Rational choice is a theory that is easy to understand and support. It is a natural child of the classical theory which is a natural progression from the religious or philosophical tenet of free will. Unlike the saying from an old television show “the devil made me do it,” the concept of free will would hold that “the devil gave me the opportunity to do it.” In other words, people can do right or wrong and they will do wrong even if they know it is wrong. Now think about what the free will-classical theory-rational choice combination means for punishment. At a simple level, a child who openly defies a parent by doing a behavior that was expressly forbidden will almost certainly get punished. For our purposes, someone displays behavior that they know is crime. They knew what they did was wrong so it is easy for us to punish. We don’t want to rehabilitate; just punish the open defiance. Should the reason(s) why people commit crimes be used determine what their punishment should be?
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