A Response to Criminal Justice Posting Deterrence Theory

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RESPONSE TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE POSTING DETERRENCE THEORY The questions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's approach to penal incarceration should probably be broken down into two different issues: deterrence and rehabilitation. That is because deterrence does not occur in a vacuum; rather, the effectiveness of a deterrence approach depends substantially on what (if any) alternatives to criminal conduct are available to former offenders after their return to society. Deterrence by itself, without viable alternatives to continued criminal lifestyles is likely ineffective, largely because the constitutional provision prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment imposes limits on how unpleasant incarceration can be made to be. Consider that a penal institution with as much direct supervision and oversight as any institution run according to Arpaio's model is much safer and less stressful in terms of threats to individual inmate safety than the traditional model of penal institutions where inmate culture is more in control of prison life. In that respect, Arpaio's model is relatively "easy time" to many inmates, particularly those who would ordinarily be preyed upon by virtue of their lower status in prison culture. Given that incarceration still enhances the "street creds" of many criminals, Arpaio's model may be a benefit to some rather than a deterrent, at least any more so than incarceration in traditional penal institutions. Inmates may complain about the absence of ordinary privileges
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