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Report No. 35

IX. Some important points.

324. Much of the controversy that exists as to the deterrent effect of capital punishment would disappear, if certain points, which should in fairness be conceded by both the rival camps, are borne in mind. Elementary though they are, they are often lost sight of. We merely state them, without much elaboration:-

(i) Human behaviour is conditioned by many factors, and not by law alone.

(ii) Punishment is only one such factor. There may be other factors, which operate to influence the behaviour of a particular offender or potential offender.

(iii) Those factors may be classified as factors contradictory to deterrent effect, (e.g., offender's own upbringing, likelihood of gain, existence of passion, or Just), factors complementary to it, (e.g., social pressure), and neutral factors,

(iv) How far and to what extent punishment operates in a particular case on a particular person, will thus depend to some extent also on what those other factors are; how many of them are contradictory, complementary or neutral to the deterrent effect; and what is their respective intensity.

(v) Therefore, the deterrent effect of punishment may not be uniform in all cases and on all persons.

(vi) But punishment provides the most concrete and tangible deterrent.

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