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Crime Control - Deterrence and Target Hardening (From Handbook on Crime and Delinquency Prevention, P 45-68, 1987, Elmer H Johnson, ed. - See NCJ-105398)

NCJ Number
M M Bell; M M Bell
Date Published
24 pages
This paper discusses the rationales of deterrence and target hardening as crime control methods, aspects of their implementation, and their effectiveness.
A deterrence policy reasons that certain, swift, and severe punishment will control crime by frightening actual and potential offenders away from crime. Target-hardening policy reasons that would-be crime victims can control crime by so modifying their environments and behaviors that the opportunities for criminals to victimize them are reduced. Both methods are efforts to manage actual and potential criminal behavior without addressing the root causes of crime. Evidence of the effectiveness of deterrence is inconclusive and even fewer reliable conclusions are available on the effectiveness of target hardening. Existing evidence indicates deterrence works best when arrest and imprisonment are relatively certain; it is less effective when punishment severity is the only consideration. This suggests that the current focus on imprisonment as a crime control measure is misplaced. A focus on higher clearance rates and lower attrition between arrest and conviction would be more promising. Target hardening apparently has the valuable effect of reducing citizens' fear of crime through improved order maintenance. The Business Watch Program of the Seattle Police Department (Washington) is briefly described as an example of a target hardening program. 74 notes and a 14-item bibliography.


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