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Running Head: Deterrence 1

Shawn Caulder
Excelsior College

Deterrence 2


During the course of study in references for the topic of deterrence I have found a vast amount of information. Most are articles written by different intellectual scholars in the criminal justice field all weighing in on what they believe the theory of “Deterrence” is and how it relates to the ability to deflect and or inhibit crime during war time, peace time and stately situations. In particular I found one article to be an astounding work done by a man named
Stephen Quackenbush with an article titled General Deterrence and International Conflict:
Testing Perfect Deterrence Theory (2006). Although this article deals with deterrence theory of international conflict it still involves the basic roots of deterrence. I would like to show that through Mr. Quackenbush’s work one can come very close to a “Perfect Theory of Deterrence “ by simply following the logic of the article.

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When searching for the topic it was my goal to find the meaning of deterrence and or the application behind the theory. I wanted something with close ties to the relationship of the text we are using in the classroom. The text we are using Vold’s Theoretical Criminology, 6th ed
(Bernard, Snipes, & Gerould, 2010). I found in the article what I needed to relate different aspects of the text to the fundamentals behind what S. Quackebush (2006) had theorized about the levels behind deterrence. Not only does his research provide information on when and how to implement deterrence it can use simple math to determine the victor in every situation based on fundamentals of push and shove and force on force comparisons. In order to understand what deterrence was I wanted to find a source to provide a little more input than data from the
1800’s, as we have learned from Cesare Bonesana (1738-1794) statement concerning the implementation of keeping punishments proportional to the seriousness of the crime so that the cost always exceeds the reward (Bernard, Snipes, & Gerould, pg. 14). This is all well and good to understand how to set its boundary of punishment to the crime but I needed a better understanding of how it worked and what other factors besides crime helped to determine severity and what types of deterrence we see in our world today. By looking into Quackenbush’s
(2006) theory I can gain a better understanding of the levels of deterrence and the players in the game. By understanding it better myself and can readily adapt it better in my of life and have a better understanding of why and how it is used not only on the global level but on every street corner in America.

I order to locate the information I was searching for I followed the link provided in module one under the paper one resource provided by the course administrator. After following the link to the Excelsior Library’s resource search page I entered deterrence into the search box and began to look for articles that appealed to me over those that were easier for lack of a better term.

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I did find an article prior to the one by Mr. Quackenbush (2006) but after careful review I found the course required the article to be from 2000 and up. My article was from the 1930’s so that got quickly recycled and I found the article mentioned above. When I have used the library resource in the past I find it is always best to find your specific subject of study go to that portion of the library and search using specific terms within the requirements you have for the research to be done. In this case it was easy I had one word to describe my intent to the search box and in return it pulled up many documents. I knew that since mine needed to be a specific format “Article” I then eliminated all but the required information such as periodicals and journals. Of course a wide variety of useful and some not so useful articles, journals and periodicals popped up. I simply perused through them until I found a few that grabbed my attention. I would then open the journal and briefly read through it to see if it contained the content I wanted or was interested in. Once I found the writing that best fit the work I wanted to explore my time was done in the
Excelsior Library.

While looking through the many choices that were made available to me I quickly looked at content for information that one, intrigued me and two had some rational sense in which I could then understand and use. What is the point of using information that you have no
Comprehension of? Once these guidelines were established I look at the list of references and crossed checked these and the original author through the internet to find any additional information that may have been useful to me. The trick to this as well is to find a resource that has the intent of the message being interpreted and received by the viewer. If I am to do a paper on deterrence what benefit would I gain from a paper on crime rates in Kalamazoo, MI? At this point relevance to the meaning of the research is a factor. Another key thing to look for in an article is what amount of evidence is backed up by fact and how much of it is based on opinion or hearsay?
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A good resource needs to be based on as much proven fact and be backed by additional works to allow for the best use of the material in which you are going to use for your paper. Anyone can find a story on their topic but is it a story or is there hard evidence to back it up?

I believe my methods of evaluation are probably a bit more stringent than those described in the library resource. I tend to be a stickler for what I want to use for any form of writing in order to try to get my point across as best as possible. The library resources are abundant with useful information though. Do not think I am discrediting then because that would be far from the truth.
As a new student when I first started my Undergraduates Degree I used all the resources available to me especially the library.

The article I chose to introduce to compliment Chapter two’s lesson on deterrence is an article called General Deterrence and International Conflict: Testing Perfect Deterrence Theory, by
Stephen L. Quackenbush (2006). When I first began to read the article it intrigue my because it deals not just with the cause and effect of deterrence but the quantative measure of it as if it is and has always been a scientific fact of life. It begins by stating deterrence is the use of a threat
(explicit or not) by one party in attempt to convince another party not to upset the status quo
(Quackenbush, S. L. 2006). It breaks it down into two purposes which are direct and extended deterrence. One is immediate and used primarily as a means of prevention or attack on a defender, while the other is meant to deter a general population. Along with this are two types of situations that are created by deterrence. The first is immediate and is targeted toward a specific challenger and general which is all encompassing of a group (Quackenbush, S. L. 2006).

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Inside these purposes are different categories to describe different events of deterrence to include direct immediate deterrence, direct general deterrence, extended immediate deterrence and extended general deterrence (Quackenbush, S. L. 2006). These are considered different strategies based on your position. In this article the author chose to focus primarily on direct general deterrence to prove his theory of the “perfect deterrence”. At many times Dr.
Quackenbush (2006) speaks in term of deterrence being that of a game. I will describe the way that I understand his game based on the article as it delves deep into mathematical equations that do make sense but are a long way to describe it how I will. As discussed before there are and have to always be two sides when we speak of deterrence. In the case of the article they are known as Challenger and Defender. In this game there are choices to be made and depending on the choice each side makes will determine whether you are the defender or the challenger. Think of it if you will like a national game of chess depending on how you chose to play your piece will either make you the aggressor or leave you making defensive moves to get out of harm’s way. Earlier it was discussed that deterrence is simply used to bring one party back to the status quo or the normal. Being the defender or challenger and based on the decisions you make will put you into one of two places. You will either be the defender, come back to the status quo or you will retaliate (becoming the challenger) and move into conflict and vice versa. Based on this
Dr. Quackenbush (2006) has established that no matter where we are even in peace times there will always be a direct general deterrence. The shift from this happens when one side moves their piece one way or another. The understanding of deterrence in this article is based on a state to state or nation to nation offensive and defensive. We typically are discussing criminal activities of general population during this course but I do have a way to show just how much it looks like the national scale of deterrence within our precincts and our cities.

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One of the ways it can be shown that Dr. Quackenbush’s (2006) Theory of the perfect deterrence being present in our text is to compare just a few similarities in which he based his work on. One of the first few terms that come to mind is deterrence decay and residual deterrence. If compared to the though t of a continual deterrence as suggested by Dr.
Quackenbush then you can consider these the effects of a deterrent being put into place. This would happen in three stages the initial deterrent, the deterrent decay and what would be left would be the residual deterrence. By showing that there are different levels and or stages of deterrence at any given time then we can validate the Theory of Perfect Deterrence as proposed by Dr. Quackenbush (2006). By knowing the challenger to defender relationship it can compare to local law enforcement against drugs, crime, gangs and the list goes on. At times the law enforcement agencies are the challenger and the criminals are the defender. Those roles do reverse and local authorities have come under attack many times before. By understanding that there is always some type of ongoing deterrence whether perceived or intentional the challenger and or the defender will plan accordingly. The threat of going to jail for a crime is a constant deterrent for most. At times though there are those that weigh the benefit to the loss and chose to defy the deterrent sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t. It is knowing that there is a consequence for your action that keeps most on the straight and narrow. A perceived deterrent would be a shining star in proof of constant deterrence theory. Based on past experiences people will build a perceived notion of punishment for an offense. The deterrent had been initiated long ago yet the residual effect of it remains.

Deterrence 8


Bernard, Snipes, & Gerould, (2010) Vold's Theoretical Criminology, 6th ed. Oxford University Press INC. New York, NY

Quackenbush, S. L. (2006) General Deterrence and International Conflict: Testing Perfect Deterrence Theory: Retrieved from:

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