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Chapter Four: Choice Theory: Because They Want To.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Four: Choice Theory: Because They Want To."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Four: Choice Theory: Because They Want To

2 Chapter Objectives Be familiar with the concept of rational choice Know the work of Beccaria Be familiar with the concept of offense-specific crime Be familiar with the concept of offender-specific crime Be able to discuss why violent and drug crimes are rational Know the various techniques of situational crime prevention Be able to discuss the association between punishment and crime Be familiar with the concepts of certainty, severity, and speed of punishment Know what is meant by specific deterrence Be able to discuss the issues involving the use of incapacitation Understand the concept of just desert

3 Development of Rational Choice Theory Has its roots in the classical school of criminology These ideas declined by the end of the 19 th century and re-emerged in the 1960s Developed by the Italian social thinker Cesare Beccaria, he and other utilitarian philosophers suggested that: People choose all behavior, including criminal behavior Their choices are designed to bring them pleasure Criminal choices can be controlled by fear of punishment The more severe, certain, and swift the punishment, the greater the ability to control criminal behavior

4 Rational Choice Law-violating behavior is the product of careful thought and planning Offenders choose crime after considering both personal and situational factors The reasoning criminal evaluates: the risk of apprehension, the seriousness of the expected punishment, the potential value or benefit of the criminal enterprise, his/her ability to succeed, and the need for criminal gain

5 Contemporary Choice Theory Emerges By the mid-1970’s, there was renewed interest in the classical approach to crime Rehabilitation of known criminals was under attack National surveys failed to find good examples of what worked regarding rehabilitation of offenders Criminologists began to suggest that it made more sense to frighten criminals with severe punishments than to waste public funds trying to improve social conditions linked to crime

6 Offense-Specific Crime The idea that offenders react selectively to the characteristics of particular crimes Example burglary:  Evaluating target  Probability of security devices  Police patrol  Getaway car  Ease of selling stolen merchandise  Presence of occupants  Guard dogs  Escape routes

7 Offender-Specific Crime The idea that offenders must decide whether they have the prerequisites to commit a successful criminal act. Example: Evaluate the necessary skills required to commit the crime Their need for money or other valuables Whether legitimate financial alternatives to crime exist Their fears of expected punishment Option of alternative criminal acts Physical ability Heath and strength

8 Personal Factors Contributing to Criminality Economic opportunity Learning and Experience Knowledge of Criminal Techniques

9 Structuring Crime The decision to commit crime is structured by analysis of: 1. Choosing the Type of Crime (a specialist vs. a generalists) 2. Choosing the Time and Place of the Crime ( burglars 9:00 am – 11:00am) 3. The Target of Crime ( people with “dirty” hands make suitable targets )

10 Is Crime Rational It is relatively easy to show that some crimes are the product of rational, objective thought, especially when they involve an ongoing criminal conspiracy centered on economic gain. Examples: Bankers indicted for criminal fraud Stock market manipulations International drug dealings cartels

11 Violence: a matter of choice Serves specific goals: 1. Control - control over the victim, 2. Retribution – perpetrator may want to punish 3. Deterrence – attacker may want to stop someone from repeating acts they consider hostile or provocative 4. Reputation – An attack may be motivated by the need to enhance reputation and create self- importance

12 Controlling Crime Rational choice theorists suggest four ways to reduce crime: situational crime prevention general deterrence specific deterrence incapacitation

13 Situational Crime Prevention Situational crime prevention: in order to reduce criminal activity, planners must be aware of the characteristics of sites and situations Criminal acts will be avoided if: potential targets are carefully secure the means to commit crime are controlled, and potential offenders are carefully monitored

14 Target Specific Situational Crime Prevention Five Strategies: 1. Increase the effort needed to commit a crime 2. Increase the risks of committing crime 3. Reduce the rewards of crime 4. Reduce provocation/induce guilt or shame for committing crime, and 5. Reduce excuses for committing crime

15 Increase Efforts Target hardening techniques Curfew laws After school programs for kids

16 Reduce Rewards Reduce the value of crime to the potential criminal  Removable car radios  Marking property more difficult to sell  Gender-neutral phone listings to discourage obscene calls  Tracking systems (Lojack)

17 Increase Risk Crime discouragers: three categories 1. guardians: who monitor targets (store security guards) 2. handlers: who monitor potential offenders (parole officers and parents) 3. managers: who monitor places (homeowners and door way attendants ) Crime discouragers have different levels of responsibilities. I

18 Increase Shame/Reduce Provocation Setting strict rules to embarrass offenders Publishing “John lists” in newspapers Caller ID displays Create programs that reduce conflict Early closing of bars Posting guards outside of schools

19 Remove Excuses Electronic flash cars’ speed rate, “I didn’t know excuse.” Litter boxes, brightly displayed

20 Situational Crime Prevention: Costs and Benefits Diffusion ~ when efforts to prevent one crime unintentionally prevents another crime as well in another area Discouragement ~ when crime control efforts targeting a specific location help reduce crime in surrounding areas and populations

21 Situational Crime Prevention: Costs and Benefits continued Displacement ~ when crime control efforts redirect offenders to alternative targets, crime not prevented but deflected and displaced Extinction ~ when crime reduction programs produce a short-term positive effect, but benefits dissipate as criminals adjust to new conditions Encouragement ~ when criminals increase rather than decrease the potential for crime.  Well-lighted areas may bring a greater number of potential victims and potential offenders in to the area

22 General Deterrence A crime control policy that depends on the fear of criminal penalties, convincing the potential law violator that the pains associated with crime outweigh its benefits Certainty of punishment, if probability of arrest, conviction, and sanctioning could be increased, crime rates should decline The greater the severity, certainty, and speed of legal sanctions, the lower the crime rate

23 Specific Deterrence The view that criminal sanctions should be so powerful that offenders will never repeat their criminal acts

24 Incapacitation The idea that keeping offenders in confinement will eliminate the risk of their committing further offenses

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