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Define “crime” and “deviance” and give examples of
each. How are these two concepts related
to each other?
- Crime= an act that is deemed socially harmful or dangerous,
- and is specifically defined and prohinited by the law.
- any action that departs from the social norms of society
- Not all deviance is crime, and not all crime is deviant. A
- deviant act could be cross-dressing, which is still legal though far outside
- the norm. Jaywalking in NYC is technically against the law but not deviant
- because it us so commonplace.
What is Anomie?
What causes it? Give example.
- Anomie is a term coined by Emilie Durkheim, and it refers to
- the state of norms becoming unclear. This often happens during periods of
- social change, when old norms are broken down and new ones are being created.
- There is a difficult grey area during this time where citizens are not sure how
- exactly they are supposed to act, and it is a very uncomfortable time. A state
- of anomie is usually a time when crime rates are high, due both do to this
- discomfort and because people often literally do not know what is the
- appropriate way to act anymore. This may be one explanation for why crime rates
- were so high in the 1960 and 1950s, when civil rights and social change
- movements were altering the very fabric of our society.
What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
Who is likely to suffer from it?
- PTSD= a psychological reaction to a highly
- stressful event, symptoms may include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and
- recurring nightmares. It is a long-term stress reactton that affects the
- vicitim well after the justice system has declared the case to be closed..
- Particularly vulnerable when the
- victim does not receive adequate support from family or friends
- Rape victims are particularly
- susceptible to PTSD, whether they acknowledge the attack or suppress its
- Incarcerated offenders have also
- reported high levels of PTSD due to prior victimization.
What is the cycle of violence?
- The cycle of violence refers to a
- phenomenon where victims of crime, especially crimes of childhood abuse, are
- more likely to commit crimes themselves. Over 70% of convicted child molesters
- report having been abused themselves. This can be for several reasons. Some may
- desire to seek revenge for their victimization, and those powerful feelings of
- anger may overtake rationality and extend to others who simply exhibit the same
- characterisitics as their attackers. Others may become very psychologically
- damanged from their victimization and commit crime as a result of that damage.
- For example, there is a theory about the above statisitic that states that
- those who were molested as children develop a skewed working schema of
- sexuality that involves and adult having forcible sex with a child, or they may
- seek the ability to regain the control that they lost in childhood.
What is a recidivism rate?
- A recidivism rate is the rate at
- which a criminal repeats a crime. To prevent recidivism, strtagies of specific
- deterrence are used. This is the idea that the criminal sanctions imposed
- should be so powerful that known criminals will never repeat their criminal
- In theory, a drunk driver should feel so
- ashamed and punished by being fined and having his license revoked that he
- never drives drunk again. Other strategies include incarceration (including
- new, high-security “supermax” prisons), community sentencing like probation,
- fines, etc.
- However, with the current
- recidivism rate being at over fifty percent (higher for those released from
- supermax prisons), it is clear something is not working. The ounishments may be
- breeding defiance over deterrence, or creating a stigma that actually locks
- people into criminal careers (it is very difficult to get a job with a felony
- record, and even harder when you have been out of the workforce for fifteen
- years). Strategies that could possibly reduce the recidivism rates are
- punishments that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, having better,
- more efficient guiding strategies available to help those who are released from
- incarceration adjust to community life, and rewarding those who turn their life
- arounds (such as by eliminating having to check off the felony “box” on a job
- application, as a movement in California is trying to do).
According to Lake, does Capital Punishment deter would-be
murderers? Why or why not?
- It does not. Though general
- deterrence strategy states that such a harsh penalty should be enough to make a
- would-be offender think twice before he or she commits a capital offense, this
- is not always the case. Most murders, which are capital offenses, are crimes of
- passion that happen in a moment. Usually, murder results from violent
- confrontations that truly could have gone either way- the murdered could have
- just as easily been the victim. Rarely does a lot of premeditated though go
- into the act.
- And, if there is a good deal of premediatated thought,
- it is still not likely that the death penalty will act as a deterrence; those
- who commit incredibly horrific crimes, like serial killing, are often too
- mentally disturbed to think far beyond the present moment. Studies have also
- shown that criminals vastly overestimate their ability to “get away” with a
- crime. In addition, states that have the death penalty have the same level of
- violent crime as those that do not. The South, where many states have and
- frequently utilize the death penalty, still has the highest violent crime rate
- of all of the regions of the United States.
Discuss the Consensus, Conflict,
and Social Interactionist perspectives on crime as covered in class and your
text. Elaborate on each
perspective. How would each explain
- Consensus view: law is a function
- of the majority of people agreeing on what actions are so harmful thatbthere
- needs to be an official sanction. Supported by Durkheim, this theory states
- that most people agree ith the law. Durkheim himself said that laws have both
- manifest and latent functions, with the latent function often being that it
- pulls society together in times of anomie, such as during the salem witch
- trials. Law in theory applies to all citizens equally and provide the greatest
- possible happiness for the largest number
- view: Supported by marx, this theory states society is in a constant state of
- conflict, and that law is a tool of the ruling class used to maintain their
- position at the “top” of society and keep the underclass from overthrowing
- them. Crime, then, is a politically defined concept that exists solely to help
- the dominant class. This may be explained why “crimes” like racism, sexism, and
- classism are not punished- they are beneficial to those with economic and
- political power because they create sanctions that keep people from climbing
- the ladder. This may also explain why “street” crime is punished some much more
- harshly and more frequently than “white-collar” crime.
- Interactionsim: Crime is, in this sense, defined by those that hold social
- power in a certain jurisdiction. This group, called moral entrepreneurs,
- utilize their social power and tools like flyers, speeches, and commercials to
- impose their definition of right and wrong on the rest of the population. Crime
- is what the moral entrepreneurs see as “morally apprehensible”, even if the
- majority of the population does not believe that this is the case. Acts become
- crimes because society defines them that way, not because they are inherently
- evil or immoral acts. A classic example of this perspective in action is with
- Prohibition; by using their influence and associating alcohol with dirty Irsih
- peasents, a relatively small group of women were able to pass an amendment
- banning the sale or production of alchol in the US.
What are the three key sources of crime data discussed in class and
your text? How is data collected in
each? What are the relative strengths
and weaknesses of each?
- UCR: Compiled by the FBI from
- 17,000 participating law enforcement agencies across the country, begun by J.
- Edgar Hoover in the 1930s. A crime is defined by an act that is reported to or
- comes to the attention of the police. The UCR also lists arrest statistics and
- clearance rates ( a clearance being somebody was arrested for a crime, not
- neccesarily thatthey are convicted). Offenses are divided into Part I (serious
- index crimes) and Part II (less serious, non-index crimes) offenses.
- Because it started so early, you can see
- in the 1980s created some improvement/standardization
- for high-profile crimes, like homicide, because those almost always come to the
- attention of the police
- Less than ½ of crime is actually reported to the police
- may reflect age and race biases (balcks arrested way more than whites, but
- self-surveys show they commit about the same amount of crime)
- criteria/definition of crime may vary by department
- used to be different defintions; changed now to include men, violations other
- than vaginal penetration
- all departments submit data
- may alter the records- make it look better to improve their image, or worse to
- get more $$
- Victim Surveys: Attempts to
- measure unreported crime by performing a comprehensive, nationwide survey of
- victimization in more than 40,000 randomly selected households, and over 73,000
- individuals over the age of twelve. The surveys ask about victimization of
- certain crimes in the last six months. It does not ask about all crimes- it
- cannot ask about murder, for example, for obvious reasons.
- Can measure unreported crime; especially valuable in crimes like rape, where
- people are often too afraid or ashamed to report it (More than double UCR)
- Overrporting due to victim’s interpreatations, underreporting sue to shame
- to record the criminal activity of those interviewed
- errors (a sample is never the pop)
- is susceptiable to outside influences
- Self report surveys: A research
- tool that requires subjects to reveal their own participation in delinquent or
- criminal acts, as well as information about their social and demographic
- background. Most focus on youth, because children a re a captive audience for
- the surveys in a school setting, and schools tend to provide a good
- cross-section of the community. Examples are the National Youth Survey and the
- Monitoring the Future Survey. It is often condiered the best source for
- criminal data.
- Strengths: Good for revealing the
- dark figure of crime
- good for revealing thigs like drug/alcohol abuse
- Weakness: Rely on honesty of
- offenders; people may forget/exaggerate criminal acts
- offenders who refuse or are unable, as a consequence of incarceration, to
Explain violent crime from the various perspectives discussed in
class. In other words, how might Choice,
Trait, and Social Structural theories explain why someone might
commit a violent crime? Be specific and
give examples of each.
- Choice: Violent crime is a result of a decision-making process in which the
- potential offender carefully weighs the costs and the benefits of possible
- decesions before he commits a crime. This theory has its roots in the
- ideas of Cesare Beccaria who saw criminals as rational beings with free
- will that acted to obtain the most pleasure and the least amount of pain.
- Violent crime then must serve some rational function to a criminal.
- Perhaps, as Jack Katz put it, the “seductions of crime” satisfy a certain,
- personal need of the offender. Murders for revenge, for example, may be
- the product of careful planning. Violent criminals, such as assaulting
- robbers, also usually select appropriate, vulnerable-looking targets at an
- apparently vulnerable time.
- Trait: Based in the scientifically-minded
- positivist viewpoint, this perspective looks at crime as a behavior that is the
- function of internal and external forces that are beyond individual control.
- Violence then is the product of certain biological, psychological, or biosocial
- factors. Cesare Lombroso was the father of this school, looking at phrenology-
- using physical traits to determine whethere someone would or would not be a
- criminal. Criminals were considered to be atavists, a genetic throwback, and
- physically resembled monkeys. Today, trait theories are less cut and dry, and
- focus on the ideas of “conditional free will”- who someone is and what they do
- lies somewhere in between nature and nurture. For example, Adam Lanza killed
- twenty-six children and teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school because he was
- suffering from a mental disorder. His lack of a proper diagnosis (and thus
- proper treatment) and strained family life probably also played a role, but
- these conditions wouyld not have lead Adam to his violent end if he did not
- have a mental disorder.
- Social Structural: Sociological theories of
- crime that emphasize the relationship between social status and criminal
- behavior. Its origins lie in the “Chicago School:, which realized that crime
- rates were the consisten fro certain urban areas, regardless of the race,
- ethnicity, or religion of the group that lived there. Violence is a product of
- the disadvantaged economic conditions in which the offender grew up in. For
- example, a young inner-city man may join gang (and commit violent crimes
- because of it) because the gang give shim the strcutre and community he never
- got from traditional insittuions, like the school system and his family. Sheer
- frustration from the poor economic conditions may also cause people to act out
How does Robert Merton’s Strain Theory explain crime? List Merton’s five modes of adaptation
and provide an example of each mode.
Why is crime more likely to be committed by the “innovator” than the
“conformist”? (ps: I gave you 2 “modes” in the question!)
- Strain theory: Crime occurs when there is a
- discrepancy between the societal goals the person wants to obtain and the
- available institutions to achieve these goals. Being unable to reach those
- goals creates a state of anomie that can be solved in five ways:
- Conformity: Playing the game, going to school
- and getting a job
- Innovation: Keep the goals but use new means,
- such as being a pimp
- Ritualism: Ignore the goal but focus on the
- mean, such as the kid who goes to college just to make his parents happy
- Retreatism: Reject goals and means; someone who
- has become a “hobo”
- Rebellion: create new goals and new means; civil
- rights leaders?
- ***** The innovator does not follow the agreed
- upon means and paths of meeting a goal, so he is deviant, which makes his
- actions more likely to be a crime
Be able to explain the following:
Class-Crime Relationship; Race-Crime Relationship; Age-Crime Relationship; Gender-Crime
- Class-crime: Most evidence says it is higher
- among the lower-class, but self-reports show it is more evenly spread; income
- inequality, poverty, and resource deprivation are all associated with a higher
- crime rate but do not tell the whole story (see Conflict theory- police may be
- more liekly to arrest those of lower class, and they are more likely to be
- convicted b/c they cannot afford good lawyers)
- More instrumental crimes- crimes to improve
- financial or social situation of the individual
- Age-Crime: Younger people commit more crime than
- older people; 16 is peak age for property crimes and 18 the peak age for
- violent crimes. There could be multiple reasons for this, from hormones, to
- peer pressure, an underdeveloped frontal cortex, etc. Studies do show however that most people tend
- to age out of crime, except for a few chronic offenders.
- Race-crime: Twice as many black males are in
- jail than white males, and trends like this exist across the board, despite self-report
- surveys showing that black and white youth commit about the same number of
- crimes. This discrepancy can be accounted for in several ways; the police may
- be more likely to arrest a black offender, in a phenomena known as racial
- profiling; “structural racism” may lead to more people of minority groups being
- of the lower-class, which leads, as stated above, to more instrumental crime
- Male crime rates are much higher than females; they are the perpetrator
- in up to 80% of violent personal crimes. Four males are arrested for every one
- female. This can be possibly explained by cognitive/hormonal differences (men
- have more testosterone), socialization differences (boys are encouraged to
- fight, girls to be docile), or simply the biases of the police and court
- systems, who are less likely to arrest a female (in cases like domestic
- violence) and more likely to give more lenient sentences when they are
How would you explain gender differences in the crime rate?
- This can be possibly explained by
- cognitive(girls have higher verbal abilities which may enable them to talk out
- problems v. fight)/hormonal differences (men have more testosterone),
- socialization differences (boys are encouraged to fight, girls to be docile),
- liberal feminist theory (lower crime rate is due to female’s second-class
- status) or simply the biases of the police and court systems, who are less
- likely to arrest a female (in cases like domestic violence) and more likely to
- give more lenient sentences when they are arrested.
What is the social ecology of victimization? Members of what type of household are most
vulnerable to criminal victimization?
What is Victim Precipitation Theory?
- Looks at trends/patterns of
- Violent crimes are more likely to occur in open
- public areas during daytime or early evening hours
- Almost two-thirds of more serious crimes such as
- rape occur after 6 P.M.
- Larger, African American, Western, and
- urban homes are the most vulnerable to
- Less supervision, inconsisten discipline
- Inner-city inhabitants have a greater chance of
- being victimized than suburbanites- poor people more likely to experience
- violent and property crime- more transitory so neighbors do not look out for
- you, working long hours, less security, angry at life
- Never married people more likely to be
- victimized- go out more
- Blacks most likely to be victims of violent
- Victim Precipitation theory: – some people may
- actually initiate the confrontation that leads to their injury or death.
- Active precipitation – victim acts provocatively
- (Menachem Amir 1971)- fighting
- Passive precipitation – occurs when victim
- exhibits some personal characteristics that unknowingly either threatens or
- encourages the attacker- some criminals more likely to attack females,
- believing they are the most vulnerable; homeless
In the video “Mind of a Murderer” shown and discussed
in class (and on reserve at Swirbul), we learned the difference between
psychopathic and psychotic behavior. Describe
the difference here. Using this
terminology, discuss the cases of Cody Mitton and David Kreuger. How would psychological trait theory explain
the men’s violent behavior?
- Psychopathic- personality disorder, knows what
- is right/wrong, cannot respond to treatment (Kreuger’s treatment only made him
- worse), not legally insane asocial,
- aggressive, highly impulsive, feel little or no guilt, cannot form lasting
- bonds of affections with others, present-oriented, impulsive.
***Krueger- killed three children, convicted NGRI
- Psychotic- often does not know the difference
- between right and wrong, often there is damage to working memory, and damages
- how a person views emotions in that moment, so impaired a normal person can
- seem alien, which is such a terrifying experience it may lead to actions such
- as violent ones, can respond to treament
- Miton- killed his mother in what was probably a
- paranoid schizophrenic episode
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