Lecture 4 – Intro to corrections
The teen pimp case - “…theoretically one could use the social bonds theory to explain the behaviour of the
girl(s). One could say that since the age of twelve, there wasn’t any real attachment to her family, or to any real
positive influences. This was further aggravated by the death of her grandmother, and further proven by the
statement of her father saying she hung out with “project people”. On top of that her involvement in pro-social
activities took a giant nose-dive..”she was a truant, weed-smoker”, which also speaks to a drastic decrease in
her commitment to said pros-social activities”..
• What are the major sentencing philosophies?
• How do you actually interpret meta-analytic results?
• Does punishment reduce crime?
• What is restorative justice and does it work?
• What is offender rehabilitation and does it work?
• What is offender classification and what purpose does it serve?
• Section 718 of Canadian Criminal Code:
– Purposes of sentencing are to ensure respect for the law and the maintenance of a just,
peaceful, and safe society
• Peaceful/safe = general and specific deterrence
• Other key factors
– To prevent from committing crime again and to set example for society (deterrence; specific and
– To denounce unlawful conduct (retribution) (AN EYE FOR AN EYE)
– To remove offenders from society (incapacitation)
– To assist in rehabilitation efforts (rehabilitation)
– To provide reparation to victims (restorative justice)
– To promote as sense of responsibility in offenders (restorative/rehabilitation)
Goals of punishment (sanctions imposed by court)
• Deterrence—application of punishment to influence behaviour; as sentences increase the frequency of
unwanted behaviour should go down
– General deterrence—lengthy sentences given to others are expected to influence the population
• What type of learning theory is this consistent with?
– Specific deterrence—lengthy sentences given to an individual are expected to influence the
individual so he/she won’t do it again
• What type of learn theory is this consistent with?
Deconstructing the meta-analysis
• A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to summarize or aggregate the results
of a number of ‘like-minded’ studies into one common statistical metric known as an effect size
• Meta-analyses in criminal behaviour usually summarize treatment outcome studies or studies
examining the correlates and predictors of crime
• Meta-analyses also examine ‘moderators’ that may influence the average effect size
• Age, sex, race, treatment setting, offender type, methodological rigour.................
A sample meta-analytic table: Do prison sentences reduce criminal recidivism more than community
Type of Sanction (k) N M (SD) CI Z CIz
Incarceration vs. 6, 267, 804 .07 (.12) .05-.09 .00 .00-.00
Where K = # of effect sizes
N = total # of offenders,
M(SD)= mean unweighted effect size and standard deviation, CI-confidence interval,
Z= weighted mean effect sizes,
CIz – confidence intervals for weighted mean effect size; from Gendreau, Goggin, and Cullen, 1999; see page
111 of text)
When CI’s contain zero—there is absolutely no effect!
Preventing Crime: What Options do we Have?
• Restorative Justice
• Offender Rehabilitation—the “RNR” framework
Option #1: Punishment
• Get tough on Crime strategies: Do longer and harsher sentences work? NO!
• Punishing smarter initiatives: Boot camps, shock incarceration, electronic surveillance, curfews,
intensive supervision NO!
• Death penalty
A sample meta-analytic table: Does punishment reduce future crime?
Type of Sanction (k) N M (SD) CI Z CIz
Incarceration vs. 6, 267, 804 .07 (.12) .05-.09 .00 .00.00
More vs. less (222) 68, 248 .03 (.11) .02 - .05 .03 .02-.04
What does the meta-analytic research say? Do punishing smarter strategies reduce crime?
Type of Sanction Sample Size Average Effect Size
Intensive supervision 19,404 .00
Arrest 7, 779 .01
Fine 7, 162 -.04
Restitution 8, 715 -.02
Boot camp 6, 831 .00
Shock incarceration 1, 891 .07 Drug testing 419 .05
Electronic monitoring 1, 414 .05
Theoretically why would punishment not work?
• Operant conditioning
– Learning through rewards and punishments
– Examined most thoroughly by B.F Skinner
– Consequences that follow actions influence whether the action is likely or unlikely to occur
• Learning through operant conditioning can occur in one of four environmental cues…………..
1. Reinforcement (end result-increases behaviour)
– Positive reinforcement + (add pleasant stimuli to the environment)
– Negative reinforcement – (take away aversive stimuli from the environment)
2. Punishment (end results-decreases behaviour)
a. Positive punishment + (add aversive stimulus to environment)
b. Negative punishment –(take away pleasant stimulus from environment)
c. End result-frequency of behaviour is decreased
Positive vs. negative---think in mathematical terms not pleasant vs. aversive terms (positive means you are
adding to the environment; negative means you are taking away from the environment—substracting)
Positive Reinforcement—acts to increase the frequency of occurrence 1) my son cleans his room, bathroom—
he gets his allowance
Negative Reinforcement—also acts to increase the frequency of occurrence of a behaviour in question (2) I will
stop nattering/nagging at my son to clean his room, once he does it—the behaviour that is being reinforced—
cleaning his room (my nattering is the aversive stimuli)
Punishment –results in a reduction in behavior 1) positive punishment—behaviour is followed by adding an
aversive stimulus—my son’s messy room is followed by having him clean his sister’s room; 2) negative
punishment—behaviour is followed by the removal of a pleasant stimulus –messy room = I take away his
allowance—the pleasant stimulus
REMEMBER—what is punishing to one person may be reinforcing to another and vice versa---individual
Goal: increase studying/decrease procrastination
• Goal: reinforce studying; punish procrastination
– If I turn off all social media and read my textbook for one hour, I get to watch the last episode of
Breaking Bad in real time; this is an example of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
– If I don’t study and spend an hour on facebook; I will pay my professor $5.00 the next time I see
her…..this is an example of NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT
– If I turn off all social media and read my textbook for one hour, I will feel less anxious about
falling behind; this is an example of….
– If I don’t study for an hour and I procrastinate via facebook my professor will take back the $5.00
she gave me last week, this is an example of……. NEGATIVE PUNISHMENT
Research on operant conditioning has revealed three key findings:
– The more immediate the reward or punishment, the more effective
– The more consistent rewards and punishments are dished out followed the behaviour, the more
• But, intermittent reinforcement schedules have been known to be highly resistant to
– The more severe the punishment or the more appealing the reward, the more effective
Why would punishment be ineffective then?
- in situations where punishment is used, changing the behavior is not usually our number one goal - taking care of
some uncomfortable or unpleasant emotion generally is. - We punish in anger. We punish in frustration. We punish in an attempt to establish dominance. At the moment,
changing the behavior is not the priority.
- Punishment is negatively reinforcing to the punisher.
o That means that the actual act of punishment makes us, the punisher, feel better. Generally punishments
are given out when someone under our control has gotten out of our control. A child breaks curfew, a
student talks while we're giving instruction, our dog chews our favorite shoes, etc. We are angry. Angry is
O.K. It is a natural, normal emotion. However, it is generally uncomfortable and an emotion most of us
seek to get rid of sooner rather than later. So, punishment does that for us. When we punish, we feel an
immediate decrease in the anger emotion - instant relief. And so, who has learned? The punisher has
learned. The punisher has learned, next time I feel this way, just punish and I'll feel better. The punishee
has learned, next time don't get caught, next time don't come, this is not a place I want to be.
o Punishment is a form of negative reinforcement where the punished child learns to stop the behaviour that gave
rise to the punishment so that the unpleasant experience of being punished is not repeated.
What is restorative justice and does it work?
• Major tenet of restorative justice-”crime is a wound, justice should be healing” (Zehr, 2002)
• Key tenets
– Identifying and taking steps to repair harm
– Involving all stakeholders-victim, offender, community (voluntary)
– The offender must recognize the harm done, accept responsibility, and be actively involved in
making reparations to victims, themselves and the community
– Goal is to restore victims/offenders to their ‘whole’ selves
• Four key values underlying RJ initiatives:
• Create opportunities for victims, offenders, and community members who want to meet
to do so and discuss the crime and its aftermath
• Offender expected to repair harm
• Seek to restore victims and offenders to full contributing members of society (for
offenders, not t