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Sociological Perspectives on Crime
- Some believe in a "born this way" ideas.
- In the 19th century, Lombroso said that you could tell a criminal by their outer appearance: a large forehead, large jaw and longer arm span.
Contemporary biologist and psychologist contend that it is based off of biochemistry (diet and hormones) and also neurophysical ( brain dysfunctions)
Emile Durkheim's Functionalist Perspective:
Emile Durkheim: Crime is normal and inevitable. It seperates the acceptable from the nonacceptable. He says that in states of anomie, there are urges to participate in deviant behavior.
Robert Merton's Strain Theory
- This theory says that people feel strained when they
- are exposed to goals but do not have the access or resources to achieve them.
- He says that there are five modes of Adaptation:
- Conformity: Is nondeviant; Agrees with cultural goals and intitutional means of achieveing them
- Innovation: Criminal; Agrees with cultural goals and adopts nontraditional means of achieveing them.
- Ritualism: Deviant, noncriminal: Rejects cultural goals but continues to conform to institutional means
- Retreatism: Deviant, could be criminal; Rejects cultural goals and the approved means to achieve them.
- Rebellion: Deviant; Challenges cultural goals and the approved means to achieve them; Offers alternate goals and means.
Robert Agnew's Additions to Merton's Theory:
- Said that there are many differnet types and sources of strain. He differentiated between them with three types:
- The failure to achieve positively valued outcomes
- The removal of positive or desired stimuli
- Teh confrontation of negative action or stimuli by others.
This addition helps explain the offending differences by gender, class, race, and communities
Social Control Theory:
- Rather than asking why someone commits a crime, it asks why someone does not.
- Says that society controls our behavior through four elements:
- Attatchments- our personal relationships with others.
- Commitment- Our acceptance of convientional goals and means.
- Involvmen- OUr participation in conventional activities
- Beliefs- our acceptance of conventional values and norms.
- Believe that an act is not inherently criminal; society defines it that way.
- Argues that criminal laws do not exist for our own good; rather they exist to perserve the interest and power of specific groups.
- Laws serve as a way for those in power to promote their ideas over others
Freda Adler came up with an approach explaining that when women are freeed from the restraint of traditional ideals, they are "liberated" to commit crimes (a more masculine trait)
They focus on why women commit crimes, such as a reponse to abuse.
They also challenge mascline bias in the court systems, such as the sentencing of boot camp.
The annual growth rate for female incarceration has been showed to be higher for females since 1995. Females account for 7% of all US prisoners. The highest amount of female detainee's was in the US (183,400), followed by China (79,280), Russia (55,400) and Thailand (28,450).
Women are more likely to be 1) serving their first sentence, 2) be the the primary caregiver of their children, 3) be victims of sexual abuse and trauma and, 4) to suffer from depression.
In 2000, about 80,000 women in prisons had an estimated 200,000 children under the age of 18.
- Examine the process that defines certain individuals and acts as criminal.
- Main focus is on the Labeling Theory:
- The basics of the theory were made by Edwin Lemert whop believed that everyone is involved in behavior that could be labeled criminal, yet only a few actually are.
- Once a criminal label is attached to a person, a criminal career is set in motion.
Braithwaite notes that the nations with the lowest crime have a Shaming process and shame has great social power.
Chambliss's "The Saints and the Roughnecks" study showed that even when engaging in the same deviant behavior, poorer and lower socioeconomical boys were targeted over the rich more affluent kids.
Interactionist also attempt to explain deviance through associations with others.
Sources of crime statistics:
- There are three sources of data to estimate the nature and extent of crime in the United states.
- Since 1930, the FBI has published the UCR, Uniform Crime Report, Which uses two categories of crimes: index and nonindex. Index Crimes include Murder, rape, robbery, assult, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and larceny.
- In 1982, the FBI started using the NIBRS, National Incident-Based Reporting System, which adds detailed offender and victim info to the UCR data. Currently 31 states have the NIBRS.
- The FBI also release a Crime Clock, a graphic display of how often specific offenses are committed.
- The third data source is the NCVS, the National Crime Victimization Survey, since 1972. Identifies victims whether or not the crime was reported
- After looking at both the NCVS and the UCR, One can see that there is a significant amount of underreporting
- Is defined as actions the involve force of threat of force against others and includes aggravated assult, murder, rape, and robbery.
- In 2008 19.3 victimization per 1,000people 12+, declining from 20.7 in 2007.
- Except for rape and sexual assult, males have a higher victimization rate (21.3) than women (17.6)
- Males are more likely to be vicitmized by strangers while women often know their assulter. (38% of cases)
- Since 1973 Blacks have the highest vicitmization rates; studies show that structual disadvantages,rather than race, that made higher levels of crime in black communities.
- Disabled people are also more likely to experience violence than nondisabled.
- Consists of taking money or property from another without force or the threat of force.
- Take up about 3/4 of all crimes
- In 2008, 17.5 million property crimes, 3.2 million household burglaries and 979,640 motor vehicle thefts.
- Juvenile delinquent- a juvenile who has violated a law that applies to minors 7-17.
- For 2008, 2.11 million arrest were made, 30% of which were female.
- The racial composition was 78% white/hispanics, 16% black, 5% Asians and 1% native american.
White Collar Crime
- First used by Sutherland in 1939, since the term includes crimes: whose offender is someone of high social status, committed for financial of economic gain and crimes taking place in a business.
- One of the most widespread forms of white collar crime is internet fraud and abuse also known as Cybercrime. In 2008 the International Crime Complaint canter recieved 275,284 complaints (a 33% increase). The avergade individual loss was $931.
- The government only catches 10% of those who break into gove computers and even less of those who break into comps of private companies.
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