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Theories of Criminology

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Kimberly Maloney

on 30 November 2012

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Transcript of Theories of Criminology

Criminology Positivism Theory Classical Theory Theories of Criminology Broken Windows: Rational Choice Theory: The development of rational classical criminology is most closely identified with the thoughts of philosopher Cesare Beccaria.
Beccaria believed;
people choose behavior, including criminal behavior
their choices are designed to bring them pleasure and reduce pain
criminal choices can be controlled by fear of punishment
the more severe, certain, and swift the punishment, the greater its ability to control criminal behavior.
In every society, people have free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions to meet their needs or settle their problems
criminal solutions can be very attractive because for little effort they hold the promise of a huge payoff.
A person will choose not to commit crime only if he or she believes that the pain of expected punishment is greater than the promise of reward (deterrence)
Punishment must be severe, certain, and swift enough to convince potential criminals that 'crime doesn't pay' Core premise of Rational choice theory is that some people choose crime under some circumstances. Crime helps some people achieve a sense of control or mastery over their environment.
Engaging in risky behavior helps some people feel alive and competent.
Crime may help adolescents boost their self-esteem Why Crime? Basic Elements: Offense and Offender: Offense-specific crime:
offender will react selectively to the characteristics of an individual criminal act Offender-specific: criminals are not robots who engage in unthinking, unplanned random acts of antisocial behavior. Before deciding to commit a crime, they must decide whether they have the prerequisites to commit a crime successfully;
necessary skills to commit the crime
immediate need for money or other valuables
do legitimate financial alternatives to crime exist?
do they have available resources to commit the crime
fear of expected apprehension and punishment
Availability of alternative criminal acts
physical ability, including health, strength and dexterity Crime Control Strategies Based on Rational Choice: Situational Crime Prevention this strategy is aimed at convincing would-be criminals to avoid specific targets. Home security, guards or motion sensor lights are good ways to deter criminals. General Deterrence Strategy aimed at making potential criminals fear the consequences of crime. Death penalty, mandatory sentences, and aggressive policing are ways to deter criminals. Specific Deterrence punishing known criminals so severely that they will never be tempted to repeat their offenses, harsh prisons and stiff fines are ways to deter criminals. Incapacitation reduce crime rates by denying motivated offenders the opportunity to commit crime. Strategies to deter them are; long prison sentences, and placing more people behind bars. Broken windows theory is a theory that believes if certain problems or things aren't fixed soon after they occur they can become much worse, and attract crime. This theory comes from the thought that if a window in a building is broken and is left un-repaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. Trait Theory Biological The study of sociobiology revived interest in finding a biological basis for crime and delinquency. This theory believes that biological (genetic) makeup controls human behavior, and is responsible for determining whether a person chooses law0violating or conventional behavior.
William Sheldon developed a theory that criminals manifest distinct physiques that make them susceptible to particular types of antisocial behavior:
Mesomorphs: have well developed muscles and an athletic appearance. They are active, aggressive, sometimes violent, and the most likely to become criminals.
Endomorphs: have heavy builds and are slow moving. They are known for lethargic behavior, rendering them unlikely to commit violent crime and more willing to engage in less strenuous criminal activities such as fencing stolen property
Ectomorphs: are tall, thin, and less social and more intellectual than the other types. These types are less likely to commit crime. Trait theorists focus on basic human behavior and drives-attachment, aggression, violence, impulsivity-that are linked to antisocial behavior patterns. They also recognize that human traits may not alone produce criminality and that crime-producing interactions involve both personal traits-such as intelligence, personality, and chemical and genetic make-up-and environmental factors, such as family life, educational attainment, economic factors, and neighborhood conditions. Biosocial Biocriminoligists believe that physical, environmental, and social conditions work in concert to produce human behavior.
Some trait theorists believe biochemical conditions, including both those that are genetically predetermined and those acquired through diet and environment, control and influence antisocial behavior.
Biochemical: major premise of this theory is that crime, especially violence is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies.
Neurological: criminals and delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG. ADHD and minimal brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior.
Genetic: criminal traits and predispositions are inherited, the criminality of parents can predict the delinquency of children.
Evolutionary: as the human race evolves, traits and characteristics have become ingrained. some of these traits make people aggressive and predisposed to commit crime.
Inherited Traits and Crime Direct Association: Possessing a particular genetic structure makes a person prone to aggression, violence, and antisocial behavior. Indirect Association: Possessing a particular genetic makeup is associated with behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that are also linked to antisocial behavior. Psychological Psychodynamic: development of the unconscious personality early in childhood influences behavior for the rest of the person's life.
Behavioral: people commit crime when they model their behavior after others they see being rewarded for similar acts.
Cognitive: individual reasoning processes influence behavior.
Developmental Theory Part one Life Course Latent Traits Trajectories Life course theory sees criminality as a dynamic process, influenced by a multitude of individual characteristics, traits, and social experience. As people travel through the life course they are constantly hit by changing perceptions and experiences, and as a result their behavior will change directions, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. Latent trait theory holds that human development is controlled by a stable propensity or 'master trait,' present at birth or soon after. as people travel through their life course, this trait is always there, directing their behavior and shaping the course of their life. Trajectory theory suggests that there are multiple trajectories in a criminal career. there are multiple subgroups within a population that follow distinctively different development trajectories that lead them toward a criminal career. Positivism Theory Part Two Critical Theory Structural Theory Social Structure Social Disorganization Strain Deviant Subculture Elements of Social Disorganization:
Development of isolated lower-class areas
lack of conventional social opportunities
racial and ethnic discrimination
Social Disorganization:
Breakdown of social institutions and organizations such as school and family
lack of informal and formal social control
Breakdown of traditional values:
Development of law-violating gangs and groups
deviant values replace conventional values and norms
Criminal Areas:
neighborhood becomes crime prone
stable pockets of crime develop
lack of external support and investment
Cultural transmission:
Adults pass norms (focal concerns) to younger generation, creating stable lower-class culture
Criminal Careers:
Most youths age out of delinquency, marry and raise families, but some remain in life of crime.
Basic components of Strain Theory:
Relative deprivation
feelings of inadequacy
siege mentality
Maintenance of conventional rules and norms:
Despite adversity, people remain loyal to conventional values and rules of dominant middle-class culture
People who desire conventional success but lack means and opportunity will experience strain and frustration.
Formation of gangs and groups:
People form law-violating groups to seek alternative means of achieving success
Crime and delinquency:
People engage in antisocial acts to achieve success and relieve their feelings of strain
Criminal Careers:
Feelings of strain may endure, sustaining criminal careers. Elements of Cultural Deviance Theory:
Lack of opportunity
Lower-class youths are socialized to value middle-class goals and ideas
Blocked opportunities prompt formation of groups with alternative lifestyles and values
Deviant Values:
The new subculture maintains values considered deviant by the normative culture
Crime and delinquency:
obeying subcultural values involves youth in criminal behaviors such as drug use and violence.
Criminal Careers:
Some gang members can parlay their status into criminal careers; others become drug users or commit violent assault. Social Process Theory Differential Association Differential Reinforcement Neutralization People learn to commit crime from exposure to antisocial definitions.
Basic principles:
criminal behavior is learned
learning is a by-product of interaction
criminal techniques are learned
perceptions of the legal code influence motives and drives
differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity
the process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms involved in any other learning process.
criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values
Criminal behavior depends on the person's experiences with rewards for conventional behaviors and punishment for deviant ones. Being rewarded for deviance leads to crime. Youths learn ways of neutralizing moral restraints and periodically drift in and out of criminal behavior patterns. David Matza and Gresham Sykes view the process of becoming a criminal as a learning experience in which potential delinquents and criminals master techniques that enable them to counterbalance or neutralize conventional values and drift back and forth between illegitimate and conventional behavior. Instrumental Theory Structural theorists disagree with the view that the relationship between law and capitalism is unidirectional, always working for the rich and against the poor. To a structuralist the law is designed to keep the system operating efficiently, and anyone, worker or owner, who rocks the boat is targeting for sanction. The law and justice system serve the powerful and rich and enable them to impose their morality and standards of behavior on the entire society. Those who have economic power are able to extend their self-serving definition of illegal or criminal behavior to encompass those who might threaten the status quo or interfere with their quest for ever-increasing profits. some have the economic clout to hire top attorneys to defend them against antitrust actions, making them almost immune to regulation. The poor are driven to crime because a natural frustration exists in a society in which affluence is well publicized but unattainable. By: Kimberly Maloney
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