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Week 1 and 2 notes

by: Janaki Padmakumar

Week 1 and 2 notes CCJ4014

Janaki Padmakumar
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About this Document

These notes cover material presented during the first and second week of lecture
Criminological theory
Abby Fagan
Class Notes
criminology, Theory




Popular in Criminological theory


This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Janaki Padmakumar on Friday September 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CCJ4014 at University of Florida taught by Abby Fagan in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 47 views. For similar materials see Criminological theory in CRIMINOLOGY at University of Florida.


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Date Created: 09/02/16
CCJ4014- Criminological theory Week 1 notes L1- What makes a “good” theory? What makes a good theory?  It can explain "facts" about crime o Why some crimes are more common o Why some groups are more likely than others to be offenders Nonviolent crimes occur more frequently in America than violent crimes; Occur frequently  Less serious crimes like theft, burglary are glossed over due to concern over more serious violent crimes  Crime resulting in most arrest of juveniles is larceny theft (petty theft), followed by drug abuse violations How/why does involvement in crime vary by?  Age(young/old) o Younger people more likely to commit crime than adults o Will be done early on in life rather than later o More adults in society than kids- think of proportion of population- if younger (before 25) more likely to commit crime than those 25 and older o Crime begins and peaks during adolescence and then declines o Life course theories explain age/crime relationships o Brain scans reveal frontal lobe develops last (until about 25 on avg) leading to poor decision making/crime; unable to clearly ID consequences of actions  Sex (male/female) o Males more likely to be offenders than females o 2012 women 31% of all adults arrested o About 7% incarcerated adults are women o Females less likely to be incarcerated after being arrested/tried o Gender differences are greatest for violent and serious offenses o Gender and offending  Feminist theories try to explain differences in gender related to offending  Race o Comes from official arrest statistics o Adult arrest records  28% all adults arrested for any crime were African Americans  Blacks made up 13% of the population  They are more likely to be arrested relative to population  African Americans comprise  49% arrested for murder  55 for robbery  31 for burglary o Self-reports show fewer race differences in criminal offending  Social class o Difficult to determine relationship between social class and crime o Official reports show a larger difference than self-report studies o Relationship seems strongest for more violent or serious offenses In conclusion:  Strong evidence that crime will vary by age and gender, and some evidence that shows variance by race/ethnicity and social class  One criteria for a good theory is that it needs to explain "facts of a crime- i.e. differences in crime due to age, class, race/ethnicity and gender L2 Deterrence theory Deterrence theory (what stopped you from breaking the law)  Crime is less likely when there are penalties for breaking the law  Potential punishment makes you consider outcome  Implicitly assumes all people are motivated to commit a crime  Seeks to find out why or when people will be deterred from a crime o Laws are usually broken because there is some beneficial outcome for that person  Assumes people are rational thinkers who weigh pros/cons of an action before taking it Deterrence theory is the basis of "classical criminology"  Based on the works of Cesare Beccaria- reacted to harsh, subjective actions of criminal justice officers o Individual judges (corrupt/highly subjective) had the ability to decide on punishment o Punishments disproportionate to crimes o Becarria said certainty of punishment needed to be known so that rational choices would be made  Focuses on the criminal justice system itself- o A macro, not micro theory; not about the individual, but applicable more to a whole society o What punishments work best to deter crime?  Well known- punishment must be universally understood; everyone should know that there is a punishment  Swift- apply punishment immediately to create a certain association between crime and punishment  Severity- in direct proportion to the crime; too lax makes people willing to commit crime, too harsh means that you lose peoples' trust  Certain- the most important element Specific v. General deterrence General deterrence- when there are laws and punishments in place, everyone will be deterred from crime  Punishment deters crime among people in the general population  Applies to those who are not punished as well  Research suggests: o Increasing the certainty of punishment may reduce a moderate amount of crime o Increasing police numbers often reduces crime o Increasing severity of punishments does not reduce crime  Death penalty research- not much relationship between death penalty and deterrence, however recent studies show that studies investigating this have not been conducted well  Three strikes law- harsh sanctions will be imposed after "third strike" offense, i.e. felony Specific deterrence- if one individual receives a punishment, they will be deterred from future crime  Punishment reduces crime among specific people who commit the crime  Research suggests that arrested/convicted individuals do NOT have lower rates of subsequent crimes; recidivism rate increases or stays the same, but does not lower o Some studies show those punished by criminal justice system have higher crime rates than those who are not formally sanctioned How are theories about deterrence tested?  Official crime reports: compare cities, states with different punishments for the same crimes o E.g. some states do not have the death penalty; compare FL to a state w/out death penalty and see how crime rates are affected- by deterrence model, states with death penalty should have less crime o Deterrence also says that states that got rid of death penalty should have higher crime rate over time  Individual surveys o Ask about a person's likelihood of arrest/punishment o Ask about receipt of punishments and crime Crime prevention  What does the theory suggest is the best way to prevent crime? o Punishments in place that fit attributes stated by Beccaria- certain, known, swift and severe enough o Laws, punishments and law enforcement o Increase certainty of punishment  Hire more police  Scared straight o Increase severity of punishment  Death penalty  Three strikes legislation  Waivers of juvenile offenders to adult courts o Increase celerity of punishment  How can it be done? Scared straight  Done to deter youth from future offense with first hand observation of prison life and interaction with adult inmates (very scary)  Methods: o Organized visits to prison by juvenile delinquent or children at risk for criminal behavior  Does it prevent crime? NO o Some kids who go to scared straight are at increased risk for crime o Ineffective bc it produces a shock effect, but doesn't do anything to change the conditions that produce this kind of behavior Overall summary- Logical- Y Broad scope- Y Parsimonious- Y Empirical support- low Practical: suggests strategies for crime reduction - practical Why might punishments be ineffective?  Qualitative approaches show that those committing robberies disregard punishment when committing crime- they go out and commit crime because its an easy way to get money  Some people are unaware of what the punishment is  Punishments are rarely swift and certain (system is slow, and only a small amount of law breakers are caught)  Many offenders are not rational o Often are very impulsive- like punching back (assault) o Many are pressured into crime due to other factors  But for some, punishments are effective o Those with high self-control, social bonds, commitment to conformity, and moral beliefs


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