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Deterrence Theory

Discussion Board Two: Deterrence 2

Discussion Board Two: Deterrence

Justin Klipstein

Helms School of Government, Liberty University

Author Note

Justin Klipstein

I have no known conflict of interest to disclose.

Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Justin Klipstein


Discussion Board Two: Deterrence

Deterrence theory has been the basis for many correctional systems around the world. There are many who believe that this form of correctional philosophy works wonders and those that believe that it does not work at all. For instance, Menusch Khadjavi (2018) found that deterrence incentives did control some criminal behavior in inmate whereas Drago et al. (2011) found that harsh prison conditions do not effectively deter criminal activity and may actually increase recidivism rates. Regardless of what direction experts lie on the spectrum of whether deterrence works or does not work, there are many positive and negative aspects to discuss.

Lukas Muntingh (2008) stated that to have a deterrence centered correctional policy would mean a plethora of new jobs for not only prison staff but also construction jobs for the new prisons that would need to be built. He further stated that one of the most controversial, albeit positive, aspects of a deterrence-based system is the simplistic value of prisons. Politicians do not need to be an expert on correctional theory to explain the value of prisons and their deterrent effect on the criminal population.

On the other side of the arguments, Lukas Muntingh (2008) stated that to have a deterrence centered correctional policy would mean that an exorbitant number of resources will be spent each year maintaining prisons and housing inmates as well as building new and improved prisons to house new criminals. He further explained that large scale imprisonment does not deter crime as much as it appears to. In the UK, he explained, the prison population would need to double in order to reduce the crime rate by a noticeable percent and does not seem to affect the violent crime rate at all.

With both positive and negative aspects of deterrence existing in the current literature, a question of what can be done to ensure a deterrent effect with prison sentencing. Derek Pyne (2015) stated that it is officially recognized in the legal professions that deterrence is not consistent among all individuals sentenced to a similar prison term for similar crimes. He explained that utilizing parole and early release on a more systematic basis in order to more adequately reduce the costs associated with higher prison rates and still maintain the deterrent effect of the initial sentences. Beverly Crank (2012) suggests that some inmates prefer prison over alternative sanctions and may view them as more of a deterrent. In this sense, a combination of both early release and some form of alternative sanction may assist in deterring some criminals.

The Bible speaks about the importance of impartiality when criminal actions are concerned. “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (King James Bible, 1769/1989, Colossians 3:25). Pure deterrence in a corrections system indicates that there will be no impartiality in the sentencing of criminals. This is important and, surprisingly, is part of the Lord’s teachings. Although this appears to be harsh there is still room for mercy as the apologetic and meek among the criminal element have a chance to change and become functioning members of society.


Crank, B. R. & Brenzina, T. (October 2013). “Prison Will Either Make Ya or Break Ya”: Punishment, Deterrence, and the Criminal Lifestyle. Deviant Behavior, 34, 782-802. DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2013.71439.

Drago, F., Galbiati, R. & Vertova, P. (Spring 2011). Prison Conditions and Recidivism. American Law and Economics Review, 13(1), 103-130.

Khadjavi, M. (August 2018). Deterrence Works for Criminals. European Journal for Law and Economics, 46(1), 165-178. DOI:

King James Bible. (1989). Thomas Nelson Publishers. (Original Work Published 1769).

Muntingh, L. (December 2008). Punishment and Deterrence. Don’t Expect Prisons to Reduce Crime. South African Crime Quarterly, 26, 3-9. DOI:

Pyne, D. (October 2015). Can Early Release Both Reduce Prison Costs and Increase Deterrence? Economics Letters, 135, 69-71. DOI:,econlet.2015.07.034.

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