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Questioning the effect of prison on crime prevention | Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner

Monday, July 31, 2017 @ 9:23 AM | By Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner

In the year 2000, the Danish government changed some of its criminal laws in a manner that reduced dramatically the use of imprisonment for certain offences. Those responsible for suggesting that change probably were well aware of its likely impact: Keeping convicted people out of prison would have little if any measurable impact on the likelihood that they would reoffend. This awareness, however, runs counter both to the beliefs of many people and to deterrence theory.

According to deterrence theory, legal sanctions should reduce people’s likelihood...