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Ceasefire: The Effects of "Pulling Levers" Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
8 pages
This paper presents a brief review of the past 10 years of research on the "focused deterrence/pulling levers" strategies of addressing specific crime problems and the chronic offenders that commit most of these crimes.
Such strategies address targeted crime types by focusing resources on the small percentage of persons who commit the greatest percentage of those crimes. These strategies rely on research that shows a relatively small number of offenders are responsible for a large number of crimes. In addressing this circumstance, focused deterrence/pulling levers strategies apply the core principles of deterrence theory, which posits that crime can be prevented when potential offenders believe the costs of committing a crime outweigh the benefits they envision if they commit the crime. The crime is most likely to be deterred if the potential offender believes the consequences for committing crime are certain and swift. Focused deterrence/pulling levers strategies typically focus on violent, gun, and drug crime by identifying and targeting offenders known to have committed such crimes in the past. Once identified, these offenders are delivered a direct and explicit message that they are primary suspects when such crimes are committed. Consequently, they can expect special surveillance and investigative focus. The intent is to have them believe that their involvement in such crimes is likely to be discovered and punished in short order. If they express a willingness to change their criminal behaviors, they are provided with a variety of social service options. A growing body of research indicates that these strategies are a promising means of addressing specific crime problems and the chronic offenders most likely to commit them. Much of this research, which has been conducted by leading experts in this area, is outlined in this paper.