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Effectiveness of Court-ordered Punishment - Fines Versus No Punishment

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1980) Pages: 465-470
J W Critelli; R F Crawford
Date Published
6 pages
Various court-ordered punishment dispositions specified over a 12 year period in Muenster, Tex. were evaluated for their success in preventing or mitigating future criminal activity.
The results of dispositions of 324 offenders involved in 850 offenses were traced. Subjects included 268 men and 51 women. All but 18 offenders were Caucasians. Demographic factors, criminal offense characteristics, disposition, and recidivism incidence were analyzed. Results showed that fines were ineffective in preventing future offenses. Offenders who received fines were more likely to commit additional crimes than were those who received no court-ordered punishment at all. Those offenders who received more severe fines were more likely to commit future crimes than those who received lesser fines. The payment of a fine may represent such an indirect form of punishment that the offender may not feel a sense of loss and therefore may not feel deterred from commiting additional crimes. Judges did not appear to have the capability of identifying potential repeat offenders and offenders unlikely to commit additional crimes. Punishments might be more effective if fines were combined with a reinforcement for positive behavior. For example, offenders might be sentenced to large initial fines with the stipulation that part or all of the fine would be returned if no additional offenses were committed. Five references are included.


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