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Deterrence and Truancy Theory in Justice

One of a government’s fundamental obligations is to protect its inhabitants from crime, although crime prevention can take numerous forms. There is evidence that corruption is disproportionately concentrated in economically challenged places and that poverty reduction can help to reduce crime. Reducing crime rates can also be achieved by addressing mental illness. Addiction and crime are inextricably linked, and chemical dependence therapy is wildly successful at lowering property crime rates. However, the most popular technique of combating crime is through law enforcement and punishment.

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The government specifies activities it wishes to prohibit like assault, drug sales, drunk driving, speeding and assigns a penalty to individuals who engage in them. Consequences occur for various reasons: they penalize harmful activity, demand some societal restitution, hinder individuals who are more prone to commit additional crimes, and communicate the message that society has specific values, morals, or expectations. Several public-safety theories support these policy approaches to enforcing laws and penalizing violators. According to the principle of incapacitation, keeping some people in jail or prison prevents them from committing new crimes. According to rehabilitation beliefs, sending prisoners to specific treatment or training programs will alter them and prevent them from committing new crimes. According to disciplinary views, a person who makes a conscious decision to break the law should be punished to pay a debt to society and then return with a clean slate.

Denunciation theory combines numerous different ideas and asserts that publicly punishing someone would deter others from committing the act owing to its stigma and function as a kind of retribution. These ideas may promote criminal justice policy and examine policies through a good lens. However, politicians frequently use deterrence as a basis for making changes to criminal legislation. The notion of deterrence holds that criminal punishments punish violators and deter others from committing similar actions. Many individuals argue that following a high-profile occurrence where an offender appears to have received a lenient sentence, it is necessary to dissuade criminal behavior. Some think that a harsher penalty would have avoided the catastrophe and that a shorter sentence may prevent a similar disaster in the future.

The origins of the current deterrence theory may be traced back to the founding of the United States. Cesare Beccaria, an Italian philosopher and economist, published Essay on Crimes and Punishments in 1764 (Beccaria, Voltaire, & Ingraham, 2021), while Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, and reformer, published an Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation in 1781 (Silver, 1984). Laws, according to Beccaria, exist to allow for a cohesive community free of the threat of violence and anarchy. He imagined that each member of this society would always try to detract not just from his share of the pie but also from the pie of others. As a result, laws were essential, and breaking them should result in punishment with the sole intention of preventing others from committing the same act.

The theories of Jeremy Bentham were similar. He started with the idea that humans are controlled by pain and pleasure. He said that every action a person performs is intended to make them happier. According to the practical principle, people behave to gain or avoid pain or misery. The intensity, length, clarity, and proximity of pleasure or suffering determine its worth. According to both theories of human conduct, human activities are driven by the urge to seek pleasure and raise one’s standing by taking more than one’s a fair share. According to the rational action theory, people can be stopped from injuring others by creating sanctions for certain conduct. According to Beccaria and Bentham, potential criminals should weigh the benefits of committing a crime against the benefits of not committing a crime. In a nutshell, the notion argued that individuals would not commit an offense if the penalty of committing a crime is high enough.

Beccaria, Bentham, and Becker developed a three-pronged approach to criminal deterrence in which certainty, rapidity, and severity of punishment work together to raise the cost of an activity to the point where a reasonable individual will decide price surpasses the gain. The term “certainty” refers to the possibility of being apprehended. If there is no chance of getting detected, the prospect of harsh punishment is ineffective. The term “celerity” refers to the quickness of a result. The punishment meted out soon after an incident is more effective than the punishment meted out years afterward. Because a reasonable person could commit a crime that benefits them even if the sentence is rapid and specific when the penalty is minor, the severity of punishment is an essential component. Furthermore, the penalty acts as an example to others in society, ensuring that everyone understands what is and is not acceptable behavior.

Citizens are protected in several ways by governments. Health inspections, license regulations, and building rules are in place to ensure that companies, professions, and structures satisfy a baseline degree of skill or safety. Criminal laws exist, in part, to provide some guarantee that individuals would not kill one another or steal someone else’s property. People are less likely to commit crimes if they fear being caught and punished. That is, some potential offenders are likely to be deterred by a reasonable level of penalty combined with a high possibility of being detected. Legislators can use those two pillars, certainty, and harsh punishment, to design anti-crime legislation.

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The problem of truancy from the point of view of juvenile justice is an important issue, despite its, at first glance, the prevalence in any society. Drug usage, delinquency, adult crime, suicide attempts, and employment troubles have been linked to chronic truancy. Individual variables and elements in the youth’s schools, families, and communities play a role in truancy. School problems are possible school problems because of poor identification of special education requirements, dangerous surroundings, and poor record-keeping and attendance regulations. Child abuse or neglect, financial or medical difficulties that compel kids to aid the family, violence near school or home, or culturally biased attitudes against schooling are risk factors in the family or community. Being held back, low academic success, low self-esteem, and gang membership are all factors that can contribute to absenteeism among teenagers. So responses to truancy should be tailored to why students are missing school to avoid judicial involvement, school suspension, or expulsion.

Working with the adolescent and family to identify and address the underlying causes of school absences should always be part of the truancy response. Depending on the size and resource level of the school district, the procedures that education system officials should take when faced with truancy accusations may differ. In general, schools should call the family first and then conduct a home visit or an in-school discussion with the student and their family to determine why the kid is truant. Once the truancy concerns have been recognized, the truancy officer or other school official should make appropriate referrals or find a community or other system partners who can address identified needs and build a plan with the youngster and family to address the difficulties. Monitoring and follow-up, including additional referrals if specified services are not helpful or new concerns develop, should occur as needed to meet the requirements of the family and child. The above measures and ideas demonstrate the problem of truancy in terms of juvenile justice.


Beccaria, C. M. D., Voltaire, & Ingraham, E. D. (2021). An essay on crimes and punishments translated from the Italian of Cæsar Bonesana, Marquis Beccaria. London, UK: Legare Street Press.

Silver, C. (1984). An introduction to the principles of morals and Legislation. Jeremy Bentham, J. H. Burns, H. L. A. HartEssays on Bentham: Jurisprudence and political Theory. H. L. A. Hart. Ethics, 94(2), 355–356. Web.

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