Criminal Acts And Choice Theory Essay

1050 words - 5 pages

Criminal Acts and Choices
Tamara Manning
CJA/204
June 16, 2012

Criminal Acts and Choices
“Choice theories state that the decision to commit (or refrain from) crime is an exercise of free
will based on the offender’s efforts to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.” Choice theories are
perspectives on crime causation that states that criminality is the aftermath of conscious choices made
by people. There are four basic theories that are considered: Psychological positivism, biological,
positivism, rational choice, and sociological positivism. These theories rely on logic to explain why
people commit crimes ...view middle of the document...

In other words, humans make choices; most human
behaviors are a result of free will. The majority of the Classical theories on crime causation share basic
characteristics. Both old and new theories hold that crime is caused by the combination of an
individual’s free will and rational choice; pleasure and pain are feelings that navigate human behavior;
crime is an immoral form of behavior; crime is punishable by law, punishment should keep criminals
from repeating crimes, and criminal punishment should be viewed as an example to other potential
criminals; and Crime can be prevented by swift and certain punishments that offset gains through crime
(The Classical School, 2009).
In his 1764 Crime and Punishment essay, Cesare Beccaria suggested that punishment should be
just and sufficient to deter criminal behavior, but should never be excessive. Beccaria took more of a
humanistic approach to punishment; he didn’t believe in brutality or the death penalty as means of
punishing criminals. He is now known as the founder of Classical Schools of criminology (Cesare
Beccaria: Crime and Punishment, 2009). Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), a theorist influenced by
Beccaria’s work, cam up with his own theory. This theory is called the Hedonistic Calculus and states
that individuals will not exercise free will to commit a crime, if the punishment for the crime is worse
than the benefits of committing the crime. For example: an individual won’t kill their significant other
for ending a relationship if the punishment for murder is life in prison, or the death penalty. The
potential offender understands that he or she would be committing a crime at the expense of their own
life and liberty. This philosophy is referred to as utilitarianism. Bentham and Beccaria both agreed that in
order for it to be effective, punishment had to be swift, certain, and just (Jeremy Bentham: Hedonistic
Calculus, 2009).
A more contemporary and narrowed perspective on criminal behavior is the rational choice
theory. This theory holds that crime is largely the result of conscious choices that an individual makes;
people will choose crime if they believe the benefits of the act outweigh the costs. This perspective is a
bit narrower than the Hedonism Calculus; represented by the routine activities theory, the rational
choice theory demonstrates the likelihood of victimization due to routine activities at certain times....

Other Essays Like Criminal Acts and Choice Theory

General Deterrence Essay

1772 words - 8 pages criminal behaviour will result in punishment and attention (Keel, 2005). For general deterrence to be successful, factors other than fear of punishment need to be incorporated as well. Although, it is argued that general deterrence is ineffective and does not eliminate crime. According to the deterrence theory, a criminal act can be defined as “an individual’s rational choice to maximize pleasure, while minimizing pain” (Williams & McShane

Sterotype People in Criminal Justice Essay

1253 words - 6 pages of the first ones will be according to Wellford (1975) the theory states that no acts are inherently criminal, and states that acts are only criminal when society considers them to be so. There are clearly some acts considered wrong in almost all the societies and nations in the world, murder, arson are a few such examples (cited in labeling theory). Secondly is the process of self-labeling. Hagen (1973) brings about the concept of self-labeling

Criminology Case Study

2005 words - 9 pages . American Psychologist, 45(3), 356-367. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.3.356 Rational choice theory originated from classical theory where choosing criminal behaviour is made through rational choices after weighing up the risks and benefits of the behaviour. The theory holds that criminal behaviour will be deterred if the risk to the person is raised and will outweigh its benefits or gains. To increase the risk effort to obtain gain should be raised

Psychology and Crime

1045 words - 5 pages Cesare Beccaria who was a social thinker. There are three kinds of criminal behavior exist under the banner of rational choice theory. The first behavior is rational actor under this behavior a man is free to commit any crime as he desires same as he is free to perform any other act. This conduct is influenced by Social Contract theories and Utilitarianism. The second behavior is predestined actor tries to change the environment which is beyond

Labilling Theory

594 words - 3 pages from prison because of their label as ex-criminal. They have been formally and publicly labeled a wrongdoer and are treated with suspicion likely for the remainder of their lives. Critiques of Labeling Theory One critique of labeling theory is that is emphasizes the interactive process of labeling and ignores the processes that lead to the deviant acts. Such processes might include differences in socialization, attitudes, and opportunities. A

Future of the Juvenile Justice System

1296 words - 6 pages as classical theory, the rational-choice theory, labeling theory, anomie theory, and bonding theory. Each of the theories has a belief in the factor behind the crime. For example, the labeling theory suggest once a child has been found guilty of a crime, society will place a label of delinquent on the child; therefore, the child must conform to the label (Champion, 2010). The juvenile will continue to engage in criminal behavior because the

Criminology

1024 words - 5 pages individuals to avoid dangerous practices but in some events they're unavoidable. The negative aspect of this theory is that it looks to take the blame for crime from the criminal and place it on the victim. The choice to commit crime should always be placed on the criminal as all crime is a rational choice unless mental illness is a factor. In short the Victim Precipitation Theory unjustly places the blame of criminal activity on the victim. The

The Choice Theory

609 words - 3 pages The Choice Theory By Adrienne Clarey CIS170 Professor Nick George The Theory that I selected was the Choice Theory according to the choice theory the individual commits the crime because he or she make a rational choice to do so by weighing the risks and benefits of committing the act. If the risk (e.g.,) (apprehension and punishment) out weight the benefits, then the person will not commit the act, and vice versa. But in a more

Criminal Minds

1666 words - 7 pages for pleasure. It is difficult to oppose this being an individual work since nobody else is necessarily needed for someone to have pleasure doing illegal acts. Other people may be involved, but they are not the reason the unlawful person enjoys what he or she is doing. (Cozic 72) “…the criminal activity itself is often carried out for pleasure, not criminal gain. The fact that pleasure manifests itself as crime is simply a brutal and

The Future of Crime Theory

893 words - 4 pages . This uncertainty and complexity of crime causation has caused criminal justice organizations to abandon crime theory. Criminal justice organizations focus more on just deserts in sentencing and recidivism and crime prevention remain on the back burner. The attitude that no crime causation theory works has developed a tendency to isolate crime control policy from theory. Crime control policies and crime causation theory are inseparably connected

Criminology

2412 words - 10 pages well (Jennings).Criminological Theory also uses their form of the scientific method when evaluated why offenders commit crime. They also use it when trying to come up techniques on how to control crime. [Free-choice, lack of the fear of punishment, ineffective criminal justice systems, available unguarded targets, and opportunistic situations provide the components of causality under this model. Crime is the outcome of the reasoning process of

Related Papers

Bounded Rationality And Consumer Choice Theory

2283 words - 10 pages be drawn that most economic agents are not maximizers and that even if maximization were possible, it would be difficult to obtain in practice (as they cannot compute all possible information relating to the purchase). Rationality in reference to the rational consumer choice theory is not defined the same as the colloquial definition of ‘sanity’, rather is termed on a much narrower spectrum; a rational act is one whereby the individual acts to

Originaltiy Essay

1144 words - 5 pages relationship with crime. The main relevance crime and choice theory have is that criminals are not seen as deviant individuals. The components of the criminal justice system are the police and correctional agencies and criminal courts. The police enforce the laws and investigate crimes and also maintain public order. The police have the right to arrest you if you have broken a law. The correctional agencies carry out sentences that have been

Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation And Just Desert

1677 words - 7 pages Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation and Just Desert In seeking to answer the question, "Why do people engage in deviant and/or criminal acts?", many researchers, as well as the general public, have begun to focus on the element of personal choice. An understanding of personal choice is commonly based in a conception of rationality or rational choice. These conceptions are rooted in the analysis of human behavior

Origins Of Modern Criminology: Classical Versus Positive Theory

2366 words - 10 pages idea of rational choice. He was the author of “An Essay on Crimes and Punishment” where he laid down the earliest modern theories of crime (p. 26). Some of the issues Beccaria addresses concerned corruption, abuse of power by judges and the application of controlling the acts as oppose to the actors in crime. Beccaria urged that crime was traced to “bad laws not bad people” (Professor A. Schug, Theory 304 lecture, September 12). Most of his work