THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 1 The Downfall of Deterrence: Ineffectiveness of Deterrence Methods AHSS 1160 Isha Dade University of Guelph-Humber
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 2 Substantive: Minimal punishment is necessary for acts that are done by forbidding certain laws that are present in society. Minimal punishment serves as a way to install fear and punishment, but when punishment is used excessively, it can show negative effects. Similarly, deterrence is the, “protection of society through the prevention of criminal acts. This is accomplished by punishing offenders in accordance with their offence” (Goff, 2014, p.308). Numerous amounts of studies have shown that when harsh deterrence is used, it has inconsistent and negative outcomes (Jacobs, 2010). In the past, deterrence was used when executions were done in public, by which the aim was to instill fear into the minds of individuals that compelled them to not commit a similar act. However, many times innocent individuals were convicted guilty and killed which currently violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal” (Government of Canada, 2017, s 11(d)). By denying the right to a trial, innocent individuals would have to undergo the consequences of deterrence. Therefore, strict deterrence is not effective in reducing crime because the threat of punishment does little to deter it, longer prison sentences are ineffective, and most individuals are inconsiderate of the consequences of their actions. To begin with, the threat of punishment is not effective in preventing crime (Glaeser & Sacerdote, 2000). Prior to a study he conducted, Richard Wright, a young professor in the department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri in St. Louis believed that deterrence prevents individuals from committing a crime because they are fearful of the punishment (Koreth- Baker, 2016). He later interviewed one hundred and five burglars and eighty-six armed robbers where he concluded that individuals do not make careful considerations of the punishment before they commit an act of crime. According to
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 3 their current circumstances in life, they believe that crimes are not equal to the amount of suffering they are facing currently such as poverty, a job crisis, and loneliness. This shows that even though punishment seems like a factor to discourage crime, it proves to be not. Crime can become an inevitable choice because of other decisions criminals decide to make and some negative factors in their life. Furthermore, longer sentences do not create fear for criminals to reflect on their actions. Studies show that teenagers did not commit fewer crimes after they turned eighteen, even though the severity of punishments increased (Adwar, 2014). This depicts that despite the increase in punishment over the years, individuals are not afraid to get involved in crime. Deterrence does not do any good, instead it encourages the likeliness of crime to occur and re occur due to the longer prison sentences. All in all, deterrence is an ineffective way to reduce crime because punishment is not feared with individuals that are focused on committing a crime. Furthermore, longer prison sentences are ineffective because criminals do not worry about the consequences of their actions. They might want to commit a crime or go back to prison (Pogarsky, Piquero, 2003). A survey done by Sheffield Hallam University shows that a fifth of homeless individuals have committed small crimes just to spend a night in jail so that they could be provided with adequate shelter and food (Ramesh, 2010). Another surprising fact is that more than a quarter of homeless women slept with an unwanted partner just to escape their current situation. This shows that crime can play a tremendous part in an individual that is struggling daily with their day to day expenses. Since they are willing to do any crime that can take them off the streets, longer prison sentences are an ineffective way for criminals to acknowledge their deeds. Individuals on the streets need money more than they are concerned about a bad criminal record. Moreover, about seven hundred thousand inmates are released from prison each year, and surprisingly, about two thirds reoffend and
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 4 end up back in jail (Tahmincioglu, 2010). There are many articles that try to prove the positive effects of deterrence. A news report posted by Thinktank Civitas concluded that an increase in one month of imprisonment deters crime by 0.5% (McDowell, 2012). Although this may seem logical, it is an inaccurate representation of crime because all prison does is that it delays the next time a criminal commits an act of crime. This shows that most individuals believe that going to jail is better than the current situation they are in. They need money in their pockets more than they are afraid of getting caught for their crime. Thus, deterrence is ineffective because prison sentences are not as important to individuals. Lastly, most individuals are inconsiderate of their actions, which can occur due to many reasons such as their own biology. Many individuals do not acknowledge the consequences of committing a crime. In fact, psychopaths do not understand crime as a whole. Dr. Nigel Blackwood, a psychologist at King’s college conducted a test to observe the brains of psychopaths (Gray, 2015). He conducted scans on twelve male violent psychopathic criminal offenders and twenty male violent offenders without psychopathy from the UK, from where he concluded that twenty eight percent of high profile killers suffer from an Autism Spectrum Disorder (Gray, 2015). This demonstrates that due to the disorder they have, they cannot differentiate between the wrongfulness of a crime. If they do not understand the negative effects of their actions, it is evident that deterrence is no use to them. This disease hinders their ability to socialize with society and other individuals as well as participate in society (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Due to this disease, they might not be able to understand their role in society and what is expected from them, which is why they might commit certain crimes. Even if strict punishments are present in society, they are irrelevant to psychopaths because they simply cannot comprehend the consequences. Dr. Blackwood also states, “When these violent offenders completed neuropsychological tasks,
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 5 they failed to learn from punishment cues, to change their behaviour in the face of changing contingencies, and made poorer quality decisions despite longer periods of deliberation” (Gray, 2015, para. 16). Through these neuropsychological tasks, it is understandable that many psychopaths are not to be blamed for the traits that fit towards committing a crime. Poor decision making might make them more likely to do something that is against laws. But it is not entirely their fault, which shows that strict deterrence might be unfair to them. Altogether, deterrence is ineffective due to the inconsideration of punishments by individuals that commit crimes. Opinion: In my opinion, deterrence is an ineffective way to reduce or deter crime. As we develop into a more thoughtful society, we should become mindful of the consequences of deterrence and should focus our attention on other ways to deter crime. Better and beneficial ways to deter crime include creating campaigns and programs to educate the society on current crime rates and guiding the new generation that will be responsible for the upcoming crimes. To begin with, I believe that creating programs and campaigns influences others to reflect on their actions and become better individuals in society (Larsson, 2015). By perceiving crime as “a public health concern”, crime prevention programs can be highly engaging and successful. Crime prevention programs should be generated towards several age groups and should focus on crime that is the most dominating for them (McGuire, M. Thomas, J., 2017). For example, youth crime prevention programs would discuss the crime that is happening the most with that age group. This program would assist youth in understanding how they can avoid becoming a victim of early risk factors, priority crime issues, preventing reoffending and fostering prevention in aboriginal communities as well.
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 6 This is a better alternative to deterrence because instead of being punished, individuals are being assisted and educated. This would lessen the chance for recidivism. (Government of Canada, 2016). Moreover, in addition to crime prevention programs, there should be programs for offenders. For example, in Canada there is a program called the “Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA)” which is an innovative program targeting male sex offenders which are at a high risk for reoffending after their last sentence. The purpose of this program is to encourage a successful integration within society so that they could be safe and meaningful (Government of Canada, 2016). This is done through the help of professionals and confirming that offenders are getting the support they need (e.g. financial or emotional). Through these types of programs, crime is deterred because criminals gain a better understanding of their actions, they get the support which may have compelled them to commit the criminal act in the first place, and meet new people that will assist them in successfully integrating back into society. Secondly, I believe that educating the young generation on what is right and wrong would be an excellent way to deter crime. Young children are very vulnerable to the violence around them, and when they grow up in such a negative environment, it is detrimental towards their future. Violence is seen in items that parents are very susceptible to, such as technology. Young children, “who are exposed to violence through TV and video games are in a high state of adrenalin and stress, as the body does not know what they are watching is not real” (Rowan, 2013, para. 6). This shows that since children cannot differentiate between reality and illusions, they have a difficult time determining the consequences of their actions. When they grow older, they do not put much thought into what is right and what is wrong. Another study shows that, “exposure to violence in the mass media could cause both short- and long-term increases in a child’s aggressive and violent behavior” (Huesmann, Moise-
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 7 Titus, Podolski, ; Eron, 2003, p. 201). This clearly shows the problem with technology as it negatively impacts a child’s behavior which will affect their future, as well as the future of others present in society. Parents should not rely on technology to comfort their child when they are not available; but instead should be there for the child to make sure that that technology is not being a bad influence for them. Parents can do this by monitoring what the kids do in their free time, limit television to a few hours a day and discuss what they have viewed throughout the day (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Another way that the upcoming generation can avoid crime is by having a loving and supportive family. When parents give their kids constant love and support, children feel free to discuss any problems they have which can later become a factor of crime (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Moreover, the behavior done by parents can assist the child in avoiding crime as well. When parents show positive behavior, it is highly likely that the children will follow their behavior. Crime is deterred through these steps, instead of using harsh punishment. Thus, through these ways, a better generation will be raised which will deter crime. To summarize, strict deterrence is not effective in reducing crime. Criminals show that the punishment of an offence does not affect their previous actions because of current life situations and longer sentences are not a factor they worry about. Longer prison sentences are unsuccessful because of facilities in prisons that are not available in an individual’s day to day life, and the rate of which reoffending occurs. Most individuals do not realize the consequences of their actions which can be a result of nature and nurture. Deterrence is best achieved not by strict punishment, but by other options such as crime prevention programs for current offenders and by the care of the young generation. All in all, deterrence should become an option of the past as it serves nothing to society.
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 8 References Adwar, C. (2014). Here’s evidence that insanely long prison terms are a bad way to deter crime. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/report-says-long-sentences-dont-deter-crime-2014-5 American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Raising children to resist violence: What you can do. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resist-violence.aspx Glaeser, E., Sacerdote, B. (2008). The determinants of punishment: Deterrence, incapacitation and vengeance. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca/papers/w7676.pdf Goff, C. (2014). Criminal justice in Canada. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education. Government of Canada. (2016). Promising and model crime prevention programs – volume I. Retrieved from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/prmsng-mdl-vlm1/index-en.aspx Government of Canada. (2017). Constitution act, 1982. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html Gray, R. (2015). Most serial killers don’t understand punishment, study reveals. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2931241/Do-psychopaths-pay-crimes-serial-killers-don-t-understand-punishment-study-reveals.html Huesmann, L., Moise-Titus, J., Podolski, C., ; Eron, D. (2003). Longitudinal relations between children’s exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977-1992. Developmental Psychology, 39(2), 201-221. Jacobs, A. (2010). Deterrence and deterrability. Criminology, 48(2), 417-441. Koreth- Baker, M. (2016). Crime despite punishment. Retrieved from https://undark.org/article/deterrence-punishments-dont-reduce-crime/
THE DOWNFALL OF DETERRENCE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF DETERRENCE METHODS 9 Larsson, N. (2015). 24 ways to reduce crime in the world’s most violent cities. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun/30/24-ways-to-reduce-in-the-worlds-most-violent-cities McDowell, P. (2012). Longer prison sentences are not the way to cut crime. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/16/longer-prison-sentences-civitas McGuire, M., ; Thomas, J. (2017). The routledge handbook of technology, crime and justice. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmx[email protected]sessionmgr4008;vid=0;format=EB;rid=1 National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml Pogarsky, G., Piquero, A. (2003). Can punishment encourage offending? Investigating the “resetting” effect. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, 40 (1), 95-120. Ramesh, R. (2010). A fifth of all homeless people have committed a crime to get off the streets. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/dec/23/homeless-committing-crimes-for-shelter Rowan, C. (2013). The impact of technology on the developing child. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/technology-children-negative-impact_b_3343245.html Tahmincioglu, E. (2010). Unable to get jobs, freed inmates return to jail. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35263313/ns/business-careers/t/unable-get-jobs-freed-inmates-return-jail/#.WePA8RNSzq0