Criminology - Class Notes for Chapters 1 through 10, and 12 (Full Course Materials)
Chapter 1 - Crime and Criminology
What is Criminology?
An academic discipline that uses scientific methods to study the nature, extent, cause, and control of criminal behavior.
What Do Criminologists Do?
Criminal Statistics/Crime Measurement involves calculating the amount and trends of criminal activity and focuses on creating valid and reliable measures of criminal behavior.
This is done by an analysis of the activities of police and court agencies. Measuring criminal activity not reported to the police by victims. Identifying the victims of crime.
Developing Theories of Crime Causation
Psychological - crime as a function of personality, development, social learning, or cognition (understanding). Biological - antisocial behavior as a function of biochemical, genetic, and neurological factors. Sociological - criminal behavior as a product of social forces including neighborhood conditions, poverty, socialization, and group interaction.
Criminologists may use innovative methods to test theory. For example, the use of magnetic resonance imaging to assess the brain function of male batterers.
The true cause of crime is still problematic - given similar conditions, why do some people choose crime while others do not?
Understanding and Describing Criminal Behavior - Research of Specific Criminal Types and Crime Patterns
50 years ago, researchers focused on perceived major crimes including rape, murder, and burglary. Today, some researchers focus on crimes including stalking, cyber crime, terrorism, and hate crimes.
Example: Terrorism and the terrorist personality
a.Mental illness is not a critical factor in explaining terrorist behavior, most terrorists are not "psychopaths." b.There is no "terrorist personality." c.Histories of childhood abuse/trauma and themes of perceived injustice and humiliation are often prominent in terrorist biographies but do not help to explain terrorism.
Penology: Punishment, Sanctions, and Corrections
Penology is concerned with the correction and sentencing of known criminal offenders. While some criminologists may advocate rehabilitation, others may advocate capital punishment and mandatory sentences. Criminologists as a whole are concerned with evaluating the effectiveness and impact of crime control programs.
Criminologists who study victimization have found that criminals are at greater risk for victimization than non-criminals.
Additionally, victims may be engaging in high-risk behavior, such as crime, which increases their victimization.
A History of Criminology
The scientific study of crime and criminality is a relatively recent development.
During the Middle Ages (1200-1600) people who violated social and religious norms were viewed as being witches or possessed by demons. Torture was used to extract confessions, and criminals received harsh penalties, including whipping, branding, maiming, and execution.
In the mid 1700s, Italian professor Cesare Beccaria developed a theory that human behavior is driven by a choice between the amount of pleasure gained over the amount of pain or punishment experienced. He argued that in order to reduce or stop criminal behavior, the punishment should be swift, certain, and severe. This theory of "free will" became known as the classical theory.
Classical criminology - the theoretical perspective suggesting that (1) people have free will to choose criminal or conventional behaviors; (2) people choose to commit crime for reasons of greed or personal need; and (3) crime can be controlled only by the fear of criminal sanctions.
Positivist Criminological Theory - holds that most criminal behavior is the result of social, psychological, and even biological influences. Positivism is the branch of social science that uses the scientific method of the natural sciences and suggests that human behavior is a product of social, biological, psychological, or economic factors.
Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) is considered the "father of criminology." Lombroso's theory of anthropological criminology essentially stated that criminality was inherited, and that someone "born criminal" could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed a criminal as savage.
Lombroso's strict biological determinism is no longer taken seriously.
Biosocial theory - Criminologists have recently linked crime and biological traits, and have looked at the link between physical and social traits and their influence on behavior (which also take into account social and environmental conditions).
Sociological Criminology - Variables such as age, race, gender, socioeconomic status and ethnicity have been shown to have been shown to have a significant relationship with certain categories and patterns of crime.
The foundations of sociological criminology can be traced to Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) and Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). It employs the use of social statistics to investigate the influence of social factors on the propensity to commit crime. These factors include age, sex, season, climate, population composition, and poverty.
According to Durkheim, crime is normal, inevitable, and is useful and occasionally even healthful for society (as it can pave the way for social change).
Drawing from Durkheim, sociologists have examined the ways that anomie (i.e., a breakdown of social norms) can produce deviance (a departure from accepted standards of behavior) in communities.
The Chicago School
Criminologists from the University of Chicago including Robert Ezra Park (1864-1944), Ernest W. Burgess (1886-1966), and Louis Wirth (1897-1952) determined that social forces operating in urban areas create a crime-promoting environment; crime is a social phenomenon.
This challenged the widely held belief that criminals were biologically or psychologically impaired or morally inferior. These criminologists felt that crime could be eradicated by improving social and economic conditions.
Chicago School criminologist Walter Reckless hypothesized that crime occurs when children develop an inadequate self-image, rendering them incapable of controlling their misbehavior.
Research during the 1930s and 1940s linked criminal behavior to the quality of an individual's relationship to important social processes, including education, family life, and peer relations.
Edwin Sutherland, the preeminent American criminologist, noted that people learn criminal attitudes from older, more experienced offenders.
Conflict theory - the view that human behavior is shaped by interpersonal conflict and that those who maintain social power will use it to further their own ends.
Karl Marx (1818-1883), is the author of Communist Manifesto - a description of oppressive labor conditions prevalent during the rise of industrial capitalism.
Marx felt that the character of every society is determined by its mode of production, and that the economic system controls all aspects of human life. Exploitation of the working class would eventually lead to class conflict and the end of the capitalist system.
The social upheaval of the 1960s prompted criminologists to analyze the social conditions in the United States that promoted class conflict and crime.
A critical criminologist examines and analyzes the social conditions that promote class conflict and crime. Is crime a product of the capitalist system?
Delinquency research in the 1940s and 1950s conducted by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck that focused on the early onset of delinquency as an indication of a criminal career. The most important factors related to persistent offending was family relations. Children with low intelligence, a background of mental disease, and a mesomorph physique (a human physical type that is marked by greater than average muscular development) were most likely to become persistent offenders.
Classical theory had evolved into Rational Choice Theory - the view that crime is a function of a decision-making process in which the potential offender weighs the potential costs and benefits of an illegal act.
Lombrosian biological positivism has evolved into contemporary biosocial and psychological trait theory views.
Trait theory - the view that criminality is a product of abnormal biological or psychological traits.
The original Chicago School sociological vision has transformed into Social Structure Theory - the view that disadvantaged economic class position is a primary cause of crime.
Social Process Theory - the view that criminality is a function of people's interactions with various organizations, institutions, and processes in society.
Social process theorists now focus on upbringing and socialization. Many criminologists still view social and political conflict as the root cause of crime. The Gluecks' pioneering research has influenced a new generation of developmental theorists.
Deviant or Criminal? How Criminologists Define Crime
Deviance is any action that departs from the social norms of society. A deviant act becomes a crime when it is deemed socially harmful or dangerous; it will then be specifically defined, prohibited, and punished under the criminal law.
Crime and deviance are often confused. The shifting definition of deviant behavior is closely associated with our concepts of crime.
For example, are drawings of naked (fictional) children acts of deviance or criminal acts?
Individuals, institutions, or government agencies may mount a campaign aimed at convincing the public and lawmakers that what is considered a deviant behavior is actually dangerous and must be criminalized. An example is Harry Anslinger's "moral crusade," in the 1930s, urging the criminalization of marijuana.
The Concept of Crime
Criminologists align themselves with one of several schools of thought regarding what constitutes criminal behavior and what causes people to engage in criminality.
The Consensus View of Crime
Crimes are behaviors that all elements of society consider to be repulsive. The criminal law reflects the values, beliefs, and opinions of society's mainstream. It implies that crime is a function of the beliefs, morality, and rules inherent in Western civilization, and that laws apply equally to all members of society.
The Conflict View of Crime
This theory depicts society as a collection of diverse groups that are in constant and continuing conflict. Groups, able to do so, assert political power to use the law and criminal justice system to advance their economic and social positions. Criminal laws are viewed as acts created to protect the haves from the have-nots. The poor go to prison, and the wealthy receive lenient sentences for even the most serious breaches of law.
The Interactionist View of Crime
The definition of crime reflects the preferences and opinions of people who hold social power. These people use their influence to impose their definition of right and wrong on the rest of the population. Criminals are individuals that society labels as outcasts or deviants because they have violated social rules. Crimes are outlawed behaviors because society defines them that way, not because they are inherently evil or immoral acts. Interactionists see criminal law as conforming to the beliefs of "moral crusaders," and are concerned with shifting moral and legal standards.
Crime and the Criminal Law
The concept of criminal law has been recognized for over 3,000 years.
Code of Hammurabi — Law code issued during the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon (1780 BCE [Before our Common Era]). It called for compensation (restitution) for a robbery victim if the thief was not caught. This was thought to be fair because the state failed to maintain law and order. Since the state was responsible for restitution, the code reduced feuds and vengeance between families. Since this time, restitution has been in all criminal codes.
Mosaic Code (1200 BCE)
It is not only the foundation of Judeo-Christian moral teachings but is also a basis for the U.S. legal system. The code noted prohibitions against acts including murder, theft, perjury, and adultery .
Judge-made law that came into existence during the reign of English King Henry II (1154-1189), when royal judges began to publish their decisions in local cases. A fixed body of legal rules develop from published judicial decisions. If a new rule was successfully applied in a number of different cases, it would become a precedent. Precedents would then be commonly applied in all similar cases - hence the term common law.
Mala in se and mala prohibita
We can categorize crimes as either mala in se or mala prohibita. Mala in se crimes are crimes such as murder, rape, or assault that are considered wrong in themselves, based on shared values. Mala prohibita crimes are not wrongs in themselves but are punished because they are prohibited by the government. There is often a lack of consensus about whether such actions (e.g., use of marijuana, gambling, prostitution) should be illegal. People’s views of the seriousness of various crimes depend on their race, sex, class, and victimization experience.
We may also categorize crimes as felonies (serious offenses) or misdemeanors (minor or petty crimes).
Social Goals of Contemporary Criminal Law
Enforcing social control Discouraging revenge Expressing public opinion and morality Deterring criminal behavior Punishing wrongdoing Creating equity Maintaining social order
The Evolution of Criminal Law
Criminal law is constantly evolving to reflect social and economic conditions. Change may be prompted by highly publicized cases that generate fear and concern. Criminal law may change due to shifts in culture and social conventions .
For example, in Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that laws banning sodomy between consenting adults in a private residence were unconstitutional because they violated the due process rights of citizens because of their sexual orientation.
Ethical Issues in Criminology - What and Whom to Study ?
For criminological researchers, a definite ethical dilemma is presented when the data one collects is in fundamental opposition to the values and objectives of his or her funding agency. This is becoming an increasingly important ethical issue to consider as more criminological research projects are being funded by various external sources ranging from private enterprises to government initiatives. When confronted with such a conflict of interest, researchers are faced with the decision of whether to censor certain information to protect the mission of their funding agency, or alternatively to go against this mission in the interest of academic integrity.
For example, a study funded by the private Corrections Corporation of America that asked researchers to compare the recidivism rates of offenders housed in state funded versus privately funded (like CCA) correctional facilities.
Criminologists have focused on the poor and minorities while ignoring groups including middle-class white-collar crime and organized crime.
Methods used in conducting research must ensure that:
The subjects are randomly selected and are fully informed about the purpose of the research. The information must remain confidential, and the sources of information must be protected.
In order to better understand the workings and motivations of a criminal gang, would it be ethical for a criminologist to hang out with gang members and watch as they commit crime? Should the criminologist report observed criminal gang behavior to the police?
Which acts, now legal, would you make criminal, and which currently criminal acts would you legalize?
Chapter 2- The Nature and Extent of Crime
What is the primary sources of crime data?
The FBI's Uniformed Crime Reporting (UCR) is the most cited source of U.S. crime statistics. The UCR Program publishes an annual document containing accounts of crimes known to police and information on arrests received on a voluntary basis from 17,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.
Part I crimes - the most serious - murder and non-negligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; larceny; arson; motor vehicle theft.
Homicide is the most accurate and valid UCR statistic
Part II crimes - all less serious crimes, including other assaults; forgery and counterfeiting; fraud; embezzlement; stolen property (buying, receiving, possessing); vandalism; weapons (carry, possessing, etc.); prostitution; sex offenses; drug abuse violations; gambling; offenses against the family and children; driving under the influence; liquor laws; drunkenness; disorderly conduct; vagrancy; all other offenses (except traffic).
Unfounded or false complaints are eliminated, and the number of actual known offenses is reported whether or not an arrest is made. Cleared crimes are also reported - cleared via an arrest, charging, and being turned over for prosecution; or cleared by exceptional means (ex., suspect left the country).
Validity of the UCR
The UCR's accuracy has long been suspect. Many serious crimes are not reported to police. Victims may consider the crime unimportant. Victims may not trust the police. Victims may not have property insurance. Victims fear reprisals. Victims may be involved in illegal activities themselves.
Criticisms aside, the UCR continues to be one of the most widely used source of crime statistics. It is collected in a careful and systematic way. Measurement of year to year change accurate because any problems are stable over time.
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is the result of efforts to provide a more comprehensive and detailed UCR; the NIBRS collects additional data on each reported crime incident, including a brief account of the incident, arrest, victim, and offender.
Crime data may also be collected by means of survey research. People are asked about attitudes, beliefs, values, characteristics, and experiences with crime and victimization.
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Nationwide survey of individual and household victimization conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It addresses the nonreporting issue.
The NCVS sample size is 76,000 households and 135,000 individuals age 12 and older. Households stay in the sample for three years with new households rotated into the sample on an ongoing basis. In 1993, the NCVS was redesigned to provide detailed information on frequency and nature of rape, sexual assault, personal robbery, aggravated and simple assault, household burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft.
Victim information provided in the NCVS includes age, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, income, and education level.
Crime information included in the NCVS includes time, place, use of weapons, nature of injury, and economic consequences.
Validity of the NCVS
It is a more complete picture of the nation's crime problem, and addresses the nonreporting issue. It helps us to understand why crimes are not reported to police
The NCVS has methodological problems, however. There may be an overreporting due to victims' misinterpretation of events. There may be underreporting due to victims' embarrassment, fear, or forgetfulness.
The future of the NCVS
Its effectiveness has been undermined by budget limitations, and its sample size and methods of data collection have been altered. Multiple years of data are now combined in order to comment on change over time - this is less desirable than year-to-year change.
Criminologists may also measure crime by the use of self-report surveys. Participants are asked to describe their recent and lifetime participation in criminal activity. Most self-report surveys focus on juvenile delinquency and youth crime.
Validity of Self-Reports
Expecting people to admit illegal acts is unreasonable. Some people exaggerate, forget, or are confused about their criminal acts. Self-reports may measure only nonserious, occasional delinquents while ignoring hard-core chronic offenders who may be institutionalized.
"Monitoring the Future Survey" was an effort to improving the reliability of self-reports.
Since 1978, the Monitoring the Future survey, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), has surveyed high school students across the U.S.
It has shown that a surprising number of "typical teenagers" reported involvement in serious criminal behavior. If accurate, the MTF survey data indicate a much greater crime problem than the UCR and NCVS.
Evaluating Crime Data
UCR - For serious crimes, the arrest data can provide a meaningful measure of criminal activity that other data sources cannot provide. Much criminological research is based on the UCR.
NCVS - Includes unreported crime and personal characteristics of victims. It relies on personal recollections. The data consists of estimates based on limited samples of the US population, and does not include data on crime patterns, including murder and drug abuse
Self-report surveys - can provide information on personal characteristics of offenders, and rely on the honesty of criminal offenders and drug abusers.
1833-1860: gradual increase in the crime rate, especially violent crime
Post-Civil War: Crime rate increased significantly for 15 years.
1880-WWI: Reported crimes decreased. Steady decline until the Depression (about 1930) when another crime wave was recorded.
1930 - 1960: Crime rates increased gradually. The homicide rate peaked around 1930.
1970s: The homicide rate sharply increased.
Trends in Officially Recorded Crime
1980-1990: Sharp increase in rates of robbery, motor vehicle theft, and homicide. There was also an increase in youth firearm homicide rates (adult homicide rates fell).
Since 1990: Numbers of crime in decline. There has been a significant drop in UCR violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and assault. The violence rate has dropped almost 40%. Property crime rates have also declined - a 10% decline in past decade.
Homicide rate held relatively steady from 1950 - mid-1960. Homicide rate hit a peak of 10.2 per 100,000 in 1980. 1980-1991: Homicide rate fluctuated between 8 and 10 per 100,000. 1991-2008: Homicide rate dropped more than 40% supporting the fact that the overall crime rate is in remission.
Trends in Victimization
Similar to the UCR, NCVS data indicate that victimizations have declined significantly during the past 30 years. 1973: 44 million victimizations Today: 23 million victimizations
What the Future Holds
Future crime rates may increase due to the large number of children who will enter their crime prone years. Future crime rates may also be offset by the aging of the population - large number of senior citizens.
Technological and social factors may shape the direction of the crime rate. Technological developments have resulted in new classes of crime. Some argue that the narcissistic youth culture that stresses materialism is being replaced by more moralistic cultural values that may moderate potential crime rate growth. It is too early to predict if the overall downward trend in crime rates will continue into the foreseeable future.
The Ecology of Crime
Day, season and climate - Most reported crimes occur during the warm summer months of July and August. Exceptions: Murders and robberies occur frequently in December and January. Crime rates are higher on the first day of the month.
Temperature - crime rates seem to increase with rising temperatures and then begin to decline at 85 degrees when it may be too hot for any physical exertion.
Some criminologists believe that crime rates rise with temperature. Research also indicates that a rising temperature will cause crimes such as domestic violence to continually increase, while other crimes (such as rape) will decline after temperatures rise to an extremely high level. Extreme temperatures cause stress and tension that prompts the body to release stress hormones. Hormonal activity has been linked to aggression.
Regional differences Large, urban areas have the highest violence rates. Rural areas have the lowest per capita crime rates with the exception of low population resort areas with large seasonal populations.
Use of Firearms Firearms are involved in about 20% of robberies, 10% of assaults, and over 5% of rapes. Two-thirds of all murders involve firearms; most are handguns. Criminals of all races/ethnicities are equally likely to use firearms in violent crimes.
Ongoing debate over gun control
Criminologists favoring gun control: The proliferation of handguns and the high rate of lethal violence they cause is the single most significant factor separating the US crime problem from that of the rest of the developed world. Criminologists opposed to gun control: Kleck and Gertz have found that personal gun use can be a deterrent to crime.
Social Class, Socioeconomic Conditions and Crime
Crime is generally a lower-class phenomenon.
Instrumental crimes occur when those on the lowest rung of the social ladder are unable to obtain desired goods and services via conventional means and may resort to illegal activities to obtain them.
Expressive crimes: Those living in poverty engage in disproportionate amounts of crimes as a result of their rage, frustration, and anger against society.
Alcohol and drug use is common in impoverished areas and helps to fuel violent crime. UCR data indicate crime rates in inner-city, high-poverty areas are higher than those in suburban or wealthy areas.
Surveys of prisoners consistently indicate prisoners were members of the lower class and unemployed or under-employed in the years prior to incarceration.
As alternative explanation is that the relationship between official crime and social class is a function of law enforcement practices.
Social class and Self-reports
Juveniles in all social classes commit crime. Serious crime is more prevalent in socially disorganized lower class areas. Less serious offenses are spread more evenly throughout the social structure. Community-level indicators of poverty and disorder are associated with the most serious violent crimes.
Age and Crime
Age is inversely related to criminality. Younger people commit more crime than older people and this relationship has been stable over time. The peak age for property crimes is believed to be 16. The peak age for violent crime is believed to be 18.
Young people are arrested at a disproportionate rate to their numbers in the population. Adults age 45 and older account for a third of the population but account for less than 10% of crime arrests. The elderly comprise 12 % of the population but less than 1% of arrests.
Aging out of crime
People commit less crime as they age. Crime peaks in adolescence and then declines rapidly thereafter.
Adults develop the ability to delay gratification, start wanting to take responsibility for their behavior, and adhere to conventional norms.
Research: People who maintain successful marriages are more likely to desist from antisocial behavior than those whose marriages fail.
Age and biology Some criminologists believe the key to abstaining and aging out is linked to human biology. Neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) play a role in aggression. Dopamine facilitates offensive behavior. During adolescence, dopamine increases while serotonin is reduced. Change in brain chemistry parallels the aging out process.
Gender and Crime Male crime rates are much higher than female crime rates. The male-female arrest ratio is almost four males to one female. Murder arrests: Eight males to one female Self-report data (Monitoring the Future data as an example) indicate males self-report more crime but not to the degree suggested by official data. Over the past decade the male arrest rates have declined by 9%; female arrest rates have increased by 9%. Increased female arrest rates especially for robbery and burglary Conclusion: During the slowing of the overall crime rates, women have increased their participation in crime.
Trait differences Lombroso's masculinity hypothesis - a few "masculine" females were responsible for the handful of crimes that women committed. These women lacked typical female traits of piety, maternity, undeveloped intelligence, and weakness. Such viewpoints are no longer taken seriously.
Criminologists still link antisocial behavior to hormonal influences, however. Male sex hormones (androgens) account for aggressive male behavior.
Socialization Differences Girls are socialized to be less aggressive than boys.
Cognitive Differences Superior verbal ability may allow girls and women to talk rather than fight.
Social/Political Differences Liberal feminist theory - female crime rates linked to the social and economic roles of women in society. Lower female crime rates explained by women's "second-class" economic and social positions. Female and male crime rates would converge as women's social roles change and became more like men's. The rapid increase in female crime rates seems to support liberal feminist theory.
Race and Crime Minority group members are involved in a disproportionate share of criminal activity. African Americans comprise 12% of the population, yet account for 38% of violent crime arrests, 30% of property crime arrests, and a disproportionate amount of Part II arrests.
What do data indicate? Data may reflect true racial differences in the crime rate. Data may reflect bias in the justice process. Monitoring the Future and other self-report data find little evidence of racial disparity in crimes committed. The delinquent behavior of black and white teenagers are generally similar. Differences in arrest statistics may indicate a differential selection process by police.
Critics charge police officers routinely use racial profiling to stop African Americans and search their cars without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. It is improbable that police discretion and/or bias, alone, could account for proportions of minorities arrested for violent crimes, however. Racism and discrimination
Some criminologists view black crime as a function of socialization in society - the black family torn apart and black culture destroyed beyond recovery. Racism is still an element of daily life in the black community. It undermines confidence in the justice system and faith in social and political institutions.
Racial threat theory - As the percentage of African Americans in the population increases, so does the amount of social control that the justice system aims at blacks. Significant research exists to support that the justice system may be racially biased.
Black and Latino adults are less likely than whites to receive bail in violent crime cases. Minority juveniles are more likely than white juveniles to be kept in detention pending trial in juvenile court. Indigent or unemployed African Americans are more likely than whites to receive longer prison sentences.
Economic and social disparity Racial and ethnic minorities are often forced to live in high crime areas. Racial and ethnic minorities face a greater degree of social isolation and economic deprivation than the white majority. Black youths are forced to attend essentially segregated, under-funded, and deteriorated schools.
Family dissolution Family dissolution is tied to low employment rates among black males, leading to strained marriages. Increased risk of early death by disease and violence results in a large number of single, female-headed households in black communities. Weakened or disrupted families result in compromised social control. Divorce and separation rates are significantly associated with homicide rates in black communities.
Chronic Offenders/Criminal Careers A small group of career or chronic offenders account for the majority of all criminal offenses.
Wolfgang, Figlio, and Sellin's 1972 study, Delinquency in a Birth Cohort The "Chronic 6%" - boys arrested five times or more, who accounted for six percent of the total sample of 9,945 accounted for 51.9% of all the offenses committed by the cohort, 71% of homicides, 73% of rapes, 82% of robberies, and 69% of aggravated assaults. Arrests and court experiences do little to deter the chronic offender. Female chronic offenders rare - 1%
What Causes Chronicity? Early onset - Children who have been exposed to a variety of personal and social problems, at an early age, are the most at risk to repeat offending.
Factors characterizing the chronic offender: problems in the home and school; getting arrested before age 15; low intellectual development; and parental drug involvement.
Implications of the Chronic Offender Concept Discovery of the chronic offender has revitalized criminological theory. It is unlikely that social conditions alone can cause chronic offending. Traditional criminological theories have failed to distinguish between occasional and chronic offenders. The chronic offender has become a central focus of crime control policy. Goals of sentencing polices have shifted from rehabilitation to incapacitation.
Three strikes laws - rules for repeat offenders that require long sentences without parole for conviction of a third or higher-order felony. Some states like California and Washington state have passed three strikes laws for repeat offenders. Three felony offenses require up to a life-term of imprisonment.
Truth-in-Sentencing is the requirement that offenders serve a substantial portion of their sentences before release on parole (usually 85% of their sentence) for a violent crime. This policy can increase imprisonment costs.
Would you answer honestly if participating in a national crime survey asking about your criminal behavior, including your drinking and drug use? Why or why not? How would your honesty and dishonesty impact self-report studies?
With regard to gender differences in the crime rate, why do you think that males are more violent than females?
Considering the crimes listed as Part I offenses. Are these the most serious crimes in society? Would you add or delete any crimes or behaviors to/from the list? If so, which crimes and why?
Chapter 3 Victims and Victimization
The Classical School of criminology emphasizes that people are rational beings and are free to choose the behaviors they engage in. Victimization theories suggest the same thing in that victims choose to engage in risky activities or choose not to take the time to make themselves less appealing to offenders.
Victimology is the scientific study of victims.
Victimization’s Toll on Society NCVS: 23 million victimizations per year
Costs of victimization: Damaged property; pain and suffering; involvement of criminal justice system; medical costs, lost wages; reduced quality of life, fear
Total loss related to criminal victimization: $450 billion annually; $1,800 per person
Individual Costs Assault: $9,400 The average murder costs about $3 million. Individuals suffering a violent victimization during adolescence earn about $82,000 less than non-victims due to physical and psychological problems that impede educational and economic success. Some victims become physically disabled.
Blaming the victim Innuendos and insinuations from friends, family. Victim blaming is especially painful for rape victims. Negative reactions from professionals. Negative reactions from family and friends. Negative reactions from either source reinforces uncertainty about whether the victim's experience qualifies as rape. Sympathetic and responsive support help rape victims maintain confidence and results in willingness to report their victimizations.
Long-Term Stress Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A condition with symptoms including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. It is a common problem when victims do not receive adequate support. Rape victims are particularly susceptible to PTSD.
Adolescent Stress Kids who experience traumatic sexual experiences later suffer psychological deficits. Many run away to escape their environment. Others suffer post-traumatic mental problems. Stress does not end in childhood - may have low self-esteem and may be suicidal as adults. They may be re-abused as adults. Abuse as a child may lead to despair, depression, and homelessness as adults. Homeless women are likely to have suffered childhood physical and sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, and likely to have a history of mental problems.
Relationship Stress Victims of spouse abuse suffer an extremely high prevalence of psychological problems. Abusive spouses are likely to abuse their victims psychologically.
Fear Victims fear they will be re-victimized. Victims may fear forms of crimes they have not yet experienced. People who have been assaulted fear their homes will be burglarized. Rape victims are especially fearful. People may relocate if they hear that a friend or neighbor has been victimized. Fear is escalated by media accounts of crime and violence.
Antisocial Behavior People who are crime victims may be more likely to commit crime themselves. The abuse-crime phenomenon is referred to as the cycle of violence.
The Nature of Victimization
The Social Ecology of Victimization
Location - Violent crime is more likely to take place in an open, public area during daytime or early evening.
Time - Serious violent crimes (rape, aggravated assault): after 6:00 p.m.
Less serious violent crimes (unarmed robberies): during the daytime
Neighborhood characteristics - Central city: higher rates of theft and violence than suburban areas
Murder: significantly higher risk in disorganized inner-city areas
Crime in schools During, before, and after-school activities, adult supervision is minimal. Unattended valuables make attractive targets. Ages 12-18: 1.7 million victims of nonfatal crimes at school. Eight percent of students in ninth to twelfth grades reported being threatened or injured. Twenty-two percent of ninth to twelfth graders report illegal drugs were made available to them on school property. Eighty-six percent of public schools report at least one violent crime occurred at their school.
The Victim’s Household Household vulnerability Most vulnerable: African American, western, and urban homes Less vulnerable: Non-African American, Northeast Ownership: Rental homes more so than owned homes
Factors impacting decreased household victimization - Population movement from urban to suburban and rural; family size has been reduced.
Gender Except for rape and sexual assault, males are more likely to be victims of violent crime. Women are significantly more likely to be victimized by someone they know or with whom they live. Intimate partner violence seems to be declining.
Research indicates that economic inequality is significantly related to female victimization rates.
Age Young people face a much greater victimization risk than older people. Victimization risk diminishes rapidly after age 25. Elderly - vulnerable to frauds, scams, stolen checks, purse snatchings, crimes in long-term care facilities.
Social status Across all gender, age, and racial groups, the poorest are the most likely to be victimized. The homeless suffer high rates of assault. The wealthy are more likely to be targets of personal theft crimes.
Race and ethnicity African Americans are twice as likely as non-African-Americans to be victims of violent crimes. There has been a significant decline in victimization rates for both groups, however.
Marital status Never-married individuals are victimized more those married individuals. Widows and widowers have the lowest victimization risk. Risk is influenced by age and lifestyle.
Repeat victimization Persons and households previously victimized have significantly higher risk of revictimization. Target vulnerability - Victim's physical weakness or psychological distress makes them easy targets. Target gratifiability - Victims have some quality, possession, skill or attribute an offender wants to obtain. Target antagonism - Victim's characteristics arouse anger, jealousy, or destructive impulses in potential offenders
The Victims and Their Criminals Males are more likely to be violently victimized by a stranger; females by a friend, acquaintance, or intimate. Crimes tend to be intraracial. Over half of all nonfatal personal crimes are committed by people known to the victim. Women are especially vulnerable to crime by people they know. Six of every ten rape or sexual assault victims state the offender was known to them. Women are more likely than men to be robbed by a friend/acquaintance.
Theories of Victimization
Victim precipitation theory - the view that victims may initiate, either actively or passively, the confrontation that leads to their victimization.
Active precipitation - occurs when victims act provocatively, use threats or fighting words, or even attack first.
Passive precipitation - occurs when victims exhibit some personal characteristic than unknowingly threatens or encourages attackers.
Victim impulsivity - male and female victims score high on impulsivity tests. They may be abrasive, obnoxious, or antagonistic; they may lack self-control; they may have a physical rather than mental orientation; they may be risk takers and fail to take precautions.
Research shows a strong association between victimization risk and impulsive personality.
Lifestyle theories - views on how people become crime victims because of lifestyles that increase their exposure to criminal offenders. Victimization is increased by associating with young men, going out at night, living in urban areas. Victimization is reduced by staying home at night, staying out of public areas, living in rural areas. Crime is not a random occurrence; rather, a function of the victim's lifestyle.
High risk lifestyles Drinking, taking drugs, running away, getting involved in crime. Males' lifestyles expose them to risk more so than females' lifestyles. The greater the number of girls in a male's peer group, the lower their chances of victimization. The greater the involvement with gangs, guns, and drugs, the greater the risk of being shot/killed. Most at risk of homicide: kids who have served time and who have a history of family violence. Lifestyle risks continue into adulthood.
College lifestyle Partying and recreational drug use increase risk of victimization. Coeds face higher risk of sexual assault than do females in the general population.
Criminal lifestyle Involvement in gangs - increases risk of victimization for males and females. Carrying a weapon - males who carry weapons are three times more likely to be victimized than males who do not (33% versus 10%).
Deviant place theory - the view that victimization is primarily a function of where people live. The greater the exposure to dangerous places, the more likely people will become victims of crime. People are prone to victimization because they reside in socially disorganized high-crime areas. Neighborhood crime levels may be more significant than individual characteristics or lifestyle for determining victimization.
Deviant places - Poor, densely populated, highly transient neighborhoods in which commercial and residential properties exist side-by-side. They are home to "demoralized kinds of people" who are easy targets: addicts, homeless, elderly poor.
Effect of safety precautions is less pronounced in poor areas. The presence of numerous motivated offenders requires safety precautions.
Routine Activities Theory - the view that victimization results from the interaction of three everyday factors: the availability of suitable targets, the absence of capable guardians, and the presence of motivated offenders.
Suitable targets - objects of crime (persons or property) that are attractive and readily available.
Crime and everyday life
Crime began to increase as the country sifted from rural to urban environments. The middle class fled from inner cities to suburbs, promoting a unique set of routine activities promoting victimization.
Research support for Routine Activities Theory Crime rates increased between 1960 and 1980 because the number of guardians home during the day decreased as a result of increased female participation in the workforce. As adult unemployment rates increase, the juvenile homicide arrest rates decrease. Availability and cost of goods - as costs decline, so to do burglary rates.
Caring for the Victim
President Ronald Reagan created the Task Force of Victims of Crime in 1982. Suggested a balance be achieved between recognizing victim's rights and the defendant's due process rights.
As a result, Congress passed the Omnibus Victim and Witness Protection Act - Victim impact statements at sentencing in federal criminal cases Greater protection for witnesses More stringent bail laws Use of restitution in criminal cases
1984: Comprehensive Crime Control Act and Victims of Crime Act Authorized federal funding for state victim compensation and assistance projects
Victim Service Programs Victim-witness assistance programs - 2,000 across the U.S.
Victim Compensation Victims receive compensation from the state. Compensations programs differ. Many programs lack adequate funding and organization. Compensation for medical bills, loss of wages and future earnings, counseling, burial expenses, emergency assistance. Awards typically range from $100 to $15,000
Victim of Crime Act (1984) - money derived from penalties and fines imposed on federal offenders used to fund state compensation boards. $300 million per year.
Victim Advocates Counselors who guide victims through the criminal justice process Research: rape survivors assigned victim advocates are more likely to file police reports, less likely to be treated negatively by police, report less distress from medical experiences. Court advocates - prepare victims and witnesses re: the court process. May provide counselors and transportation to and from court. May reduce victim trauma.
Victim Impact statements Allowed by most jurisdictions Victim tells of victimization experiences and effects at sentencing.
Research Some research shows victim impact statements result in higher incarceration rates, while other research does not show an appreciable effect.
Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs (VORPs)
Mediated face-to-face encounters between victims and their attackers Over 120 programs handling 16,000 cases per year Designed for misdemeanor offenses, now also used with felony offenses
Victims’ Rights Every state has a Victims' Bill of Rights: To be notified of proceedings and the status of the defendant To be present at criminal justice proceedings To make a statement at sentencing To receive restitution from a convicted offender To be consulted before a case is dismissed or plea agreement entered To a speedy trial To keep the victim's contact information confidential
Sex offender registration laws have been adopted at federal level and by most states.
Criminology in the News
Following a felony assault conviction, Chris Brown was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and 180 days of community service. He is serving his community service near his home in Richmond, VA, and he has done yard work at a police horse stable, washed government cars, picked up trash, and cleaned graffiti. Additionally, Brown must undergo a year of domestic violence counseling.
By November 25, 2010, Brown had completed 581 hours of community service. In January 2011, Brown completed mandated domestic violence counseling. In March 2011, Brown picked up a chair and smashed a window in a dressing room at the Good Morning America studio in Manhattan following an interview in which he is asked about his assault conviction. The studio did not press charges.
During his childhood, Brown's stepfather was apparently, abusive towards his mother. At age 11, Brown warned his mother that he would very likely go to jail before age 15 for killing his stepdad over what he'd done to her: “ I just want you to know that I love you. But I’m gonna take a baseball bat one day while you at work, and I’m gonna kill him.” His stepfather, who lived with Brown and his mother in a trailer park, also once attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. The bullet missed his brain but went straight through his eyes, leaving him permanently blind.
Brown recalled what it was like to grow up with so much violence: "When you’re blind, your senses are heightened, like your smell, hearing, your sense of touch. You can move and maneuver around your sight. But he used to hit my mom…. He made me terrified all the time, terrified like I had to pee on myself. I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, ‘I’m just gonna go crazy on him one day…’ I hate him to this day."
Rihanna's childhood was marred by her father's struggles with addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine and her parents' marital problems—they divorced when she was 14 years old.
Do you agree with the author's assessment that a school is one of the most dangerous locations in the community? Do you think your high school was a dangerous environment? Why or why not?
What would you advise female college students do to lower their risk of being sexually assaulted? How does your advice relate to the “college lifestyle?” How should male college students be advised regarding their potential for committing sexual assault? Why is it that society places more blame on females than males when it comes to sexual assault and the college lifestyle? How can this imbalance be remedied?
Chapter 4 Choice Theory: Because They Want To
The criminal justice system in the U.S. is based on the rational choice theory and deterrence. The criminal justice system emphasizes that criminals choose to commit crime, and thus they must be punished. This will then deter them from committing crime again.
Since certainty and swiftness are impossible in the U.S., the U.S. criminal justice system emphasizes severity. However, as the chapter notes, severity is but one of the three elements of deterrence and some argue that it is the weakest.
Rational Choice Theory (Choice Theory) - the premise that crime is a function of a decision-making process in which the potential offender weighs the probable costs and benefits of an illegal act.
Its roots are in the classical school of criminology developed by Cesare Beccaria. The classical approach was replaced by positivist criminology that focused on internal and external factors rather than personal choice and decision making.
In the late 1960s, criminologists re-embraced classical ideas.
Becker argued that except for a few mentally ill people, criminals behave in rational ways when deciding to commit crime. Wilson noted that offenders value the excitement and thrill of crime, have a low stake in conformity, and are willing to take greater risks than the average person.
Evaluating the Risks of Crime
Personal factors - money, revenge, thrills Situational factors - target availability, security measures, police presence
Burglars choose targets based on value, novelty, resale potential. The decision to commit crime is enhanced by the promise of easy gain with low risk.
Those that choose to forgo crime may feel that they stand a good chance of being caught and punished. They fear the consequences of punishment; they risk losing the respect of peers, their reputation may be damaged, and they may experience guilt or shame.
Crime is Both Offense and Offender-Specific
Offense-specific - the idea that offenders react selectively to the characteristics of particular crimes. Offense-specific factors include:
Evaluating the target yield Probability of security devices Police patrol effectiveness Availability of a getaway car Ease of selling stolen merchandise Presence of occupants Presence of neighbors Presence of guard dogs Escape routes Entry points and exits
Offender-specific - the idea that offenders evaluate their skills, motives, needs, and fears before deciding to commit crime. Offender-specific factors include:
Possession of necessary skills Immediate need for money or valuables Existence of legitimate financial alternatives Resources to commit the crime Fear of expected apprehension and punishment Option of alternative criminal acts Physical ability
Offender's Economic Need/Opportunity
A small number of prostitutes choose to supplement their income via prostitution. Drug users report increasing their criminal involvement proportionate to the costs of their habits. Some offenders are misled about the financial rewards of crime.
Evaluating personal traits and experience Career criminals learn limitations of their expertise. Criminals appear to be more impulsive and have less self-control. Some criminal opportunities are simply too good to pass up.
Criminal expertise Criminals report learning techniques to help avoid detection. Women are drawn into dealing drugs learn the trade in a businesslike manner.
Choosing the place of crime
Criminals carefully choose where they will commit crime. Drug dealers evaluate the desirability of sales area, preferring the middle of a long block due to visual advantages.
Choosing targets Burglars check if dwelling is occupied. Burglars track predictable behavior patterns of occupants. Burglars prefe