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Lecture 3

SOC307H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Intellectual Disability, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Social Darwinism

Course Code
Reza Barmaki

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Rational Choice Theory
People are rational
Calculates cost/benefit of actions
Based on information available to them
Choose to commit crime
Crime reduced through deterrence
Routine Activity Theory
Crime from offender’s point of view
Based on rational choice theory: criminal a rational actor
3 factors involved in offender’s decision to commit a crime
Capable Guardian
Motivated Offender Suitable Target
1) Motivated offender-has reason to commit crime ex: poverty, debt,
addiction, mental disorders
2) Suitable Target-target could be a: person, object place
factors such as: valuable, concealable, removable, available, enjoyable,
disposable, resistance
Target Hardening-example: locks, reduces suitability
How not to be a suitable target: size, physical fitness, signs of toughness
(tattoos, clothing…), avoiding wrong places/people
3) Absence/Presence of Capable Guardian-intervention in crime
examples: parents, police patrols, security guards, neighbours
Preventing or modifying behavior through fear of retribution
-knowledge of painful consequences
-intended or unintended consequences
Achieved through governmental institutions
Assumptions of deterrence theory
Free will: choose
Maximize self-interest
Humans are rational-cost/benefit calculation
Knowledge of painful consequences has a deterring effect:
A-probability of arrest
B-probability of conviction
C-severity of punishment
(1) Absolute Deterrence
Establishment of a criminal justice system-courts, police, prisons, etc.
Assumption: rate of crime will decrease
Hope: no crime will be committed
(2) General Deterrence
Goal: general prevention of crime by making examples of specific
Publicizing cost of crime
A-public punishment
-General deterrence through surveillance
increasing probability of detection and arrest
introducing uncertainty into potential lawbreakers plans
forcing them to rethink or abandon their plans
-Added benefits of surveillance
changing degree of visibility
-Number of cameras, changing frequency of patrols…
in case of technological surveillance: cheap, continuous, reliable
-A special case of surveillance geared towards general deterrence
publicized undercover activities
often for prostitution
introduced uncertainty
Theory & Reality: an example
You and your friend need money
You have to work for it for two weeks (pain)
You can get it this way in 30 seconds (pleasure)
You think about it
What would stop you and your friend from actually doing this?
-knowing that you will be arrested
-knowing that you will be sentenced
-knowing that you will be doing 5-7 in jail (intended painful consequences)
-knowing you have to shower with this guy, knowing that you have to hide
drugs “inside” you for this guy (unintended painful consequences)
(3) Specific deterrence
Focuses on the individual offender
New offenders, young offenders, repeat offenders (minor crimes such as
shoplifting, DUI)
Rehabilitation: discourage the criminal from future criminal acts
-punishment can be complemented by: religion, education, learning
useful trades
Goal: taking away offenders ability/chances to commit crime
Not a form of deterrence
Rehabilitation (correction) is not the goal
Thomas Silverstein
Has been in jail since 1977
Has been in solitary confinement since 1983
28 years
longest in the US history
Born Criminal Theories
Common Premises:
1) criminality has “natural” sources (not supernatural)
2) criminality is “inborn”
3) it shows itself in the physical appearance of the criminal
4) these signs can be used to identify criminals-body shape, facial features, skull
Concentrated on facial features
Their supposed connections with personality traits