Why People Commit Crime

Why People Commit Crime

Camden Behrens (University of Botswana, Botswana)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2909-5.ch001


This chapter considers why people commit crime. It reviews the most common explanations for criminal behavior utilized by criminologists. These theories cover a range of explanations including Rational Choice theories suggesting that offenders make a decision to commit crimes, and Positivist explanations where the biological and psychological makeup as well as social environment predispose individuals to criminality. Theories that examine the society itself and how unequal circumstances allow for greater criminality amongst those who are more disadvantaged are also explored. The Integrated theories combine the strongest arguments from traditional crime theories creating a more generally applicable theory of crime. There are many different theories to explain crime and criminality but there is no explanation that is universally applicable which can explain all crimes and all criminal behavior.
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The Classical School Of Criminology

The Classical School was predominantly influenced by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. These theorists believe in a rational human being with free will. Potential offenders consider the costs and benefits of committing a crime and then choose to commit that crime if the benefits outweigh the costs. It is therefore important to have a criminal justice system that considers rationality and choice, and punishes offenders swiftly and with consistency resulting in an increase to the possible costs of criminality. According to the Classical School of thought, this will prevent members of society from choosing to commit crime (Akers, 1999, pp. 15-17; Herbig, 2014, pp. 62-63; Vold et al., 2002, pp. 17-20).

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