Crime, Criminals and Justice

It is interesting to analyze the conflicts between theories that explain deviant behavior. At the end of the day, law enforcement agencies must concern themselves with the fact that a crime took place, rather than reasons why criminals acted the way they did. Still, these theories remain essential in the development of public policies to control crime. According to the cultural transmission theory, all kinds of behaviors, including deviant behavior, are learned. Furthermore, the theory states that young and impressionable learners of deviance may have developed close relationships with their deviant teachers.

With increasing contacts with deviant teachers, young learners of deviance engage in increasingly deviant behaviors (“Sociological Theories to Explain Deviance”). Thus, the cultural transmission theory does not rule out the possibility that children of the rich and powerful may engage in deviant behaviors because they may have had deviant teachers. The conflict theory, on the other hand, entirely rules out this possibility with its assumption that societal norms are established by the rich and powerful, so therefore they cannot possibly go against their own rules.

This assumption of the conflict theory is not true, seeing that the rich and powerful are also known to go against societal norms, which they should have established for and by themselves (“Conflict,” 2005). Yet another theory that conflicts with the conflict theory is the social control theory that explains why people may not engage in deviant behaviors. According to this theory, individuals – both rich and poor – may follow societal norms because of their social bonds or attachments (“Sociological Theories to Explain Deviance”).

Then again, these theories need not be analyzed once a crime has occurred. Moreover, as this analysis shows, law enforcement agencies cannot depend on theories of deviance as definite maps to hunt criminals. The Organization of Criminal Behavior So man finds forbidden fruit virtually irresistible. This is what happened in the United States when alcohol was prohibited from 1920 to 1933 as “the ‘noble experiment’” (Thornton, 1991). This experiment was conducted as an effort to lower crime rates across the country, reduce corruption, and resolve various social problems.

The government of the United States had also aimed to reduce its spending on prisons through this experiment (Thornton). However, the results of the “noble experiment” were disastrous enough for the government to repeal the Prohibition altogether (Thornton). More importantly, the Prohibition teaches a significant lesson for control of organized crime. I learned about this lesson through my secondary research on organization of criminal behavior, inspired by this course. In fact, the Prohibition increased all types of crimes throughout the country (Thornton).

Alcohol consumption was increased rather than reduced. The number of people filling prisons of the United States went up at the same time (Thornton). Behr (1996) refers to the Prohibition as the beginning of organized crime in America (p. 239). Kelly, Chin, & Schatzberg (1994) agree that the Prohibition became an opportunity for criminal gangs to make awesome amounts of money through illegal alcohol sales (p. 64). The prohibition on the sale of alcohol allowed for the product to be sold at higher prices than before, opening up an important new business for criminals.

Entrepreneurs of criminal organizations had to hire countless young people for bootlegging. Even a single producer of whiskey would face sufficient demand to open up illegal markets for alcohol in many states at the same time (Kelly, Chin, & Schatzberg, p. 64). As absurd as this may sound, the Prohibition, therefore, teaches policymakers to take time off and reflect on the dangers of laws they have created. After all, this lesson cannot be ignored. In point of fact, anybody who researches organization of criminal behavior is bound to confront it.

The Criminal Justice System Schmalleger & Smykla (2008) ask the reader to deeply consider whether the criminal justice system should merely punish, punish and reform, or only reform individuals that have perpetrated crimes. They further ask of the reader to critically analyze the reason behind prison sentences. The reader is compelled to dwell on the following question: Are prisons meant to reform people or simply dump all those that are considered criminals in one place?

Likewise, the authors question the logic behind juvenile corrections, getting the reader to suppose that there is something terribly wrong with the juvenile corrections system as it stands. In fact, all of these questions call for changes to the traditional criminal justice system. To be precise, they ask for humanization of the criminal justice system. This can be achieved by adopting alternatives to the traditional justice system. After all, each and every individual exhibiting criminal behavior cannot be jailed.

Even children may exhibit behaviors that appear uncivilized, if not criminal; for example, an unruly child in school may smash his or her friend’s head with a football. Still, a child is a child – at the lower end of the learning curve. This is the reason why alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system, such as shaming, peacemaking strategies and restorative justice are especially recommended for juvenile delinquents. As a matter of fact, research has shown that young offenders are most likely to change their problem behaviors through restorative justice techniques rather than court proceedings.

Adults, too, are likely to reverse their problem behavior through the humaneness of restorative justice (Sherman & Strang, 2009). Of course, the same has not been claimed for serial killers or rapists. Just as all types of crimes cannot go unpunished, all kinds of criminals should not be prosecuted through the traditional justice system, defined by the terminology of “punishment, zero tolerance, criminal personality” (Wormer, 2010). References Behr, E. (1996). Prohibition: Thirteen Years that Changed America. New York, NY: Arcade Publishing.

Conflict. (2005, Nov. 22). Florida State University. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/conflict. htm. Kelly, R. J. , Chin, K, & Schatzberg, R. (1994). Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. Schmalleger, F. , & Smykla, J. O. (2008). Corrections in the 21st Century. 4th ed. New York: Mc- Graw-Hill. Sherman, L. W. , & Strang, H. (2009, Jul 10). Restorative Justice and Deterring Crime. Australian Institute of Criminology.

Retrieved May 10, 2010, from http://www.aic. gov. au/criminal_justice_system/rjustice/rise/working/risepap4. aspx. Sociological Theories to Explain Deviance. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from http://www. valdosta. edu/~klowney/devtheories. htm. Thornton, M. (1991, Jul 17). Alcohol Prohibition was a Failure. CATO Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from http://www. cato. org/pub_display. php? pub_id=1017&full=1. Wormer, K. V. (2010). Restorative Justice and Social Work. Restorative Justice Online. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from http://www. restorativejustice. org/10fulltext/vanwormer/.