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5.5: Neoclassical

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    News Box. In 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 11, whcih established mandatory minimum sentencing for several serious crimes. Besides removing the judge’s ability to give a lesser sentence, Measure 11 prohibited prisoners from reducing their sentence through good behavior. Additionally, any defendant 15 years old or older who was accused of a Measure 11 offense was automatically tried as an adult. Recently, the Oregon Justice Resource Center reported the effects of Measure 11 on juveniles, esepcially minorities. Below are links to the news article and the report itself.

    “New Report Calls Measure 11 Sentences for Juveniles ‘Harsh and Costly'”

    Oregon Justice Resource Center’s Report

    Measure 11 Exercise

    [1] They claimed offenders rationally calculate costs and benefits before committing crime and assumed people want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The theory does not explain motivation, but instead, it expects some people will always commit a crime when given the opportunity. They do not assume offenders are entirely rational, but they do have bounded rationality. Bounded rationality is the constraint of both time and relevant information; offenders must make a decision in a timely fashion with the information at hand. Offenders cannot wait forever nor can they wait for more information before committing a crime. For example, if you were walking down a street and noticed an open window in a parked car, you may contemplate looking in. If you saw something inside, you may then consider stealing it. An entirely rational person may look around to see if there are any witnesses, try to determine if the owner is coming back soon, and so on. Ideally, you may wait until nightfall. However, you may miss your opportunity. Thus, you need to make a quick decision with the relevant facts at that time.

    [2] Since the conclusion of World War II, more people have entered the workforce, and more people spend time away from home. Cohen and Felson stated that three things must converge in time in space for a crime to be committed – a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a capable guardian.


    1. Cornish, D.B., & Clarke, R.V. (1986). Crime as a rational choice. In R.V. Clarke and D.B. Cornish, The reasoning criminal. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.
    2. Cohen, L.E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activiity approach. American Sociological Review, 44, 588-608.

    This page titled 5.5: Neoclassical is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, & Shanell Sanchez (OpenOregon) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.