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 language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||21|
|State||Published - May 1990|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine