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Chapter 2

Criminological Theory Chapter 2 pgs 18.docx

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SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Criminological Theory Chapter 2 pgs 18-29 From Classical Theory to Deterrence Research - The naturalistic approach of classical criminology was the basis for virtually all criminal justice systems in the world during the 1800s - Gibbs published the first study that attempted to test the deterrence hypothesis - Gibbs found that greater certainty and severity of imprisonments was associated with fewer homicides in the 50 states for the 1960s, he concluded that that homicide may be deterred by both the certainty and severity of imprisonment - Tittle’s study showed that more certainty was associated with less crime, but with the exception of homicide, more severity was associated with more crime - Chiricos & Waldo argued that Tittle’s results on certainty could be explained by variations in police record-keeping - If police handle many offenses informally without making an official record then that jurisdiction will have lower official crime rates and greater certainty of imprisonment, and vice versa - Glaser and Zeigler challenged Gibb’s conclusion that increased imprisonment deters homicide - pointed out that death penalty states have higher murder rates, but murderers in death penalty states who are not executed serve shorter sentences than murders in non-death penalty states - argued that it’s unlikely that longer prison sentences deter homicide while the death penalty doesn’t deter it - attributed the statistics of higher murder rates, use of the death penalty, and shorter prison sentences for murderers who aren’t executed to a lower valuation of human life in states that use the death penalty Three Types of Deterrence Research - Nagin described a type of deterrence research that looks at the effects of policies that target specific crimes in specific places, such as police crackdowns on drug markets, drunk driving, disorderly conduct and illegal gun use - Sherman said these policies usually achieve an initial deterrent effect and the deterrent effect often persists after the crackdown has ended - Suggested the initial deterrent decay takes place because potential offenders learn through trial and error that they overestimated the certainty of getting caught at the beginning of the crackdown, and that residual deterrence persists because it takes a while for offenders to determine that it’s safe again to offend - Nagin’s second type of deterrence research has looked at the distinction between objective risks and the perception of these risks by potential offenders - Perceptual deterrence studies have found consistent associations between offending and the perceptions of the certainty of punishments, but less consistent associations between offending and the perceptions of severity - The deterrence hypothesis suggests that an increased perception of risk leads to reduced criminal behaviour, but it’s also possible that engaging in criminal behaviour leads to a more realistic perception of risk - Nagin stated “I believe that a consensus has emerged among perceptual deterrence researchers that the negative association between sanction risk perceptions and offending behaviour or intentions in measuring deterrence” - Several major findings have emerged from studies on perceptual deterrence: 1. Certainty appears to a better predictor of deterrence than severity, and both are better predictors than celerity. Severity of punishment may be more important in the context of certain subpopulations, such as among individuals who are deterrable offenders 2. There has been some movement to expand deterrence theory to cover extra-legal consequences for committing a crime. Nagin & Pogarsky found evidence in perceptual deterrence research that extra-legal consequences can have as great a deterrent effect as legal consequences 3. Perceptions of risk may be impacted by one’s prior experiences in the criminal justice system. Pogarsky & Piquero argued that there’s a resetting effect in which offenders lower their perceived certainty of punishment after they actually are punished, and on the basis of the reasoning that one you’ve been caught, you’re less likely to be caught again. This resetting occurs with low-rate offenders but not with high-rate ones. Suggested this effect occurs because experienced offenders don’t consider the certainty of punishment in their decision making. If offenders alter their perceptions as they gain experience in offending and getting caught, then this presents a problem of causality in the perceptual research - Nagin’s third type of deterrence research looks at criminal justice policies in different jurisdictions and at the crime rates associated with these policies to see if there is a deterrent effect. - The deterrence hypothesis would suggest that jurisdictions that have more police officers, imprison more people, and utilize the death penalty should have less crime, but for the most part results of research done on this topic are unsatisfying - Jurisdictions with more police officers actually have more crime – the problem is that there are 2 directions of causation: more crime apparently causes more police, so it’s difficult to determine whether more police cause less crime - A similar situation exists with the death penalty - the deterrence hypothesis suggests that states with the death penalty should have lower homicide rates than states without the death penalty, but the opposite is the case - the reason most likely is that the death penalty is implemented in jurisdictions that have high murder rates - high murder rates cause the death penalty, so it’s hard to determine whether the death penalty causes lower murder rates - Deterrent effectiveness of the death penalty is one of the most researched issues in the field of criminology - Little or no empirical support that the death penalty achieves deterrence beyond the effect that is achieved by extended incarceration, and as a consequence most criminologists have concluded that the death penalty doesn’t reduce violent crime or have the potential to do so - Other researchers have said that the death penalty has a brutalization effect that tends to devalue human life and thereby increases homicide ` - The deterrence hypothesis predicts that more imprisonment will be associated with less crime, but the opposite situation occurs, because more crime causes more imprisonment - The crime drop in the US in the early 1990s raises the question of whether the drop represents the deterrent effect of high imprisonment, but the problem is there are several other explanations - Zimring concluded that the 1990 crime drop was a classic example of multiple causation, with none of the many contributing causes playing a dominant role. After analyzing the criminal justice response and economic and demographic trends, he
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