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NCJ Number: 75764 Find in a Library
Title: Fear of Deterrence - A Critical Evaluation of the Report of the Panel on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative Effects
Author(s): I Ehrlich; R Mark
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article refutes the findings of a report by the National Academy of Sciences on deterrence, in panel members implied that researchers have been unable to prove a conclusive relationship between criminal sanctions and reduced crime.
Abstract: Although methodological advances in deterrence research have largely come from economists, the panel did not include criminologists who have pursued this approach. The two papers which were commissioned by the panel to examine the author's studies on deterrence are analyzed. Comments on the first paper which concerned a study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment dispute its criticisms that the regression model used failed to respond to all variables and that measurement errors resulted in bias. The panel's second paper addressed the identification of factors which affect interactions between the supply of offenses and the demand for public law enforcement. Criticisms focus on this paper's emphasis on crowding effects produced by increased law enforcement activity which can reduce penalties over the short term. For example, crowding does not affect all crimes equally and has the least impact on serious offenses. Other weaknesses include failure to examine other studies which have validated correlations between the crime rate and the probability of imprisonment. The panel's reluctance to endorse empirical studies clearly proving the value of deterrence did not stem from rational evaluation but from a desire to prove that evidence on deterrence is defective. The panel's final report suffers several methodological shortcomings, as well as numerous factual errors and inaccuracies. The panel's recommendations for future research are too general to be useful, but proposals that funding for deterrence research cease and that an advisory board be established to oversee developing research would actually abridge academic freedom. Over 90 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Critiques; Deterrence; Deterrence effectiveness; Economic analysis of crime; Evaluation of evaluation; Research
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