Different rules governing a community have been endorsed by legislators based on the culture and beliefs of the society. Under a cloak of preservation, law makers believed that in order for a society to subsist and individuals to co-exist with one another, a set of rules should govern their actions. Criminology thus evolved and developed as an interdisciplinary approach to modify and govern the actions of individuals within the society. Social philosophers also believed that individuals have hedonistic tendencies and are highly motivated to submit to their unconscious drives despite an inculcated sense of right and wrong.
As a causative factor in maintaining law and order, criminology strives to widen laws and ordinances to restrict the actions of possible offenders. This banked on the premised that laws provide safe zones for the rest of the population. Opinions soon began to vary as crimes grew with the social demographics. As wealthy suburban centers sprouted from developing states and counties, heinous and petty crimes matured and the overall criminality increased. Criminology was suddenly faced with questions from the society it strove to protect.
The well-intended policies faced critical viewpoints as public safety started to be compromised by urbanization. Complex theories began to emerge “to explain crime and criminal behavior which is very much a reflection on the dominant ideas which existed during an era” (Burke, 2005, p. 1). Varied responses of the state affirmed the uncertainties behind the theories. This led to the division of the perspectives of criminologist into two main branches: the right wing realism (hence called the right wing criminology) and the more critical left wing criminology.
Fundamentals of Right Wing Criminology Coming initially from the US right wing criminologists and Great Britain’s right wing intelligentsia, the fundamental concept in right wing criminology is based on the principal issues of the prevention of criminal behavior (Day & Laufer, 1987, p. 127). Right wing criminology fails to address the causative factor in crimes as it rejects the idea that crime has its root causes in people’s lives. Laws prevent people from breaking mandated laws but they are punished if they do.
This way, crime is deterred but the rewards for following the law is less. Most crimes may be considered a crime against persons and their families instead of a crime committed against the society. Individuals are considered probable victims of any crime and have an ulterior duty of preventing this from happening to them. In terms of politics, a monopoly was observed with the privatization of protective interests. It became an unannounced basis for social welfare. In economics, this policy has been construed for its entrepreneurial bearings.
Because of this, left wing criminology criticized the scope of the right wing because they believed that its fundamentals are banked on the practical consequence of improving social defenses against criminals. For them, the scope of right realism is disproportionately made available to an upscale population who can afford a protective shield that rightists offer as opposed to providing protection for the society as a whole. Right Wing Libertarian Criminology Right wing libertarians evolved as they attempted to trace the cause and effect of crimes on the individual.
For libertarians; “crime violates certain natural rights and an assault on the personal liberty and private property of others” (Axelrod & Antinozzi, 2002, p. 78). Short of creating a relationship between social demographics such as the inevitable conditions of poverty and unemployment, right wing libertarians also leans on the more cultural explanation of crime. They do believe that people are fully responsible for their own actions which should necessarily imply that rehabilitation and treatment is possible but eventually the choice is the individual’s to make.
Libertarians are more inclined to believe on deterrence, through a set of well-implied punishment and retribution settings. Crime preventions of libertarians also involved reducing the criminal offenses to acts that undermine personal rights and property (Axelrod & Antinozzi, 2002, p. 78). Restitution for victims has been strongly encouraged to compensate them for their loss. Right Wing Neo-conservatives The realms of neo-conservative beliefs understand that “crime is a violation of laws and a threat to the social establishment of morality” (Axelrod & Antinozzi, 2002, p.
79). Neo-conservatives also see that a decline in family values is a causative factor in the incidence of criminal behavior. Meloy (2006, p. 11), who is an advocate of the right wing criminology believes that the “general and specific deterrent impacts of the legislation outweighs any therapeutic consequence”. With a marked vengeance against crime perpetrators, the neo-conservatives understand that dealing with criminal elements means using coercion through prison sentences and punishment (Axelrod & Antinozzi, 2002, p. 77).
Therefore, neo-conservatives see punishment as a great deterrent and should be exercised swiftly and surely. In the same light educational concepts were endorsed for alterations in order to encourage or people to learn how to stick to moral values. Deterrence of criminal behavior functions on early detection and a more pro-active policing allows citizens to be safe from harm. Evolution of the Right Wing Criminology The 60’s and 70’s saw the birth of civil rights power which helped create a spirit of independence in the nation (Markoff, 1996, p.
103). The 60’s culture was a drastic change from the post-war attitude. It began as a decade of youth movements that resulted in more revolutionary freedom of thought and actions. Lifestyle, laws, education and entertainment faced tremendous change. Low sentencing rates were observed during the period that resulted to a rise in crime rates towards the 70’s and 80’s. The people’s attitude and faith in the justice system fell. There was a sudden call for new forms of control in the society (Boutellier, 2004, p.
138). Political domination during the 70’s enhanced a change in public policies toward crime. A school of thought implemented by right wing theorists emphasized the need for people to be responsible for themselves and that the government will provide for them if they cannot provide for themselves (Newburn, 2007, p. 264). This welfare approach was accepted as a principle in criminology (Boutellier, 2004, p. 138). The approach later soon reached its peak as political and social conditions changed in recent decades.
Based on new-found freedoms, individuals soon found new ways of violating the law as they tried new organizing principles for their daily lives (Garland & Sparks, 2000, p. 199). Right wing criminology became the dominant belief across the US and UK whose bottom line principles were drawn on “punitive sentiments, attention for victims, protection of public domain and increased control” around the growing aspects of crime (Boutellier, 2004, p. 138). Deterioration of Morals and Increasing Crime Rate Values are necessary for social order.
Moral values enable people to collaborate effectively with one another. Ordinary morality usually encompasses virtues such as honesty, keeping promises and commitments to family, community and one’s country (Etzioni et al, 2004, p. 106). Socio-political morality pertains to the way groups relate with one another in a given society. While both types of morality are essential for social existence, “it is highly possible that one can possess ordinary morality yet lack social morality” by becoming highly unsocial to others.
One example of this is how Japanese could be extremely polite with one another while at the same time butcher their Chinese neighbors who stand outside their community. The right wing consciousness however points out to the fact that the moral decline in ordinary morality can be seen in various social trends such as the breakdown of the family institution, increasing crime rate, drug addiction and the decline in civic participation among others (Etzioni et al, 2004, p. 106). Human biology was juxtaposed as an important force that has the capacity to destroy political and social advancement (Melo-Martin, 2005, p.
2). Etzioni, et. al. (2004, p. 107) likewise endorse that ordinary morality is embedded in human biology and cannot be ignored in the fight against criminality. Biology became a consequence for morality and its decline contributes to the incidence of crime. Any crime prevention and deterrence strategies should take this into account and use it for a safer society. The 60’s and 70’s – Root Years for Crime In the sociology of crime, the newfound freedom of individuals in the 60’s and 70’s catapulted the working class and the culturally-diverse people into a wave of modernity.
In a country’s journey towards economic stability, social awareness made the American consciousness more interactive with others while effectively encouraging one another’s identity. The new-found independence, however also fueled a number of confusion in the values held by the society with the emergence of Vietnam, Woodstock, and free sex and drugs. These issues prompted many teenagers to deceit and irresponsibility, which eventually plunged them to become enamored in conflict and rebellion with their families and their society (Rinaldi, 2001, p.
103). Others became curious about the sensation and got caught up in the highs that gave them an unrestricted sense of freedom. Teens were in fact trying to survive and taking care of themselves during a period of so many changes taking place at the same time. From women’s rights to doing one’s own thing like smoking pot and free love and boys sporting long hair, each had a share of experiencing the rapid social change that was being implemented so rapidly in the American society. By the 1980’s, the rate of murder increased significantly.
This can be attributed with the popularity of drugs. “The sex ratio in crimes decreased as more and more females were arrested for crimes such as murder and for other serious property crimes” (Sutherland, Cressey & Luckenbill, 1992, p. 161). To help understand how the 60’s and 70’s affected the incidence of crime in the 80’s, popular statistics focused on the sudden rise of crimes committed by females. The Steffensmeier research revealed that the changing role of women in the society, together with their movement helped change the image of would be female delinquents.
His research also supported the general sentiment that black Americans do have a higher rate of crime than whites. Yet, whites also have a higher incidence of crime rates compared to Asians. Moreover, the research also revealed that when persons move away from the control of their parents, there is a greater tendency for them to be involved in criminal acts and behaviors (Sutherland, Cressey & Luckenbill, 1992, p. 162). Finally, the research concluded as it strived to take into consideration the age factors of the perpetrators that the period of the 60’s and 70’s were incidental to the incidence of crime among individuals.
Crime and Marital Breakdown In the emphasis of individual responsibility, the breaking down of marriages and the increasing prevalence of single parenthood have been cited as another source of crime (Newburn, 2007, p. 264). The family structure is traditionally known as the basic unit of every society. A breakdown in a traditional structure ails a society in a simple manner. When a hefty number of families are exposed to this social ill, a disruption would eventually ensue within a social sphere. Studies have found a link between broken homes and delinquency.
The link was strong enough for the researchers to consider broken homes as a predictor for marital conflict and antisocial behavior (Western, et al, 2003, p. 124). Consistent with the strain theory, marital conflict within the home may be considered as a strain in a teenager’s life. This is especially true, if the teenager has to live daily with parents who are constantly fighting. Further studies central to the theory of juvenile delinquency also revealed young men whose parents separated before they reached the age of 5 are not usually inclined to engage in crime (Western, et al, 2003, p.
125). This seems paradoxical but what should really be considered is that if a kid witnesses violence in the home in his formative years, then he may engage in crime. Parents have a poignant role in supervising children. Children who have intact families share a less-adverse tendency towards crime. Serious family troubles such as separation and divorce oftentimes catapult a single parent to single-handedly take care of the brood. The function of supervision is generally altered as the single parent is faced with a drastic change and a possible conflict within the break-up.
The economic responsibilities sometimes outweigh the social and nurture needs of the kids. Hence, children are left to fend for themselves. This oftentimes results to poverty and destitution among children, which may, in turn, increase the crime rates among young people. In a re-analysis of marital stability, break-ups and single-parenthood has therefore become the biggest impact in child delinquency rates. Deterring Crimes by a Social Control Theory Preventing crimes from happening endorsed many measures. A direct approach is by threatening punishment for delinquency and rewarding.
Hence a possible offender refrains from committing a wrongful behavior for fear of pain, punishment and the disappointment such act could bring about to his loved ones. A sense of guilt pervades within his senses if ever an act is committed and thereby preventing him from doing similar acts. This theory believes that the fruitful relationships within a person’s social sphere encourage him to stay within the limits of acceptable behavior. He therefore strives to control himself from submitting to an inherent desire to commit delinquency.
The same theory understands and posits that this could reduce criminality when applied among younger individuals. With social-control theory however, the more profound endorsers, Gottfredson and Hirschi, failed to take into consideration the direct effect of delinquent peers over the youth while dissociating him from the possibilities of peer pressure. They focused mainly on the traits of a possible offender rather than taking into consideration other factors that surround him such as relatives, friends, the media and many others.
In social control, they are simply treating criminal behavior and self-control separately while suggesting that both are one and the same—a hefty contradiction; when in fact both are entirely different from each other (Garland & Sparks, 2000, p. 99). Deterring Crimes by Situational Theory Situational Theory is perhaps the only theory that seeks to incorporate social change in its approach to preventing crimes (Newman & Clarke, 2003, p. 197). Its measures are focused towards specific forms of crime in relation to the social environment.
Many call this theory as a relevant view in primary prevention of crime as it tries to understand how the physical environment has the capacity to encourage or reduce crime. Routine activity based on a paradigm and methodologies are investigated while focusing on the existence of crime opportunities. This theory also understands an inherent need to increase the risks and difficulties in committing a crime. An unlocked car opens itself to burglary and leaving it parked in a crime-prone neighborhood opens some patterns of criminal activity.
Asserting that a crime depends upon an interesting situation subjects a case of opportunity for the perpetrator. The main criticism however of this theory is based on a conjecture that society and individuals will remain at home and refrain from going out where crime may occur. Both theories have their relevant arguments and criticism. While the social theory focuses on developing the individual make-up of man as a deterrent factor, the situational theory focuses on the external factors that could work with crime prevention.
It is therefore my belief that in effective crime prevention, a correlation between the theories could work out together to produce a set of principles that take into consideration the holistic personality of man along with his environment. It would be unnecessary to assume that the rewards and punishment method works well with a teenage individual but when faced with other extrinsic factor relative to social ills, one may act differently. Keeping communities safe with situational preventive measures can never be applicable to all.
Right Wing criminology has been criticized for its strict adherence to prevention that benefits the dominant social groups and relying on the situational theory exposes marginalization. It is therefore important for a person to understand the basic concepts and conditions of human existence in the society before the reasons for crime can be pointed out clearly. Left Wing Criminology In response to Right Wing Criminology, a new school has arisen out of Critical Criminology.
This movement within the field was a reaction to the perception that the Left is not doing its share in resolving the problem of crime and just lets Right Realists to deal with the political agenda of solving crime. This brand of criminology believes that the root cause of crime can be traced to deprivation but preventive measures and the police force are still necessary. According to Carlen (1992, p. 56), Left Realism holds that criminology is really the study of the inter-relationships between and among the offender, the victim, the State and the society at large.
Any theoretical explanations offered by this realm of study should take into account the social action and reaction and the reasons behind these. Human nature is also of utmost importance and will help do away with deterministic explanations. Biology, therefore, should not be the main explanation but rather the people should be made accountable for their actions. Politically speaking, Left Wing Criminology considers crime as a real social problem, especially for the working class who suffer most from personal crime.
The “Left” therefore should help establish a more populist approach to controlling crime so as to offer an alternative from Right Wing criminology. Any theory derived should also address the practical matters of prescribing interventions. Finally, the public and the whole society should be engaged so that crime could be reduced more effectively (Carlen, 1992, p. 56) Crime and the Society A number of people believe that society has to take the blame for an increasing rate of criminality because it has not made the penalties for crimes high enough nor effectively eradicate criminals.
In the politics of injustice, civil and welfare researchers have always highlighted poverty as the root of most crimes along with opportunity. The government then implemented its Great Society programs as an appropriate response to a rising poverty. Suddenly the government claimed that this social inequality program has in fact a conservative anti-crime agenda. In the 60’s period, the government also reasoned that unemployment or underemployment, racism; low wages, poor education do not cause crime (Beckett & Sasson, 2004).
Later on as crime rates increased, the government slowly backtracked its earlier claims while endorsing other forms of control that favored the dominant sectors of the society. The social ills in this society are caused by inevitable conditions of poverty and unemployment. Altering educational concepts and endorsing that people should stick to moral values is deemed irrelevant when all one could think about is to feed a hungry family at home.
While right wing criminology leans on the more cultural explanation of crime, it has endorsed a more lucrative system of prevention that only serves to protect citizens who could afford it. The marginalized sectors remain greatly unprotected! Conclusion Crime is a big problem that has to be dealt with by criminology on a daily basis. There are a number of reasons why people engage in crime. In order to discourage people from committing crime, it can be done with two possible approaches. One is by increasing the cost or punishment of committing crimes.
This way, people will realize that the criminologists and the implementers of the law are serious in their business and that nobody is truly above the law. In this case, crime can be deterred. On the other hand, such deterrence can only do so much. The underlying issues and factors affecting crime should be understood and addressed. If it is poverty, or family, then the government and the concern departments do have the necessary resources to deal with such factors. Human nature is a difficult thing to deal with.
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