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Chapter 2

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SOC 2700
Norman Dubeski

Chapter 2 (Pg. 18-29) From Classical Theory to Deterrence Research  During the 1800s, the naturalistic approach of classical criminology became the basis for virtually all criminal justice systems in the world  Gibbs published the first study that attempted to test deterrence hypothesis o He defined the certainty of punishment as the ratio between the number of admissions to state prisons for a given crime and the number of those crimes known to the police in the prior year. o Severity was defined as the mean number of months served by all persons convicted of a given crime who were in prison in that year. o He found that the greater certainty and severity of imprisonments was associated with fewer homicides in the fifty states for the 1960 o Concluded that homicide may be deterred by both the certainty and severity of imprisonment  Tittle – the certainty of imprisonment deters crime, but severity only deters crime when certainty is high o Chiricos & Waldo – results on certainty could be explained by variations in police record-keeping  If police handle cases information without making an official record, then that jurisdiction has lower official crime rates and greater certainty of imprisonment (because the more serious offenses are recorded and those more likely to result in imprisonment)  If police meticulously make official records then that jurisdiction will have higher official crime rates but less certainty (because many of the criminal events won’t result in imprisonment)  Glaser & Zeigler – challenged Gibbs’ “that increased imprisonment deters homicide” o They pointed out that death penalty states have higher murder rates, but murderers in death penalty states who are not executed serve shorter prison sentences than do murderers in non-death penalty states.  Shorter prison sentences and higher murder rates (in death penalty states)  Longer prison sentences and lower murder rates (in non-death penalty states) o Argued it is unlikely that longer prison sentences deter homicide while the death penalty does not deter it  1998 Nagin – the evidence for a substantial effect is much firmer than it was two decades ago and that research on deterrence has evolved into three distinctive and largely disconnected literatures Three Types of Deterrence Research 1. 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 usage.  Initial deterrence decay – these policies generally achieve an initial deterrent effect but this effect tends to deteriorate rather quickly  Probably occurs because potential offenders learn through trial and error that they had overestimated the certainty of getting caught at the beginning of the crackdown  Residual deterrence - the deterrent effect often persists after the crackdown has ended.  Likely persists because it takes a while for offenders to concludes that ‘it is once again ‘safe’ to offend’ 2. A distinction between objective risks and the perception of these risks by potential offenders (Sherman)  Perceptual deterrence studies – people we asked about their perceptions of the risks of being punished for specific offenses and about whether they actually committed or intended to commit these offenses.  Did this study longitudinal and found there is little or no deterrent effect associated with the perception of risk  Others argued the study must be done closer in time to decision to offend because perceptions of risk are highly situation specific.  Scenario research produced deterrence-like associations between perceptions of risk and the reported likelihood of offending.  Nagin concluded – a consensus has emerged among perceptual deterrence researchers that the negative association between sanction risk perceptions and offending behaviour or intentions is measure deterrence.  Several major findings have emerged from these studies  Certainty appears to be a significantly better predictor of deterrence than severity, and both appear to be better predictors than celerity (the swiftness of punishment)  People may be deterred from crime by a possible loss of job, friends, or reputation  extra- legal consequences can have as great a deterrent effect as legal consequences  Perceptions of risk may be impacted by one’s prior experiences in the criminal justice system. o Pogarsky & Piquero – there is a ‘resetting effect’ in which offenders lower their perceived certainty of punishment after they actually are punished, on the basis of the reasoning that once you have been caught, you are less likely to be caught again.  Occurs with low-rate offenders.  But not with high-rate offenders because they do not consider the certainty of punishment in their decision making. 3. 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  Deterrence hypothesis suggests that jurisdictions with more police officers should have less crime – but studies have found rather than the more police offers the more crime reported  More crime apparently causes more police, so it is difficult to determine whether more police cause less crime  Levitt – used electoral cycle and the number of firefighters and other municipal workers as instrumental variables in attempting to demonstrate the effect of police on crime.  These instrumental variables are highly correlated with the number of police  Concluded that adding a sworn police officer results in decrease of violent and property crimes.  The deterrence hypothesis suggests that states with the death penalty should have lower homicide rates than states without the death penalty  However, it is opposite – States with the death penalty have substantially higher murder rates than do states without it.  Most likely because death penalty is implement in jurisdictions that have high murder rates  Problem is there are two directions of causation: high murder rates apparently cause the death penalty, so it is difficult to determine whether the death penalty caused lower murder rates.  Most criminologists have concluded that the death penalty does not reduce violent crime, nor does it have the potential to do so.  Some say the death penalty increases homicide  The higher levels of homicide in death penalty jurisdictions are party generated by the death penalty itself  t
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