Skip to comments.Does the Fear of Jail Actually Prevent Crime?
Posted on 11/28/2007 5:24:39 AM PST by libstripper
According to a brand-new and extensively covered study by the JFA Institute, a George Soros funded group, the U.S. prison system doesnt deter crime and is "a costly and harmful failure.
Prison is supposedly so useless that the U.S. prison population could be cut in half with no effect on crime.
This distrust of prison reducing crime is not new, but many have a hard time believing the simplest rule of economics: if you make something more costly, people do less of it. People accept that this principle applies to what we buy in grocery stores, but not to bad things that people might do.
So how plausible is deterrence? Let us take a couple examples from sports.
When college basketballs Atlantic Coast Conference increased the number of referees per game from two to three in 1978, the number of fouls dropped by 34 percent. Why? Basketball players fouled less often because they were more likely to get caught. In fact, the actual decline in fouling was probably even larger, since fouls that may have gone unnoticed by two referees were more likely to be caught when there were three officials.
Baseball players respond no differently. The American League has more batters hit by pitchers than the National League, but this difference only occurred after 1973, when the American League removed its pitchers from the batting lineup in favor of designated hitters. Since American League pitchers no longer worried that they themselves would be hit in retaliation if they hit an opposing batter, they began throwing more beanballs.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Having been in jail a few times myself I wouldn’t call it fear but I do know that I don’t want to go back.
Fear of prison does deter allot of crime, but not everyone fears it. Decent people fear it, the turds on the street dont. Prison is supposed to be a punishment.
If the death penalty deters crime, then super! There again, it is a punishment.
1) Put them in prison.
2) Kill them
3) Do nothing, and shrug off the whole concept of "people do bad things".
If putting people in prison is foolish, then I guess we're down to just two choices ...
“Does the Fear of Jail Actually Prevent Crime?”
Is the author referring to the old Graybar Hotel? Three hots and a cot, complete health coverage, gym facilities, library privileges and vocational education - all funded by John Q. Taxpayer... of course it deters crime! Who in their right mind would want to be subjected to that sort of torment???
Not if your last name is Clinton.
Well there Soros the crime rate started to fall in this country when three strikes became fashionable. Does your study see no correlation? If not you need new researchers.
I prefer number 2. Saves money.
4.) Brand them on the forehead.
5.) Cane them.
6.) Sent them to the principal’s office.
Yep - if they make jail an actual punishment instead of a time-out, it might make a better deterrent. No TV, no smokes, no booze, no drugs, no sex, o cosmetic surgery, just a Spartan, life-sustaining existence with daily hardships like hard labor, etc., and it just might do what it was designed to do before the ACLU got hold of it.
The fear of the DEATH PENALTY doesn't prevent crime.
The only thing that prevents crime is a dead criminal.
Not as much as fear of a bullet.
Solution: put the basketball and baseball teams in prison.
In our society, prison only deters those who are inclined to obey the law anyway. Criminals think we are dummies for obeying the law, because many of them understand that if they break the law they will either not get caught, will have a lengthy delay until punished, and punishment is not likely to be severe.
I was under the impression that having criminals in an effective prison was 100% effective at keeping them from committing a crime against society for the duration of the sentence. If prisons are not reducing crime enough, the problem must be that the sentences are too short.
Well, jail time should be a serious deterrent to anyone with half a brain and and ounce of consciousness.
“Three hots and a cot, complete health coverage, gym facilities, library privileges and vocational education - all funded by John Q. Taxpayer... of course it deters crime! Who in their right mind would want to be subjected to that sort of torment???”
I think you’re right.
Having visited several prisons in the NC department of corrections system, I can tell you that the prisoners have living conditions better than I did in the military.
I don’t think they fear it. It’s just a change of address for many.
Alabama had it right when they brought back chain gangs in the 80’s. (That wasn’t PC so it didn’t last long)
Works for me...
We put them in prison to keep them off the streets where they can prey on civilized society. Who cares if they fear it or not, they are unable to pillage and kill US while in there.
I like the idea of pink jumpsuits and tent cities for inmates.
All I know is that it sure does deter me! The last thing I ever want is to be stuck in a hole being Bubba’s girlfriend!
Punishment or not, prison gets bad guys off the streets. That cuts crime. If a neighborhood (it really goes by neighborhood, or small area) tolerates some degree of crime say TFA (theft from auto), then it will get worse crime, such a drugs and turf wars.
If you convince the bad guys to go elsewhere by tighter policing (police do allocate assets to some degree by which neighborhood gives a damn), then life is better in the community.
Saying prison doesn’t make a difference is just patently stupid. It gets bad guys away from normal people. Whether it’s a deterrent or not when they get out, they still haven’t haven’t stolen a batttery or mugged someone for several years.
In all seriousness, the last public execution in this county I call home was in 1904 (I’ve photos of the hanging). The NEXT subsequent murder committed in this county occurred in 1932, 28 years later. Why? In about 1928, all capital punishment was remanded exclusively to the state capitol prison system.
When the state takes the criminal prosecution/execution out of the area the crime was committed and a decade and a half pass before the sentence is executed, the crime is long forgotten except for those immediately close to the victim(s). Even more wrong is to execute the condemned out of the public’s eye. Either states ought go back to public executions so the responsibility of condemning the convicted to death can be FULLY grasped by the society demanding the execution or the practice of closet executions ought cease altogether.
Executions, prisons have no deterrant effect if the consequences of crime are shielded from the public.
The real problem is that we don’t run our prisons the way we should. Cool Hand Luke would be a great model.
Does the fear of prison deter crime is not a question that can be answered with a yes or a no.
For some in society, specifically gang members, having a prison record is a badge of honor. In fact, some gangbangers consider it a badge of honor to be incarcerated in certain prisons. Others go to prison simply to run gang activity in a “protected” environment, recruit others or enter state prisons under orders from leaders in their gangs. MS-13, The Crips, Bloods and Aryan Brotherhood are notorious for this. For those gangs, prison is profitable and perfect recruiting grounds.
Then you have those who literally have no fear for themselves or others. Traditional psychopaths come to mind the most. Regardless of the punishment they know exists consequences, up to and including death, is not a deterrent in anyway.
This leads to the inmate who was “young, dumb and stupid” and has not “aged out of crime”. Traditionally these are people under the age of 35 who will, given time, not commit major crimes again. They are a smaller subset of the prison population but none the less exist.
Finally you have the first time inmate who walks into prison looking like they are heading for the death chamber. For them, the fear of going back to prison, along with age, will for the most part prevent them from committing additional crimes. Unless of course, they become better criminals during their time of incarceration.
This is the problem with our prison system. 80% of all people currently locked up will be released at some point. For those young enough to act out any further criminal urges they have will do so.
A large of a percentage of these people become much better criminals and are willing to take more chances because they’ve learned to be “professional criminals”.
Don't discount rehabilitation. It actually does work -- certainly not in all cases, and maybe not even in most cases, but it works better than not even trying.
First, I need to disabuse you of the notion that punishment and deterrence are unconnected ideas. The more effective a punishment is, the more fearsome, the more effective it is as a deterrent.
The problem is that many career criminals actually feel just as much, or even more, at home in prison than outside. They never learned adult coping skills, never learned to manage their own lives.
It may sound strange to you and me, but the folks who are constantly in and out of prison throughout their lives are most comfortable when they have someone telling them what to do every minute of every day. When you have no decisions to make, it takes the pressure off.
My dad, who's nearing his 40th year working in corrections, used to run a halfway house that offered counseling, including substance abuse counseling; vocational training and supervised work-release; and the kind of basic life lessons (dress respectably, show up on time, don't mouth off to the boss) that most of us got in childhood.
It worked. Two out of three felons who went through that program weren't back in prison within five years. For prisoners who were released without that kind of transition program, the number is one in three.
There are two ways to make prison more of a deterrent -- make prison worse, or make the prospect of life outside better. We need to be doing both. The issue is getting smart rather than getting "tough."
Rehabilitation isn't just the purview of crunchy-granola liberals. Ask Chuck Colson, who's studied the issue from both sides of the bars, and Sam Brownback, who spent the night at Louisiana's infamous Angola state prison to draw attention to the issue of prison reform.
It's a happy thought, and Joe Arpaio has succeeded in cutting costs. Using inmates to staff the county animal shelter was a stroke of genius, less expensive and more effective than the old system. But it hasn't brought down the crime rate.
Arpaio's tents, pink undies and bologna sandwiches have gotten him a lot of press and have had the concrete benefit of saving money, but there is no evidence that they're more effective as a deterrent than the policies of any of the thousands of other county jails in the country.
From an economics standpoint, I'd agree. The problem with economics is that the base starting point is an assumption of rational actors. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that does not often occur in real world society.
For instance, look no further than the game show "Deal or No Deal." It should be a simple show: continue picking briefcases until the banker offers you more than the expected value of the remaining briefcases. But that never happens. People quit early or keep picking past that point. They are irrational. Lest you think this is a contrived situation, look at eBay, which is full of irrational actors. In realtime, an auction works because no one knows when it will end; there is thus an incentive to bid early and often. On eBay, however, everyone knows when the auction will end; thus, all bidders should have an incentive not to bid until the last possible minute, which will tend to ensure that they receive the lowest possible price for the item. Bidding early merely raises the price, but with no corresponding benefit. A more interesting system, perhaps, would be one in which the end time for the auction was hidden from the bidders, thus requiring any bidder who wanted the item to keep increasing his bid at all times, because he would never know when the auction would end.
But anyway, along those same lines, I don't think criminals behave rationally in considering whether or not to commit crimes; they simply do.
A few years ago I read a report that stated the recidivism rate was about 75%. The report further indicated that this rate had been constant for many years, and that “prison reforms” and all of the extras prisoners get made zero difference in rehabilitation.
I think the fear of being a prison wife does it for most guys.
“It gets bad guys away from normal people.”
I couldn’t agree more; however, with conditions as they are inside, there are many would-be felons who simply don’t care whether they’re in or out. That’s a weak incentive to lead an honest life for those with criminal tendencies.
Rehabilition aside, when criminals are in prison, at least they aren’t committing crimes.
Newsflash - the PURPSOE of prisons isn’t to help the criminal - it’s to protect soceity.
75% recidivism rate is incorrect by any standard I’ve ever studied and an overall rate can not be established that easily.
Recidivism depends on many factors, first being the type of crime committed. The highest rate of repeats I’ve ever studied (Justice Dept stats here) was for robbery/car theft and unfortunately child molestation.
However, the report was dead on when it comes to recidivism rates staying at a steady rate. Fact is the criminal mind will remain regardless of punishment, restorative justice programs etc.
Agreed 100% (it's also for punishment). Yet, what do you do with people who've spent years locked up, learning to be better criminals, have no education, no job experience or training and now probably have gang affiliations when they are released?
This isn't a soft of crime position, it's a reality.
Society needs to be protected from criminals and this includes those who come out of lockup better at their "craft".
>> Prison is supposedly so useless that the U.S. prison population could be cut in half with no effect on crime. <<
Even if the threat of prison doesn’t deter crime at all, cutting the prison population in half would put a whole lot of criminals back on the street. Duh.
Works for me.
Two cities with low prosecution rates have extremely high crime and murder rates. Philadelphia, because witnesses are afraid of retribution if they testify and New Orleans, because of the truly incompetent DA, (who just resigned BTW).
From what I’ve seen on TV, the gangs are operating from within prison walls, and getting their drugs, too.
The crime rate of most prisons make even the worst cities seem safe.
Maybe if prison meant a cell and isolation, rather than just another form of society, it would be a deterrent.
But I’m with the idea that the criminal is off the streets and away from us. If that deters another criminal, fine. But it should be the fear of ‘bread and water’ and being totally alone behind bars and away from society, FOR THAT PERSON, that should make a criminal think twice.
I don't side with Soros on anything, but I agree that prison is NOT the deterrent it was intended to be. Too many felons who have served time are now treated as cult heros instead of being treated with the disdain they deserve.
By the same token, Americans are being so overlegislated to the extent that we are being imprisoned for stupid or political "crimes" ("hate" crimes comes to mind) that prisons are not being used effectively to deter crime.
So, how do we fix a system that (like so many other governmental entities) seems to be broken? I suggest that we start by getting rid of the TVs, law libraries, gyms, and free college education. We also need to stop mollycoddling criminals and allowing them to clog up our courts with frivolous lawsuits. To stop that, I suggest that any inmate who files a lawsuit that is deemed to be frivolous, automatically gets an additional 5 years tacked onto their sentence.
Next, prisons need to stop worrying about the civil rights or prisoners. I don't believe that any of those in prison today was too concerned about the civil rights of their victims. Criminals, IMO, pretty much gave up their rights when they committed their crimes.
Frankly, I favor a return to the prisons of the Cagny films where the guards beat the prisoners just because they were having a lousy day!! The prison reform movement launched by the liberals in the 60s has created this cult that prison should be Club Fed and it is time to end it. The same with endless appeals for death row inmates. It is criminal (IMO) that the "Candy Man" (who poisoned his own son with Halloween candy) lived longer on death row than his son lived!!!
I could on on with my rant, but I've probably reached "boring" for anyone still reading this far!!! This one is just too much of a hot button issue with me (or could you tell? :-)).
Add to that what the Army does in its prisons -- strict discipline and order, far more than what a new recruit gets in boot camp. Eight hours of drill training as soon as they hit the prison. But I would allow the best-behaved and best-working to have library and education privileges. Some people actually want to have a good life after they've paid their dues.
Works for me.
Can’t recall where they got their percentages from. One state’s prison system or ?
The training we received in the 80s was that true pedophiles, as opposed to divorce accusations, were incapable of refraining from their sexual proclivities and would re-offend. Everyone one of them, everytime.
It’s hard to victimize people on the outside when you are locked in a cell. That’s good enough for me
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