Journal: HOWARD JOURNAL OF PENOLOGY AND CRIME PREVENTION  Volume:18  Issue:3  Dated:(1979)  Pages:135-149
Author(s): D BEYLEVELD
Corporate Author: Scottish Academic Press Ltd
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Scottish Academic Press Ltd
Edinburgh, EH7 5JK, Scotland
Sale Source: Scottish Academic Press Ltd
33 Montgomery Street
Edinburgh, EH7 5JK,
United Kingdom
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: THIS ENGLISH ARTICLE REVIEWS EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE ON THE GENERAL DETERRENT EFFECTIVENESS OF LEGAL SANCTIONS AND ARGUES THAT NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS EXISTS FOR A GENERAL POLICY OF DETERRENCE.
Abstract: TO ESTABLISH THE DETERRENT EFFECT OF A SANCTION, ONE MUST SHOW THAT A POTENTIAL OFFENDER DECIDED NOT TO COMMIT A CRIME BECAUSE THE RISK WAS TOO GREAT. MOST RESEARCH ON DETERRENCE IS DEFECTIVE BECAUSE IT DOES NOT ESTABLISH THIS CAUSE AND EFFECT CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY. THE MAJORITY OF RESEARCH REPORTS USE ECOLOGICAL COMPARISONS, WHEREBY RATES FOR A SPECIFIC CRIME ARE COMPARED FOR TWO JURISDICTIONS WITH DIFFERENT SANCTIONS FOR THAT OFFENSE. THE RESULTS OFTEN CONFIRM THE EXPECTED RELATION BETWEEN PROBABILITY OF SANCTIONS AND OFFENSE RATES, BUT CANNOT ESTABLISH A CORRELATION BETWEEN SEVERITY OF SANCTIONS AND OFFENSE RATES. BEFORE ECOLOGICAL STUDY ECOLOGICAL DATA CAN BE USED AS EVIDENCE, IT MUST BE SHOWN THAT DATA ARE RELIABLE, THAT RELATIONSHIPS ARE TRULY CAUSAL, AND NOT THE EFFECT OF INTERACTION OF THE INDEPENDENT CAUSAL RELATIONS WITH SOME THIRD VARIABLE, AND THAT CHANGES IN SANCTIONS PRODUCE THE CHANGES IN OFFENSE RATES, AND NOT VICE VERSA. QUESTIONNAIRES AND INTERVIEWS ARE ALSO DEFECTIVE AS RESEARCH TOOLS SINCE RESPONDENTS MAY VARY IN THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF SANCTIONS AND THEREFORE IN THEIR BEHAVIOR BASED ON THIS KNOWLEDGE. FIELD EXPERIMENTS ARE POTENTIALLY EXCELLENT MEANS FOR EVALUATING DETERRENT EFFECTS, BUT THEY ARE EXPENSIVE AND REQUIRE COOPERATION FROM OFFICIALS. IT IS GENERALLY CONCLUDED THAT A SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND THEORY FOR PREDICTING DETERRENCE MUST BE PRECEDED BY (1) A PROVEN THEORY ON PEOPLE'S ATTITUDES TOWARD LAWS AND OFFENSES AND (2) A THEORY OF HOW THE THREAT OF SANCTIONS IS COMMUNICATED. AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS PROBABLY TRUE THAT A VERY SEVERE PENALTY, ACCOMPANIED BY SUCH REPRESSIVE MEASURES AS SUSPENSION OF DUE PROCESS AND FINGERPRINTING AND ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION, WOULD DETER CRIME. SUCH A POLICY WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE, HOWEVER. THERE IS STILL ROOM FOR DETERRENCE IF ITS LIMITS AND OPERATION ARE UNDERSTOOD. MUCH MORE STUDY IS NEEDED. FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (MRS)
Index Term(s): Crime Rate; Deterrence; Deterrence effectiveness; Evaluation; Planning; Policy; Policy analysis
Note: PRICE QUOTED IS FOR ENTIRE ISSUE
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64547

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