Crimes committed by young have caused a lot of concern among different sectors in the society. Many children who have started committing crimes as early as eighteen years have left many worried what will happen when they become adults. The juveniles being talked about are not those who are dishonest or those who engage in minor social activities which are not acceptable but those who engage in violent crimes. Juveniles are not the only one who engages in criminal activities; adults are also involved in these criminal activities. In adults this may range from breaking traffic rules to wife battering. The question on what motivates some of these people to get involved in criminal activities while others who are in comparable circumstances do not can be explained by several theories. Eight theories have been developed to explain this phenomenon but the most prominent are specific deterrence and general deterrence.
This is the perception that the threat to punish crime controls people from engaging in unlawful activities. This means that when a person is aware of the consequences of what they are engaging will be reluctant to be involved in those activities which are against the law. When crimes which have been committed receive severest punishment it will create a greater general deterrence. Consistently sticking with the guidelines of punishing crime will also discourage criminal activities (Allan, May 13, 2010). In some cases the punishment involved may be ineffective and instead encourage the resolve of the person to get involved in other crimes regardless of how severe the punishment might be. Many people find it hard to resist peer pressure and this may be one of those instances where punishment may not be effective. For instance it becomes very easy for a juvenile who is with his or her friends to join them in committing a crime. The influence of drugs also affects the personal judgment of person. This means that under the influence of drugs and alcohol a person may commit a crime which he might have not committed if he was sober. General deterrence aims to prevent people from engaging in irrational activities and tends to change their behavior inorder to conform to the rules so that they cannot find themselves on the wrong side of the law. A good example of general deterrent is the death sentence which is intended to discourage members of public from engaging in a similar crime.
This is the notion that “if offenders are strictly punished they will be convinced by the experience they undergo to resist from repeating the crime.” Conviction and spending time in prison is one of the best deterrents to some people. In some cases severe punishment may not work on irrational people. Getting personal experience is probably the best way a person can get to know the consequences of his actions. Most hardcore criminals have completely reformed after undergoing a jail term and learnt the hard way that crimes don’t pay. For instance a traffic offender who has been fined for breaking traffic rules will be very careful the next time he is on the road. Despite enacting laws to deter people from committing crime it is largely agreed that it is on a rising trend. The question is how much the society is willing to invest in deterring crime and whether the benefits are worth the cost.
The morality of the society comes into play before deterrent measures are taken. Teaching a child on the expected ideals in life is important because the child will grow up respecting other people and their property, it will be therefore unnecessary to talk of deterrent laws. The religious belief of the people is also very important. There are those people who hold unto violent ideologies of their religion and cannot be deterred from changing regardless of the type of punishment involved.it is therefore necessary to study a given society before deciding on the kind of punishment to impose on the crime committed and the effectiveness of that method.
Allan, K. D. (May 13, 2010). The Social Lens: An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory (Second Edition ed.).
Researchers, d. (n.d.). General deterrence as used in criminal justice, refers to crime prevention achieved through instilling fear in the general population through the punishment of offenders. . Sociology subject index and sociological subfields. Classical tradition in sociology and sociological theory, and the expression of classical tradition in contemporary sociology and sociological theory. Concepts and theories of classical sociology and applic. Retrieved March 31, 2013, from http:// http://www.sociologyindex.com/general_deterrence.htm