Seminar in Criminology

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Cullen and Agnew (2011) stated that deterrence occurs when a person refrains from committing a criminal act due to the threat of punishment being greater than the chance for a reward. The typical, average, law abiding, rational thinking, and responsible American does not commit crimes. Why? Because it is against the law, and there is a punishment that for most people far exceeds the reward that they will receive for committing the crime. For most people the threat of being punishment or the possibility of being caught for a crime is enough to deter criminal activity. Furthermore, for those people in America that do commit crimes the same question could be proposed. Why? This question is more difficult to answer due to the various explanations as to why people commit crimes. Unfortunately the deterrence/rational choice theories does not answer this question very effectively, other than offering the belief that for some people the reward of committing the crime far outweighs the chance they will be caught and subsequently punished for the crime. This basic risk versus reward decision making is at the core of human behavior, and provides the foundation of what the deterrence and rational choice theories believe. For the purpose of this paper I am going to discuss the origins of the deterrence/rational choice theories for crime. I will discuss why some criminologists support the deterrence/rational choice theories as an important explanation for crime. Furthermore, I will discuss the key problems for the theory that limits its effective’s in criminology and understanding of the causes of crime.
According to Cullen and Agnew (2011) the deterrence and rational choice theories of crimes originated from the ideas generated from Cesare B...

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