Rational Choice and Deterrence Theories

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All beings with a sense of understanding learn how to make choices, even in its smallest measurement, they also learn of consequences to those choices. Children, for example, have been told countless times to stop a certain behavior because they may hurt themselves. Some children heed their parent’s warming’s while others continue down a path that usually ends with a painful lesson but the originating act is usually not repeated. Why can this not be the same for adults? Generally it is understood that a person will make a choice or take an action based on the possible outcomes or consequences. Combining the notions of decision making with criminal behavior, one would find that a path has been made to the idea of deterrence. Kubrin, Stucky, and Krohn (2009) explain that deterrence encompasses the ideas that an individual will weigh his or her options in reference to a criminal act and will make a choice based on the perceived risks. Those perceived risks are consequences or fears of being punished.
Deterrence leads to the idea of crime being a choice specific to an individual. People who engage in criminal behavior weigh the possible risks of consequences against the possible gain in rewards. What really tips the scale in this gamble of criminal behavior is the certainty and severity of punishment (Kubrin, Stucky, and Krohn 2009). There can be a problem with this idea, are those who commit illegal acts rational thinkers? The theorem for deterrence and rational choice consists of the following: the guarantee of punishment could lower criminal behavior, the severity of consequences will also reduce criminal acts, and swift discipline will avert further criminal behavior from offenders (Kubrin, Stucky, and Krohn 2009).

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...e, severity and swiftness of punishment would and could avert further criminal behavior from offenders. Harsher punishments, and those pertaining to a specific crime (intoxicated driving laws/drug laws) could also further have a positive effect on crime. It is the discretion, which is what has had a negative effect on crime and deterrence. Research should be conducted on the police officers, judges and prosecutors on how often discretion undercuts the harsher punishments that have been advocated throughout not on an individual’s rational thinking strategy or a person’s perception of risk taking. No individual will take a gamble on a robbery charge if the outcome is a guarantee, severe and swift collar by a cop and punishment by a judge.

Works Cited

Kurbin, C., Stuchy, T., and Krohn, M., (2009). Researching Theories of Crime and Deviance. Oxford University Press.
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