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Deterrence & Brutalization Three meanings of deterrence: Specific deterrence – one person General deterrence - deters others Theory - "logically" punishment.

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Presentation on theme: "Deterrence & Brutalization Three meanings of deterrence: Specific deterrence – one person General deterrence - deters others Theory - "logically" punishment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Deterrence & Brutalization Three meanings of deterrence: Specific deterrence – one person General deterrence - deters others Theory - "logically" punishment should deter Marginal deterrence - statistical Research - how much change, if any?

2 Deterrence & Brutalization Traditionally, general deterrence has been the main justification for the DP - the idea is that criminals should be executed to prevent crime – fear of punishment “should “ lead to “second thoughts” by potential criminals.

3 Deterrence & Brutalization Theory of deterrence is philosophical - based on “rational man” view of “human nature” Humans consciously weigh alternatives and make rational choices based on costs and benefits (“pain and pleasure” in some older versions).

4 Deterrence & Brutalization Criminologists have long pointed out that many different social factors influence homicides and homicide rates and that “rational man” ideas and deterrence theory are overly simplistic... and that most human behavior is either routine/unconscious or impulsive ---- not rational!!

5 Deterrence & Brutalization Meanwhile, most research has found that deterrence doesn’t work in practice - virtually all older studies failed to find deterrent effects of any legal policies - and other research indicates that punishment in general has a mixed impact on behavior - often making problems worse rather than better. SHORT TERM/LONG TERM EFFECTS

6 Deterrence & Brutalization Most academic “debates” regarding the theories of deterrence have involved the “philosophy” on one side (deterrence should work) and “the research” on the other side (deterrence doesn’t work). Meanwhile, there is another theory that has been mostly ignored by both sides.

7 Deterrence & Brutalization Brutalization Theory refers to a mixed set of claims (and sometimes research) that the DP/executions actually lead to increases in homicides. Karl Marx George Hunt “Culture of violence” theories

8 Deterrence & Brutalization Deterrence research before the 1990s: Contiguous states studies Before and after studies Econometric studies Inconclusive results – no evidence of deterrence William Bowers 1980 reexamined data - discuss!

9 Deterrence & Brutalization Breakthrough research in the 1990s -- Cochran, Chamlin Oklahoma study Hypothesis that both theories correct -- Executions might deter “rational homicides” -- and lead to more “impulsive homicides”

10 Deterrence & Brutalization “Disaggregation” “Rational” and “Impulsive” homicides Example: Felony vs Stranger (Also age, type of weapon, etc.) Their Results 


12 Deterrence & Brutalization FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports made more/better studies possible -- data on many characteristics of homicides Our studies of Arizona & Calif -- Before/After Return to execution

13 Deterrence & Brutalization First, we basically replicated the Okla categories Table compares findings


15 Deterrence & Brutalization But then we added two more analyses: Race and Race Combinations (explain rationale)


17 Deterrence & Brutalization And then age - with most interesting results


19 Deterrence & Brutalization Although homicide rates had been dropping in Arizona before the Harding execution, we found increases in every category following the return to execution in Arizona -- But, consistent with Brut Theo, the biggest incr by far were impulsive homs!! especially teens!!

20 Deterrence & Brutalization We also had FBI-SHR data for California, so we decided to replicate our Arizona study and expand it to a few more areas. SHR Data most complete for city of L.A. Robert Alton Harris and Calif’s return to execution

21 Deterrence & Brutalization Here are the overall results


23 Deterrence & Brutalization There is some evidence (old and recent) that there might be short term deterrent effects of executions even if in the long run homicides increase - so we tested that too - the “death dip” hypothesis.


25 Deterrence & Brutalization We now had a set of basic patterns Rational - death dip then return to normal Impulsive - no death dip, large increases Very large increases among teens!! Then we went looking for more evidence - and found a report on teen hom rates - we added the info on DP and executions


27 Deterrence & Brutalization Then a couple of years later, a new study appeared using a different method -- a huge contiguous counties study that found consistently higher homicide rates in counties in states that execute. explain methodology

28 Deterrence & Brutalization Meanwhile, there was a series of school shootings that erupted across the country -- by juveniles -- every one of the school shootings was in a state that executed!! Coincidence???

29 Deterrence & Brutalization Bottom Line: No overall deterrent effect Likely small short term decreases Long term larger increases, esp teens

30 Deterrence & Brutalization Comment on recent econometric studies

31 Deterrence & Brutalization Two more points (to complicate things!!): Death dip and “scheduled executions” Policy mistakes from short term dip

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