Minimally Sufficient Deterrence

Author/s (editor/s):

John Braithwaite

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Dangers exist in both maximalist approaches to deterrence and minimalist ones. A minimal sufficiency strategy aims to avert these dangers. The objectives are to convince people that the webs of relationships within which they live mean that lawbreaking will ultimately lead to desistance and remorse and to persuading offenders that predatory crime is simply wrong. Alternative support and control strategies should be attempted until desistance finally occurs. Communities can be helped to understand that this is how minimally sufficient deterrence works. By relying on layered strategies, this approach takes deterrence theory onto the terrain of complexity theory. It integrates approaches based on social support and recovery capital, dynamic concentration of deterrence, restorative justice, shame and pride management, responsive regulation, responsivity, indirect reciprocity, and incapacitation. Deterrence fails when it rejects complexity in favor of simple theories such as rational choice.

Cite the publication as

John Braithwaite. (2018) ‘Minimally Sufficient Deterrence’ in Michael Tonry (ed), Crime and Justice: A Review of Research 47. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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