The Crime-preventive Impact of Penal Sanctions

Anthony Bottoms and Andrew Von Hirsch

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 The Crime-preventive Impact of Penal Sanctions

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This article opens with the consequentialist–deontologist debate, with the former concerned about the relevance of punitive measures against their crime reducing potentials, while the latter highlights punishment as censure of wrongful acts and the proportion of the punishment to the degree of crime. The article briefly discusses the empirical research on the impact of penal sanctions and focuses on three main kinds of empirical research into possible general deterrent effects—namely, association studies, quasi-experimental studies, and contextual and perceptual studies. It addresses the methodological issues involved in deterrence research and summarizes the results precisely. This article also discusses reductivism in the view of the possibility that penal sanctions could influence the offender's will. The results suggest that crime preventive aims can justify sentencing policies only to a limited degree, at least for the foreseeable future.

Keywords: consequentialist–deontologist debate; penal sanctions; crime-preventive aims; punitive measures; reductivism

Article.  12573 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Criminology

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