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Deterrence and Social Control - Rethinking the Relationship

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 13 Issue: 2 Dated: (1985) Pages: 141-151
F P Williams
Date Published
11 pages
Until recent years, the operationalization of the deterrence concept has been largely legal in nature. That is, deterrence was defined in terms of certainty and celerity of arrest and severity of sanction. Contemporary research has called this narrow viewpoint into question, pointing out that legal factors are only part of the range of social-control mechanisms. One of the more important of these reformulations was found to have an analytical flaw which could have easily affected the results (Meier and Johnson, 1977).
The present study corrects the analysis problems of this previous study and upholds the findings that, for a sample of adult Texas residents, extralegal factors are of more import for determining marijuana use than traditional legal deterrence. Since both legal and extralegal factors are products of the social context, deterrence may be appropriately incorporated into contemporary social-control theories. (Author abstract)


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