The idea of deterrence assumes rationality among criminals. The reasoning goes like this: If society makes known the costs of crime, people should be…

The idea of deterrence assumes rationality among criminals. The reasoning goes like this: If society makes known the costs of crime, people should be less likely to participate in it.
(1) What if, however, criminals are not responsive to the costs of crime? Given Movahedi’s very strong emotions at the moment he injured Bahrami, would knowledge of future punishments kept him from attacking her?
It’s unclear, but we might expect strong punishments to deter rationally-based crimes, such as theft, more strongly than emotionally-based crimes.
The application of general deterrence has its own issues, for not only does the victim have rights, but so does the attacker—though they forsake many of them when they commit crime.
(2) Is it reasonable to punish one person harshly in order to benefit other people? Is it appropriate for society to “make an example” of someone?
In the story above, Bahrami is such a sympathetic figure that it’s easy to overlook these issues, but they still stand.
Questions remain about the effectiveness and appropriateness of general deterrence, and yet it stands as one of society’s main defenses against law-breaking.
Do you think general or specific deterrence work? If so, in what situations might they be mosteffective? {remember: think and write like a criminologist – try to avoid your personal opinion!}

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