The Myth of Deterrence and Nuclear Weapons
"It never can follow that it is lawful to deter at any rate and by any means."--SIR WILLIAM BLACKCTONE ( 1723-80)
MURDER IS A COMPLEX SOCIAL PHENOMENON, AND IS NOT controllable by simply imposing severe punishment," is the essence of Dr. Weihofen The Urge to Punish. He cites with approval the experience of the prison warden who, during his twenty years in that profession, had never known a single criminal who would have refrained from using a gun because of any idea that he might get the death sentence. "The criminal's fear of the gallows," the warden said, "is a fairy story built up by well-meaning people to deter others."
That, to sum up, has been the position adopted throughout the preceding chapters. They have attempted to demonstrate, by examples taken both from history and from the practice of country after country, that the individuals who are of the type who commit murder or other capital crimes are not the type who can be deterred by threatening to kill them or by killing others so as to scare them.
On the contrary, the society that seeks to protect itself in this way can never feel safe or be safe from the murderer, because such a society has identified itself with the criminal's crime. Dr. Charles Berg and other modern authorities whom we have frequently called