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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers the deterrence perspective, specifically the marginal deterrent impact of increased sentence severity. It introduces the “deterrence through severity” (DTS) thesis, which states that crime may be decreased by increasing the severity of the punishments. It studies the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of DTS policies, and then tries to show that DTS still is a prominent sentencing goal in many jurisdictions. It also considers some possible explanations for the coexistence of the general belief in DTS and its lack of empirical evidence. Finally, this article discusses the results of continuing DTS despite the lack of support for its effectiveness.

Keywords: deterrence perspective, sentence severity, deterrent impact, effectiveness, DTS thesis, empirical evidence

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