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Lesson 4 – Classical Approach and Rational Choice Robert Wonser Introduction to Criminology Crime and Delinquency 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Lesson 4 – Classical Approach and Rational Choice Robert Wonser Introduction to Criminology Crime and Delinquency 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lesson 4 – Classical Approach and Rational Choice Robert Wonser Introduction to Criminology Crime and Delinquency 1

2 (Jesse) Yo, I've been out there all night slinging crystal. You think it's cake moving a pound of meth one teenth at a time? (Walter) So why are you selling it in such small quantities? Why don't you just sell the whole pound at once? (Jesse) To who? What do I look like, Scarface? (Walter) This is unacceptable. I am breaking the law here. This return is too little for the risk. I thought you'd be ready for another pound today. (Jesse) You may know a lot about chemistry, man, but you don't know jack about slinging dope. 2 Breaking Bad and Rational Choice

3 Understanding Theories of Crime Why are some individuals more likely to commit crime? Why are some categories/kinds of people more likely than others to commit crime? Why is crime more common in some locations than in other locations? 3

4 Classical School of Criminology Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) Father of modern criminology Wrote On Crimes and Punishments in 1764 Decried the criminal justice system in Europe Utilitarianism Believed in free will and rational choice Pleasure principle guides behavior People seek to maximize pleasure while simultaneously avoiding pain 4

5 Beccaria and Crime To control behavior, the criminal justice system need to perform effectively To deter individuals from engaging in crime, punishment should be Certain Swift Severe 5

6 Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) The other philosopher of the Classical School Hedonistic calculus - a method of working out the sum total of pleasure and pain produced by an act, and thus the total value of its consequences. 6

7 Positivism The classical school ignored the forces outside and inside an individual that could lead to crime Auguste Comte suggested forces beyond a person’s control determine human behavior 7

8 Neoclassical Perspectives All theories under this banner view criminals as rational There are three (3) theories in this area: Rational choice theory Deterrence theory Routine activities 8

9 Rational Choice Theory Assumes that potential offenders weigh the costs/risks and benefits/rewards of engaging in crime Modern inspiration comes from economic models of rational decision- making 9

10 If you found the ipod who would you call and why? 10

11 Rational: Event Decisions Preparing to commit a crime Selecting a target Committing the crime Escaping Aftermath of the crime 11

12 Related Concepts Committing crime for first time (initiation) Ceasing to commit crime (desistance) Situational factors Opportunity 12

13 Limitations of Rational Choice Theory Exaggerates the rationality of offenders Violent crimes are often emotional crimes The presence of drugs/alcohol in the offender’s system 13

14 Deterrence Theory Assumes that potential and actual legal punishment can deter crime 14

15 Types of Deterrence Marginal: The effect of increasing the severity, certainty, and/or swiftness of legal punishment General: Members of public decide not to break the law because they fear punishment Specific: Offenders already punished decide not to commit another crime Types of Deterrence 15

16 Fear of criminal penalties convinces potential law violator that pains of crime outweigh its benefits. Perception and Deterrence The perception that punishment will be forthcoming influences criminality. Some individuals and classes of offenders are more deterrable than others. General Deterrence 16

17 Punishment and Deterrence; three factors: Certainty of Punishment Police and Certainty of Punishment Severity of Punishment Swiftness of Punishment Interrelationship of factors General Deterrence 17

18 Evaluating General Deterrence Rationality System effectiveness Criminals discount punishments Some offenders – and some crimes – are more “deterrable” than others. General Deterrence 18

19 The view that criminal sanctions should be so powerful that offenders will never repeat their criminal acts. Incarceration may delay recidivism. Harshest treatment may increase rather than reduce crime. Punishment may breed defiance rather than deterrence Harshest punishments may case psychological problems Neighborhoods may feel victimized Specific Deterrence 19

20 Deterrence Research General deterrent effects of legal sanctions are small/nonexistent Specific deterrent effects of legal sanctions are small/nonexistent 20

21 Routine Activities Theory Crime occurs when three things converge in time/space Motivated offender Suitable target Lack of capable guardian 21

22 Evaluating Routine Activities The theory is very popular Explains crime Among different groups of people In different locations Accounts for changes in crime rates over time 22

23 Situational Crime Prevention Seeks to reduce or eliminate particular crimes in specific settings Criminal acts will be avoided if: Potential targets are carefully guarded The means to commit crime are controlled Potential offenders are carefully monitored Defensible space Why Do People Commit Crime? 23

24 Efforts in specific locations that aim to “reduce exposure to motivated offenders, decrease target suitability, and increase capable guardianship” Examples:  Installing/increased lighting and camera surveillance on city streets and in public parks  Providing/installing better security systems for motor vehicles, commercial buildings, and homes  Hot-spot policing 24

25 Crime Prevention Strategies Increase the effort needed to commit crime Increase the risk of committing crime Reduce rewards of crime Induce guilt: increase crime Reduce provocation Remove excuses Controlling Crime 25

26 Evaluating Situational Crime Prevention Hidden benefits Diffusion Discouragement Hidden costs Displacement Extinction Replacement Controlling Crime 26

27 Incapacitation Effect The idea that keeping offenders in confinement will eliminate the risk of their committing further offenses. One in every one hundred American adults in behind bars. Due to policy implications there have been periods of time where increases in incarceration rates increased while overall crime was decreasing. Incapacitation 27

28 Policy Implications of Choice Theory 28

29 Death Penalty Is it a deterrent? No. Wrongful convictions Policy Implications of Choice Theory 29

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