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[SOCL 4461] - Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (71 pages long!)


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCL 4461
Professor
Chauvin
Study Guide
Final

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LSU
SOCL 4461
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Test 2: Chapters 4,5,6,7,and 9
Chapter 4: Rational Choice Theory
The Development of Rational Choice
Development of Classical Criminology
Punishment has four main objectives:
oTo prevent all criminal offenses
oWhen it cannot prevent a crime, to convince the offender to commit a
less serious crime.
oTo ensure that a criminal uses no more force than is necessary
oTo prevent crime as cheaply as possible.
Cesare Beccaria
Has its roots in the classical school of criminology developed by Cesare
Beccaria
Rational Hedonism: humans are rational and choose to act certain ways in
pursuit of our pleasures/passions
Hedonism: seeking of pleasure
Criminals do these things to seek reward/pleasure;
it’s personal and the blame lies within that person;
People become more individualistic
Religion has lost its influence
Punishment stops people from committing crime
4 Basic Principles:
Free will: people can choose to be lawful or criminal
Crime is attractive for criminals: their choices are designed to bring them
pleasure and reduce pain. little effort = huge payoff; instead of working,
you can steal
Payoff needs to be greater than pain: Cost-Benefit Analysis; the benefits
and costs are weighed against each other, and make a choice; shows how
humans are rational. Criminal choices can be controlled by fear of
punishment.
Punishment should be severe, certain, and swift: the greater the ability to
control criminal behavior. Convinces criminals that crime does not pay.
Classical Criminology
By the end of the nineteenth century, the popularity of classical approach
declined
By the mid-twentieth century, positivistic views gained mainstream
acceptance
oPoverty, IQ, education, home life was believed to be true causes of
criminality.
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Contemporary Choice Theory Emerges
Prior to 1970s: went through a medical model of criminality. The medical
model was meant to heal a person. There was something wrong with
criminals (no education, no skills for a job, living in poverty because of
unemployment). This model claimed it could fix the problem by curing the
disease. It focused on rehabilitation.
Mid 1970s: People became frustrated that we were codling criminals. It
wasn’t working. Crime was on the rise and nothing seemed to be working.
We were giving criminals jobs and opportunities, but it didn’t seem to work
oA renewed interest in the classical approach to crime. It’s the idea that
criminals are still choosing to commit crime. So, if it is not a disease,
they must like it. Now, the punishment must fit the crime.
oThe modern version of rational choice theory is people have free will
to make choices, people are rational when they make their choices,
and people are basically hedonistic- they are going to seek pleasure
over pain (benefits outweigh the cost).
oRehabilitation failed to prevent future criminal activity. If they were
still committing crime, we needed to raise the penalties.
oA significant increase in the reported crime rate, as well as serious
disturbances in the nation’s prisons, frightened the general public.
oA lot of changes in every aspect of our life happened in the 1960s and
70s.
oWithin 5 years, 75% of criminals commit crimes again.
Thinking about crime
oCriminals are rational actors who planned their crimes, feared
punishment, and deserved to be penalized for their misdeeds.
Impact on Crime Control-1980s:
oConservative views shaped justice policy to pass tougher laws and
mandatory sentences.
oViews the decision to commit crime as being shaped by human
emotion and thought processes.
The Concepts of Rational Choice
Why Crime?
The core premise of rational choice theory is that some people choose crime
under some circumstances.
oEngaging in risky behavior makes people feel alive.
oCriminals are not criminal all the time (they have to go to the grocery
and buy food).
Choosing Crime
Law-violating behavior occurs when an offender decided to risk breaking the
law after considering both personal factors and situational factors.
oPersonal factors: money, revenge, its fun, attention, pressure, etc.
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