The rational choice theory has been a topic of discussion for all LEJA undergraduate majors, minors and graduate students at Western Illinois University. Whether you’re taking LEJA 101 or LEJA 357, the rational choice theory will somehow make its way into your textbooks. Yet, this theory is very common in everyone’s daily lives, especially when it comes to articles we come across on social media, or even on the local news due to the amount of crimes that float about our news feeds daily.
Rational choice theory in relation to crime is basically when an individual chooses to commit crimes, due to one’s own personal motivations. Meaning, that most offenders will think through certain pros and cons of the potential situation and decide if they’re willing to risk the consequences to commit a crime, because of what they’ll gain in the end. If the risk is too high to someone, they won’t go about committing the crime.
The reason I discovered this theory is prominent in everyone’s daily routines, is because I happened to be scrolling on Facebook, when a news article popped up, titled, “Louisiana Police Officer Fatally Shot over Alleged Mask Dispute at High School Basketball Game.” The title alone grasped my attention, so I clicked on the article, and found myself looking into the full story. The basic rundown of the article is that 35-year-old John Shallerhorn is currently facing a first-degree murder and robbery charge, after his altercation turned brutal in New Orleans, Lousiana. Shallerhorn had robbed a man at gunpoint in a highschool parking lot, before trying to hide in a high school building during a basketball game, but was instead stopped at the door for not wearing a mask due to COVID-19 protocals. A dispute occurred, Shallerhorn was then escorted out by Officer Martinus Mitchum, and while being escorted out, Shallerhorn allegedly shot and killed Officer Mitchum and turned himself in shortly afterwards.
Now, that article was very tragic, yet these articles are seen on a daily basis, whether it be on our feeds, in TV shows or on the news. These types of crimes are very relevant, and it should leave us questioning why certain people go about making the decisions they do, what they are gaining from committing these crimes and why are these types of headlines so normalized. Yet, they’re only looked at more deeply when it becomes an over-the-top or extreme case like Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, Jeffery Dahmer or Bill Cosby, but millions of crimes happen every year and we don’t speak out against it as much as we would a case that was being televised or has become mainstream. This form of normalization should be discussed more by peers and questioning should be more prominent in regards to crime that makes news.