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It targets youth who by most accounts would be considered at high risk for committing crimes—young, mainly minority males, from urban areas—and helps them finish high school, earn a GED, learn a trade, and find a job and keep it.The whole purpose of the Job Corps is to take young people with a bleak future and train and educate them so that they can find well-paying jobs and become productive citizens.Whether they realize it or not, proponents of a “get tough on crime” stance usually are assuming a rational choice view of crime.
One of the most frequently taken paths of criminal justice policy is to enhance the formal penalties for crime with the expectation that such an increase will lower the commission of that particular crime (and maybe others, if there is a spillover effect whereby if we punish more severely for Crime X it also inhibits people from committing Crime Y).
Readers who think about the major criminal justice response to the increase in crime during the 1990s and early 21st century will discover that most states responded by increasing the number of people in prison and increasing the length of time inmates were spending in prison.
Frequently, then, when there are calls for more police, less plea bargaining in courts, more prison terms and less use of probation, and more certain and longer prison terms, these calls are based on the expectations of RCT that such measures will increase either the objective or expected costs of crime and, other things being equal, will reduce the level of crime.
Increasing the costs of crime is only one way under deterrence theory and RCT to reduce the level of crime; one can also lower crime by increasing the benefits of activities that compete with crime.
Recall that the theory holds that people consider the costs and benefits of both crime and non-crime before making a rationally based decision as to what to do.
This means that when these programs are set up, inner-city youth will weigh the costs and benefits of crime along with those of midnight basketball.The benefits of auto theft, for example, would be dramatically reduced if people would not leave their keys in the ignition, if they would lock the car, or if they would purchase an inexpensive car alarm or car location device.These things make stealing a car more difficult and therefore less beneficial.Increased numbers of police officers increase the expected cost of crime by increasing would-be offenders’ perceived certainty of getting caught and arrested (on the assumption that the more police officers there are on the streets, the more eyes there are watching you).Thus, under the assumption that offenders and would-be offenders contemplate the risk of incurring a cost, the idea of putting 100,000 new police officers out on the streets was based on RCT and deterrence theory.For example, one of the reasons kids in inner-city neighborhoods get involved with crime and drugs is that they get thrills or some kind of “kick” out of doing it.In other words, crime and drug use supplies them with a rush.The Job Corps program, then, provides a direct alternative to criminal opportunities so that to the extent to which the training and long-term vocational prospects surpass those provided by illegitimate opportunities, the route of job training and education will be selected over crime.There are a number of ways that the benefits of crime can be reduced.The benefits of burglary can be reduced by making it more difficult for a thief to break into one’s home or apartment.Trimming the bushes around the windows so they can be seen from the street is a good idea; having outside motion-sensitive lights is another.