Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jennifer M. Balboni
Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, legislators began to take a “get-tough” approach to crime control in the United States, a strategy that stresses harsh punishment for criminal offenses. Get-tough initiatives focus on deterrence, incapacitation, and retribution as primary goals of criminal sentencing. Their proponents assert that making the penalty especially severe not only will enhance public safety, by taking the criminal off the street, but also will deter other potential offenders from committing crimes, because they will desire to avoid such difficult sanctions. Philosophically, get-tough proponents suggest that harsh punishment is the appropriate and fitting response to crime. Get-tough legislation grew out of a confluence of social factors in the 1960s and 1970s. The spiraling crime rate, the controversial decisions of the Warren Court, the perception that nothing worked in rehabilitating offenders, and general social unrest all contributed to the belief that the criminal justice system was ...