Criminal Act and Choice Theory Cja/204

Criminal acts and choice paper Margaret Macy CJA/204 July 18, 2011 Chris Cannon Criminal acts and choice paper Different choice theories and models exist that relate to crime. Some of the choice theories that mention in the book Criminal Justice Today an introductory text for the 21st Century, 10th edition are as followed: Choice theory, the classical school, biological theory, psychological theory, and the labeling theory. Each has its own way to explain how and why a person commits a crime. Two models in the text are the crime controlled model and the due process model.

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To start, the choice theory, also known as the rational choice theory is the idea that people tend to make choices in a way that maximizes advantage while minimizing cost (Wisegeek, 2011). This can mean people first weigh the positives against the negatives when committing a crime and make his or her choice base off what will benefit him or her more. Cesare Beccaria, who inspired the rational choice theory in the 1700s, said “it is by free will that people are able to follow through with those “rational” decisions (Wikia, 2011).

This means that using the rational choice theory, people who commit crimes know what they are doing before they do it. The classical school theory was common in the late eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth century. The classical school theory thought crime was caused by individuals who were rational. This theory believed that crime wears away the bond between humans and society, and is why crime is an immoral behavior (Schmalleger, 2009). Punishment under this theory was more severe therefore Cesare Beccaria came up with a less harmful yet effective way to punish those who commit crimes.

The biological theory still plays a big role in society today. This theory believes that people are born criminals, which a criminal gene was passed down by a parent. The biological theory says that a criminal can be highlighted by physical traits such as long arms or short hair. Cesare Lombroso once said criminals were throwbacks to the beginning stages of evolution and were not mentally advanced to live a normal life (Schmalleger, 2009). In laymen terms this theory states that people can be born a criminal either by inheriting a criminal gene or by a birth defect.

Another theory that relates to crime based on how and why people commit crime is the psychological theory. This theory believes the source of a criminal problems stem from abnormal mental processes within a personality or an improper conditioning often occurring in childhood (Schmalleger, 2009). This could mean that the reason a person commits crime is that he or she has a mental disorder that he or she could have been born with or because he or she suffered a rough childhood. Many criminals heard of today have stories of a bad childhood or upbringing. The psychological theory can be used to describe most criminals this day and age.

The last theory to be discussed is the labeling theory. This theory was said to have fell on deaf ears because the causes inherent in individuals was not proven to be true. Frank Tannenbaum had a theory that young children become bad because he or she is defined as bad. He or she is not believed to be good so the child becomes the very thing he or she is labeled as (Schmalleger, 2009). In today’s society people are taught not to tell his or her child he or she is bad. People are being told to use other words such as misbehaving which would not leave a negative effect on the child.

Frank Tannenbaum’s theory may have fallen on deaf ears around the 1940s but today people are using it and probably are not even realizing it Two common models in the criminal justice system are the crime control model and the due process model. One important argument of the crime control model is criminal justice should focus more on victims’ right rather than the rights of the offender (cliff notes, 2011). The due process model argues that the rights of the offender are more important than the rights of the victims’ (cliff notes, 2011).

Neither model is right nor wrong but they show how society views crime and the rights of those involved. Some people believe that the offender should be protected and some people believe that the victims’ must be protected. In conclusion, criminal justice has many theories and models which show how and why criminals commit crime. Whether a person commits a crime because it was passed down through his or her family or because he or she was told they were bad a crime is committed and that person should pay the price.

Only in a perfect world can a theory solve why people commit crime and bring crime to an end. References Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminal Justice Today. An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (10th ed. ). Uppersaddle River, NJ: Pearson. Wikia. (2011). Rational choice theory. Retrieved from http://www. criminology. wikia/com/wiki/rational_choice_theory Wisegeek. (2011). What is the rational choice theory? Retrieved from http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-the-rational-choice-theory. htm cliff notes. (2011). Which model? Crime control or due process. Retrieved from http://www. cliffnotes. com

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