Deterrence Theory

Bourassa, Cheryl
April 2018
Deterrence Theory -- Research Starters Sociology;4/1/2018, p1
Research Starter
A prime purpose of punishment has long been to deter future illicit behavior. Deterrence works on two levels. Specific deterrence occurs when an individual is punished for wrongdoing, and learns the price of misbehavior. General deterrence affects the population at large who observes the fact that misbehavior leads to punishment. Another possible result of punishment that achieves the opposite effect is labeling, whereby the wrongdoer's life is irreparably damaged by the experience of punishment. Not all individuals or populations respond to deterrence in the same way. Domestic violence offenders, white collar criminals, juvenile delinquents and capital murderers all present unique ways to consider the validity of the deterrent effect.


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