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Sanctions and Rewards in the Legal System

Sanctions and Rewards in the Legal System: A Multidisciplinary Approach

edited by M.L. Friedland
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Sanctions and Rewards in the Legal System
    Book Description:

    Ten distinguished experts look at the important subject of sanctions and rewards in the legal system from the perspective of their individual disciplines. Among the issues they consider are society's selection of legal and other techniques to encourage obedience to the law, the relative effectiveness of rewards and sanctions, the usefulness of the present tort system in deterring undesirable conduct, and the question of whether we are aiming our sanctions at the right persons. These are crucial questions - so fundamental that they are often passed over by scholars, not to mention by lawmakers, as too difficult to answer.

    This collection of essays helps us understand some of the dimensions of these questions by seeing how various disciplines have dealt with them. A developmental psychologist examines the contribution her discipline can make to the topic. A historian explores the origins of the present penal system. An anthropologist places sanctions and rewards in the context of past and present societies. An economist measures the potential effectiveness of deterence. Other experts in law, political science, organizational behaviour, and sociology offer unique perspectives.

    This book is the first stage in a program on sanctions and rewards in the legal system sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and part of the Institute's wider program on law and society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7955-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    Martin L. Friedland
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    One of the principal objectives of the legal system is to control and regulate human conduct. It is surprising, therefore, that relatively little research has been done by persons interested in the law on the most effective techniques for controlling and regulating conduct. Yet legislators are constantly framing laws that are based on assumptions of what does or does not work. Administrators draft regulations and policies and judges deliver judgments that are based on implicit assumptions. The research community has an obligation to help ensure that those assumptions are realistic.

    This collection of papers represents the first stage in a...

  6. 1 Criminal Sanctions in England since 1500
    (pp. 14-35)

    In setting out to discuss the ways in which sanctions and rewards have been mobilized in the past in the maintenance of order, I must begin by drawing some boundaries around my subject. In the first place, as my title indicates, I will discuss mainly English evidence, though I believe similar arguments could be made for Western Europe and (in its later stages) North America, with some differences in emphasis, chronology, speed of change. I should emphasize, too, that rather than dealing in detail with the recent past, I will be concentrating particularly on the early modern period between the...

  7. 2 Sociology and Legal Sanctions
    (pp. 36-49)

    The interest of sociologists in legal sanctions, though present from the birth of the discipline in the late nineteenth century, has flowered in the second half of the twentieth century. Two distinct approaches to the study of legal sanctions can be discerned in the contemporary law-and-social-science movement. The first, labelled the criminological approach, takes the obedience and disobedience of legal rules as the central issue. It focuses on the deterrence proposition, which states that obedience is increased by the provision of severe, sure, and swift sanctions for disobedience. The second, labelled for convenience the sociology of law, inquires into the...

  8. 3 The Economics of Criminal Sanctions
    (pp. 50-78)

    This is an essay on the economists’ theoretical perspective of how rewards and sanctions influence criminal activity. Although I include an occasional reference to the empirical evidence, Franklin Zimring’s essay (elsewhere in this volume) precludes the necessity of a more complete account. In any event, as an economist I run true to form in placing precedence on developing the theory: as the joke has it, an economist is someone who, told that something is true in practice, wonders whether it is true in theory.

    Economics is unique among the social sciences in having a well-developed paradigm for guiding theoretical inquiry...

  9. 4 Deterrence and the Tort System
    (pp. 79-98)

    From the advent of the industrial revolution, the Anglo-American courts self-consciously worked at designing a system of negligence law that governed tort liability for unintended harm. In his classic study of the common law published in 1881, Oliver Wendell Holmes sought to articulate the moral basis for this system and located it in the notion of foreseeability; an individual should be in a position to act with reference to a set of principles that indicated as clearly as possible the norms of permissible conduct.¹ To put it another way, tort law constituted a system of sanctions against unreasonably dangerous conduct....

  10. 5 Methods for Measuring General Deterrence: A Plea for the Field Experiement
    (pp. 99-108)

    The deterrent effect of criminal sanctions has long been a topic of debate, yet until recently very little systematic research on the impact of law enforcement and sanctions existed. Over the past fifteen years, however, social psychologists, sociologists, economists, and statisticians have used a wide variety of methodologies to assess the nature and extent of deterrence variables. Within the literature emerging from this new generation of deterrence studies, there are two quite different strategies for producing data on and insights into deterrence.

    One approach is to gather aggregate data on crime and other social indicators and to study the variations...

  11. 6 Sanctions and Rewards: The Approach of Psychology
    (pp. 109-136)

    One avowed purpose of the legal system is to facilitate compliance with the dictates of society. Through a system of rewards and sanctions – imprisonment, fines, deprivation of privileges, removal of licences, tax relief – society tries to mould the behaviour of its citizens so as to avert chaos and bring order to daily living. Psychology is a discipline that has addressed the issue of compliance at some length. Much research has been aimed at identifying the best techniques for gaining compliance from individuals and for modifying their behaviour. Although this has been the researchers’ chief purpose, a closely related goal has...

  12. 7 Sanctions and Rewards: An Organizations Perspective
    (pp. 137-155)

    Most adults in our society spend a considerable part of their lives occupying various roles in formal organizations of which they are members. The nature of the organizations, the quality of their management, and the character of their systems of sanctions and rewards have a significant impact upon their members’ feelings, attitudes, actions, and effectiveness. We are also heavily influenced by the nature of organizations with which we come into contact. The quality and effectiveness of those organizations determines the quality of our education, our health care, our legal services, our government services, our cultural life, and so on. Formal...

  13. 8 An Anthropological View of Sanctions and Rewards
    (pp. 156-178)

    Many people draw a distinction between the ‘natural sciences’ and the ‘social sciences.’ Their position is that social facts cannot be approached with either the same rigour or the same brutal coolness as physical facts. Yet many long for the day when neurophysiological psychology and the social sciences will have rendered human behaviour amenable to ‘real scientific treatment.’ In the meantime, somewhat like quantum physicists, we keep looking for probable outcomes. Wittingly or not, we formulate hypotheses on others’ responses – on the basis of previous experiences – so as to find our bearings and act properly.

    Don’t we think we know...

  14. 9 Achieving Compliance with Collective Objectives: A Political Science Perspective
    (pp. 179-202)

    In considering how compliance with collective objectives can and ought to be achieved, the contributors to this volume raise issues that are of central concern to political scientists. I welcome this opportunity to suggest how my discipline can contribute to the project, and vice versa. At the same time, I must begin with a disclaimer. This paper will present not ‘the’ political science perspective on these issues, but ratheroneperspective – that of mainstream North American liberal pluralism. It will not deal with classical theories of the just state and their implications for appropriate compliance mechanisms. Nor will it present...

  15. 10 Choice of Target and Other Law Enforcement Variables
    (pp. 203-224)

    What is the best way to discourage unwanted social conduct? Most of the traditional literature concentrates on the level of sanction: What punishment fits which crime? Should we supplement civil damage awards with criminal liability? Less thought is typically given to a set of prior, more fundamental questions. For example, are there any areas in which we should be replacing sanctions, whether criminal or civil, with rewards? Are there non-monetary resources that might effectively serve as incentive and disincentive currencies? To which actors are sanctions and rewards most appropriately addressed?

    Perhaps the more fundamental questions have been slighted because in...