Examining Critical Choice Theories Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Introduction Critical choice theories mainly rely on the fact that a society consist of distinct groups of individuals who are governed by a central body that dictates on how the society should run (Skogan et al., 1997, p. 15). Consensus agreements among members of a society are expected to drive all to day activities and at the same time expected to bring the much-needed cohesion among members of the society. Despite the fact that a society will encounter a lot of disagreement amongst its members, it is expected that the central governing body commonly referred, as the government has to resolve such conflicts and ensure homogeneity within the society (17). However, conflict theory argue that the organized body tasked with the responsibility to ensure fairness fails to do so and only represent the views of those in positions of authority or power neglecting the views of the minority who are less influential. This is according to critical theories that explain why crime happens.

On the other hand, choice theories suggest that individual choose to commit a crime just because they consciously opt for it. These theories rely on the fact that such persons are very normal and therefore right thinking. However, they choose to abuse their rationality and go ahead to commit a crime implying that individual behavior is determined by a series of behavioral activities that are affected by how an individual regulates them (See, 2004, p. 17). Criminals have the opportunity to look sat available chose methodologically and choose any one of them Choice theories go ahead to suggest that the main cause of opting for criminal activities is that offenders presume that benefits of doing so are much more that repercussions likely to be faced if convicted.

According to See (2004, p. 19), modern society is struggling with the fact that this kind of behavior is anti-social and leads to increase of the rates of crime as those that feel oppresses behave in a manner suggesting they oppose those in power and this is majorly getting into criminal activities that are directed at their perceived enemies. The most famous conflict theory formulated by Karl Marx between 1818 and 1883 has and is still being used to come up with better policing strategies aimed at controlling crime for both juveniles and adults. Marx noted that capitalistic societies usually introduce the two classes of the haves and have-nots. The haves usually formulate rules that they impose on the have nots thus sparkling a serious conflict that lead to a cold war between the two (22).

Thorsten Sellin came with conflicts theory in 1938 that was based on the differences between different parties in a society which he said that they occur when the contradicting norms of the two clash thus worsening the situation in terms of criminal involvement of the weaker wing. It is worthy to note that people in custody agree with the notion by a renowned sociologist Seifert Werner that they are simply under control of others and not under rehabilitation (Malcolm & Austin, 1980, p. 62). Others, in this case refer to legislators that come up with laws leading to their situation or simply those that they elect to represent them and the society in general.

Different policing measures can be formulated from these theories and come up with better prevention and punitive mechanisms that are fair and law oriented. This paper seeks to look deeper into possible policing measures that are related to critical and choice theories that are most applicable.

Policies for Community policing

Community policing is a method used to fight crime in many parts of the world. This measure is undertaken mainly to reduce victimization and prevent crimes and criminals from affecting the society. It is specifically used by the government to improve surveillance in the society by the people themselves who monitor their own vicinities and reporting any kind of criminal activities or suspects to the relevant authorities meaning that it is cooperation between the corps and the citizens of a particular neighborhood. Philosophy of community policing has it that formal access to various departments of police should be provided to the public by the police (Waller, 2006, p. 11). This boosts collective decision making between the two and hence improve the result likely to be obtained in criminal prevention.

Since the police force is regarded as one organization constituted by the government of the day, people may regard themselves as the minorities as they are not in positions of power will always view the police as oppressors and controllers of their life (Waller, 2006, p. 36). Because of this notion, community policing should be focused primarily on ensuring that policing agents are accredited with the sufficient legitimacy from the society. This policy can be used to improve cooperativity between the members of the society and the police. The public will easily and fully cooperate with the police and ensure that crime is deterred, and possibly eliminated in a particular place. The policy is drawn from the critical theories, which suggest that people in power are likely to encourage criminal involvement by those under them as suggested by the Marx’s theory.

Some inner city crimes have been reported as some of the most difficult to tackle. These types of crime do happen within busy commercial centers such as big cities. Improvement of services rendered to the community in such areas has been reported as one of the major steps taken focusing on community needs to alleviate crime. For instance, the national academy of sciences reported that inner city crimes in Maryland, USA reduced drastically when economic opportunities, mobility, housing, education, and access to vital services were increased (United Nations, 2002, p. 7). By doing so, the authorities used the community and allowed individuals to decide on what to do in order to meet their economic requirements. However, this was not just by suggestions but also by provision of important needs to the community. The theories of choice seem to have been utilized in this case of community policing as rational decisions were more preferable than irrational ones thus reducing the rates at which crimes do happen.

Still in Maryland, a public campaign was initiated aimed at mentoring 10 to 14 year olds on matters concerning criminal activities. The community was actively involved in this as good communication, which the community could provide would ensure effectiveness in understanding this. This program was reported to reduce the rate of crime around big cities especially Baltimore cosmopolitan where small crimes such as loitering and non-violent ones such as vandalism were reduced by bigger margins (United Nations, 2002, p. 11). Mentoring is fetched from both critical and choice theories as both play an influential role in that mentors could manage to influence ones thinking and at the same time change perceptions of people on various authorities (12).

Problem solving partnerships between the police and the public are highly influence by the relationship existing between the two. Good and cordial relationships will always improve chances of wining this war, as positive perception will emerge from both parties. When this happens, the public and the police will understand the need to cooperate, as benefits from such partnerships will be evident. Since both critical ad choice theories rely on thinking and perception of two parties, they play a very important role in coming up with such policing measures (Malcolm and Austin, 1980, p. 29).

Punitive policy strategies

Punishments for various crimes strongly determine the ability of such crimes to recur. When a crime does receive punishment regarded as not equal to its magnitude, then the chances of such a crime to recur are very high (Skogan et al., 1997, p. 62). This involves the earliest stages of criminal investigations to the point where a verdict is given. Timely responses to crimes have been reported to affect judgment outcomes of a case. Punitive measures policies in judicial proceedings usually rely of the choice theories. This is mainly because in this view, an individual will only commit a crime after being contended by the fact hat benefits to be obtained are more than likely lamentations, that is output is more than input.

Many countries have come up wit severe punishments for different criminal offences with some penalties attracting a lot of debates. For instance, death sentences have been in existence since time in memorial but of late, some human rights groups are terming it as an abuse of human rights. This is likely to cause a lot of disagreements as the matter is likely to trigger an increase of crimes formerly associated with death sentences (Skogan et al., 1997, p. 68).

As Hall et al. (2008, p. 26) elaborate, punishments and other penalties such as fines and incarcerations are likely to reduce crimes to a large extent as people will choose to stay away from such repercussions. Choice theorist ague that potential offenders are likely to keep away from crimes that they choose to do since the punishment policies is harsher. Hall et al. (2008, p. 29) go ahead to reveal that critics of this kind of policy intervention argue that it is not like to cause a substantial benefit, as offenders will choose to get involved in crimes with punishments that are more lenient. They further argue that not all crimes can be give severe punitive considerations despite the fact that they are worse. However, criminologist can come up with better classification of crimes which can be use to fight crime by looking at available national data that will enable them asses severity of the crime in order to classify them.

Rehabilitation focused policies

In sociological point of view, an individual is always subject to adjusting his or her behavior regardless of whether the trend of behavior has evolved into a habit (Global development, 2006). Rehabilitation is one of the major tools of preventing recurrence of crimes and at the same time to help former offenders to become better citizens. Policies aimed at ensuring effective rehabilitation are very important when it comes to fighting crimes related to critical choice theories. Rehabilitation centers especially in the US are tasked to ensure that inmates are reformed as soon as they leave prison or after their incarceration.

Introduction of professionalism in prison departments is a major milestone in rehabilitation process. This is because rehabilitation is not a harsh facility where people suffer or undergo any form of condemnation. Otherwise, they would be assumed prisons of another kind. Without forgetting that choice theories focus on psychological abilities of potentials criminals to commit crimes, it is very important to involve professional councilors to serve targeted groups (Heather, 2010). By so doing, any lessons from such facilities are likely to be regarded with the much-needed seriousness and hence will be more effective. Therefore, crime because of irrational decisions by offenders who could rather not have engage in the crimes incase they were well informed, are likely to reduce.

Rehabilitation also boosts the fact that economic disparities are the major drivers of crimes related to critical theories where other people are more powerful economically than others. Rehabs should also be equipped with the necessary tools that will enable them prepare convicts for reentry into the society. This is mainly by providing assistance in form of educating and at the same time find employment that such individuals can fit (Jenny and Dawn, 2007, p. 74). This will absolutely reduce disparities between different social classes and bring a sense of equality into the community.

Policies aimed at reinforcing security agents and boost effectiveness

As already evidenced by the fact that cost of committing a crime are very influential in the sense that they influence decisions to commit a crime or not, powerful and effective law enforcement agencies could be the best choice to block this loophole. In presence of good and effective police forces, criminals are likely to abandon crime as possibility of them being apprehended and taken to the court of law are high (McLennan et al. 1980, p. 46).

Policies aimed at ensuring this should focus on improving policing by increasing the number of police officers and awarding them with better salaries and other remunerations. Such motivational policies will always ensure presence of law enforcers and therefore prevent criminal activities (Global development, 2006). An ever-ready police force will automatically lead to establishment of a robust relationship. This is most likely because the public will begin to appreciate their efforts even for the criminals themselves thus changing their perspective of how they view the police will emulate the same.

Effective policing will also ensure that chances of one being caught in the act of committing a crime are high. Crimes considered indirect can easily be traced and responsible people prosecuted as they require more resources in terms of personnel to investigate. Embracing of technological advancement in security provision services is also likely to deter criminals as it increases chances one being caught up with and prosecuted. Global development (2006) singles out this strategy as one that will cost more and therefore calls for commitment of more funds by relevant authorities to combat crime as all that it pertains involves more and more money.

Policies aimed at forestallment

The term forestallment is used to refer to people having to avoid crime for reasons considered by psycho-sociologists as moral and this happens mainly by adopting effective socializing methods (Global development, 2006). This mainly happens at family and community level where people can easily influence each other’s lifestyles through family and peer group influence. Formal education play an important role in this as children right from kindergartens to high school can be trained on how to become better citizens by instilling norms that are socially acceptable such as the need to respect each other rights. Latter, civic courses when introduced will further improve citizenry of young people.

Educational policies therefore form the most important pillar for prevention of crimes more specifically juvenile ones. Governments should encourage formulation of curricula that is psychologically designed, to influence people’s way of thinking. This is because choice theory oriented crimes can be controlled by influencing the way people think. Educational empowerment will also ensure that individuals are well prepared to tackle economic challenges since they can secure employment (McLennan et al. 1980, p. 48).This will help eliminate economic biases that are likely to fuel critical ideas, which result into conflicts and at the same time serve as the key to economic freedom and self-realization.

Forestallment has another component that is focused on empowering the youth. This is possible by establishing proper mechanism that can fight frustration amongst the young people especially those from disadvantaged families. It creates a sense of self-realization and thus enabling people to realize their potential. Psycho-sociologists argue that self-realization can be divided into two main categories namely economic and non-economic (50). Economic self-realization is achieved through economic empowerment policies such as those that focus on employment (Heather, 2010). By formulating policies that ensure more youths are in employment, governments and other organizations that could be non-governmental could reduce the number of idle youth and empower them more economically. Since critical theories site imbalance in standards of living and power as the most powerful reasons of youths committing crime, such efforts are likely to reduce crimes to large extent.

Considering non-economic self realization efforts, the government can formulate policies that will enable it dedicate resources to co-curricular activities such as cultural activities and sports. This arrangement is known to work for many societies especially among the youths living in slams within the urban areas. Heather (2010) indicates that preference plays an important role in crimes resulting from individual choices, the youth can be attracted to such activities, which help them avoid criminal activities. Many countries have come up with recreational facilities such as parks that are constructed by the government using public funds to help youths realize their potential and avoid crime by influencing their way of thinking.

Policies aimed at standardizing fairness for all

Judicial systems in many countries have failed when it comes to delivering justice to its citizens in the fairest means. This is because the biases that result in criminal activities has also infiltrated in many jurisdictional mechanism. As described by Karl Marx in critical theories, those in power are likely to influence the minorities that are considered less powerful. It is because of this bias that the minority commits crimes (McLennan et al. 1980, p. 108).

Jenny and Dawn (2007, p. 102) find it worthy to note that cases where the poor have received harsher punitive consequences compared to the rich for similar offences are evident in many parts of the world (Ibid). This effect has resulted in many minority groups engaging in crime as they try to counter the oppressing forces from the rich. Judicial commissions should therefore formulate better and balanced fairness policies that will ensure that justice is delivered to all and fairly.


Policy construction should be mainly focused on the real cause of any problem so as to tackle the problem easily. Careful analysis of crimes is important in order to understand the cause, which will in turn help policy makers with coming with the most suitable policies to eliminate the vices. Despite the fact that crime prevention policies are important in fighting crime, community policing bears a greater magnitude in attempting control critical choice theory oriented crimes. This is because these theories suggest that commitment to criminal activity is controlled by peoples ability to rationally think and decide on which way to settle for, either to crime or not.

Improper policing mechanism have further fueled criminal activities especially in areas where this is hampered by complicated situations such as poverty that result in tough economic environments. Therefore, it is important to first deal with such obstacles before employing any other peripheral tool such as rehabilitation. Finally, policing strategies likely to be derived from critical choice theories are more focused on influencing people’s way of viewing things and thinking and therefore special attention should be given to policies most likely to bring such an effect.