1. In your OWN words, define the following concepts of deterrence theory--general deterrence; specific deterrence; celerity; severity; certainty; AND explain utility principle for rational choice.
Specific deterrence is when an individual is punished for a crime; general deterrence is others decide not to commit crimes because they saw someone else get punished. Rational choice weighs the benefits and repercussions of a particular action, and takes into account: celerity, how the quickly punishment follows the crime; severity, (pg18) how harsh the punishment is and how well it suits the crime; and, certainty, how likely someone is to be punished for a crime. Both the concepts of deterrence and rational choice evolved from 18th centaury utilitarian philosophy that originally was used in economic theories and only recently applied to criminal logic.
2. Using deterrence and rational choice theories, apply the terms you defined in question 1 to explain why juveniles engage in criminal behavior.
In practice deference and rational choice, theories have not proven effective to deter the commission of crimes in any demographic graphic group. The greatest success is in regards to “white collar” crimes where the individual involved are accustomed to making considered decisions. Juveniles in particular do not respond well to making reasoned decisions based upon factors such as celerity, severity and certainty. This hold true even when they are exposed to situations where they can see the results of incarceration. Follow up studies on programs like “Scared Straight” have indicated that them may have an inverse effect. One cause of this is that juveniles are more impulsive, perhaps relating to the fact that their brain development is not complete and their frontal lobes do not stop developing until they are in their mid-twenties.
3. In your own words, define life course theory concepts of social bonds, conventions, turning points, anchors, informal controls, formal controls.
Social bonds are the ties an individual has to their family and community; they are closely related to conventions, which is the accepted behavior in those societal units. These units have their own codified rules that serve as formal controls as well as unspoken acceptable patterns of behavior that serve as informal controls. The social bonds act as anchors that tie an individual to their community. Conversely, severing these ties can create a turning point in an individual’s life. Depending on the situation, a turning point can have a positive effect if they were in a pattern of criminality or negative if they had been following a more successful life pattern.
4. Using life course theory, apply the terms (social bonds, conventions, turning points, anchors, informal controls, formal controls) to explain why adult criminals desist from criminal behavior.
Adult criminals are more inclined to desist from criminal behavior due to the repercussions they would experience in the social sphere rather than the actual criminal sanctions imposed. In much the same way an adolescent might refrain from criminal action to avoid having his parents find out about his arrest; an adult might be concerned with breaking social bonds or acting outside of his contemporary conventions and violating the informal and formal controls of his social community. However, adults are more capable of recognizing right from wrong than adolescents and more in tune with social bonds, and convention which serve to anchor them to their community. They are also more influence by the formal and informal controls around them and less likely to reach a turning point where it seems that they will profit more by a criminal action than by proceeding within the conventions of their community
5. Using Life course theory, apply the terms from question #3 to explain why an adult criminal persists in criminal behavior.
Once established in a pattern of criminal action it is difficult for an individual to arrive at a turning point and alter the course of his life. A transformative change is necessary to adhere to the formal and informal controls and conventions in order to form the necessary social bonds, which would anchor him in a society where criminality is considered unacceptable.
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