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Specifying Specific Deterrence: The Influence of Arrest on Future Criminal Activity

Douglas A. Smith and Patrick R. Gartin
American Sociological Review
Vol. 54, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 94-106
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095664
Page Count: 13
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Specifying Specific Deterrence: The Influence of Arrest on Future Criminal Activity
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Abstract

Using data on police contacts for a cohort of males born in 1949 and followed until age 25, this paper examines the influence of arrest on future criminal activity. Two questions are examined. Does arrest amplify or deter the future criminal activity of those arrested? Does the influence of being arrested on future offending vary by where arrest occurs in the sequence of police contacts: for example, does being arrested have more influence on the future criminal activity of novice or experienced offenders? Drawing on the "criminal career" perspective, we partition future offending into distinct components, such as rate of future offending, duration of a criminally active period, and desistence from future offending. Evidence emerges that is more consistent with a specific deterrence position than a labeling perspective.

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