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Rational Choice Theory

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Regan Beck

on 2 October 2014

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Transcript of Rational Choice Theory

Does the crime rest on rational decision making?

Greed Revenge Anger Need Thrill Seeking Vanity Lust Jealousy Personal Reasons

All hinges on whether the benefits outweigh the consequences
Rational Choice Theorists
"All criminal behavior, no matter how destructive or seemingly irresponsible, is actually a matter of thought and decision making".
Development of Rational Choice
During the Middle Ages

superstition, fear of satanic possession

Violate norms or religious practices = witch/possessed, and therefor NOT rational
Cesare Beccaria
Credited with developing the Classical school of Criminology

Fair and certain punishment to deter crime

Punishment proportional to the seriousness of the crime

Marginal deterrence
Classical Criminology
Free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions

Criminal solutions can be very attractive

A person will not commit a crime if they believe the expected punishment will be greater than the reward

For punishment to be effective it has to be severe certain and swift
Development of Classical Criminology
Jeremy Bentham - Human behavior a result of some rational thought process

Control criminals is convinced the pain of punishment exceeds the benefits of the crime
Rational Choice Theory
Concepts of Rational Choice
Offense/Offender Specific
How Criminals Structure Crime
Is Crime Rational?
Jack Katz's Seduction of Crime
Situational inducements that directly precede the commission of a crime and draw offenders into law violations
Situational Crime Prevention
A method of crime prevention that stresses tactics and strategies to eliminate or reduce particular crimes in narrow settings
increase lighting in housing projects
installing security alarms
deadbolt locks
neighborhood watch patrols
Situation Crime Prevention
5 strategies
increase efforts- unbreakable glass on storefronts
increase risks- crime discouragers
reduce rewards- LoJack tracking systems
reduce provocation/induce guilt or shame- Megan's Law
reduce excuses- roadside display of speed
General Deterrence
a crime control policy that depends on the fear of criminal penalties
measures the pain associated with crime, outweigh the benefits
deterrence theory- a view that if the probability of arrest, conviction, and sanctioning increases, crime rates should decline
deterrence measures may not eliminate crime but reduce or restrict it occurrence
Analysis of General Deterrence
Contemporary Choice Theory
"Wicked people exist. Nothing avails except to set them apart from innocent people" - James Q Wilson

Charles Murray & Louis Cox - Punishment oriented progrmas

Jack Katz- immediate benefits to criminality
Why crime?
Sense of control
Boost self esteem
Ward off depression
Compensate for lack of positive experiences
Offense specific- reacts to characteristics of the crime

Offender specific- evaluate if they have the prerequisites to commit the crime
Before committing a crime, offenders will make 3 important decisions
Type of crime
Time and place of crime
Select the target
Calculated actions
Avoid detection, capture, and punishment
Decision making
Maximize personal gain
Specific Deterrence
a crime control policy suggesting that punishment be severe enough to convince convicted offenders never to repeat their criminal activity
the harsher the punishment, the less likely the chances of recidivism
may increase re offending rates
domestic violence studies
Incapacitation Strategy
the idea that keeping offenders in confinement will eliminate the risk of their committing further offenses
crime rates have dropped while the prison population has boomed
3 Strikes Law
Implications of Choice Theory
the belief that criminals choice to commit crime has influenced the relationships among law, punishment, and crime
the death penalty effect on criminality
Just Desert
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