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NCJ Number: 76820 Find in a Library
Title: Threat of Punishment as an Instrument of Crime Control
Journal: American Philosophical Society Proceedings  Volume:118  Issue:3  Dated:(June 7, 1974)  Pages:231-234
Author(s): F E Zimring
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 4
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper argues that the impact of different types of punishment on crime rates should be studied in order to develop policies that work and are cost-effective in both economic and human terms.
Abstract: Most strategies for enhancing the deterrent efficacy of the law are costly in both economic and human terms. More police and prisons mean more public expenditure. Criminal punishment administered to offenders for deterrent purposes inflicts pain and lost opportunity. Also, many measures have a negative impact on nonoffenders: harsh punishments may brutalize the public, while surveillance generates fear and an atmosphere of insecurity. Thus, studies are needed to determine how much any particular strategy might reduce crime, and how acceptable it is as compared with other means of crime control. However, a particular legal threat involves a mixture of factors such as communication levels, audience beliefs, type of sanction, and type of behavior threatened. Moreover, comparative and before-and-after studies of social phenomena, based on crime statistics which are unreliable, pose special problems. Thus, caution should be exercised in drawing inferences and many differently imperfect methods should be used to study these phenomena. To start, efforts should be made to integrate widely diverse observations of punishment policy. For example, Great Britain's Road Safety Act of 1967 has reduced the rate of drunk-driving and road casualties, but crackdowns on drunk-driving have not fared well in the United States. A total of 19 footnotes containing references are included. For related articles, see NCJ 76819.
Index Term(s): Corrections effectiveness; Crime Rate; Deterrence; Deterrence effectiveness; Punishment
Note: Presented at the Symposium on Current Aspects of Penology, November 9, 1973.
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