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Report No. 35

VI. Punishment not the only deterrent.

317. Punishment not the only deterrent.-

It is stated that punishment is not the only deterrent. It does not play a major part for many persons, so far as grave offences are concerned. It has been said1, that if every form of punishment were abolished for murder, rape, and arson, only a very small number of persons would thereby become more disposed to commit these crimes, but on the other hand, if motoring offences could be committed with impunity, the relevant laws would soon become a dead letter. In other words, the "deterrent influence of punishment is in inverse ratio to the gravity of the offence.".

There is some force in this argument. At the same time, it must be noted, that the sanction flowing from the pressure of public opinion and the general sense of the community, though it may operate on many persons, may not operate on hardened criminals or a person with strong passions. It is for such cases that the deterrent effect of punishment is needed badly.

1. Glanville Williams The Reform of the Law, (1951), p. 196.



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