Part I: Jail Time and Death Penalty: A Deterrent?.
For years many law enforcement agencies have relied on the assumption that jail time or the death penalty serve as adequate deterrents to crime or criminal activity. However multiple studies confirm that jail time and the death penalty are not effective methods alone for deterring criminals. Because of this it is important that law enforcement agents, government officials and community members work together to uncover effective tools for deterring crime and discouraging criminals from repeating crimes after release.
Jail time and the death penalty do not deter crime. Early Gallup Polls conducted in the 1980s and 1990s show that while roughly two thirds of Americans and law enforcement agents support the death penalty, there is inadequate evidence supporting its use as an effective deterrent to crime (Akers & Radelet, 1996). Many assume that the death penalty is legitimate under the assumption that people who commit a crime should pay on a level similar to that of the crime they commit. However, much of capital punishment support rests on the notion that capital punishment is an effective deterrent for crime (Pierce & Radelet, 1991). .
While there is some evidence that suggests the death penalty may be an effective deterrent, most of this research is flawed methodologically and conceptually (Akers & Radelet, 1996). Multiple studies support the notion that the death penalty is no more effective than long term imprisonment which also has its shortcomings (Akers & Radelet, 1996). There is in fact "wide consensus among America's top criminologists that scholarly research demonstrates that the death penalty does little to reduce crime rates related to violence" (Adkers & Radelet, 1996:15). .
Jail time serves as an equally inefficient deterrent, with most criminals going on to repeat some heinous crimes. There are multiple criminal theories and bodies of research that have addressed deterrence in the past.