THE ARTIFACT ISSUE IN DETERRENCE RESEARCH

JACK P. GIBBS, GLENN FIREBAUGH

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The often‐observed negative correlation between crime rates and estimates of the objective certainty of a legal punishment is interpreted by some as support for the deterrence doctrine. Others, however, characterize the correlation as inherently artifactual because the variables being correlated have a common term (number of crimes is the numerator of the crime rate and the denominator of the objective certainty variable). Still others argue that the correlation is not inherently artifactual but is nevertheless spurious because of measurement error. This paper shows that the negative correlation is not inherently artifactual and provides evidence to support the measurement error interpretation. Unfortunately, however, there is no definitive way to demonstrate whether the negative correlation between the crime rate and the objective certainty of punishment rejects deterrence or merely measurement error.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-367
Number of pages21
JournalCriminology
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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