When criminologist Jack Katz wrote

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TitleWhen criminologist Jack Katz wrote
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When criminologist Jack Katz wrote Seductions of Crime he focused on the decision making process of those who chose to commit crime. In his book, Katz said that the pleasure from committing crime is a major motivation. He describes an almost sexual attraction to committing criminal acts. In an interview of one juvenile, the delinquent described his feelings prior to shoplifting:

“The experience was almost orgasmic for me. There was a buildup of tension as I contemplated the danger of a forbidden act, then a rush of excitement at the moment of committing the crime , and finally a delicious sense of release.”

In James Q. Wilson’s Thinking About Crime, he suggested that crime has little to do with the social condition. Therefore crime cannot be treated by social reform.

Wilson instead suggested: Lengthy sentences and heavy sanctions.

Specific Deterrence: I was punished for that crime before, I would not do it again. Sentencing for specific deterrence is directed at preventing a specific criminal in engaging in a specific crime again. General Deterrence is harsh punishment for a crime: Prevent others from committing a particular crime because the punishment is harsh. It works by setting an example. Absolute Deterrence is when the existence of a punishment system prevents crime. Certainty means that the punishment will be meted out. Celerity means that the punishment will be given in a timely manner. Is there celerity in death penalty cases? Usually12 years (average) passes between sentencing and death. In fact, it is unlikely that a person would be served the penalty. Classical Criminology, or deterrence theory had it’s foundation in 1700-1880’s. The modern application of classical criminology began in the 1970’s to the present.

If the recidivism rate is high (currently 80-90%)then the general public advocates strict sentencing.

Determinate sentencing: Separate and fixed sentence for an offense category. For example, burglary carries a certain penalty. Determinate sentencing removes some of the discretion of the judges.

Truth in Sentencing requires judges to make public the actual sentence imposed. Many truth in sentencing require the convict to serve a certain percentage of their sentence (usually 80%). Is there a reason why determinate sentencing might be opposed in California? Prison populations .

How old is Deterrence Theory? Bentham 1748-1833. It was not until the 1970’s that parts of deterrence theory began to appear in other criminological theories.

There was a well publicized book in the 1970’s by Murray and Cox that suggested that punishment based programs reduced future criminality. This era was marked by increases in crime and the advertised fears of the public that crime was getting out of hand. What part of the deterrence theory does this study suggest? Incapacitation.

Whereas Deterrence Theory is event or crime based, rational choice Theory has its roots in Deterrence theory but is based on a different scale of pain vs gain. Remember I told you that criminology is a merging of several different disciplines.

What is the one thing in Rational Choice that we are overlooking?

We give some, not all criminals too much credit. Does everyone that commits a crime have the capability to make reasonable assessments?



Most of our burglar suspects could design a textbook burglary…They often described their past burglaries as though they were rationally conceived and executed. Yet upon closer inspection, when their previous burglaries were reconstructed, textbook procedures frequently gave way to opportunity and situational factors (Cromwell 1991)

Rational Choice Theory, in its pure form, does not account for criminality. Combined with other theories (social bonding and social learning theories) it “holds water”

Rational Choice Theory cannot account for Domestic Violence

Cul de Sac homes, Never on Sundays, light traffic streets, within their walking distance (burg their own neighbors), cash businesses, non armed houses

Criminal Involvement

Ethnographic research suggests limited (if any) rational reasoning or weighing of costs/benefits.

Criminal Event

Ethnographic research somewhat supportive, but many crimes suggest limited appraisals.

temperament, intelligence, cognitive style, sex, class, education, neighborhood, broken home…

Direct and vicarious learning, moral attitudes, self-perception, foresight and planning

Degree of effort, amount/immediacy of reward, likelihood and severity of punishment, moral costs

Elements of Deterrence Theory exists in another theory: Routine Activities

This theory comes from studies by Lawrence Cohen Marcus Felson They theorized that a crime that has a victim has to have three elements before it can be consumnated. The scope of Routine Activities usually covers only crimes where there is a specific victim “ direct contact” predatory crimes

e.g., what might lead a person to commit a burglaries in middle class neighborhood?

anyone home?, especially wealthy, detached, bushes/other cover, dog, security system...

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