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Legally, crimes usually are defined as acts or omissions forbidden by law that can be punished by imprisonment and/or fine. Why would someone engage in deviant and criminal behavior? Rational choice is the view that crime is a function of a decision-making process in which the potential offender weighs the information on their personal needs and the situational factors involved in the difficulty and risk of committing a crime. According to this view as a cause, people have free will to choose criminal or conventional behaviors. Some criminal behavior is the product of careful thought and planning. The human being is a rational actor and rationality involved an end/means calculation. The element of calculation in rational choice is based on the reward or punishment (pleasure versus pain). People choose to commit crime for reasons of greed or personal need and situational factors, such as how well a target is protected, how affluent the neighborhood is, how efficient the local police happen to be. Before choosing to commit a crime the reasoning criminal evaluates the risk of apprehension, the seriousness of the punishment, the value of the criminal enterprise, and his or her immediate need for criminal gain. According to the classical theory, crime can be controlled only by fear of criminal sanctions. We use the criminal justice system and crime prevention programs to help rid of crimes in our society. It purposes is to prevent potential offenders from doing fresh harm to his fellow man and to deter others from doing the same. Also the threat of punishment is one of the main elements of criminal justice system as a deterrence mechanism. However, since people are rational and may ignores these deterrence methods. We have criminal law that is designed to deter criminals and fairly punish those that have been caught in criminal acts.
Deterrence theory is effective if certainty of arrest, conviction, and sanctioning increases, crime rates should decline. However, rational offenders would realize that the certainty of harsh punishment outweighs any benefit they perceive from criminal acts. They have a view that led them to believe that there is a small chance for an arrest, the police are reluctant to make an arrest, and if apprehended they may have a good chance of receiving a lenient sentence. As a society, deterrence theory may be more effective if punishment is proportional to the crime and the public must have a clear and certain knowledge of the punishment. Punishment should be swift, so that the public easily associates the punishment with the crime and it must be certain. For example
2. Situational crime prevention is a method of crime prevention that seeks to eliminate or reduce particular crimes in narrow setting. This tactics fall into one of four categories. 1. 2. 3. 4. Increase the effort needed to commit crime Increase the risks of committing crime Reduce the rewards for committing crime Induce guilt or shame for committing crime
Since criminal activity is offense specific crime because criminal react selectively to t he characteristics of particular crimes. Crime prevention policies can be more effective if it could deter the potential offender to desist from criminal activity, delay their actions or avoid a particular target. Criminal activity can be avoided if potential targets are carefully guarded, the mean to commit crime is controlled, and potential offenders are carefully monitored. The first category, increasing the effort needed to commit crime use the target-hardening methods such as locking the steering wheel with a club and controlling facilitators with an owner’s photo on his or her credit card. These methods help reduce theft. Second, increasing the risks of committing 2
crime by formal surveillance, which include a security guard to prevent or discourage shoplifters. Another important tactic called defensible space which is the principle that crime can be prevented or displaced by modifying the physical environment to reduce the opportunity potential offenders have to commit crime. An example, a floodlight can maximize the surveillance of a residence to make it easier for the resident protection. Third, reducing the rewards for committing crime by using some target reduction strategies. They are known as target removal which includes the removing car radio at night and the marking of personal property make the stolen property difficult to sell. The marking could help recover property that has been stolen. Finally, inducing guilt or shame for committing crime by setting strict rules to embarrass offenders. For example, publishing a “john lists” in the local newspaper of lawbreaker for soliciting prostitute. Another technique called strengthening moral condemnation. A camera located at the intersection to prevent motorists from disobeying the traffic law of running the red light. The use of the camera has a deterrence effect because is could make motorists feel guilty about committing a crime.
3. How has the media profoundly affected the way we view crime and punishment in our society? Movie, newspaper and the Internet are my three choices that we have access to that affect our society. The movie or the entertainment industry can influenced the potential offenders criminality by dramatize the deviant character as role model. This influence can be a behavior modeling for them because of their perception of risks of a drug dealer being punished is not greater that having a conventional employment. Movie can be a positive affect by portrayed a character of a successful legitimate businessperson that may help modeling a law-abiding citizen than a drug dealer or a bank robber. Newspapers have a great deterrence effect on criminality by the media reports of police activity such operation sunrise. Operation sunrise is a crackdown that designed to increase the police resources on eradicate drug or displace criminal activity in the 3
community. The newspaper can have a negative effect on society with their bias reporting such as the incident of Allen Ivenson on weapon charges and the acquittal of O.J. Simpson. These reporting by the media can cause great harm to society because of prejudice and racism. Finally, the Internet created a new wave of criminally minded individual. These criminals use the Internet as a vehicle to steal and parting the greedy and the gullible from their money or goods. Also, the criminals use the Internet as a vehicle for child pornography. We must be aware that there are some illegitimate sellers online that chooses this criminal venture because of greed and easy work involved. It is a positive thing especially during the holiday shopping season because online shopping offers more conveniences such as lack of parking, traffic and last minute crowds. Since this is a new area for the criminal justice system and to sanction it is still evolving.
Short Identifications 1. General deterrence is a crime control policy that depends on the fear of criminal penalties and convincing the potential law violator that pains associated with crime outweigh it benefits. Specific deterrence is the view that criminal sanctions should be so powerful that the offenders will never repeat their criminal acts. The difference between the two is the general deterrence concept deal with punishing an offender as an example to the rest of society. The general deterrence purpose is to create a threat system for the criminal justice system. There are some offenders who are not be deterred by the fear of apprehension and punishment. Specific deterrence concept dealt with punishing an individual offender to prevent him or her from repeating their act. Specific deterrence aims at reducing crime through the application of severe punishments. Once offenders experience these punishments, they will be unwilling to keep repeating their criminal behavior. People make rational choice to resort to criminal behavior instead of conventional behavior. The social and psychological factors may also influence 4
criminality. Criminals learning behavior from other criminals is the social factor. Criminals who cannot comprehend their criminal act is a psychological factor. Therefore, deterrence may be effective if it can show that after the potential offender makes a rational decision and weighs the costs and benefits is greater that the fear of punishment. It is up to the potential offender to make a rational choice to solve his or her problem by seeking employment or criminal activity. 2. Structured crime is the rational choice decision that influenced the potential offenders to choose crime. The rational choice theorist viewed crime as offense-specific and offenderspecific. The crime is offense-specific because offenders react selectively to the characteristic of particular crime. For example, the offender deciding to commit a particular armed robbery might involve availability of cash yielded by the target, plan for his escape, and the probability of capture of police. The crime is offender-specific because criminals are not simply driven people who are engage in random antisocial acts. They evaluate their skills, motives, needs, and fears before deciding to commit crime. A potential offender may ignore a criminal act and decide to seek a resolution by gaining a legitimate employment. They are likely to cease from crime if their future criminal earning is relatively low and that attractive opportunities to generate income are available. Learning, personality, and experience also affect criminal choice. The rational choice approach view the criminal decision to commit crime, regardless of its substance, is structured by where the crime taken place, way the criminal locate their targets and criminals learning techniques of crime to avoid detection from apprehension. 3. The four elements of soceity specific that actually deter crime: 1. Strong economic base that would provide more jobs. This would lead to less pressure and stability for people to pay their bills. Therefore a strong economy May deter crime because 5
of the reward is greater by having a job and it is not the risk of punishment as being a criminal. 2. Stricter first time penalties could give people a second thought about committing a crime. 3. Punishment should be consistency and fair with no bias against someone from a different socioeconomic and ethnic class. 4. Education to teach ALL present and potential perpetrators that the benefits is greater that the perception of punishment. The program called scared straight is used for this purpose.
4. Reintegrative shaming is a brief and controlling shaming that is followed by forgiveness, apology, repentance, and reconnection with the community. Stigmatization is an ongoing degradation or humiliation, in which the offender is branded as an evil person and cast out of society. The difference between the two is that the former strengthens the moral bonds between the offender and the community and the latter disintegrates the moral bonds between the offender and the community. An example of stigmatization is having a police record is a form of shaming that put pressure on the offender from getting a good job and the passing of sex offenses and notification laws that warn neighbors of a convicted sex offender presence in the community. An example of reintegrative shaming is a convicted Catholic’s priest that has been molesting children understands and recognizes their wrongdoing and feel ashamed of their action. Then they can reintegrate back into the society. 5. Rabbi Fred Neulander was found guilty on all counts of hiring a hit man to murder his wife, Carol Neulander. They had been married for 28 years. The rabbi is guilty of murder, felony murder and second degree conspiracy. This was the second trial for the rabbi, whereas the first 6
trial ended in a mistrial. After returning the guilty verdicts, now the jury must goes through a penalty stage of deciding whether the rabbi should get life or the death penalty. The prosecutors may persuade the jurors during the penalty phase that aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors; the jury could sentence the rabbi to death. The aggravating factor in Neulander situation is that he paid the hit man to kill his wife. However, the rabbi son’s, Benjamin wanted to spare his father life cited all the positive things that his father has done. Other mitigating factors such as testimony of members of his synagogue, Neulander’s age his conviction free past and the good works he has done in the past. This case is related to the rational choice theory because the rabbi weights the benefit of pleasure and punishment by having his wife killed to continuing his adulterous affair. He hired a hit man hoping that it would not connect him to the contract killing and avoid detection. BONUS The profile of Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill There are some similarity of both criminals, they are both white male, loner and wanted to control and to have power. They are intelligent but Hannibal is more cultivated because of his noble background. Buffalo Bill is skillful with his hand and a hobby of raising butterfly. They are difference because of what they do with their victim. Hannibal killed all men and has a fantasy of having a feast of eating their flesh. Buffalo Bill killed women and wore their skin because he wanted to be a woman.
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