Theories of Criminal Behavior and the Correctional System Term Paper by scribbler

Theories of Criminal Behavior and the Correctional System
An examination of three theories of criminal behavior and their implications for the correctional system.
# 152565 | 2,589 words | 9 sources | APA | 2013 | US

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This paper explores the theories that attempt to explain the cause of criminal behavior, specifically, general strain theory, self-control theory, and rational choice theory. The paper highlights the core principle in all three theories, that individuals are rational beings who weigh the costs and benefits of the criminal act and respond accordingly. The paper discusses how this shared principle has significant implications for the correctional system in that correctional programs must focus on how to implement sanctions and rehabilitation methods that will address the root of criminal behaviors.

From the Paper:

"General strain theory (GST) is attributed to Robert Agnew who utilized this method to explain crime and delinquency. It is built on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the experience of strain and engagement in criminal behaviors (Agnew, 2001). Agnew built GST off of an earlier model which claimed that crime is the direct result of a conflict between an individual's goals that they are socialized to achieve and the resources that they can employ to reach these goals (Johnson & Kercher, 2007). Cultural goals often involve the ability of an individual to find financial freedom and become contributing members of society. Strain occurs when the individual does not have the legitimate resources to meet their goals (Agnew, 2001).
"Agnew took this theory a step further and also incorporated additional facets of strain that may lead to criminal behaviors (Baron, 2008). Agnew focused on how personal experiences, an interpretation of the experience, and the resulting emotional reaction are all associated with criminal behavior (Baron, 2008). Additional facets of strain include inability to attain socialized goals, the loss of positively respected stimuli, and its substitution with negative stimuli (Johnson & Kercher, 2007). This theory recognizes that individuals interpret strain differently and that this interpretation directly relates to their likelihood to engage in criminal activities."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying thetypes of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of Researchin Crime and Delinquency, 38, 319-361.
  • Baron, S. W. (2008). Street youth, unemployment, and crime: Is it that simple? Using general strain theory to untangle the relationship. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 50(4), 399-434. doi:10.3138/cjccj.50.4.399
  • Botchkovar, E. V., Tittle, C. R., & Antonaccio, O. (2009). General strain theory: Additional evidence using cross-cultural data. Crimonology, 47(1), 131-176.
  • DeLisi, M. & Berg, M. T. (2006). Exploring theoretical linkages between self-control theory and criminal justice system processing. Journal of Criminal Justice, 34, 153-163. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2006.01.005
  • Hay, C. & Forrest, W. (2008). Self-control theory and the concept of opportunity: The case for a more systematic union. Criminology, 46(4), 1039-1072.

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APA Format

Theories of Criminal Behavior and the Correctional System (2013, March 17) Retrieved December 03, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Theories of Criminal Behavior and the Correctional System" 17 March 2013. Web. 03 December. 2022. <>