Assessing the perceived benefits—criminal offending relationship
Deterrence theory has been a centerpiece of theoretical and empirical research in criminology. Largely due to the early work of Beccaria however, much of this research has focused on estimating the effect of the certainty of punishment, or the costs of crime, on criminal offending. Although the benefits/rewards of crime are as important as the costs, conceptualization and operationalization of this portion of the decision-making process has only recently accumulated. In an effort to provide a counterpart to the summary statements available regarding the costs of crime, this paper undertakes a statistical summary of the empirical studies that have examined the benefits/offending relationship, with specific attention paid not only to the overall relationship, but also to several key moderators. Using 40 specific estimates from 13 studies since 1990, the analysis provides evidence of a positive and significant relationship between benefits and offending, but that the overall relationship varies in several ways. Directions for future research are outlined.
Journal of Criminal Justice