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2003

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Criminal Law

Deterrence

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The Role Of Deterrence In The Formulation Of Criminal Law Rules: At Its Worst When Doing Its Best, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2003

The Role Of Deterrence In The Formulation Of Criminal Law Rules: At Its Worst When Doing Its Best, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For the past several decades, the deterrence of crime has been a centerpiece of criminal law reform. Law-givers have sought to optimize the control of crime by devising a penalty-setting system that assigns criminal punishments of a magnitude sufficient to deter a thinking individual from committing a crime. Although this seems initially an intuitively compelling strategy, we are going to suggest that is a poor one; poor for two reasons. First, its effectiveness rests on a set of assumptions that on examination cannot be sustained. Second, the attempt to employ the strategy generates a good many crimogenic costs that are ...