SOC 389 Chapter 4 Book Notes
SOC 389 Chapter 4 Book Notes SOC 3890
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Abby Joannes on Tuesday February 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 3890 at Clemson University taught by Dr. White in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 31 views. For similar materials see Sociology of Criminology in Sociology at Clemson University.
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Date Created: 02/09/16
Chapter 4 Notes: Rational Choice Theory Book Notes • Development of Rational Choice o Development of Classical Criminology § Enlightenment: philosophical, intellectual, and cultural movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that stressed reason, logic, criticism, education, and freedom of thought over dogma and superstition § Punishment has four main objectives • To prevent all criminal offenses • When it cannot prevent a crime, to convince the offender to commit a less serious crime • To ensure that a criminal uses no more force than is necessary • To prevent crime as cheaply as possible o Cesare Beccaria- “On Crimes and Punishment” § States that punishment should be proportional to the seriousness of crime § Marginal deterrence: the concept that a penalty for a crime may prompt commission of a marginally more severe crime because that crime receives the same magnitude of punishment as the original one o Classical Criminology § Classical criminology: eighteenth-century social thinkers believed that criminals choose to commit crime and that crime can be controlled by judicious punishment • Several basic elements o People have the free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions to meet their needs or settle their problems o Criminal solutions can be very attractive because for little effort they hold the promise of a huge payoff o A person will choose to not commit a crime if the payoff isn’t as great as the effects of the expected punishment o In order to be an effective crime deterrent, punishment must be severe, certain, and swift enough to convince potential criminals that “crime does not pay” o Contemporary Choice Theory Emerges • The Concepts of Rational Choice o Rational choice theory: the view that crime is a function of a decision-making process in which the potential offender weighs the potential costs and benefits of an illegal act o Choosing crime § Reasoning criminals: law-violating behavior occurs when an offender decides to risk breaking the law after considering both personal and situational factors § Choosing noncrime • While crime may provide short-run solutions that are appealing to adolescents, it becomes less attractive as a long- term answer to personal problems o Offense and Offender § Offense-specific: offenders will react selectively to the characteristics of an individual criminal act § Offender-specific: idea that offenders evaluate their skills, motives, needs, and fears before deciding to commit a crime § Criminality: a personal trait of the individual as distinct from a “crime”, which is an event o Structuring Criminality § Peers and guardianship • Monitoring by parents reduces the likelihood kids will commit crime • Hanging out with adolescent friends increases the risk § Excitement and thrills • Immediate benefits to criminality that “seduce” people into a life of crime § Economic opportunity • Some may engage simply because they need the money § Learning and experience • Experience in profession of crime shapes criminal decision making § Knowledge of criminal techniques • Learn techniques that help avoid detection o Structuring Crime § Three aspects: • Choosing the type of crime • Choosing the time and place of crime • Selecting the target of crime • Is Crime Rational? o Is theft rational? § Boosters: professional shoplifters who steal with the intention of reselling stolen merchandise § Permeable neighborhoods: areas with a greater than usual number of access streets from the traffic arteries into the neighborhood § Appears that while seemingly random, criminals committing theft think thoroughly through their processes beforehand. o Is drug use rational? § Users report that they begin taking drugs when they believe that the benefits of substance abuse outweigh its costs § Deals show signs of rationality and cunning in their daily activity, approaching drug dealing as a business proposition o Is violence rational? § Violent repeaters don’t start something they don’t think they can finish § Violence is a matter of choice and serves specific goals: • Control • Retribution • Deterrence • Reputation • Eliminating Crime o Crime has an allure that some people cannot resist; the motive may be economic gain, revenge, or hedonism o Logical to assume that crime can be controlled by convincing potential offenders that: § Crime is a poor choice that will not bring them rewards § Crime is not worth the effort § Crime brings pain that is not easily forgotten o Edgework: excitement or exhilaration of successfully executing illegal activities in dangerous situations • Situational Crime Prevention: method of crime prevention that stresses tactics and strategies to eliminate or reduce particular crimes in narrow settings, such as reducing burglaries in a housing project by increasing lighting and installing security alarms o Defensible space: the principle that crime prevention can be achieved through modifying the physical environment to reduce the opportunity individuals have to commit crime o CRAVED model of crime choice (Ronald Clarke) § Concealable (merchandise is easily hidden) § Removable (mobile items such as cars or bikes, laptops are more desirable than desktops, etc.) § Available § Valuable (more valuable, in-demand) § Enjoyable (hot products, flashy items) § Disposable (things that are easy to sell) o Targeting specific crimes § Situational crime prevention efforts are divided into a number of strategies as follows: • Increase the effort needed to commit crime • Reduce the opportunity to commit crime • Increase the risks of committing crime o Crime discouragers: discouragers can be groups into three categories: guardians, who monitor targets; handlers, who monitor potential offenders; and managers, who monitor places. • Reduce the rewards for committing crime • Reduce provocation/induce guilt or shame for committing crime • Reduce excuses for committing crime o Situational crime prevention: costs and benefits § Hidden benefits of situational crime control efforts are: • Diffusion o Diffusion of benefits: efforts to prevent one crime help prevent another • Discouragement: crime control efforts targeting a particular locale help reduce crime in surrounding areas and population • Displacement: a program that helps lower crime rates at specific location or neighborhoods may be redirecting offenders to alternative targets • Extinction • Encouragement • General Deterrence: a crime control policy that depends on the fear of criminal penalties. General deterrence measures, such as long prison sentences for violent crimes, are aimed at convincing the potential law violator that the pains associated with crime outweigh its benefits o The perception of punishment/perceptual deterrence § Perceptual deterrence: the theory that the perceived certainty, severity, and celerity of punishment are inversely related to the decisions by would-be offenders to commit crime, regardless of the actual likelihood of being apprehended and punished. People who believe they will be punished will be deterred even if the actual likelihood of punishment is insignificant o Certainty of punishment and deterrence § Deterrence Theory: the view that if the probability of arrest, conviction, and sanctioning increases, crime rates should decline § Tipping point: the minimum amount of expected punishment necessary to produce a significant reduction in crime rates § Crackdowns: the concentration of police resources on particular problem areas, such as street-level drug dealing, to eradicate or displace criminal activity o Severity of punishment and deterrence § Shame and humiliation • Those who fear being rejected by family and peers are reluctant to engage in deviant behavior • Informal sanctions: disapproval, stigma, or anger directed toward and offender by significant others, resulting in shame, embarrassment, and loss of respect o Speed of punishment and deterrence § Restrictive/partial deterrence • Restrictive deterrence: convincing criminals that committing a serious crime is too risky and that other less-dangerous crimes or actions might be a better choice o Analyzing general deterrence § Despite efforts to punish criminals and make them fear crime, there is little evidence that the fear of apprehension and punishment alone can reduce crime rates. This is explained by the following factors: • Rationality • Compulsion • Need • Greed • Specific Deterrence: the view that if experienced punishment is severe enough, convicted offenders will be deterred from repeating their criminal activity o Can punishment produce more crime? § Number of factors that might help explain why sever punishments promote rather than restrict criminality • Offenders may believe that they have learned from their experiences, and now know how to beat the system • Severely punished offenders may represent the “worst of the worst” who will offend again no matter what the punishment • Punishment may bring defiance rather than deterrence • Harsh treatment labels and stigmatizes offenders • Criminals who are punished may also believe that the likelihood of getting caught twice for the same type of crime is remote • Incapacitation o Incapacitation effect: the idea that keeping offenders in confinement will eliminate the risk of their committing further offenses o Debate over whether or not this is effective in reducing crime rates • Public Policy Implications of Choice Theory o Just desert: the philosophy of justice that asserts that those who violate the rights of others deserve to be punished. The severity of punishment should be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime o Blameworthy: basing punishment solely on whether a person is responsible for wrongdoing and deserving of a censure or blame
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