The first one is called general deterrence which has the goal of scaring society into not committing crime. This is the part of the theory that helps deter crime. The way this works is by arresting someone and giving them a harsher sentence so the next person who has thoughts of committing that crime can second guess their choices. When we arrest a small portion of offenders it can be beneficial because they are living proof of the consequences that possible offenders can reevaluate (Cullen and Jonson 70). The second kind of deterrence is specific deterrence which targets offenders and scares them into not wanting to return to prison.
Specific deterrence is founded on a principle called hedonistic calculus meaning, “an assumption that human nature leads people to pursue pleasure and avoid pain” (Brown, Esbensen, & Geis, 2010, p 155). Casare Beccaria, the father of classical criminology, believed that certainty, severity, and celerity (or speed) could prevent crime. He said that as certainty of punishment went up, the less likely someone is to break the law. So if criminal knew that they would be punished, they would be more hesitate to committed crime. He believes that the laws need to be clear and must always be enforced.
“General deterrence” means that if the public sees or hears of punishment that was rendered, the knowledge might deter other citizens from committing similar offenses (Levinson 2002). Both of these types of punishment should deter individuals from committing crimes. Jeremy Bentham believed that three aspects of punishment had an impact on deterrence: severity, celerity (speed) and certainty. In Bentham’s view, punishment was most effective when the level of severity fit the crime and that the punishment occurred
Yes, general deterrence may use certain individuals as an example for society, but if the punishment for that certain individual is strict enough and is able to deter others from society from committing crime it is doing its job. “General deterrence are actions to persuade others from committing criminal acts” (Couture, 2014, p.128). I feel more people are being deterred from crime by general deterrence rather than specific deterrence. Also as sanctions take place, incarceration would be best for general deterrence. Incarceration in jail or prison should deter society from committing crimes by people in society not wanting to be incarcerated.
Many people often confuse deterrence with retribution or punishment, but that it is not. Instead of serving your “debt to society” for a crime you committed, under the principal of deterrence you are serving your punishment to keep you and your neighbors from doing the same crime. Operating according to the deterrence model necessitates two principal assumptions: that imposing a stiff penalty will dissuade someone from committing crimes in the future and secondly, that the fear of this punishment will prevent future crimes perpetrated by others. (Wright, 2010) One very important idea here is that it is a “stiff” penalty, a penalty that others won’t forget. There are many faults in this argument, with the largest being the amount of faith put into mankind.
In other words, a person’s fear of punishment along with their knowledge of his/her probability of apprehension and punishment plays a role in the decision making of individuals who are considering committing a crime (Akers, 16). According to Akers and Sellers, there are two types of deterrence. Specific deterrence assumes that apprehended and punished offenders will not re-commit crime because of their knowledge of the certainty and severity of their punishment when they were caught the first time. General deterrence, on the other hand, refers to how the state’s punishment of offenders is projected to the public who has not yet committed a crime. In this particular type of deterrence, the state instills fear of punishment in the public, which in theory prevents them from committing crime (Akers, 16).
The other key leader Bentham, argued that the purpose of punishment should be to show people that the cost of the crime outweighs the gains of it, he was a supporter of the use of prisons and thought that punishment should be proportionate to the crime and have predictable, certain consequences to deter people from future offences. One
This occurs because humans are given the ability to reason and act morally and thus if we don’t punish them we are not treating them as moral agents. Also, according to retributivists the punishment must fit the crime committed. Hence, if an offender commits a crime we must treat him as a moral agent and punish, but while corresponding the act to the punishment quantitatively and qualitatively. Thus a retributivist can be against the death penalty if the crime committed doesn’t fit the punishment given. This argument by Kant shows that offenders will get what they deserve when they commit a wrongful act, but some criminals or murderers don’t really know what is going on, thus they are not deserving of punishment.
Unlike preventive theory which attacks on the physical mobility of a person, deterrence attacks on the will and mental element of a person who wish to commit a crime. Deterrence works in two ways firstly specific and second is general. Specific deterrence is on one which person on whom punishment is inflicted. Punishment should be one which deters the evildoer from committing the same crime in future. General deterrence is one in which the punishment on the criminal creates example for the society and create deterrence for not committing the same crime otherwise they will suffer from the same punishment.
Utilitarianism, on one hand, holds that the morality of actions is dependent upon whether or not they bring about good consequences. Criminal punishment, whether it be through incarceration, deterrence, of rehabilitation, seeks to prevent future crime, thereby benefitting the greater good. Deontology, however, has some objections to these justifications. If the punishment does not prevent future crime, then by deontological standards, we are only inflicting harm towards a person without the benefit of the greater good. Also, punishing people is equivalent to using them as a means and not an end, a violation of human dignity.