The Deterrence Doctrine

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There is an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of the deterrence doctrine. The deterrence doctrine is dated back to its origins in the 18th century, known to be the Age of Enlightenment. During the 1700s to 1800s, the Classical School of Criminology became the focal point as it commenced to force attention on the “cruel” justice system. The two most influential scholars who have elaborated along the idea of deterrence are Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. Beccaria, known as the father of classical criminology, believed that people are “being motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and trying to avoid being in pain” (Owen et al., 2012, p. 132). The classical criminology is primarily founded on the notion of liberal volition. That is to say that …show more content…

These three elements are that punishment must be “swift, certain, and severe”; punishment must be “proportional to the damage caused by the crime”; and that the punishment should be “solely based on deterrence rather than vengeance” (Owen et al, 2012, p. 268). In order for deterrence to work the punishment should be swift. That is because the closer the punishment is to the crime, the more likely the offender would acknowledge the consequences. The offender must realize that he or she will be punished for the crime they have committed rather than believing they will not be punished. Although Beccaria believed that severity is a necessary element for deterrence, it should be limited depending on the extent of severity. It should be severe enough to make the offender realize that the reward of the crime did not outweigh the consequences. There are two types of deterrence, which are general deterrence and specific deterrence. “General deterrence intends to deter all people from committing crime by making an example of those who have” (Owen et al., 2012, p. 267). This creates a fear among people from penalties and convinces them that committing crime will cause more pain than pleasure. “Specific deterrence intends to focus on individuals rather than the general public” (Owen et al, 2012, p. 267). That is by “preventing an individual, who has already been punished, from committing …show more content…

99-100). Bailey & Lott conducted their research by administering a questionnaire to 268 students enrolled in sociology courses at a sophomore, junior and senior level at an Urban Midwestern University (1976, p. 101). Freshmen were excluded as most would not fall into at least 19 years of age and would not be “subject to legal sanctions as adults for at least one year” (p. 101). Of the 268 questionnaires administered only two were excluded as the “students refused to cooperate in the investigation” (p. 101). The students were asked to “estimate their own chances of apprehension and conviction if they were to violate the law rather than those of ‘generalized other’ or ‘someone like themselves’” (p. 101). According to the pretest, it would be appropriate to say that “the method being used should focus upon self-perceptions in criminal involvement” (p. 102). The severity of punishment section of the investigation focuses on the students’ perceptions of severity sanctions. These were measured by asking them to apprehend: 1) “what would happen if they were caught by the police committing each of the five offenses (marijuana use, sale of marijuana, petty theft, grand theft, and shoplifting)”, and 2) “the reaction they would expect from parents and friends if they were caught committing each offense” (p. 102). The

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the deterrence doctrine dates back to the 18th century, known as the age of enlightenment, when the classical school of criminology began to force attention on the "cruel" justice system.
  • Explains that bentham, a british philosopher and the successor of beccaria’s classical criminology theory, elaborates on the idea of free will.
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