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Modern Control Theory and the Limits of Criminal Justice$
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Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190069797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190069797.001.0001

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General Theory, Public Policy, and the Limits of Criminal Justice

General Theory, Public Policy, and the Limits of Criminal Justice

(p.131) Chapter 7 General Theory, Public Policy, and the Limits of Criminal Justice
Modern Control Theory and the Limits of Criminal Justice

Michael Gottfredson

Travis Hirschi

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the general theory of crime depicted in self-control theory is taken as valid, and the implications for criminal justice are explored. The historical connections between classical theory and criminal sanctions are described, and the relations between classical deterrence theories and control theory are examined. The classical theory assumption that deterrence places limits of effectiveness on state sanctions is used in conjunction with the modern notion of self control. The result is that modern control theory, supported by contemporary research on the effectiveness of criminal sanctions, explains why criminal sanctions have limited effectiveness for crime and sets limits on the appropriate use of criminal sanctions. Modern control theory, using classical school assumptions of human nature and choice, shows why public policy should focus on early socialization and prevention.

Keywords:   criminal sanctions, self control, crime, public policy, deterrence theory, incapacitation, causal theory, crime prevention

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