Incapacitation, Three Strikes law
General deterrence as used in criminal justice, refers to
crime prevention achieved through instilling fear in the general population through the punishment of offenders.
Law enforcement influences behavior through general
deterrence and specific deterrence. Law enforcement
generally aims at general deterrence, which is achieved by increasing the subjective risk
General deterrence focuses on general prevention of crime
by highlighting examples of specific deviant behavior.
The focus is not on the individual actor. The individual
actor receives punishment in public view in order to deter other individuals from deviance
in the future. General deterrence theory focuses on reducing the probability of deviance
in the general population.
General deterrence can be defined as the impact of the
threat of legal punishment on the public at large. Specific deterrence can be seen as the
impact of the actual legal punishment on those who are apprehended.
Thus, general deterrence results from the perception of
the public that laws are enforced and that there is a risk of detection and punishment
when laws are violated. Specific deterrence results from actual experiences with
detection, prosecution, and punishment of offenders.
General deterrence focuses on future behaviors,
preventing individuals from engaging in crime or deviant by impacting their rational
decision making process. Specific deterrence focuses on punishing known deviants in order
to prevent them from repeat violation of the specific norms they
A Reconceptualization of General and Specific
MARK C. STAFFORD, MARK WARR
The distinction between general and specific deterrence is widely recognized and accepted
by deterrence researchers, and is used commonly to classify deterrence studies. However,
the logical and empirical grounds for the distinction are not as clear as they might
appear, and the conventional conception has done more to obfuscate than to clarify the
deterrence process. Following a discussion of these issues, the authors propose a
reconceptualization of general and specific deterrence, and apply it to several current
controversies in the deterrence literature.
The Role of Reputation in General Deterrence
Clare, Joe. and Danilovic, Vesna. - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's
49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES.
Abstract: In our paper, we theoretically and empirically examine success and failure in
general deterrence. Most deterrence and bargaining studies have focused on the crises of
immediate deterrence partly because of the typical selection bias problems in identifying
deterrence success and failures. Moreover, our focus is on another variable reputation for
past behavior and its potential impact on general deterrence outcomes. We first clarify
multiple meanings of the notion of reputation and elaborate on potential selection bias
problems in understanding its impact as a signaling tool. We also discuss several related
issues such as multiple audiences that have generally been conflated and outline one of
the possible alternatives to disentangle these issues for a better understanding of
general deterrence success. We then empirically test the arguments with updated historical
data on the cases of general deterrence failures among enduring rivals. The test controls
for a possible confounding effect of factors such as interests and capabilities and is a
hard test for the reputation argument. With our least-likely research design for
reputational theory, we expect any confirmatory findings for the reputational effects to
demonstrate strong validity. Results do provide some, but partial and conditional, support
for reputation for past behavior and discuss findings in the context of deterrence theory,
reputational and signaling arguments, and selection effects in analyzing bargaining