Essay on The Crime And Punishment On Criminal Activity

Essay on The Crime And Punishment On Criminal Activity

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Many civilizations have come and gone throughout the history of humankind. While they each had their own unique qualities, they have all shared the need for rules and laws to govern the society. People generally follow the law of the land, but there are always those who will violate the law. To address these law breakers, also known as criminals, society has created varying levels of punishment in an effort to decrease the number of criminal incidents. As stated in the Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, “Deterrence is the straightforward, common-sense notion that if you do something wrong, you will be punished, and the punishment itself will prevent you from doing that wrong thing again” (Levinson, 2002). It would follow, then, that fear of punishment should affect the choices people make. Empirical research in the field of criminology attempts to determine the accuracy of deterrence and the degree of its effectiveness. This research also examines whether or not varying degrees of punishment has an effect on criminal activity.
Operant conditioning has taught us that behavior can be controlled by its consequences. This means that causing discomfort (punishment) can be used to extinguish an undesirable behavior. If we apply this to criminal behavior, then it would be logical to assume that punishment for breaking the law will reduce criminal behavior. This notion has led to research to facilitate the understanding of how to effectively reduce the commission of crimes.
The beginnings of the Deterrence Theory of Punishment may be found in the early works of Thomas Hobbes, Cesare Becarria, and Jeremy Bentham. Hobbs, Beccaria, and Bentham provided the foundation for modern deterrence theory in criminology (Mutchnick, Martin, Aus...

... middle of paper ...

... an individual’s decision to commit murder.
Following this line of thought, Paul Horton and Gerald Leslie had this to say about the relationship between punishment and crime:
“The misplaced faith that punishment may rest upon the unrealistic assumption that people consciously decide whether to be criminal – that they consider a criminal career, rationally balance its dangers against its rewards and arrive at a decision based upon such pleasure-pain calculation. It supposedly follows that if the pain element is increased by sever punishments, people will turn from crime to righteousness. A little reflection reveals the absurdity of this notion (Sutherland, Cressey, Luckenbill 2011).”
Legal sanctions cannot deter criminal behavior unless people understand them. Other research has also found that studies report a weak relationship between the severity of the punishment

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