The rational choice and deterrence theories of crime attempt to explain the causes of crime and the spirit in sentencing. For that reason, the theories enable an understanding of the relationship between criminals, law enforcement, courts, corrections and society.
According to the rational choice theory, individuals commit crime on reasonable grounds. In many cases criminals would opt to commit crime so as to earn a living. This shows the relationship between society and crime. It suggests that crime would be prevalent in societies without decent opportunities for the people to earn some form of living. It is, therefore, essential for the society to ensure structures are put in place to enable achievement of economic pursuits.
On the other hand, the deterrence theory explains the custodial nature of sentencing. It advances the point that criminals are put in custody so as to warn others in society against perpetrating any offences. The deterrence theory is informed by the fact that ordinarily people would fear being sanctioned for their crimes especially after seeing what others who have committed crime go through in the manner of their sentences.
Finally, it must be noted that the theories inform the wholesome character of the criminal justice system. The law enforcement officers and the courts in general appreciate the vagaries of society and often strike a balance between rehabilitation of criminals and the protection of the rights of citizens against infringement. This is informed by the rational choice theory which suggests that criminals undertake their criminal activities out of the need to earn a living. On the other hand, deterrence theory advocates for sentencing so as to serve as a warning to members against committing crimes. All in all, the criminal justice system serves as the moderator of the two interests.
Herring, J. (2011). Criminal Law. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hickert, A., Becker, H., & Moleni, C. (2011). The Impact of Juvenile Drug Courts on Drug Use and Criminal Behaviour. Journal of Juvenile Justice, 1(1), 60-77.