Criminal Theory - Research Paper Example

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Criminal Theory Paper Choice theories have immensely contributed to the understanding of crimes in particular and criminal justice system in general. While the trait theorists attributed the origin of crimes to certain biological and psychological traits in individuals and argued that some individuals are more vulnerable to criminal activities, it was the choice theorists who conceived crimes to be rational choices made by individuals…
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Download file to see previous pages The paper also deals with the common models used by society to determine which acts are considered to be criminal, how they are affected by choice theories, and how they are enforced by the government. It is essential to identify the various choice theories and how they contribute to an in depth understanding of how crimes are being perceived by the society and the criminal justice system. Regoli and Hewitt have made some remarkable studies on the various choice theories on crimes and for the researchers choice theories hold “that people have free will, are rational and intelligent, and make informed decisions to commit crimes based on whether they believe they will benefit from doing so” (Regoli & Hewitt 66). Thus, an individual has the free will to decide whether to commit a crime or refrain from it in given situations. The ultimate choice of indulging in crimes rests on the individual himself. Very often, individuals commit crimes only after evaluating the possible benefits as well as the consequences of the action in their lives. It can thus be inferred that individuals tend to keep themselves away from crimes when such consequences of crimes would lead them to pain, punishment, imprisonment or even death penalty. Choice theories can generally be categorized into rational choice theory, the routine activities theory and the life style theory. All these choice theories underline the fact that people are more inclined to commit crimes when right opportunities arise and there is nothing to deter or de-motivate them from such choices. The rational choice theory was developed and propagated by Ronald Clarke and Derek Cornish. The authors argue that offenders are “rational people who make calculated choices before they commit a criminal act” and as such they “collect, process, and evaluate information about the crime; they weigh the costs and benefits of the crime before they make the decision to commit it” (Regoli & Hewitt 67). Thus, the rational choice theorists argue that offenders commit planned crimes where they decide whom to target and in what way to operate their criminal activities. The theory has great significance in the criminal justice system. It is imperative that there are powerful provisions of punishment and deterrence in the criminal justice system to put an end to rational choice crimes. From a rational choice perspective the decisions of the offenders regarding the crime are quite purposive, intentional and deliberative. However, these decisions can be “biased on limited information, made under pressure, insufficiently planned, and/or attentive only to the immediate risks of apprehension rather than to the long-term consequences of their actions” (Lilly, Ball & Cullen 342). Most often, crimes based on choice theories stem from the offender’s attempts to satisfy his/her needs to earn money, acquire social status or to take revenge. On the other hand, the offender would always try to get rid of the negative consequences of the crime which include arrest, punishment and imprisonment. However, rational choice theory does not focus very much on the background factors that are involved in the making of crimes. On the other hand, rational choice t ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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