• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16

'Incapacitation is an effective way to reduce crime.' Discuss

Extracts from this document...


Before attempting to answer the question, it is necessary to put the definition of incapacitation into context. As the question regards the incapacitation of offenders, and concerns the criminal justice system (CJS), it is evident that we are viewing incapacitation as a penal policy. This encompasses prison, surveillance in the community, house arrest, chemotherapy, mutilation, banishment, and execution (Gabor 1985). However, authors 'like' Wilson are Conservative criminologists such as Hernstein and Charles Murray. Their approach is defined by their policy recommendations that almost invariably set forth rationales for the use of more punishment, especially the use of incapacitation (imprisonment), as the lynchpin of crime control. Therefore this essay will focus on whether or not the use of incarceration to incapacitate offenders is a viable, efficient and effective strategy to reduce crime. In other words, an analysis of the incapacitative effect of imprisonment, defined by Greene (1977) as '...the reduction in crime resulting from the temporal removal of an offender from society.' This will include an analysis of the different forms of incapacitation as well as the problems inherent in both, a brief account of the presumptions held in the incapacitative theory, and a discussion of the prevalence of incapacitation in today's Western world. Conservative criminologists explain criminality through classical school depictions of crime as the result of individual actors'- exercising rational choice (Reynolds, 1996), or the positivistic portrayal of crime as the result of organic anomalies and psychological/ intellectual defects (Herrnstein and Murray 1994; Wilson and Herrnstein 1985). However, the criticism of the ideas espoused by conservative criminologists focuses on the problems inherent in the concept of incapacitation. It is widely acknowledged (Clear & Barry 1983; Van Dine & Dinitz & Conrad 1979) that there are conceptual problems with incarceration. As an incapacitative strategy, imprisonment is based on a presumption that offenders who are imprisoned would have continued to commit crimes if they had remained free. ...read more.


Furthermore, by treating these factors as 'things', to use Emile Durkheim's term, they are treated as 'objective factors' in a predictive scheme stripped of moral content. Furthermore, some methods of prediction consider arrests and charges. Research indicates that ethnic minority groups are more likely to be stopped and searched, arrested and charged than other groups, supporting the claim that SI could victimise ethnic minority groups (Gabor 1985). Under SI, two people who commit the same crime may get very different sentences, which violates the legal requirement that all have an equal standing before the law. The use of prediction instruments is often justified on the basis they are at least better than chance (Wright, 1994, p.126), which overlooks how in court a series of considerations negotiate to come to a final result. Using instruments alters the negotiating enterprise in court in the direction of considerations of possible future crimes, which contradicts with the principles of a civilised legal system. Additionally, the requirement of most legal systems that the offence needs to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt cannot be ratified with the poor accuracy of prediction, which is by no means beyond doubt, in any case. Some feel a small sacrifice of justice does not stop incapacitation being a viable and effective method of reducing crime, so long as it favours the greater aggregate social benefit. One argument being that high rate offenders are convicted seldom, in relation to the high amount of crimes they commit; and therefore sentencing by SI can be seen as a way to redress this imbalance. Others believe that the criteria for prediction coincide with the criteria for a 'just deserts' rationale. Hirsch (1984) counters this claim, contending that the criteria for prediction and for 'desert' differ significantly in the degree of emphasis placed on prior criminal history. Hirsch (1984) also criticises the argument that desert furnishes the outer limits on punishment, within which predictive determinations may be used. ...read more.


Wahington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Reynolds, M., (1996). Crime and Punishment in Texas: An update. Dallas, TX: National Centre for Policy Analysis. Rideau, W. & Sinclair, B., (1982). Prison: 'The Sexual Jungle', in A.M. Scacco, ed., Male Rape: A Casebook of Sexual Aggressions. New York: AMS Press. Sabo, Donald F., Terry Allen Kupers, and Willie James London. (eds.). (2001). Prison Masculinities. Temple University Press. Shaw, R. (1987) Children of Imprisoned Fathers. Bungay, Suffolk: Richard Clay Publishing. Shinnar, & Shinnar., (1975). The Effects of the Criminal Justice System on the Control of Crime: A Quantitative Approach. Law & Society Review, Vol. 9, No. 4, p. 581-612. Spelman, (2000). What Recent Studies do (and don't) tell us about imprisonment and crime. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A Review of Research. Vol. 27, p.419-494. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tonry., (1999). Why Are U.S. Incarceration Rates So High? Crime & Delinquency. Vol. 45, No. 4, p.419-437 (1999) Tonry., (2004). Punishment and Politics: Evidence and Emulation in the Making of English Crime Control Policy. Devon: Wilan Publishing. USA Today [internet]. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-09-09-crime_x.htm [accessed on: 2 April 2008]. Van Dine, Conrad, & Dinitz., (1979). Restraining the Wicked: The Incapacitation of the Dangerous Criminal. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books. Vischer., (1986). The Rand Inmate Survey. A Reanalysis. In Blumstein et al (eds.), Criminal Careers and "Career Criminals" (p. 161-211). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Wilson, J.Q., (1975). Thinking About Crime. New York: Basic Books. Wilson, J.Q., & Herrnstein, R.J., (1985). Crime and Human Nature. New York: Simon & Schuster. Woolfgang, Figlio & Sellin., (1972). Delinquency in a Birth Cohort. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Worrall., (2004). The effect of three-strikes legislation on serious crime in California Journal of Criminal Justice, 2004, vol. 32, (iss. 4), p. 283-296 Wright., (1994). In Defense of Prisons. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Zimring, & Hawkins., (1995). Incapacitation: Penal Confinement and the Restraint of Crime. New York: Oxford University Press Zimring, & Hawkins, & Kamin., (2001). Punishment and Democracy: Three Strikes and You're Out in California. New York: Oxford University Press. ?? ?? ?? ?? LAWS10412 Explaining Crime and Deviance (7163342) ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Criminology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Criminology essays

  1. Outline and critically discuss the way in which your studies have developed your understanding ...

    It is far too easy for teens in today society to get everything handed to them because of a choice they have made.

  2. Who is to blame for crime: the individual or society?

    can also be thought of as encompassing unilateral and bilateral forms of social control. (Black, 1984; Horwitz, 1990) Beside that, economic inequality rises as a reason as well. As the economic inequality in the society causes so many jealousies between people, they might easily compare themselves with others.

  1. Compare positivist approaches to crime with at least two other perspectives discussed in the ...

    (Shvoong, 2008). Trying to answer this question a number of psychological theories emerged. Basically, these theories (including psychodynamic models, development influences, personality and learning theories and psychiatric disturbance) have tried to reveal a relation between psychological characteristics and criminal behaviour.

  2. As prison populations rise to unprecedented levels, to what extent can it be argued ...

    Von Hirsch (2003, pp346-347) concurs that penalties should fit the severity of the offence, with prison reserved for very serious offences such as murder, rape, armed robbery, and that discretionary rehabilitative measures be taken for lesser offences. Such a birfurcation system has been utilized in the UK for many years, but it is sensitive to public mood (Sparks, 2001, p206).

  1. Research proposal

    Most of the theoretical data that I managed to get hold of was on information gathered in the early 1980s to mid 90s. Changes within the society as well as technology means that the above factors might not be as accurate as to why women do not leave their abusive husbands.

  2. The History and Development of Forensic Science

    The first known form of firearm was the cannon, first used by the Chinese in the 9th century who in turn also developed gunpowder. In 1515 the wheel lock pistol was invented in the Italian town f Pistoia and this changed the nature of gun crime forever.

  1. Why has the United Kingdom adopted CCTV technology with such enthusiasm and how effective ...

    150.) Therefore, they were under increasing scrutiny and pressure to find effective methods of dramatically reducing crime in the UK. Further to this, in 1993, CCTV was ?thrust into the limelight? (Coleman and Norris 2000 p.

  2. The prison system in England and Wales could reasonably be described as being in ...

    "Modules on Althusser: On Ideological State Apparatuses." Introductory Guide to Critical Theory.) In keeping with the analysis of the alleged state of crisis within our prison system, a possible area that may give birth to this opinion is the apparent involvement of the media. It is through this medium that a crisis is cultured and gathers momentum within the public eye.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work