No. XXIX-XXX (2008)
Articles

How Efficient Is Severe Punishment, Or: More Punishment, Less Crime?

Helmut Kury
Max-Planck-Institut
Martin Brandenstein
Max-Planck-Institut

Published 2008-04-01

Keywords

  • severe punishment,
  • offences,
  • fighting against crime,
  • crime prevention

How to Cite

Kury, H., & Brandenstein, M. (2008). How Efficient Is Severe Punishment, Or: More Punishment, Less Crime?. Archives of Criminology, (XXIX-XXX), 133–142. https://doi.org/10.7420/AK2007-2008L

Abstract

The article aims to answer the question of to what extent harsh punishments can help decrease crime rates. The analysis of data showing a correlation between crime rates and imprisonment rates in the USAindicates that, with regard to crime prevention, the severity of punishment plays only a minor role, if any. The data collected by a commission within the Health Ministry of Portugal after the reorganisation of the drug policy (which resulted in the decriminalisation of personal use and possession of small amounts of hard drugs, the implementation of substantial prevention programmes and measures to minimise risks of addiction, the extension of treatment and reintegration measures, and the expansion of scientific research in this field with strict evaluation of the measures implemented) indicate that persecution and sanctioning of drug addicts with a view to reducing the problems surrounding drug addiction have no or very little favourable effect on drug consumption, instead generating more problems. In conclusion, the author suggests that the average terms of imprisonment should be shortened and the offenders should systematically receive the opportunity to be released on parole, as long as they do not show an indication of committing crimes in the future. That would serve as a motivation to change their lives and to engage within rehabilitation programmes.

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