A Paper on Criminological Theories

This paper shall focus on the juvenile crime prevention programs of Oregon. By integrating several criminology theories such as deterrence, routine activities, strain and control, and the general theory of crime in establishing correlations and rationales behind the programs, an analysis of the effectiveness of the set of programs is made. This paper shall attempt to build connections and relations between these theories to the overall structure and components of the crime prevention program.

A number of theories are used to cater to the number of program components within the discussed crime prevention program. Juvenile Crime Prevention Program of Oregon The Juvenile Crime Prevention (JCP) High Risk Prevention programs constitute an elaborate and integrated range of preventive programs primarily targeted to the youth with high risk of juvenile delinquency in Oregon to ultimately achieve a reduction in juvenile crime.

The program includes interventions, and the providing of various services to the youth at-risk and their families. These services can be categorized into three groups: (1) direct interventions, which include but not limited to substance abuse treatment, tutoring or family counseling; (2) case management, which also covers coordinated review and monitoring of a youth’s needs and services, and finally (3) support services, which consists of provisions for basic needs services, such as housing or medical aid (NPC Research, 2003).

In particular, JCP implements a detention program with the counties funding the operation and maintenance of 15 detention facilities in Oregon. Detention may be bestowed to a young offender who awaits adjudication, judicial commitment or placement or as penalty for probationary violations. Moreover JCP features a delinquency intake screening in which referrals are forwarded to county juvenile departments leading to a screening utilizing a tool to determine the youth’s risk of committing an offense again or of his refusal to appear for a hearing.

Diversion programs are also given by the county juvenile department for those validated by police report and other pertinent information to embark on a formal accountability agreement. One more important element of JCP is supervision. Juvenile counselors or probation officers monitor juvenile offenders subjected to probation. (National Center for Juvenile Justice [NCJJ], 2006) The final report on JCP Evaluation in 2003 (NPC Research, 2003, pp.

5-6) details the rationale and purpose of the programs that is to prevent the initial and subsequent criminal behavior through the usage of researched assessment instruments for the earliest identification of youth bearing risk factors for delinquency in various backgrounds; focusing on high-risk pre-delinquent and delinquent youth; minimizing dynamic risk factors and increasing protective ones associated with juvenile crime and by implementing best practices and tried and tested strategies. Basically, the JCP model operates by first identifying high risk youths.

Then program interventions such as drug or substance abuse treatment or after school programs will be carried out together with the implementation of basic and diversion services leading to reduced risks and increased protective factors to ultimately achieve the higher level outcomes of a drop in juvenile arrests and recidivism. The integrated approach of JCP led to its effectiveness in delivering the benefits expected such as the reduction in juvenile arrest rate and crime commission as well as the drop in re-offending. New offenses have also been comparably less serious and reduced in frequency.

Integration of Criminological Theories It is important to note the key features of JCP which when looked at all together operate successfully in crime prevention and reduction. The range of programs constituting JCP suggests an encompassing yet directed method in crime prevention. At the outset, it could be seen that JCP tries to cover all grounds by providing services and programs to cater to preventing offenders from committing their first crime, to penalizing those who have already done crime and to recommend and implement opportunities for reformation and rehabilitation to those identified potential and recognized offenders.

A. Deterrence Theory Using this perspective, if we look specifically at the method applied by the program, that is initially identifying potential high-risk offenders, also means that it applies a certain kind of deterrence, hence deterrence theory is said to be working in this regard. This must be the theoretical basis with which the county juvenile departments work to curtailing juveniles from committing a crime. Mechanisms are already in place for deterrence such that a potential offender avoids crime because of some perceived threat of legal punishment.

In this case, legal punishment constitutes any legal action carried out by a legal official that is considered and hence perceived by an offender as causing discomfort or pain. This kind of definition also includes the potential steps of arrest and/or trial once caught, which is again perceived by the offender or would-be perpetrator painful. (Gibbs, 1986, pp. 87-88). Taking the argument further, in the JCP programs, deterrence is manifested generally, specifically, and restrictively.

Gibbs (1986) explores this as he provides the distinctions among the types of deterrence mentioned with general deterrence pertaining to the prevention of potential offenders not subjected to punishment before, specific deterrence to mean preclusion of those offenders already punished and restrictive deterrence to refer to the reduction of crime commissions because the offender engages in some action to minimize the risk or severity of legal punishment.

Relating this to the JCP programs, proponents and the people behind the initiative, conceptualized JCP with deterrence in mind as they stick with tried and tested methods of detention, probation and implementation of diversion programs. Deterrence is also reflected with the manner in which JCP is carried out such that it aims to reduce the number of offenses committed by preventing juvenile offenders from committing crime the first time and by reducing the risk of already offenders from committing the crime again. B. Routine Activities Theory

Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson were the first to discuss the theory concluding that the amount and distribution of violent crimes and acts related to stealing are closely associated with the interplay of three variables: (1) availability of suitable target or a high risk target exhibiting risky behavior such as a particular valuable item or individual; (2) absence of capable guardians or supervisors such as parents or police; and (3) presence of motivated offenders, which could be teenage males, unemployed adults and drug users.

It is the belief of the theory that the presence of the above mentioned factors increases the chances of crime taking place. Hence the way to decrease the risk of being victimized or crime commission is by establishing limits to exposure in peril. Moving on, the theory presupposes that opportunity, lifestyle and environment constitute the routine activities that make targets more likely to be victimized (Siegel, 2006, p. 80). Moreover, David Garland calls this theory as one of the ‘new criminologies of everyday life’.

He also believes that crime is a matter of opportunity and as such, this theory presupposes that crime is an everyday phenomenon, something that happens in the occurrence of circumstances and the likelihood of the situations. (Garland, 2003, p. 458). Looking into the JCP program under the light of the routine activities theory, it could be observed that the programs carried out decrease the likelihood of crime by targeting the second and third factors of the theory namely: absence of guardians and presence of motivated offenders.

Looking into the dynamics of JCP, the institution of probation supervision, the monitoring of the youth’s services and treatment and the unique feature of delinquency intake screening mitigate the risk of crime commission. Supervision and monitoring of the youth’s progress once identified at risk of delinquency enable the previously absent guardian to monitor a juvenile’s behavior. Hence, by giving high risk youth attention and opportunities for belongingness, they are more likely to not commit the crime as they feel important, attended to and given apt consideration.

Moreover, JCP reduces motivation for offenders targeting the third variable of the theory from the process of high risk identification. By identifying the potential offender before he actually commits crime and providing immediate intervention activities such as after school programs, drug treatment, counseling and the like, motivation for crime commission is hence curtailed thereby producing an effective way of crime prevention. Teens, as claimed by the theory, are primarily considered as motivated offenders.

By providing them activities and engaging them in such through JCP’s diversion programs, juvenile offenders are less likely to think of crime and thus will not actually commit any. It could be observed that JCP follows the core principles and beliefs of the routine activities theory. By reducing opportunities for a person to commit crime, either by discouraging them or by placing monitors and guardians, crime is effectively reduced. C. Strain and Control Theories Behind the implementation of the JCP programs it could be supposed that its proponents took into consideration the general principles of the strain and control theories.

The strain theory works with the assumption that individuals are socialized. An individual only violates society’s norms when his or her attachments and commitments have been decreased or blocked. Because of this, the individual perceives socially beneficial opportunities as having been stopped or prevented (Elliot, Ageton & Canter, 2002, p. 326-327). Thus, strain results from the inability of the individual to achieve societal goals such as money or status. This strain or pressure causes the individual to commit crime.

However, this is not only the case as particular negative impacts to an individual such as anger or frustration also makes him or her resort to crime. (Cullen & Agnew, 2002). On the other hand, control theory assumes that delinquency results from the lack of internal controls, the failing of controls previously established and/or existing inconsistencies in rules or social controls (Elliot, Ageton & Canter, 2002, p. 326). Thus, criminal motivation results from the lack of or absence of controls which may either be internal (self-control) or external such as in relationships formed.

(Cullen & Agnew, 2002). Viewing the JCP of Oregon, it could be believed that its effectiveness in preventing crime resulted because its programs address these core principles of the control and strain theories. Juvenile delinquents usually come from hostile backgrounds characterized by poverty, dysfunctions in parental relations and lack of attention, motivation or love from peers and family. Thus, given these prerequisites, juvenile crimes could be perpetrated almost inevitably as these problems cause strain and mean the destruction of controls for the particular teen or youth in question.

The JCP addresses this by providing various juvenile services such as its diversion programs and direct intervention programs that seek to re-establish control and ease the pressure experienced by the identified high risk juveniles. This is implied in the process of identifying high risk pre-delinquent and already delinquent youth and recommending them to the various programs such as school, drug treatments and provision of basic services to those lacking them.

In early identification of high-risk youth, JCP takes an early step to identify the possible strains and loss of control in the suspected youth thus preventing him or her from resulting to crime or recidivism because the strains are to be eased and controls to be reinstituted back to the individual. D. General Theory of Crime Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi are the pioneers of the general theory of crime. This theory is based on the belief that crime is gratifying, or to be more particular, immediately gratifying.

Further exploration of this includes other related deviant behavior such as excessive smoking, drinking, over speeding, gambling and promiscuity. Gottfredson and Hirschi suggest that these activities, like committing crime, are similarly gratifying and as such people who have committed crime are most likely to be engaged in the associated deviant conducts. Hence, central to this idea is the examination of why people do not commit crime given that they are gratifying. From this Hirschi and Gottfredson identified people committing crime as having low or lacking self-control.

Individuals with the said condition tend to be impulsive, insensitive and risk-taking. They view crime commission as a relatively easy task. (Pratt & Cullen, 2000, pp. 931-932). This theory has similarities with the control theory and hence could also be applied in the analysis of the JCP of Oregon. Since, teens or young people are the subjects of this crime prevention program, the ideas of low self control, impulsiveness and risk-taking behavior are almost naturally possessed and manifested by these teens.

However, it must be considered that such manifestations are varying and they differ from every individual. The theory presupposes that crime is easy to commit which could mean that there are not enough controls present to prevent such. This extends to the related deviant and equally gratifying behavior outlined earlier. Given this, it could be said that the measures implemented by JCP targets the establishment of controls for crime to be perceived as not easy to commit.

The idea of possible punishment through detention and the various interventions methods exercised by the counties reinforce the operation of controls to strengthen the idea that crime is hard to commit and hence dissuading the young individual from engaging to crime. In particular, the program employs methods such as detention to relay the message to both would-be offenders and those who have already offended that committing crime is not gratifying and not that easy and thus issuing a call to the targeted juveniles to not engage in such.

By removing the perceptions of ease and gratification in crime commission and by building controls, JCP successfully prevents crime. Conclusion The JCP High Risk Prevention programs of Oregon contain a variety of programs working in unison to ensure crime prevention in juveniles. As such a number of criminology theories could also be adapted to explain and to attempt to establish correlations to the programs.

Despite this, the theories utilized in this paper: deterrence, routine activities, strain and control theories and the general theory of crime are interrelated such that they provide common explanations to the effectiveness of the programs and the logic behind their formulation and implementation. The deterrence theory and general theory of crime explain why the program implements dissuading methods for crime prevention. While the strain, control and routine activities theories provide insight to addressing the origins of criminal behavior in juveniles.

The encompassing and directed nature of the JCP of Oregon reflects a sound basis explained by the theories. The focus on early identification of high risk juveniles gives the program a head start for achieving success Thus, the overall effectiveness of the program set are achieved because the programs address the known causes of crime and the proposed methods of prevention derived from the studied theories. References: • Cullen & Agnew (2002). Criminological Theory: Past to Present (Essential Readings): Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury. • Elliot, D. S. Ageton, S. S. , Canter, R. J. (2002).

An Integrated theoretical perspective on delinquent behavior. In S. Cote (Ed. ). Criminological Theories: Bridging the Past to the Future. London: Sage publications. • Garland, G. (2003). Governmentality and the problem of crime: Foucault, criminology, sociology. In E. McLaughlin, J. Muncie & G. Hughes (Eds. ) Criminological Perspectives: Essential Readings. London: Sage Publications. • Gibbs, J. P. (1986). Deterrence Theory and Research. In Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 1985: The Law as a behavioral Instrument. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. • National Center for Juvenile Justice.

(2006). “Oregon. ” State Juvenile Justice Profiles. Pittsburgh, PA: NCJJ. [Online]. Available: http://www. ncjj. org/stateprofiles/. • NPC Research. (2003). Juvenile Crime Prevention Program Evaluation Final Report. Oregon. [Electronic version]. Retrieved May 4, 2008 from www. npcresearch. com/Files/JCP%20Eval%20Final%20Report%20July%202003. pdf. • Pratt, T. C. , Cullen, F. T. (2000). The Empirical Status of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime: A Meta-Analysis. Criminology. Vol. 38, no. 3. • Siegel, L. J. Criminology, (9th ed. ). (2006). Wadsworth Thomson Learning.