SOC 2700 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: List Of Countries By Intentional Homicide Rate, Natural Disaster, Homicide

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27 Nov 2012
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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:
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