Publication Date



Crime control through law enforcement is generally considered to be a two-part process of appre­hending and incapacitating or rehabilitating the guilty, and deterring the innocent from crime by the threat of punishment. The analysis presented here shows that the protection of the innocent from harass­ment-detention, arrest, punishment, and other intrusions by the criminal justice system-is important in deterring crime. Specifically, the analysis shows that deterrence from crime is weakened and then lost for a rational individual who holds the majority attitude toward risk, if the levels of rightful punishment and wrongful harassment are increased, as in a war on crime, and the likelihoods of wrongful and rightful punishment are reasonably close. The analysis is employed to show how the perceived likelihood of harassment may be a contributing factor to the disproportionately high representation of minority groups in the U.S. prison system.

Document Type