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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

The Role of Punishment in Preventing Crime


In the realm of criminology and social sciences, the question of how punishment affects crime prevention is a constant issue. To explore this I will delve into the realms of economics, psychology, and security, synthesizing my insights to form a coherent explanation.

From an economic standpoint, the concept of punishment can be viewed as a deterrent, a tool designed to outweigh the benefits of committing a crime. The idea is straightforward: if the cost of an action exceeds its benefits, rational individuals are less likely to engage in that action. However, the application of this principle in real-world scenarios, especially in crime prevention, is not always as simplistic as it appears.

Psychologically, the impact of punishment on human behaviour is complex. It's not just about the fear of consequences; it also involves the individual's perception of justice, authority, and the societal norms that shape their moral compass.

In Australia, one can observe varied applications and effects of punishment in crime prevention. For instance, the strict penalties for drug trafficking have been a point of debate. While some argue that these harsh punishments act as a strong deterrent, others contend that they fail to address the underlying causes of drug trafficking, such as poverty, addiction, and a lack of education.

Another example is the handling of juvenile offenders. Australia's approach to juvenile justice, which often emphasises rehabilitation over harsh punishment, reflects a belief that punitive measures alone may not be effective in deterring future criminal behaviour among youth. While this is a contentious issue for Australia's crime victims, the growth in bureaucratic departments and taxpayer-funded NGO's from this industry has ensured that the safety and security needs of the public are at odds with the employment and social programs promoted by the government.

The deterrence theory, which forms the backbone of the argument for stringent punishment, promotes the idea that severe, certain, and swift punishment can reduce crime. However, this theory faces limitations in its real-world application. The certainty and swiftness of punishment often prove more effective than severity alone. In many cases, excessively harsh punishments can lead to adverse outcomes, such as increased recidivism or the perpetuation of a cycle of crime. Unfortunately, due to the proliferation of NGO's providing taxpayer-funded support for offenders, the legal system can take years to impose just penalties.

The perspective in criminology advocates for balancing punitive measures with rehabilitation. The goal is to not only punish but also to reform and reintegrate offenders into society. This approach recognises that individuals who engage in criminal activities do so due to a range of socio-economic factors, including a lack of education, poverty, and exposure to violence. The lack of evidence that this embedded theory succeeds is completely ignored by the elite and academic classes, in no small way, due to the massive industry reliant on its existence.

The viewpoints of security personnel like myself seek to further enrich this discussion. Effective security measures, combined with appropriate punitive actions, act as significant deterrents to crime. For instance, enhanced security in public spaces reduces the opportunity for crimes to occur, thereby complementing the punitive aspect of the law.

The role of punishment in preventing crime is not a question with a one-size-fits-all answer. It requires a multidimensional approach that considers economic, psychological, and societal factors. By adopting a more holistic approach that balances the need for punishment with the need for rehabilitation and societal reform, there is a promotion to create a more effective and humane criminal justice system that addresses the root causes of crime rather than merely its symptoms. Security personnel are well aware that actions need to be swift, fair, certain, and consistent to deter crime. The actions we take to maintain freedom require eternal vigilance. From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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