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February 20, 2009


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Very interesting post! I was surprised that you mention it's unclear whether incarceration works as a deterrent. I have usually been told that incarceration has never been shown to be a deterrent. This is usually attributed to the lack of anticipation of consequences by those who are offending. Have I missed something?

I feel that in Canada, the main purpose is viewed to be rehabilitation for the most part for those working in the field, although perhaps some of the public view it more as a deterrent or as a way to protect themselves by "keeping criminals off the streets". Politically, there is a definitely a shift toward tougher sentencing.

Jeremiah Dwyer

Thanks for the comment! The "keeping them off the streets" would fall under incapacitation. As far as incarceration working as a deterent, it depends on cicumstances. For example, some research has shown there is a strong deterent effect for individuals incarcerated, even briefly, for drunk driving. OTOH, individuals with significant psychopathy won't be deterred by incarceration, regardless of sentence, type of facility, etc. My hope is that, as better data continues to come in, it's utilized in the most effective manner possible...

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