Sociology of Crime

I believe that in general labeling does encourage repeat offences. However in certain situations it is necessary because of the overriding issue of public safety. For example, if a pedophile is paroled and allowed to live in a bedroom community, as a condition of this freedom the identity of this person and his background should be publicized in the area so that parents are aware of the risks he poses and can street proof their children accordingly.

Similarly I believe a community has the right to be warned of the presence of a person who has been convicted of rape. On the other hand, for criminals convicted of lesser and in particular property crimes, I believe that publicity and therefore labeling should be only on a “need to know” basis. For example, a prospective employer is entitled to be aware of the risk inherent in hiring an individual who has been convicted of burglary.

In such a situation to ease the employer’s fears and encourage the hiring, perhaps the state could subsidize the employment cost. Also the state could agree to expunge the offender’s criminal record entirely after a specified period without repeat offences. In our society that largely equates social status with economic, criminal activity is to a great extent motivated by the desire to get rich quick. If an offender is blocked by labeling from pursuing his status aspirations in legitimate society, he is likely to do so in the counter criminal cultur