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Crimes and Choices

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The neoclassical perspective places greater emphasis on rationality and cognition. The main theory rational choice theory believes criminality is the result of conscious choices that people make. According to this offenders choose to violate the law because they believe the benefits outweigh the costs. According to theorists Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, it is also believed that a offenders choice to commit a crime can be controlled by enforcing fear of punishment (Schmalleger, 2009).

Choice theorist also believe that criminals choose the place of the crime and their targets depending on the characteristics of the target and the means available for completion of the crime. For example offenders choose a rich neighborhood to commit robberies and poor neighborhoods for more violent crimes.

Routine Activities Theory as introduced by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson in 1979, is also a neoclassical perspective that believes lifestyle significantly contributes to the amount and type of crime found in society. It is believed that offenders commit crimes because the offender feels that a legitimate job is not available because they do not have the education (Schmalleger, 2009).

There are two models in the Criminal Justice Consensus and Conflict. The Consensus model is characterized by the assumption that all parts of the system will work together to achieve a unified goal, justice (Schmalleger, 2009). The term consensus implies that a majority of the group agree on what should be considered illegal and punishable. The perspective of this model is that most people share the same morals, beliefs and values, making a diverse group. In this model it is assumed that most people will form a perfect society and those whose actions deviate from the rest of society and are considered a threat will be punished.

The Conflict model is decided by those in political and social power in the community. In the conflict model different segments of society with different value systems are in a struggle with each other for control. The groups who win exercise their power by changing the laws by using their value system. There are four elements of the conflict model; diverse social group (gender, sexual orientation, and social class), unavoidable conflict because of different interests and values, exercise of political power, laws of tools of power further the interests of those who make them (Schmalleger, 2009).

Schmalleger, F. P. (2009). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century. Prentice Hall.



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