Running head: DETERRENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 1
DETERRENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 2
Deterrence in Criminal Justice
The theory of deterrence says that punishment for a crime will dissuade people from committing crime. There are two types of deterrence : general deterrence and specific deterrence. General deterrence is defined by Siegel (2011) as “a crime control policy that depends on the fear of criminal penalties, convincing the potential law violator that the pains associated with crime outweigh it's benefits.” (p. 95). In other words, general deterrence uses the punishment of one person's crime to teach the rest of society that this is what will happen to you if you commit ...view middle of the document...
Nor would it do all
DETERRENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 3
offenders good to be locked up. You have to look at the offender, their criminal history and the
crime committed to best decide where this offender belongs in the criminal justice system. If you have an offender that stole something to provide food for their family and it's there first offense then prison is not the place for them. Putting a person like this into the prison system can do more harm then good. They will enter the prison system and be around actual criminals. They will harden while in prison and could learn other ways of committing crimes. When they come out they are more likely to commit another crime then if you would have simply imposed a punishment of a fine. Research has shown the the harshest punishment in prison actually rises the recidivism rate instead of decreasing it. There are many reasons for this, according to Siegel (2011) “punishment may breed defiance rather then deterrence.” (p. 100). Simply put, criminals who are treated harshly in the prison, don't want to let the system think that they can be broken, they want to retaliate and show that they will still do whatever they want to do. Many of these criminals believe that the chances of them being caught for the same crime more then once are slim to none. They think that if they continue to commit the same crime, they will be safe. Another effect that imprisonment has on the recidivism rate increasing is putting younger, less experienced criminals in prisons with the more experienced criminals. The younger criminal usually looks up to the more experienced criminals, therefore the experienced criminal can shape the lifestyle and attitude of the younger criminal. Once they are released from the prison system, they have a negative attitude towards the system and have learned better ways of committing crimes without being caught. According to The Pew Center for the States, in 2004 the recidivism rate for those that were released from prison was 43.3 percent within a three year period.
DETERRENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 4Along side imprisonment is capital punishment. While this is not a form of punishment that all states allow, most states still use the death penalty despite the controversy surrounding it. Currently there are 34 states that allow capital punishment. Most of society believes that all people that commit murder are going to be put on death row. This is untrue. In fact, in the last 30 years only three percent of those that received the death penalty were due to murder. According to Masters, Way, Gerstenfeld, Muscat, Hooper, Sussich, Pincu, and Skrapec, (2011) “even though the majority of states have a death penalty statute, most have not executed anyone in decades.” (p. 304). There are many reasons for this, many inmates die of natural causes while waiting for their execution or commit suicide. Some will have their cases overturned and some will appeal their cases and have...