Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

And yet, power blackouts, police strikes and natural disasters usually lead to outbreaks of looting and vandalism.

At least some proportion of the population are deterred by the possibility of being caught and punished.

The main question isn't "Is the prospect of jail a deterrent", but "Is the prospect of 10 yrs in jail more of a deterrent than the prospect of 1 year in jail". The USA has absurdly long sentences for crimes.

That was not the question I was responding to, which made no reference to the length of sentences. It argued that prisons were not an effective deterrent (i.e.: at all), moreover there seems to be a school of thought that we should never punish crime, at all.

I said nothing about adding ten years to sentence lengths. I don’t know, and don’t claim to know what the optimal length of sentence (or other punishment) is, except that it is not zero.

Of being caught. Police presence is the deterrent, not the potential punishment.

This seems weird to you because it's not how your mind works, but it's what the data indicates.

Exactly. People do not commit crimes with the expectation of being caught; it’s why the death penalty is terrible deterrence.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact