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University of Waterloo
SOC 222
Allison Chenier

2 January-17-13 11:34 AM Deterrence and Rational Choice - Part 1 - Some theorists believe youth engage in crime after weighing the cost/benefits of their actions ○ Means offenders are rational decision makers who have an awareness of the consequences of their actions ○ Decide because they believe they are more likely to benefit from the behaviour - The decision making process can be influenced if there is greater likelihood of being punished for the behaviour ○ Means the certainty of punishment will limit behaviour ______________________________________________________ • Prior the Enlightenment: - Spiritual explanations explained behaviour - Theological determinism applied equally to children & adults • Free Will - Crime is a particular individual form of evil and moral wrong doing that is fed by personal choice - Causes of crime lie within the offender and NOT the environment - Individuals are motivated by self interest & free will and are personally responsible for their action s ○ Legal evidence requires:  The extent to which the person is seen as having committed the act  The extent to which the act appears voluntary - Principle of free will = crime is a matter of choice - Two key points about free will 1. Individuals are responsible for their behaviour because they posses free will 2. Free will allows a person to exercise control over their actions, decisions, and behaviour • Determinism - Direct opposite of free will - Behaviour is caused by an unbroken chain of occurrences → One thing causes another, leads to another, leads to criminal behaviour - Every event, action, decision, or behaviour is caused by something prior → EX: I stole bread because I was hungry, hungry because I had no money, no money because no job, etc. • Utilitarianism - Enacted for the good of society → Any action taken should be for the greatest good of society - Greatest Happiness Principle Greatest good for the greatest amount of people → - REVIEW: - Free will → Freedom to make personal behavioural choices un-influenced by external factors - Determinism → Behaviour is caused by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences - Utilitarianism → Political and social actions should achieve the greatest good for the most people _______________________________________________________ • Classical School rejects determinism & embraces free will Classical School: Three Defining Characteristics to Understanding Juvenile Delinquency 1. A behaviour, decision, or action is determine through individuals using free will and rational decision making in pursuit of accomplishing goals - Assumes we all equally have the ability/opportunity to do act freely 2. The belief is that no crime would take place if the pain from the crime outweighed the potential gain - Punishment should fit the crime & be severe enough to deter that crime 3. The focus is on the act/the crime and NOT the individual - This has greatly influenced our youth criminal systems _________________________________________________________________ Cesare Beccaria • Wrote the essays on Crime & Punishment - Crime was an act of free will and punishment should be used as a form of deterrence - Only exception is mitigating circumstances Mitigating Circumstances - reduce the impact of free will on behaviour ○ Mitigating Circumstances - reduce the impact of free will on behaviour  Mental illness, age,  The nature of punishment needs to be adjusted - Argued that the legitimacy of punishment is a result of the social contract ○ Social Contract - in order to live in groups we have to give up autonomy & freedom so we can regulate behaviour. Gov't will then create laws based on utilitarianism (greatest good for the greatest # of people) - All people are thought to adjust the ability to reason therefore making all actions rational behaviours ○ People behave the way they do to derive pleasure - Argued that the punishment should be based on the degree of harm done ○ Focus on the act not the individual, the motivation, or motivation - Purpose of punishment is to be a deterrence NOT retribution ○ Punishment is used as a tool to prevent crime  He believed capital punishment was inappropriate & barbaric □ Should be public not simply against one person - Punishment must be severe enough to outweigh the benefits of the crime - Punishment must fit the crime - proportionate Punishment for murder should be more severe than for theft ○ Jeremy Bentham • Believed that all parts of human nature are based on two things: Pain & Pleasure - includes the motivation for all behaviour - Punishment for criminal behaviour should make the pain outweigh the benefits • Ideas are based on the concept of utility - Greatest Happiness Principle • His approach to crime prevention is: - Hedonistic Calculus - to reduce crime, the pain society assigns for committing a crime must outweigh the pleasure gained from that criminal activity ○ Believed this would work because people are rational • Advocated against extreme or cruel punishment - Effective punishment must be swift & certain • Argued that punishment can be calculated in terms of intensity, duration, certainty, and immediacy in time • Calulation of Pain from Punishment is based on 3 things: 1. Experience of criminal punishment - Prior record 2. Knowledge of punishment imposed for certain types of behaviour 3. An awareness of what punishment has been given to apprehended offenders in the past • Neoclassical theory - Bentham argues that punishment should not vary by the circumstances or characteristics of the offender except in the case of mitigating circumstances - This is the cornerstone of our justice system - Suggests that other factors can constrain the ability to choose or exercise free will  Age, mental health, etc. QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT • How would you describe the relationship between culpability and free will? • What would be an example of responses to youth crime that challenge the view of mitigating circumstances on the exercise of free will SUMMARY • We are rational actors •
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