Paper Examle on Criminological Theories vs. Reality

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Vanderbilt University
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According to empirical studies, there is no exact cause of crime. Crime is perceived as a highly complex phenomenon that varies across culture and with time. For example, activities that are legal in a given country could be illegal in other countries. Therefore, as cultures change overtime, even behaviors that were not criminalized become criminalized. Some of the criminalized behaviors then become decriminalized again such as alcohol consumption in the United States. These explanations make it hard to fully describe crime. However, scholars attempt to understand crime by studying its types and different causes. Moreover, there are a number of theories that seek to explain these causes. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses and may only be applicable in certain cases. This is the reason why the theories are classified into sociological and biological theories. This paper discusses one of the key theories of crime that seeks to explain what crime is. In addition, it explores a prison rehabilitation program, how it could influence change, and how its efficacy is measured.

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The rational choice theory is a theory of criminology that perceives individuals as rational actors. This theory emerged from the right realism branch in criminology. According to this theory, every individual is capable of making his or her own decision. Hence, even when one is faced with the choice of committing crime, he should be able to make a rational decision (Miller, 2011, p. 45). However, for criminals, this is not usually the case. Instead, criminals often weigh the benefits as more compared to the consequences. In any case, most criminals are motivated by the possibility of going scot-free. For some, committing crime is part of their life and it does not really matter whether they are caught or not. Even after they are caught, they serve their prison sentences and on getting out, they return to their criminal ways. In such cases, the law finds it best to punish such characters to long prison sentences.

This theory emerged in the late 80s. Cornish and Clarke are credited for coming up with the rational choice theory in 1986. They claimed that individuals often resolve when and where to commit crime once they choose to commit crime. The theory was highly embraced and enforced by the United Kingdom and the United States due to the rising crime rates among citizens. In fact, the theory was seen as a solution to the failing sociological approaches intended to address the causes of crime. Two prominent realists, both of political backgrounds, voiced their support for the theory. In their defense, James Wilson and Charles Murray stated that the criminological theory should help inform a nations criminal justice policy.

Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent crimes in society today. In countries where the crime is not well covered within the law, external providers deliver services to the perpetrators. However, in countries where the act is treated as a crime, there are programs under the body of corrections. The program is designed for indigenous offenders. The program is psycho-educational and supposed to help indigenous perpetrators adopt feminist underpinnings (Polaschek, 2010, p. 438). The program is founded on native culture and exhibits moderate intensity. The program runs on a series of objectives to achieve its goal.


To reinforce the opinion that domestic violence is a crime

To challenge the behavior and attitudes that permit violence and domestic abuse

To develop a capacity for perpetrators to accept their wrongdoing

To provide offenders with the cultural underpinnings they need to avoid violent behavior

Over the years, the program has moved from feminist orientations to behaviorist perspectives, which are in line with management of violence and anger. Entry into the program depends on the need and level of risk. The suitability of the program on offenders is evaluated using a criminogenic assessment test. If the program is suitable, psychometric measures of change are administered (Polaschek, 2010, p. 438). Also, the program utilizes cognitive behavioral tactics to achieve behavioral changes among offenders. This is to ensure they do not pose danger to other people in society after being released.

Behavioral Tactics

Developing understanding about the nature of abuse

Enhancing program features with time

Modifying the beliefs and attitudes offenders associate with

Developing an insight into the victims suffering

Improving offenders interactive skills

Creating a relapse deterrence plan

To evaluate the efficacy of this program, many correctional facilities have opted to use the pre-post program as a measure of the intensive program. This evaluation program involves the preparation of reports and the distribution of program changes to individual staff taking part in managing offenders. The exit reports are then published to enhance the knowledge used in the program and highlight its outcomes. Also, a relevant internal evaluations team is assigned the task of evaluating the violent offender program. This department is provided with the information they need about undertaking report evaluations (Polaschek, 2010, p. 441). To aid in the evaluation program, the government, through the justice system, commissions an audit of the program and provides its recommendations.

The essence of having criminological theories is to understand what goes on in the minds of criminals. As discussed in this paper, in reality, criminals can choose not to commit crime. However, one cannot expect crime to stop if criminals are not imparted with knowledge and information about the effects of their actions and the expected consequences.


Miller, S. L. (2011). After the crime: The power of restorative justice dialogues between victims and violent offenders. New York: New York University Press.

Polaschek, D. L., Bell, R. K., Calvert, S. W., & Takarangi, M. K. (2010). Cognitivebehavioural rehabilitation of highrisk violent offenders: Investigating treatment change with explicit and implicit measures of cognition. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(3), 437-449.

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