Respond to the posts: 1. Out of the three Classical Theories of...

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1. Out of the three Classical Theories of Criminology discussed this week; deterrence, rational choice and routine activities, in my opinion, the rational choice theory is the strongest. The theory is based on the assumption that the offender performs an analysis of the intended crime, and if the benefits are significantly higher than the cost, crime will occur (Gull, 2009). This does not necessarily mean that the offender stops before committing a crime, but rather it provides a more theoretical approach to understand the concept of the human subconscious. As an example, Bernard et al. (2016) use airport baggage screenings. The implementation of rational choice theory at the airports in the form of security screening eliminated potential airplane hijackings. Similarly, the application and importance of rational choice theory manifest when discussing white-collar crimes. Corporations who strengthened their internal control, increased the number of unexpected audits and intensified overall compliance sector, have a significantly lower number of corporate fraud (Shao, 2016). Potential criminals and their fear of imprisonment stop them from committing the crime which is due to their subconscious analysis of benefits and risks (rational choice theory).

The deterrence theory can be defined as “the use of threats by one party to convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action” (Gutenburg, 2015 p. 2). Extensive research provides valuable information which demonstrates that deterrence theory is not as strong as initially thought. First, as mentioned in Bernard et al. (2016) if law enforcement official focus on certain types of crimes, for example driving under the influence and DUI checkpoints, although, this might initially discourage (deter) other drives not to drive under the influence, ultimately, this behavior is only temporary, and that does not last for the extended period of time. Second, according to deterrence theory, cities and jurisdictions that employ more law enforcement officers should have lower crime rate, but as explained in Bernard et al. (2016) this is not true as the evidence stats otherwise; 'jurisdictions with more police officers have more crime" (p. 45). Additionally, Tomillson, (2016) explains that “people who had been punished more severely actually engage in more crime” (p.34), therefore, yet another evidence that supports the idea that deterrence theory is not convincing.

Routine activities theory is distinctive to other two, above mentioned theories as it focuses on the event of the crime itself and does not consider biological and social causes that can act as stimulatory factors for an individual to commit a crime (Mirro, 2014). I do not believe that routinely activates theory is strong because it only considers criminal activities at a macro-level. Although the theory specifies that individuals daily activates “force” them to spend most of their days away from home, therefore, providing a great opportunity for burglars, it does not include other factor such as the fact that by simply placing the security sign in front of the house individual can lower the risk of being a potential victim by more than 60 %.

Although, in my opinion, the rational choice theory is the strongest, all three theories have important applications in criminology. I think the more appropriate question is whether any of the three theories can work independently. In my opinion, no, because whether we discuss deterrence theory or routine activities, there is always a component of rational thinking involved; if people are "afraid" to commit a crime based on the severity of the punishment it is because their subconscious evaluated both pros and cons. Similarly, if a criminal decides to break into the house, it is also because rational thinking was involved, and the benefits of the crime significantly overshadowed the consequences or punishment.

2. Reading through articles and Chapter 3 of Voids Theoretical Criminology, deterrence and rational choice theory proved to be the most difficult to choose from. Each theory compliments one another, as rational choice theory weighs a criminals cost and benefit of committing a crime, and deterrence looks at the certainty and severity of the punishment. Through rational choice a criminal cost and benefit could be the lack of jail time they would receive, as the reward outweighs the severity of punishment. However, since I became a police officer the deterrence theory has been the most effective and strongest theory of the three.

Deterrence is the use of punishment to halt potential criminals from committing criminal acts. Cesare Beccaria, a classical criminologist, speculated that criminals break laws only after they consider the risks and rewards (Bernard et al, 2016). Engaging in rational choice theory first, methods to deter crime would follow through certainty and severity. Offenders must truly believe that once they are caught, punishment is unavoidable, and the punishment to follow will be too severe and outweighs the reward. Deterrence research has been greatly used during the great decline of crime in New York City. Franklin D. Zimring argued the reasoning behind New York’s decline in crime involved around the increase of manpower, targeting of high crime, focus of drugs, compstats, and hotspots. (Theriot, 2009). All three holds true to this day, as a fellow police officer we can deter crime better and more efficiently when we have officers that are on the street. For instance, there is a neighborhood in the Germantown section of Philadelphia called “Brickyard”. Brickyard has been one of the most dangerous areas in the city, as shootings occur almost every other day. Through compstats the city was able to identify the hotspots within the area and where to focus police presence. Currently, two cops are stationary on Germantown Ave, another stationary in the housing projects, and two teams of officer’s daily patrol the area. Since the initiative has been put into place crime has deterred at an alarming rate, leaving little room to commit a crime. The tactic surely has its fault, as other areas are left with less manpower, but it has been effective.

Rational choice theory was assumes offenders evaluate the cost and benefits of a committing a crime, through opportunity and risks (Bernard et al, 2016). The disadvantage of rational choice theory is the usefulness of the theory, and reliance on an individual’s behavior. Offenders have their own intention and everything humans do are not rational. For instance, a male that is under the influence of alcohol does not have the rational thinking to calculate the cost and benefit of committing a crime (Bernard et al, 2016). Routine activities theory assumes the motivated offenders look for a suitable target, and a lack of capable guardian. Holding onto the notion that most offender will commit a crime if the opportunity is right. Issue is have with this theory is that it does not address any issues of poverty, mental health, and housing. It ignores all potential factors that could turn an individual to a motivated offender.

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Classmate 1 Post
In my opinion, your post provides an interesting and comprehensive explanation of the rational choice theory. Nevertheless, I beg to differ with your analysis since I believe that the deterrence theory is the strongest of the three classical theories. The rational choice theory is significant when trying to understand the reason why people commit crimes. As explained, potential criminals often analyze the potential benefits of committing a crime. When the...

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