As the name suggests, Rational Choice Theory argues that an individual will make a rational and informed choice before acting in a particular way. Specifically, this involves weighing up the pros and cons. This theory was fully integrated into criminology by Derek Cornish and Ronald Clarke in the 1980s.
In essence, Cornish and Clarke argue that criminal behavior is the result of deliberate choices. Crime is, therefore, the result of a person exerting his free will after having carefully weighed up the possible gains and losses. If the risk of getting caught is low because the punishment for the crime is minor or the act itself brings great satisfaction, then a person is likely to indulge in criminal behavior. For instance, a person might steal a wallet if there is nobody around to stop them, they know that the punishment is minor, and they are in a position of financial hardship.
In terms of the justice system, the goal is to make legal behavior more appealing than criminal behavior. Remember that this is all about choice: a person will choose to commit a crime if he thinks that the reward is higher than obeying the law. on A strong police presence and tough sentencing are two ways that crime can be minimized under this theory. Similar, creating opportunities for advancement through education and training are more likely to take away the economic motivations which underpin criminal behavior.