POLICE WATCH INDIA (Regd. NGO)
Deterrence is a theory from behavioural psychology about preventing and controlling actions or behaviour through fear of punishment or retribution. This theory of criminology is shaping the criminal justice system of the United States and various other countries.
Deterrence can be divided into two separate categories.
General deterrence manifests itself in policy whereby examples are made of deviants. The individual actor is not the focus of the attempt at behavioural change, but rather receives punishment in public view in order to deter other individuals from deviance in the future.
Specific deterrence focuses on the individual deviant and attempts to correct his or her behaviour. Punishment is meant to discourage the individual from recidivating.
Deterrence is achieved through
The higher probability of arrest and conviction
Severity of punishment
In Medieval Times deciding guilt in an offender was more important than the nature of the offence. Once the guilt was announced, the question was not so much whether an execution should take place, but how dramatic it should be. There were not many punishments besides exile and execution.
Two utilitarian philosophers of the eighteenth century, Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, formulated the deterrence theory as both an explanation of crime and a method for reducing it. Beccaria argued that crime was not only an attack on an individual but on society as well. This extended the issue of punishment beyond retribution and restitution to aggrieved individuals. Society was cast as victim, not merely bystander, and what had been seen as a dispute between individuals, expanded to an issue of criminal law. For the utilitarians, the purpose of punishment became the protection of society through the prevention of crime.
Theories of Specific and General Deterrence
Deterrence is preventing actions through fear of retribution. It is the main theory of criminology manifesting in the criminal justice system of the United States as well as various other countries. Deterrence is divided into two categories. General deterrence is policy whereby examples are made of deviants by punishment in public view in order to deter others from deviance in the future. Specific deterrence focuses on specific individuals and attempts to correct their behavior. Harsh Punishment discourages the individual from recidivating. Both assume rationality on the part of criminals, and feel crime can ultimately be prevented through changing the cost benefit ratios of such behaviour.
Early history has it that in organized religion they punished people for breaking religious laws. Eighteenth Century Italian social critic, Cesare Beccaria published a treatise on ties between formal sanctions and compliant behaviour. Formal sanctions is when the government acts as social control agents (Police). The deterrent power of formal sanctions was to Beccaria a thing needing proportionality. Sentencing should be equal for similar crimes.
About 100 years ago positivists were looking in other venues to find the cause of crime; but in the 1960’s deterrence was rediscovered. It is the mainstay, supported by funding from various government. In the last two decades two deterrence related processes were explored:
Circumstances and rationalizations
Decided already what laws they will break
Make consequences as unpleasant as possible
Crime viewed as part of life
Constant supply of criminals and victims
Solve crime using clues about a routine life of a criminal
Formal Deterrence Theory
All men possess free will,
Man is capable of rational thought and selection.
Man is hedonistic by nature,
Deterrence is punishment based on principles of certainty, celerity and severity.
Emphasis is on certainty of punishment
Celerity (promptness of punishment)
Severity (greatness of punishment)
Rational Choice Theory
In Rational Choice Theory, an offender decides to break the law after considering need for money, how well a target is protected, how affluent the neighbourhood is, and how efficient local police are.
By “target hardening” we reduce opportunities to commit crime, like making it more difficult to break into houses or shops, or increasing authority figures (Police). It is a prevention strategy.
Routine Activities Theory
It focuses on the characteristics of crime rather than characteristics of miscreants. Everyday patterns of social interaction change. The problem analysis triangle is:
Inefficient Authority Figure (Police)
Broader Sociological Theories
Crime theory can be categorized into nature and nurture theories. Regardless of whether the cause of crime is a nature or nurture theory, deterrence focuses on crime prevention; man is hedonistic by nature, suggesting deterrence is a nature theory. Deterrence and opportunity theories, biological and biochemical theories, psychological abnormality theories, and psychological learning and developmental theories are all nature theories. Some are criminal because it is their nature. Social organizational theories, social process theories, labeling and conflict theories are nurture theories. Some become criminal due to their environment.
THE MERITS OF DETERRENCE THEORY
Costs of incarceration for life cheaper than the costs to society of their criminal activity; how much is a human life worth? Crime cheapens the value of life. We often take justice for granted. Police is there to protect us from the poor quality of life we would have without social control. Cost to society of a human life to me is greater than the cost of incarcerating Criminals. Deterrence seems a harsh view, but it supports policy making that is tough on crime which is turning out to be the ultimate need of the society at large.
IT WILL NOT BE OUT OF CONTEXT TO STATE THAT “THE FAILURE OF THE EXECUTIVE, ESPECIALLY THE POLICE, IS THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN POWER AS WELL AS OF THE OPPOSTION THAT IS SITTING THEIR BOTH IN THE PARLIAMENT & OUTSIDE”.
IN THE OPINION OF THE UNDERSIGNED THE DAY POLICE STARTS TAKING “SUO MOTO NOTICE & COGNIZANCE” ON ITS OWN, OF HAPPENINGS/EVENTS/INFORMATION OF THE IMPENDING CRIME SCENARIO WITHOUT WAITING FOR SOME ONE TO FILE A FORMAL COMPLAINT, IT COULD BECOME A VERY POTENT DETERRENT OVER A PASSAGE OF TIME.