In deterrence theory it is believed that people weigh the gains and consequences of violating or obeying the law. We have two classifications of deterrence theory: general and specific deterrence theory.
General deterrence prevents general population crime. This is because one is punished as an example to the rest. This is because one has not yet performed the crime; the punishment is to show the horror of what would happen if they committed the crime, thus deterring them from even the thought whereas the pictorial representation of the horror of reccurpesion is very fresh and clear. For example in August 2001, Nigeria Shari ‘a or Islamic that allows corporal punishment , Iran also publicly caned 20 people for alcohol consumption Under Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq amputation of body parts e.g limbs arms etc
Specific deterrence is used to prevent an already existing offender from performing the crime again. It is believed severe punishment works best for this sort of crimes. For example drunk driving is illegal in the Austria thus if one has committed this offence one’s license is taken away for a certain period of time and furthermore one is forced to go back to driving school and undertaking fresh driving exams. This ensures that the punishment that one gets from committing a certain offence thus next time shying away from committing the same crime.
The deterrence theory is common with the following philosophers; Thomas Hobbes, Cesare Beccarria and Jeremy Bentham. All these philosopjers played a huge role of creating a foundation for the modern deterrence theory in criminology.
Thomas Hobbes believed that men were neither good nor bad. He emphasized that men do things at their own volition and that men mains motive is to fulfill their self interest thus a man will hurt you by choice for their own self interest. Since men are intelligent enough Hobbes insisted that they entered a contract with the government to avoid conflict and war. This he named as social contract. Thus he concludes by stating that punishment should be having more effect than the satisfaction one gets from committing a certain crime. Cesare Beccaria on the other hand
Cesare Beccaria published his treatise, Dei Delitti e Delle Pene (On crimes and punishments) he questioned the authority of state to punish crimes. He followed other enlighted writers that laws should be judged by their prospensity to afford “the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number” (Beccaria, 1963, p. 8). The main purpose of punishment was to prevent crime occurrence and recurrence in society, Beccaria (1963) argued, “Punishments are unjust when their severity exceeds what is necessary to achieve deterrence” (p. 14). Been to sever in handling how crimes are handled will only increase crime rates. He emphasized that men have free will and that laws be published that way every human being is aware of the result of their actions. Considering the functionality of punishment, Beccaria (1963) called laws “the conditions under which men, naturally independent, united themselves in society” (p. 11). He insisted that torture and secret accusations be abolished. He also said that that they was no special laws for the rich and some for the poor and finally insisted that jails should be humane places where one gets correctional measures from. He summarized his argument in a way a way that the pain gotten from punishment of committing a certain offence should outweigh the pleasure received. Jeremy Bentham published An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, whereby he proclaimed his famous principle of utility. He argued that “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure” (Bentham, 1948, p. 125). The duty of the state in Bentham’s view was “to promote the happiness of the society, by punishing and rewarding” (Bentham, 1948, p. 189).
Thus theory of deterrence solely roots itself from the individual beliefs of these people severity, certainty and celerity. In summary a sober human being will not be able to commit a crime if he knows the punishment is harsh and severe. Deterrence theory has the highest level of popularity since its beginning. It shows that in criminal law they currently focus more on severity than on certainty of the punishment. Very harsh modes of punishments are been abolished though not all angles are been assimilated.
Cesare Beccaria, (1963).On crimes and punishments (introduction by H. Paolucci, Trans.). New York: Macmillan. (Original work published 1764)
Bentham, J. (1948). An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation (with an introduction by W. Harrison, Ed.). New York: Macmillan.