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Criminal Acts and Choice Theories

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Submitted By marioskbar
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Checkpoint: Criminal Acts and Choice Theories Response
CJS/200
June 7, 2013 To understand choice theories, and how they relate to crime, one must first understand from what perspective the theories originate. The Classical School approach to criminology, prevalent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, states that “…free will and reasonable punishments…” emphasize crime causation; and that, “…punishment, if it is to be an effective deterrent, has to outweigh the potential pleasure derived from criminal behavior” (Schmalleger, 2011, p. 81). One contemporary theory rooted in the Classical School approach, is the neoclassical criminology perspective, which places emphasis on rationality and cognition (Schmalleger, 2011).
Central to this perspective is the rational choice theory, which states that offenders choose to commit crimes when they believe the benefit outweighs the cost or punishment. Take, for example, a person in financial despair unable to buy food. That person may rationalize that satisfying their needs by stealing outweighs the cost of the punishment. The choice theories affect society by enforcing laws and punishments to attempt to deter criminal acts, and simultaneously to discourage others in society from attempting them. There are two common models for society to determine what acts are considered criminal. The crime-control model, also referred to as Packer’s crime-control model, emphasizes the, “…efficient arrest and conviction of criminal offenders” (Schmalleger, 2011, p. 24). The due process model emphasizes the individual rights of the accused as they proceed through the different stages of the criminal justice system (Schmalleger, 2011). It is often assumed that these two models work against each other because one model emphasizes conviction, while the other emphasizes the offender’s rights; however, both models work together...

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