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Theoretical Approach to Explaining Crime - Case Study Example

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There are a variety of theories that assert different explanations for why crime is committed. Since all of the theories are different, it is important to choose the theory that best fits the specific situation. For example, in Miami, Florida, a man is accused of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl. …
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Theoretical Approach to Explaining Crime Bryant & Stratton College There are a variety of theories that assert different explanations for why crime is committed. Since all of the theories are different, it is important to choose the theory that best fits the specific situation. For example, in Miami, Florida, a man is accused of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl. Allegedly, as the girl walked home from church, she was approached and kidnapped by the suspect, taken to a remote location and raped. Routine activity theory would be appropriate to use in this situation since the facts seem to fit the theory well. Rational choice, on the other hand, does not appear to fit with the facts of the case and would probably not be very useful in this situation. Facts of the Case The Miami Herald reported that a 23-year-old man is charged with kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl on April 3, 2011, in Southwest Miami, Florida. The suspect and victim attended the same church; and, the suspect offered to drive the girl home when she was left without a ride. The girl accepted the suspect’s offer of a ride home; however, instead of taking the girl home, the suspect drove to a remote location and after his repeated requests for sex were denied, he raped the girl. Afterwards, the suspect dropped the victim off at her home. Routine Activities Theory Routine activities theory is based on the premise that crime occurs at the point in time that there is a convergence of a motivated offender, suitable or attractive target, and lack of a capable guardian (Groff, 2007). The theory asserts that performing daily routine activities puts an individual at greater risk of becoming the victim of a crime by increasing the likelihood they will be an attractive target that encounters a motivated offender in a situation where there is no effective guardianship present (Schreck & Fisher, 2004). The facts described above seem to indicate that is what happened in this case. The victim had attended church which is a routine activity. After church, the young girl did not have a ride so she was alone, meaning no effective guardianship was present. She then encountered the suspect who was a motivated offender that saw her as an attractive target. Therefore, routine activities theory appears to be an appropriate theory for explaining this offense. Rational Choice Theory Rational choice theory is a utilitarian theory which asserts that when deciding whether or not to commit a crime, criminals weigh the costs/risks and the benefits of the crime. The theory further argues that the criminals think in economic terms; and, criminals will try to minimize the risks of a crime by considering situational factors (e.g. time, place) (Pasternoster, 2010). Rational choice theory also suggests that increasing the risk of offending and the likelihood of being caught (i.e. surveillance, police/security presence, street lights) are effective means of reducing crime (Akers, 1990; Pasternoster, 2010). The facts of this case as described above do not seem to fit rational choice theory very well; therefore, this theory does not appear to be appropriate or beneficial for use in this case. The suspect in the case described here did not carefully and/or rationally plan or weigh the risks/benefits of kidnapping and raping his victim, but allegedly committed the offense because the opportunity arose. The suspect would not have known that the victim would not have a ride home and would be alone and without guardianship, so he could not have planned for something he did not know was going to happen. Since this offense was not planned by the suspect, but was committed when the opportunity arose, there was no rational choice, decision or weighing of the risks and benefits to be considered before committing this crime. Without making a rational decision regarding the crime, this theory would not be appropriate or beneficial for use in this situation. Conclusion There are a variety of theories of criminology, each of which asserts its own argument and explanation for why crime is committed; and, each crime that is committed has its own unique set of facts and characteristics. Therefore, in order to explain why a certain offense was committed, the theory that is most appropriate for each specific set of facts circumstances is the theory that should be chosen and used for that case. In order to choose the most appropriate theory, a determination must be made as to whether the specific facts of the case in question “fit” the requirements and elements of the theory. References Akers, R.L. (1990). Rational choice, deterrence, and social learning theory in criminology: the path not taken. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 81(3), 653-676. Groff, E.R. (2007). Simulation for theory testing and experimentation: an example using routine activity theory and street robbery. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 23, 75-103. Paternoster, R. (2010). How much do we really know about criminal deterrence? Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 100(3), 765-824. Schreck, C.J. & Fisher, B.S. (2004). Specifying the influence of family and peers on violent victimization: extending routine activities and lifestyle theories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 1021-1041. Read More
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