Harsh Penalties

Harsh Penalties in Europe

Harsh Penalties, Deterrence and Retribution: Indicators of a Growing Need of Security?

Stefanie Kemme, from the University of Hamburg Faculty of Law, made a contribution to the 2012 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, in the category “Crime and Society,” under the title “Harsh Penalties, Deterrence and Retribution: Indicators of a Growing Need of Security?”. Here is the abstract: There's a growing attention and interest in security as public reporting suggest. Since 11 September it seems as if there are alerts of possible terrorist attacks all over. But does this public presence of police and threat scenarios reflect the subjective need of security? The perception of the past development of crime as dramatic and an increasing fear of crime can be indicators for a loss of subjective security. On the other hand the attitude of how society has to treat offenders and the longing for more severe sanctions are mirrors of a subjective need of security. The aim of the following study was to investigate the relationship between crime perception, fear of crime, punitiveness and the purpose of punishment and to answer the question if there's a growing need of security in German society. The data base consists of three samples of a nationwide representative study on crime and crime perception conducted by the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in the years 2004, 2006 and 2010 (Total N=7,650). Data show that people believe that crime has increased over the last ten years, although the overestimation decreased. Also fear of crime shows a decreasing trend over the last years. Supporters of deterrence and retribution as people that long for more severe sanctions have increased but also supporters of social rehabilitation. Using multivariate regression techniques to control for covariates it can be shown that people who prefer retribution and deterrence are more punitive than those who prefer social rehabilitation. The contribution tries to answer how these contradictory trends can be explained.


See Also

Further Reading

  • “Harsh Penalties, Deterrence and Retribution: Indicators of a Growing Need of Security?”, by Stefanie Kemme (Proceedings)

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