According to a survey of criminologists in 2008, 88% of the participants asked whether or not the death penalty is a deterrent of crime said NO. They also said that while politicians argue for it to appear tough on crime, this ongoing debate on distracts from actually developing solutions. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/study-88-criminologists-do-not-believe-death-penalty-effective-deterrent Why then do we continue to demand the death penalty?
This really is a reflection of a lack of basic understanding of the psychology of the criminal. A criminal simply weighs the pros and cons of breaking the law. When the price is small, the criminal chooses to pay the prize. When the price is steep, the criminal only becomes better at what he is doing and he becomes organized- he forms a gang. It is a simple cost-benefit analysis like any other business organization. Over and over again, it is observed that in states with the three strikes law, these criminals tend to be more ruthless by killing their potential witnesses rather than face going to jail for the rest of their lives.
What this scenario fails to again for however, is that people who are in a gang are also part of other entities. Decisions are not made in a vacuum. When criminals are educated about the effects their actions have on other parts of their lives: family, neighbourhood, community, this moral dimension seems to have more of an impact on deterring criminal behaviour than the severity of punishment. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/200906/crime-and-punishment-moral-deterrents-crime
So what does this say to us? Instead of only focusing on punishment which is the end of one criminal career only to begin another one in jail MOST of the time, we need to intervene at the point of the DECISION making. Providing alternative motivations, as the article suggests, seems to be a step in the right direction.
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