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Crime, Punishment, and Stake in Conformity: Legal and Informal Control of Domestic Violence

Lawrence W. Sherman, Douglas A. Smith, Janell D. Schmidt and Dennis P. Rogan
American Sociological Review
Vol. 57, No. 5 (Oct., 1992), pp. 680-690
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095921
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Crime, Punishment, and Stake in Conformity: Legal and Informal Control of Domestic Violence
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Abstract

Deterrence theories and labeling theories offer inconsistent predictions about the relative impact of legal and informal controls on the subsequent criminal activities of arrested persons. In a controlled experiment using police contacts for domestic violence offenses in Milwaukee, we test whether the effect of arrest on recidivism is conditional on key individual characteristics indicating a "stake in conformity." Contrary to deterrence theories, arrest had no overall crime reduction effect in either the official or victim interview measures of repeat domestic violence. Consistent with labeling theories, arrest increased recidivism among those with a low stake in conformity: the unemployed and the unmarried. Neither race nor a record of prior offenses conditioned the effect of arrest on subsequent domestic violence. The results are consistent with findings from similar experiments in Omaha, Dade County (Miami), and Colorado Springs.

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