Deterrence theory states that the threat of punishment prevents people from committing crimes. In its traditional formulation, a penal strategy is specified by three main factors—the severity, certainty, and celerity of punishment (Jervis, 1979). It is generally believed that the strength of each factor is correlated with the level of criminal activities in a population, and there has been a fair share of studies justifying these correlations (Antunes and Hunt, 1973; Yu, 1994), both theoretical and empirical. Interestingly, the results seem to disagree wildly on the prominence of these correlations (Mendes, 2004; Gray and Martin, 1969), with some going as far as to questioning the signs of the correlations (Sherman, 1993).
Posted on by Kelly Smith