Public Offenders Criminality and Rehabilitation Essay

Criminology studies the reasons behind criminal behaviour and looks at crime as a social occurrence (Vito & Maahs, 2011). Criminologists provide theories that policy makers use to manage crime. They have formulated several theoretical approaches to help understand criminal behaviour. Some of these theories trace the cause of crime to the individual who first weighs the negatives and positives of a criminal act. Others associate crime with inherent physical and psychological traits and view criminal behaviour as determined by other factors beyond the offenders control. The study and application of these theories is very useful to criminology. This essay focuses on the importance of the rational choice theories and the positivist theories in understanding criminal behaviour. It gives comparisons and points of departure between the two approaches.

The main tenets of theory of rational choice are derived from the formulation of Cesare Beccaria. Beccaria was a strong believer in the principle of utilitarianism, which is the notion that human behaviour is motivated by the desire to increase pleasure and avoid pain (Samaha, 2005). The theory proposes that when a person commits a crime, his punishment ought to be swift and geared towards deterring further offenses (Siegal, 2010).

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makes commendable gains in criminology from the early assumption that as punishment gets severe crime ought to reduce. Its application to criminal behaviour puts emphasis on the reward an offender expects from a crime, and the costs and gains associated with criminal activity (Piquero & Tibbetts, 2002). It assumes that people are only concerned in themselves and how they can maximize their goals and pleasure. The theory comes from a premise that human beings act rationally (Haan & Vos, 2003). They calculate the expected outcomes of their actions before making a choice.

To be considered rational, human behaviour has to maintain consistency with logic. People, therefore, make choices on their course of action (conformity or deviance) based on calculations that involve weighing of pain against pleasure. In addition, they try to reduce the risks associated with criminal activity by taking into account situational aspects such as time and place (Paternoster & Bachman, 2001). Therefore, if the risks associated with punishment outweigh the expected benefits of the crime, the risks serve to deter criminal behaviour. Although it retains its stress on the , the rational choice theory develops into a complete outlook that recognizes the complicated makeup of crime.

One of the proponents of the theory, Gary Becker concedes that though most people adhere to high standards of morality, the gains from criminal behaviour as outweighing the punishment and their current situation (Gl, 2009). A person who expects to be jailed for ten years for a crime that can save his life or that of his children, for instance, can conduct a . If the benefits are higher than the cost, then he is likely to commit the crime. In such a scenario, the rational choice theorists propose an increase in the amount of fines or severity of punishment to deter criminal activity. Rational choice theory also recommends that efforts to reduce or prevent crime can be formulated in a way that increases the likelihood of the criminal getting caught thereby improving security and surveillance. It is the belief of the rational theorists that varying factors like poverty, family setting or IQ play an important role in the explanation of crime. The criminal chooses between personal challenges and the availability of opportunities.

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