The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which was developed in 1927, is a national standardized way of measuring crime in the US based on two classifications; crimes against persons and crimes against property. It also measures the ability of law enforcement agencies in dealing with crime in addition to providing important data and information to the local law enforcement agencies to aid in fighting crime. Crimes are classified and scores assigned to them using the standard UCR definition system, CRS (2008). Merits
One of the merits of UCR is the uniformity in classification, scoring, accuracy and reliability of its data. This has seen it being adopted as the most common source of crime statistics in the US. The analysis of crime using the UCR can be made at both local and regional levels. As a result of different categories of crime; a difference can be established between attempted and accomplished crimes. Limitations One of the limitations of UCR is that the data provided is limited to a specific number of crimes based on the UCR’S classification system.
This means that a good proportion of crimes committed in the US such as kidnapping is accounted for as they are not measured using the system. UCR do not collect data on unreported crimes, hence, a large proportion of crime go unrecorded as majority of crime victims or witnesses do not report the incidence(s). CRS (2008). National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is a crime measuring system which refers to the gathering of information on criminal victimization and the different types and number of unreported crimes.
CRS (2008) underscores NCVS objectives as: The development of a system of information on victims and consequences of crime, Provision of a measure of different types of crime, Estimation of the number and type of crimes and Comparison between different crimes with respect to different population, time and type. NCVS develop detailed information by asking respondents from different population types about their experience with crime. Some of its strengths include: Merits The application of Computer-Assisted Telephone interviews for in NCVS data collection, results are consistent and transcription errors are limited.
The survey provides an important insight on the number of unreported crime. Limitations According to CRS 2008, the correctness of the survey results is limited due to sampling bias. This refers to the inability of a proportion of people to complete the survey leading to inaccurate estimation of the victimization rate. Series victimization: This refers to a situation where a given respondent experiences multiple separate victimizations. This may lead to confusion leading to an untrue account of every incident, Lilly, et. Al. (2004). National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), developed by the FBI in 1985 is a crime investigation method which collects data on offenders, offences, victims and arrestees by mainly relying on the incident based national crime reporting system, ICJIA (2004). Strengths The NIBRS data provided by the state to the FBI is very accurate and is not limited to a specific number of crime categories (like UCR). Before certification, the FBI requires the error rate of incident reports submitted by the state be less than 4%, CRS, (2008).
Since it relies on incident-based data collection procedures, a given arrest can be directly connected to a definite incidence or offence, ICJIA (2004). Limitations Just like in UCR, NIBRS has no data on unreported crimes. NIBRS therefore generally do not provide the actual amount of crimes experienced in a given locality. Imputation procedure which is a technique used by the FBI to estimate the number of an agencies reported crimes incase the agency fails to provide NIBRS data to the FBI for the entire year is largely inaccurate as it is based on an estimate, CRS (2008). References 1.
CRS (2008). How crime in the United States is measured. Retrieved from the internet on 1/07/2008 from: <http://fas. org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34309. pdf> 2. ICJIA (2004). Crime Victims. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://www. icjia. state. il. us/public/pdf/TI%202008/Crime%20victims. pdf> 3. Lilly, Cullen, & Ball (2004) Criminological Theory (4th) Sage Publications Criminology ISBN#1-4129-3632-3 Question 2: From both a historical and contemporary perspective, what influence has the classical school of criminology had on U. S. criminology and criminal justice policy? Answer 2
Classical theory of criminology developed in the mid 18th century is a theory based on: The notion of that man is a rational decision making animal accorded the privilege of free will by nature enabling him to choose how to act. The will therefore enables an individual to make rational decisions by weighing the costs and benefits of the consequences of his actions. On the basis of man’s rationality, the theory ignores any claims of irrationality or the influence of unconscious drives on the actions of man, and stresses on deterrence as a core principle of controlling crime through punishment.
It is therefore key to providing a rational and logical system of justice as opposed to the vindictive, brutal systems used in the ancient times, FSU (2008). The theory has had major influence in the US criminology and criminal justice policy. The current criminal justice relies heavily on the classical school evidenced by its reflection in the United States constitution and the Declaration of independence which stresses on the rational and logical means to deal with crime, See E. (2008). The classical principle of choice which stress on an individual’s ability to make rational choice is extensively used in the criminal justice system.
It has been applied since it stresses on the people’s ability to choose to commit criminal acts, hence making criminals take responsibility of their actions, See E. (2008). Deterrence, a principle of classical theory which sees punishment as a means to deter an individual from violating other’s interest, is a means of crime prevention in the US. Its key elements are severity, celerity and certainty all of which are of equal importance i. e. that punishment should be proportional, swift and certain for it to be effective.
It is based on the principle that crime can be prevented as a result of the existence of a formal legal system which discourages would be offenders, Lilly, et. Al. (2004). Different programs have use deterrence and choice as the key elements have been adopted. An example is the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) which stresses on the rationality of man which makes crime a rational act. The design is therefore a set of practices adopted to discourage criminals from targeting locations otherwise deemed lucrative.
Others include the “Scared Straight” which elicits fear on young offenders deterring them from committing offences. The theory has seen the adoption (based on moral consensus) of protection of private property and personal welfare as fundamental operative of the criminal justice system. This is in line with the theory’s belief that the self-seeking nature of man makes crime unavoidable, FSU (2008). References 1. FSU (2008) The Classical School. Retrieved From the interenet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/week3. htm> 2.
0 Lilly, Cullen, & Ball (2004) Criminological Theory (4th) Sage Publications Criminology ISBN#1-4129-3632-3 3. See E. (2008) Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://roxbury. net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg. pdf> Question 3: One of the major conceptual themes we’ve explored in this course is the role of the individual v. society as the locus of explanation for the cause of criminal behavior. Using the major theories as illustration, describe how the ROLE of the individual and of society has changed as causal explanations for criminal behavior.
Both the ancient and contemporary belief on the conflict between the society and the individual as a major explanation for cause of crime has over the years decreased as an explanation of criminal activities. The moral standards of an individual may be out of context when compared to those provided for by the society, See E. (2008). Individual versus society asserts that, since man is driven by selfish motives, he may not willingly abide by the societal rules but must be coerced into submitting to the norms. Individual vs.
society as a means of explaining criminal activities has over the years been replaced by various criminological theories, Spencer, H. (1884). It is acknowledged that an individual’s traits are not distinctive, but are acquired from the society through learning process. Likewise, the social leaning theory proposes that different forms of behavior are acquired and modified through the process of interaction between an individual and his/her society. Therefore an individual shares common behavior patterns with other members of the society.
The social learning theory has replaced individual VS society as a means of explaining crime as it offers an explanation on how different criminals values, techniques and ides are transmitted from the society to an individual, Lilly, et. Al. (2004) The inability of individual Vs Society to explain causes of crime due to its narrowness can also be an explanation for its decreased use. Criminal behavior is not only caused by conflict between an individual’s perceived rights, but also due to a combination of biological and environmental influence.
The biological theory which views a crime as resulting from certain innate biological defects rather than resulting from ones denied rights. The concept of individual Vs society ignores the personality and mental state or mental defects that may directly influence an individual’s involvement to particular crimes. The psychological theory has offered varied useful information and concepts which explain the effect of an individual’s personality and state on criminal activity. Individual Vs Society does not in itself adequately explain crime or deviance.
However, combination of different theories have led to an establishment of a wide perspective which offer comprehensive explanation for deviant behavior. References 1. Lilly, Cullen, & Ball (2004) Criminological Theory (4th) Sage Publications Criminology ISBN#1-4129-3632-3 2. See E. (2008) Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://roxbury. net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg. pdf> 3. Spencer, H. (1884) Man versus the State. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from:
<http://www. econlib. org/Library/LFBooks/Spencer/spnMvS. html> Question 4: How is criminal justice policy influenced by criminal theory? Answer 4: The criminal theory is acknowledged by many for its contribution to the criminal justice. A wide range of theories have been advanced by criminologists over the years to help in the explanation of the reasons and motivating factors which drives a person to commit a criminal act. Some of these theories include: labeling theory, Social learning theory, and social bonding theory.
The theories are based on the reasons as to why people participate in criminal activities. Examples of the reasons include; Absence of socialization during the formative years, choice, economic factors and heredity. The usefulness of criminological theories in understanding and explaining the criminal activities in the world around us cannot be overemphasized. The theories continue to help in the understanding on how the criminal justice system operates, in addition to understanding the characters involved.
Different criminological theories therefore have different application in the criminal justice policy, Lilly, et. Al. (2004). The biological theories which stresses on the effect of biological defect in an individual as a cause of criminal behavior has seen the development of a criminal justice system which deals with offenders in five ways: 1. correcting the biological defect; through medication, treatment or therapy. 2. Separating the offenders from the society e. g. through institutionalization. 3.
Sterilizing the offender to stop the transmission of defective genes to future generations 4. Deportation of the offender from a given society. 5. Killing of the offender, See E. (2008). Psychological criminal theories explains criminal or deviant acts within an individual on the basis of psychological adjustment, development and functioning. Different programs that offer counseling and therapy have been adopted by the criminal justice system as a means of reducing crime. Other psychiatric tests have also been adopted by the legal system to establish the mental state of a criminal mind.
Other theories like the social learning theories, the social bonding and control theories, labeling theory; social disorganization anomie and strain theory, the conflict theory, the Marxist and critical theories and the feminist theories have all had important contribution to the development of the criminal justice policy. References 1. Lilly, Cullen, & Ball (2004) Criminological Theory (4th) Sage Publications Criminology ISBN#1-4129-3632-3 2. See E. (2008) Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from:
<http://roxbury. net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg. pdf> Question 5: Why is labeling theory so appealing? What influence has it had on criminal justice policy and study? Labeling theory, pioneered by Frank Tannenbaum in 1938 stressed on the effect of an individual’s relationship with both his/her family and the community as a direct determinant of criminality since criminals are a product of and are involved with their surroundings. One of the major reasons as to the current popularity of the theory is its simple, common sense and logical explanation for deviant behavior.
The theory has generally been appealing due to its opposition to the labeling of individuals as criminals by the community. When an individual is labeled a crime, he looses touch with his/her identity and self esteem making the person believe that he/she is unaccepted by his society. Its explanation on increased deviance on minority groups such as people living with disabilities, the blacks or convicted criminals has also made it trendy. Kenney, J. S. (2002), in his study, found a direct positive correlation between people who are discriminated against and illegal drug use.
This shows tagging, segregation and special treatment on the basis of a given trait is a way of stimulating undesirable behavior. The theories opposition to imprisonment as a mode of punishment for crime has also seen a rise to its popularity. It stresses on imprisonments aspect of separation as a platform for increased criminal education as the imprisoned individual meets new people who have been involved in new forms of crime. The theory has been adopted by the America Society of Criminology in formulating policies.
Notable policies adopted in 2004 are: “Assessing Identity Change Through the Impact of the Labels in an Alternative-Justice Court Setting,” “Estimating the Consequences of a Criminal Label on Recidivism and Employment,” and “The Effect of Official Intervention on Educational Attainment” (American Society of Criminologists, 2004) Several studies have also been conducted to expand the scope of the theory, . References 1. APSU (2008). Labeling Theories of Crime. Retrieved from the net on 1/06/2008 from: <http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory14. htm> 2.
Kenney, J. S. (2002). Victims of crime and labeling theory: A parallel process? Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23, 235-265. 3. See E. (2008) Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://roxbury. net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg. pdf> 4. Wellford, C (1975) Labeling Theory and Criminology: An Assessment. Social Problems, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Feb. , 1975), pp. 332-345. Retrieved from the net on 1/06/2008 from: <http://www. jstor. org/pss/799814> Question 6: What is social bonding theory?
What are its closely related theories? Answer 6: Social bonding theory developed by Travis Hirschi states that the likelihood of an individual to commit criminal or delinquent acts is dependent on the established ties or bonds with his or her society. A person’s established relationships, internalized values and a set of beliefs determine whether they break the law or not. It therefore explains crime on the basis of an individual’s conformity to societal norms. When the bonds are weak or broken, then the individual will most likely engage in criminal activities.
Conversely, strong bonds which implies internalized moral codes makes an individual tied to the society hence he/she would desist from any form of criminal activity. The society has established a set of beliefs and systems which discriminate between what is good and bad, moral and immoral, legal and illegal. Members of the society have entered into social contracts with the society to abide by these norms. These agreements or arrangements may therefore be broken depending on the depth of the contract. According to See, E.
(2008), there are four types of social bonds; Commitment, attachment, Involvement and belief. Attachment is the level of affection between individuals and parents, peers, community members, or a school system. Involvement is the level of participation in the conventional lines of actions. Commitment is the extent to which individual are dedicated to societal norms. Belief refers to a common value among societal members. The social bonding theory mirrors the labeling theory which is focused on the formal and informal prejudice accorded by the society to some of its members.
A ‘labeled’ individual would have low self concept based on the reflection of other societal member’s conception. This would most likely lead to weakening of social bonds leading to commitment of deviant acts as a result of the application of undesirable labels on an individual. The theory is also related to the social learning theory which ascertains that both criminal and conforming behavior are developed or changed as a result of interaction with other members of the society. The bonds with the society will therefore determine conformity of deviance of an individual’s behavior.
References 1. Junger M. & Ineke H. M. (1997). The Interethnic Generalizability of Social Control Theory: An Empirical Test. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://jrc. sagepub. com/cgi/content/abstract/34/1/79? ijkey=e8ff252df4358d7282d11160f5c0a33edf834c27&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha> Question 7: Feminist and Conflict (including Marxist and Radical) theories are often regarded as outside of mainstream criminology. Despite this, why are they important to our understanding of criminal behavior? What impact have they had on criminal justice policy? Answer 7:
Conflict theory is based on the inequality in power and material welfare as a direct cause of crime. It is based on the notion of the society being divided into different groups with different powers, competing for scarce ideas and values. The most powerful therefore makes the laws taking control of the society. Those with limited power to make the laws are therefore unrepresented. They maintain their norms, values and beliefs not represented in the formal system hence are regarded as criminal by the larger society. Economic and social forces which operate within the society are the direct cause of crime.
Feminist theory tends to comprehend criminology and criminal justice as based on the perception of female view of the world stressing the fact that men and women are equal in the society. It ascertains that crime cannot be understood without putting a consideration to gender, as it is shaped by different experiences and there are varied experiences amongst women and men. As equality between male and female in society increases, there is likelihood of increase in crime rate among women. Their significance in understanding criminological behavior.
Most modern societies are capitalistic in nature. Since the wealthy control both the political and economic resources while the middle class support the wealthy, the minorities therefore are left to engage in crime as a means of survival. There has been a paradigm shift in the understanding of crime brought about feminist theory. Research has shown that crime is a reflection of gender inequality. Certain crimes such as domestic and sexual violence are a direct result of man’s attempt to control women by demonstrating their masculinity. The theory explains the increase in female criminality.
Female crime has extensively increased even in the predominantly male offences as a result of their increased participation in the workforce through the acquisition of white collar jobs and the influx in female liberation movements, UNISA, 2008. The increase in the involvement of women in financial and white collar crimes may be attributable to their entry into the job market giving them opportunities to engage in such crimes. The feminist theory has seen changes in the criminal justice systems as more feminists seek to eradicate the male domination in both the criminal justice system and criminological research.
The conflict theory explains the severity of punishment of minor crimes for example pick pocketing while large-scale crimes are treated with leniency. This shows that the criminal justice system protects the interest of the powerful by adopting standards imposed by them as a measure of morality and good. References 1. FSU(2008)Conflict. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/conflict. htm> 2. See E. (2008) Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Applications. Retrieved from the internet on 30/06/2008 from: <http://roxbury. net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg. pdf>