Columbia Southern University
According to economist Gary Becker rational choice theory is used in both criminal and non-criminal behavior. The implication is that criminals purposely commit acts because the incentive gained from the act will be larger than the risk linked with it. This concept rules out such factors as biological, psychological or environmental factors that might compel someone to commit a crime. Instead, it asserts that criminals make a choice to commit a crime after weighing the costs. Criminals consider the value of not committing the crime, but eventually decide that the rewards of the crime are greater than the benefit if the crime is not committed (Ehrlich, 2018).
Bentham’s method is apparent in his criticisms of the law and the moral and political uses of language. He was influenced by Beccaria not only concerning issues of crime and punishment and the relevance of utility, but also on exactness in legal discourse. One of Bentham’s principal targets was the presence of fictions in the law. In those cases, where the terms or wholes could be justified by explaining their properties or how they followed from their parts, and where nothing was left at an abstract level, Bentham allowed that the terms could continue to be used. Otherwise, they were to be abandoned. One particular fiction that Bentham hoped to eliminate was the legal claim that there was some original contract that explained why there was any law at all (Schofield, 2009).
Understanding Criminal Behavior
Modern criminology has been characterized by the development and claim of theories in search of explanations of crime and criminality and also by the methodical use of firsthand investigation is important to such theories. The pieces of information that are gathered and examined over time during the research process known as data. This data can be gathered through observations of the phenomena that which can be studied either qualitative or quantitative in form.
Contributions to Contemporary Criminal Justice
Jeremy Bentham is primarily recognized today for his moral philosophy, particularly his concept of utilitarianism, which assesses actions according to their outcomes. Even though Bentham never practiced law, he did compose various philosophy of law and has spent most of his life promoting legal reform as well as evaluating a number of existing laws. In view of that, Bentham developed a principle of what is now popularly known as legal positivism (Sweet, 2008)
According to his theory, if a person were to commit an act for the wrong reasons, or even a wrong act, it would be perfectly acceptable as long as its consequence is long term pleasure for the greatest number of people Bentham’s work is also related to the contemporary influence of decision theory. Crime is explained through an analysis of the specific decisions made by those who commit crimes. Although this is in keeping with liberal views in philosophy and political theory, it runs against the sociological and psychological grain of much academic work in criminology. It also presents issues for public policy, which has usually proceeded on the basis that the causes of crime are to be found in larger social, economic, or political conditions in society (Bedau, 2009).
There is not just one category to fit all crimes or all criminals, and all humans are not created equal. The field of criminal justice has always included three divisions: enforcement of laws, adjudication of guilt, and corrections, usually incarceration. Attempts to understand what causes individuals to commit criminal acts is an important step in preventing crime and ensuring the safety and well-being of all members of society. The criminal justice process is designed to achieve goals society deems important, such as the administration of justice, the discovery of the truth, the protection of public safety, and the punishment of those who harm society’s interests (Garland, 2015). The reasons for criminal behavior also determine the nature of punishment or other consequences, including efforts at rehabilitation that society should impose on those who commit a crime.
Bedau, H. A. Bentham’s theory of punishment: Origin and content. Journal of Bentham Studies 7. (2004). Available at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/journal/Bedau.htm
Ehrlich, I. (2018, March 28). The Market Model of Crime: A Short Review and New Directions: Handbook on the Economics of Crime. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://www.elgaronline.com/view/9781847209542.00008.xml
Garland, N. M. (2015). Criminal evidence (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Hagan, F. E. (2017). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behavior (9th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Schofield, P. (2009). Bentham: A guide for the perplexed. London: Continuum.
Sweet, W. (2008). Rationality in Legislation Legal Theory as Legisprudence: An Introduction. Legisprudence: A New Theoretical Approach to Legislation. doi:10.5040/9781472562661.ch-001