Week 2 - Deterrence and Rational Choice Part I
The classical theories are a foundation of deterrence and rational choice, and explanation of criminal
Choice Theory: believes that youth engage in delinquent behaviour after weighing the consequences
and benefits of their actions.
- Offenders are rational thinkers
- They think that their action will be more beneficial rather than costly
- The decision making process can be influenced if there is a greater likelihood of being punished
for the behaviour
- Example: getting caught by parents
- Certainty of punishment changes the likelihood of committing a delinquent act.
- Prior to the enlightenment we relied on spiritual explanation.
- Developed a freedom of choice, free will and rationality
Free Will: Freedom to make personal behavioural choices unencumbered by external factors
- Crime as a particular individual form of evil and as a moral wrongdoing that is fed by personal
- Causes of crime lie between the individual offender
- Motivation: Self interest and subject the responsibilities for their actions.
- The principle of free will dictates that crime is a matter of choice, and people are motivated by
personal reasons to commit crime independent of factors external to the individual
- Such as poverty
- Two key points: 1) Individuals are responsible for their own behaviour because they possess
free will. 2) Free will allows a person to exercise control over their actions, decisions and
Determinism: Behaviour is caused by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences
- States that every event, action, decision, or behaviour is causally determined by an unbroken
chain of prior occurrences.
- Example: stole bread, hungry, no money, job, poor.. etc
Utilitarianism: Political and social actions should achieve the greatest good for the most people
- Protection of the society
- This basically means you have to take the people into account while making any decisions.
- “The greatest happiness principle” “The greatest good for the greatest number of people”
As classical school rejects determinism and embraces the principle of free will
Three defining characteristics to understanding juvenile delinquency
1) A behaviour, decision, or action is determined through individuals using free will and rational
decision making in pursuit of accomplishing a goal
2) The belief is that no crime would take place if the pain from the crime outweighed the potential
gain – thus the punishment has to fit the crime. – And only be severe enough to deter that
3) The focus is on