Essay On Deterrence Theory

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Deterrence Theory

A special case of the rational choice theory is the deterrence theory, which emphasizes the costs of legal sanctions (Liska & Messner, 1999). While the rational choice theory was initially applied to the field of economics, and considered all costs, the deterrence theory was initially applied to the field of law and only considered legal costs. Accordingly, as a deterrent for committing crime, increasing the severity of punishment, increasing the certainty of punishment, and increasing the celerity of punishment will all increase the legal costs for committing crime and, consequently, decrease the benefits versus cost ratio. Furthermore, there is a specific deterrence and a general deterrence (Barkan, 2006). Specific deterrence discourages individuals from committing crimes because they have learned through personal experience (i.e., by being punished) that the cost for their criminal behaviors is too high (Akers & Sellers, 2009). General deterrence, on the other hand, discourages individuals from committing crimes because they have learned through observation (i.e., by observing the suffering of offenders who have been punished) that the cost of committing crime is too high. By using fear, the behaviors of would-be criminals can be modified.

Labeling Theory

The labeling theory indicates that once individuals are
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Re-integrative shaming is the disapproval of the deviant act without condemning the offender. In this way, the offender is not stigmatized and efforts are made to forgive and welcome the person back into the community. This process has been demonstrated to work well in Africa, and perhaps, at a more personal level, between many American parents and their children (Braithwaite, 2000). Re-integrative shaming has been shown to reduce
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