Two Types of Criminal Deterrence

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There are two different types if deterrence, the first is classified as specific deterrence. The goal of this category of deterrence is to lessen the probability of having a repeat offender. The three strikes law is an example of one of the methods that is used to assist this category of deterrence. The other category of deterrence is general deterrence. This category focuses more on future offenders. General deterrence attempts to positively influence would be offenders and stop the crimes before they happen. (Schmalleger, 2003, p. 406)

A stricter sentence for lesser crimes is an example of specific deterrence. The example used on pages 406 and 407 in Criminal Justice Today. Schmalleger writes, "Few traffic tickets would have to be written if minor driving offenses were punishable by death." As a free society there are obvious limitations on the use of capital punishment that the law must still protect. However capital punishment in itself is a deterrent. If the death penalty were the mandatory sentencing for any murder, the murder rates in our society would surely lessen.

Deterrence is a very effective method in achieving the goals of criminal sentencing. If society knows its punishment for a crime, this may be the entire deterrent necessary to prevent a crime from happening. However, if the crime is still committed then society must do what is required to deter the next possible criminal from performing the criminal act. This could be a vital step in the ongoing battle between the good guys and the bad guys.

The term retribution can be used in several senses. It can indicate vengeance or expiration, however, it is today more commonly associated with giving the offender his just deserts and using punishment as a c...

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...p time to work in the community that has been violated. Judges in many States have been given the power to force criminals to pay restitution to their victims, instead of forcing victims to seek reparations in Civil Court. It appears that the modern court system has realized that each criminal must be viewed as an individual and not a group. Rehabilitation may work on one person, but be totally ineffective on another. Sad to say, there is probably a small group of criminals out here that incarceration is the only solution.

In the prison system the ultimate goal is restoration through rehabilitation. Yet, when needed, criminals can be subjected to deterrence techniques or incapacitation.

No one system will work for all prisoners. All of the systems have been used through the years and the lesson learned is that prisoners must be handled on a case to case basis.

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