ABSTRACT

Deterrence is undoubtedly criminology’s most infl uential paradigm. A central assumption of that paradigm is that offenders are rational decision makers. This assumption lies at the heart of Cornish and Clarke’s classic edited volume, The Reasoning Criminal ( 1986 ). But how exactly do offenders make decisions to commit their offences? What forces govern that process? This chapter, highlighted by interviews with active predatory street criminals in St. Louis, Missouri and Atlanta, Georgia, attempts to answer those questions, focusing on the role of key prevailing visceral and emotional states in shaping the decision-making calculus of would-be offenders.