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People make choices that maximize benefits and minimize costs to themselves Favors a “get-tough” approach to crime—Make crime cost more. Rational Choice. Rational Choice. Deterrence

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rational choice
People make choices that maximize benefits and minimize costs to themselves

Favors a “get-tough” approach to crime—Make crime cost more

Rational Choice
rational choice2
Rational Choice

Deterrence

Since humans calculate costs versus benefits, you have to make punishments severe enough to make crime cost more than the benefits.

  • Dimensions of punishment:
    • Certainty
    • Celerity
    • Severity
  • The only one that appears to consistently be effective is certainty.
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Rational Choice

General Deterrence

Make the punishments severe enough for banned behaviors so that people in general will avoid those behaviors.

  • Research indicates this approach does not work.
    • Juveniles typically do not consider punishment before acting.
    • Juveniles are more deterred by fear of getting caught.
    • Most effective is fear of loss of approval of family and friends.
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Rational Choice

Specific Deterrence

Punish identified offenders enough so that they will not violate rules again.

  • Research indicates this approach does not work.
    • Incarceration does not reduce recidivism
    • Incarceration actually increases criminal involvement
    • Radical nonintervention
  • (Warehousing criminals does keep individuals off the streets, but systems that produced them may keep producing more.)
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Rational Choice

Situational Crime Prevention

Identify situations that make crime more likely, and “harden” and observe the target more.

Related to “Broken Window Theory”

  • Works best of all to deterrence methods to prevent crime.
  • Rests on Routine Activities Theory of Crime
getting away from rational choice
Getting Away from Rational Choice

Routine Activities Theory

  • Admission that social structure plays some role in crime. It is not just product of individual's behavior.
  • To get crime you need:
    • A suitable target
    • Lack of a Capable Guardian
    • A Motivated Offender (According to rational choice, aren't we all motivated?)
psychological bright spot
Psychological “Bright Spot”

Agnew, Page 133, Ways to prevent delinquency traits (how if they are inherited?)

  • Develop strong emotional bonds with kids
  • Provide clear rules for behavior
  • Monitor behavior
  • Consistently sanction deviance in an appropriate manner
  • Model and reinforce conventional behavior

In other words, foster a “conventional” mental map.

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Psychological “Bright Spot”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I call this the “stop, drop, and roll!” approach to delinquency.

You can train delinquents to avoid crime and status offenses by teaching them to behave more conventionally.

Kids learn to:

  • Identify problem situations
  • Think through various reaction strategies
  • Proceed with the most conventional behaviors
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Getting Away from Rational Choice

People are “Lazy Thinkers”

Human choice-making is “boxed in” by these cognitive restrictions:

  • Routine thinking, verification
  • Short-cuts to causality
  • Categorical Thinking, philosophical inconsistency
  • Change new information to fit pre-set categories
  • People must belong to others
  • Bad Memories
  • Salient Stimuli
  • Obsessed with self/self bias

Education is partly an effort to overcome many of these restrictions to make people rational. Think back to “stop, drop, and roll!”