Ever wonder why local, state, and federal government legislators keep making new laws every year? Why do they need so many laws anyways? Do they actually work to prevent crimes from happening in the first place?
The average American understands that laws are put into place to keep society in check, to ensure that law and order is maintained, and to protect the rights of all Americans. Regulations, laws, and codes are intended to deter crime, but there is a serious argument that laws don’t really prevent crime. As with most issues, there are two sides to the argument.
Many believe that no matter how much lawmakers legislate, there will always be murders, drunk driving, and bank robberies. This group of people argue that laws are in place not to deter crime, but to ensure that there is a punishment for those who choose to break the laws. They believe that criminal laws are intended to punish, remove dangerous people from society, and define unacceptable and acceptable behavior.
A smaller percentage of the population believes that laws do deter criminals from committing crimes. They believe that if a law is in place, society is likely to follow that law and that crimes can be prevented. This group also believes that laws are intended to keep society in order and out of chaos, and that the threat of a possible punishment is enough to keep an individual from thinking about committing a crime.
The reality is that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. There are those who will continue to commit crimes no matter how many laws are passed, and there are those who will make a more educated choice if they are aware of the law. When a criminal defense attorney asks clients why they did it, the answer commonly is, “I wasn’t thinking”, “I was desperate”, or “I didn’t know it was illegal”.
Rather than simply punishing those who commit crimes, many believe that some type of rehabilitation or treatment program will influence criminals who are released from jail or prison and provide them with the coping skills they need to survive in a world where they are able to live within the confines of the law.