Criminology Discipline and Theories | Free Essay Example

Criminology Discipline and Theories

Words: 1168
Topic: Law


The discipline of criminology helps to understand why individuals commit particular crimes as well as the factors that lure them into offenses. Understanding the reasons why people engage in crimes can go a long way towards developing strategies to mitigate felonies. Besides, it can help law enforcers to preempt crimes and lower cases of damage or fatalities. In criminology, numerous theories explain the factors that lure people into committing crimes.

Criminologists continue to look for the best ways to handle and prevent crimes. Some of the theories that explain the reasons people engage in crime include rational choice theory, Socio disorganization theory, situation choice theory, strain theory and routine activities theory (Schmalleger, 2015).This essay will examine routine activities theory and situation choice theory and their relation to crime.

Routine activity theory is one of the major theories involved in environmental criminology. It provides powerful insight into the factors that make individuals engage in crimes. Felon and Cohen established this theory in 1979. They identified three elements that trigger a crime. According to the theory, a person’s intentions and abilities motivate them to commit a crime. Besides, individuals engage in crime due to the presence of a victim and the absence deterrent mechanisms.

For one to commit a crime, these elements must cover a particular period and space. The routine activities theory provides a prediction on how changes in economic and social factors affect the rate of victimization and felony. The theory emphasizes that if the day-to-day operations of an individual change, they affect one’s vulnerability to committing a crime. In other words, a person’s routine activities affect the crime pattern of an individual (Schmalleger, 2015).

Arguably, Cohen and Felson suggest that the World War II intensified due to the increase in the number of immigrants worldwide. They claimed that a majority of the nations did not monitor or control the activities of the immigrants.

According to Schmalleger (2015), state laws, and societal norms are some of the deterrent mechanisms that prevent people from committing crimes. Schmalleger (2015) maintains that it is hard to manage routine activities that are carried out away from one’s home, therefore increasing the number of potential offenders.

The routine activities theory holds that “behavioral patterns and intersection of people in time and space influence when and where crimes occur” (Schmalleger, 2015, p. 17). A person is not likely to commit an offense in their neighborhood. For instance, if a person intends to steal a car, they are likely to target people from other communities who are not known to them. It increases the chances of them going unnoticed.

The rational choice theory is an approach used to resolve situational crimes. The theory is based on the fundamentals of classical criminology. The rational choice theory holds that people have the freedom to choose their behaviors and get the impetus from factors that give them pain or pleasure. For instance, people may engage in crime because they ‘profit’ from them. Besides, some individuals engage in crimes as means for acquiring particular resource or for fun.

The theory suggests that the fear of being punished may prevent one from committing a crime. Therefore, an offender can refrain from committing a crime because of the punishment (Schmalleger, 2015). The Rational choice theory is founded on a notion that conscious evaluation makes one behave in a certain way in a given situation.

Therefore, crimes come as a result of personal decisions. The theory focuses on personal decisions and overlooks factors associated with social and economic conditions. These factors do exert considerable influence on an individual’s decision-making process. In conclusion, crime is not only a rational choice but also results from the interaction of other influences and factors.

Effects of Capital Punishment on Deterring Crime

There is no valid argument that the death penalty deters crime. However, most suspects commit a crime in blind rage while highly intoxicated. Others commit crimes due to mental problems. Individuals under these conditions cannot make significant decisions since they are not sane enough to be accountable for their actions. Therefore, there are no credible facts to prove that capital punishment can prevent crime.

Research shows that states that do not apply the death penalty have a small number of murder cases compared to those that employ death penalties. In the recent years, the number of homicide cases has gone down in states that do not practice death sentence compared to countries that implement capital punishment.

According to security agents, life imprisonment goes a long way towards curbing crimes relative to capital punishment (Schmalleger, 2015). The majority of the Americans states that execute criminals record a high number of crimes like murder.

A study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that states that apply the capital punishment are unsafe for law enforcers. For instance, cases of policemen being killed are rampant in states that implement the death penalty in the United States. Therefore, the research shows that implementation of capital punishment results in police killings. Rather than curbing crime, death sentence leads to increase in the number of felonies.

According to a survey conducted in the United States, 91% of correspondents felt that politicians were not honest in their support for capital punishment. The correspondents claimed that politicians support death sentence to appear conscious of crime-related issues. On the other hand, 75% of the correspondents argued that politicians support capital punishment as a way to escape the responsibility of looking for alternative measures to combat crime (Schmalleger, 2015).

However, capital punishment helps to prevent crimes meted on children. Research indicates that the death penalty contributes to a reduction in the number of child murder. For instance, the introduction of capital punishment in the United States has led to a drop in the cases of child murder by over 20%.

Nevertheless, the capital punishment should not be implemented wildly, since it works both positively and negatively with respect to the state of crime and where it is exercised. Lawmakers should consider the extent of damages to determine the length of punishment an individual deserves (Schmalleger, 2015).

Most researchers both scientific and investigative have shown that the death penalty cannot deter murder crimes relative to life imprisonment. Once individuals are served with the capital punishment, they do not have time to learn the gravity of their mistakes.

Hence, they view law enforcers as a threat and opt to kill or intimidate them making it hard to implement the punishment. States that sentence criminals to life imprisonment are quite safe because the offenders have time to learn from their mistakes and reform (Schmalleger, 2015).

Capital punishment is not the most efficient method of curbing crimes. Indeed, death penalty contributes to increasing in crimes as criminals seek to cover up their offenses. The countries that wish to deter crimes should look for alternative measures. Some of the actions include life imprisonment and rehabilitation programs. Such programs would not only give criminals an opportunity to learn from their mistakes but also avoid potential criminals from engaging in crimes.


Schmalleger, F. (2015). Criminology Today (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.