How Does Deterrence Work?

In classical criminology, the premise is that actions taken by an individual are made rationally by that individual and by that individual’s own free will. The pain versus pleasure aspect may be swayed by deterrence.

There are two ways for deterrence to function. Specific deterrence is based that an offender is apprehended and punished. This in turn will lead to that offender not committing further crime because the pain of punishment was greater than the pleasure. General deterrence is when an offender’s punishment serves as an example to the general punishment to not commit future crime. The public would fear the punishment and steer them away from crime.

Using parole would be an example of specific deterrence. The criminal justice system holds an offender accountable for their crime(s) after release from prison. Violating parole conditions could mean a return trip to prison. Mandatory sentencing is an example of general deterrence. This takes any discretion by the judge and must revoke any type of probation or community supervision. Mandatory sentencing already establishes the punishment to the offender.


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