27 Jul 2022


The Different Types of Deterrence

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Coursework

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The concept of deterrence arises from the need to ensure that members of the community remain safe through the constant warning against certain actions and conduct (Sherman, 1993). From the time of Hammurabi’s law to more recent statutory law, deterrence has been used as a legal tool to enforce positive behavior among members of the public. This paper analyzes four different scenarios to determine which type of deterrence they embody. 

General deterrence is the most common form of deterrence available. It targets potential crimes before they happen so as to avoid damage that would arise as a result of their commission (Stafford & Warr, 1993). In this case, Example D shows the best example of general deterrence as shoplifters are warned against the potential crime of stealing from the shop. In the same vein, individual deterrence targets the specific individual against continuous commission of crimes. In this case, the individual is disciplined based on already-committed crimes and is discouraged from committing future crimes (Stafford & Warr, 1993). Example B is the best case for individual deterrence as Cary is well aware that he has one more strike before serving a life sentence. 

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Absolute deterrence, on the other hand, seeks to impart knowledge of what happens during the commission of a crime and why they should not commit the crime in future. As a result of the new knowledge, the offender would resist future urges to commit the crime (Paternoster, 1989). This is best put in example C, which involves a learning process on the risks of prostitution aside from the $300 fines being imposed. Restrictive deterrence involves the modification of the offender’s action so as to enjoy benefits without the proper action being done. In example A, citizens take advantage of Katrina and steal from shops, perhaps to regain their damaged items due to the lack of an organized police force. This amounts to restrictive deterrence. 

In conclusion, different types of deterrence exist for the purpose of restricting uncontrolled criminal action. Furthermore, these restrictions exist for the general good of the public for the prevention of harms against members of the society. 


Paternoster, R. (1989). Absolute and restrictive deterrence in a panel of youth: Explaining the onset, persistence/desistance, and frequency of delinquent offending. Social Problems, 36(3) , 289-309. 

Sherman, L. W. (1993). Defiance, deterrence, and irrelevance: A theory of the criminal sanction. Journal of research in Crime and Delinquency, 30(4) , 445-473. 

Stafford, M. C., & Warr, M. (1993). A reconceptualization of general and specific deterrence. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, 30(2) , 123-135. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). The Different Types of Deterrence .


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