Crime in the field of sociology is the breach of a rule or law for which some governing authority or force may ultimately prescribe a punishment. The word crime originates from the Latin crimen (genitive criminis), from the Latin root cernō and Greek κρινω = "I judge". Originally it meant "charge (in law), guilt, accusation".
- It is obvious today that the process of drastic penalties has not succeeded in preventing crime, or in deterring people from violent selfishness (for that is what all crime is)... Crime will be stamped out when the environing conditions in which children live, are bettered, when physical attention is given in the early formative years to glandular balance, as well as to teeth and eyes and ears, to right posture and correct feeding, and when there is also a more proper apportionment of time; when esoteric psychology and esoteric astrology give their contribution of knowledge to the bringing up of young people. The old methods must give way to the new... the cultivation of those attitudes and conditions which will evoke reality in man, bring the inner spiritual man to the foreground of consciousness, and thus produce the recognition of God Immanent. p. 237
- Alice Bailey, A Treatise on the Seven Rays: Volume 3: Esoteric Astrology (1951)
- Le crime et la folie ont quelque similitude. Voir les prisonniers de la Conciergerie au préau, ou voir des fous dans le jardin d'une maison de santé, c'est une même chose. Les uns et les autres se promènent en s'évitant, se jettent des regards au moins siguliers, atroces, selon leurs pensées du moment, jamais gais ni sérieux ; car ils se connaissent ou ils se craignent. L'attente d'une condamnation, les remords, les anxiétés donnent aux promeneurs du préau l'air inquiet et hagard des fous. Les criminels consommés ont seuls une assurance qui ressemble à la tranquillité d'une vie honnête, à la sincérité d'une conscience pure.
- Crime and madness have some similarity. Seeing the prisoners of the Conciergerie in the courtyard, or seeing the mad in the garden of a nursing home, it's the same thing. Both walk around, avoiding each other, glancing at each other at least singularly, atrociously, according to their thoughts of the moment, never cheerful or serious; because they know each other or they fear each other. The expectation of a condemnation, remorse, anxieties give walkers in the courtyard a worried and a haggard look of madmen. Consummate criminals alone have an assurance which resembles the tranquility of an honest life, the sincerity of a pure conscience.
- Honoré de Balzac, Splendeurs et Misères des courtisanes (The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans), part IV. La dernière Incarnation de Vautrin (The Last Incarnation of Vautrin), "Le Préau de la Conciergerie" ("The Courtyard of the Conciergerie") (chapter title).
- Crime and madness have some similarity. Seeing the prisoners of the Conciergerie in the courtyard, or seeing the mad in the garden of a nursing home, it's the same thing. Both walk around, avoiding each other, glancing at each other at least singularly, atrociously, according to their thoughts of the moment, never cheerful or serious; because they know each other or they fear each other. The expectation of a condemnation, remorse, anxieties give walkers in the courtyard a worried and a haggard look of madmen. Consummate criminals alone have an assurance which resembles the tranquility of an honest life, the sincerity of a pure conscience.
- I have never heard of any youngster going wrong, turning to crime, because of the movies. It simply isn't possible. Our relation to crime is, in a sense, the same as the prison warden's. We don't create it. We deal with it after it has happened, and we always make the criminal look bad.
When I went to college, I studied under a professor of geology who wanted to make us understand how the different peoples of the world got the way they are, their racial tendencies and characteristics, dark-skinned Africans and fair-haired Swedes. He cited geography and climate and food and opportunities, and he summed it all up with the phrase: "We are what we are largely because we are where we are."
The proof of the argument can be found in the Uniform Crime Reports and the Department of Justice. The spot maps of cities show it. Not so long ago, I examined some maps showing juvenile delinquency, diptheria, tuberculosis and murder quotients in a number of cities from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The maps all looked alike. Disease, crime and delinquency were invariably grouped in the same parts of the cities — in the slum districts. That is the cause of crime, not the motion picture.
- Humphrey Bogart, “Censorship: Jimmy Walker Never Heard of a Book Seducing a Dame but Bluenoses are Still on the Trail of our Films”, Hollywood Reporter, (Oct 1941); republished in “When Humphrey Bogart Tackled Movie Censorship in 1941”, Hollywood Reporter, (2/27/2018).
- Nothing stops a bullet like a job.
- There's not a crime
But takes its proper change out still in crime
If once rung on the counter of this world.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (1856), Book III, line 870.
- Society already understands that the criminal is not he who washes our dirty linen in public, but he who dirties the linen.
- Vladimir Bukovsky (b.1932), Russian author. Stated on 5 January, 1972. Quoted in Radio Times magazine, 19 September, 1977.
- Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay,
Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
- The poacher … is asserting a right (and an instinct) belonging to a past time—when for hunting purposes all land was held in common. … In those times private property was theft. Obviously the man who attempted to retain for himself land or goods, or who fenced off a portion of the common ground and—like the modern landlord—would allow no one to till it who did not pay him a tax—was a criminal of the deepest dye. Nevertheless the criminals pushed their way to the front, and have become the respectables of modern society.
- Edward Carpenter, Defence of Criminals: A Criticism of Morality (1889)
- La pauvreté met le crime au rabais.
- There are few better measures of the concern a society has for its individual members and its own well being than the way it handles criminals.
- Ramsey Clark keynote address, American Correctional Association conference, Miami Beach, Florida (August 20–25, 1967); reported in Proceedings of the Ninety-Seventh Annual Congress of Correction of the American Correctional Association (1968), p. 4; republished in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
- If the church ... does not make God's liberation of the oppressed central in its mission and proclamation, how can it rest easy with a condemned criminal as the dominant symbol of its message?
- James H. Cone, Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology (1986), p. 6.
- Guide the people by law, subdue them by punishment; they may shun crime, but will be void of shame. Guide them by example, subdue them by courtesy; they will learn shame, and come to be good.
- Confucius, Analects 2.3
- The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind.
- But many a crime deemed innocent on earth
Is registered in Heaven; and these no doubt
Have each their record, with a curse annex'd.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI, line 439.
- The most difficult crime to track is the one which is purposeless.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), British crime novelist. Sherlock Holmes, in "The Naval Treaty," The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1892).
- It is written ' Thou shalt not kill,' so because he has killed, are we to kill him? No, that's impossible.
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot: A Novel in Four Parts (1916), p. 19.
- Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, philosopher, poet. "Compensation," Essays, First Series (1841).
- Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot.
- The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom, Detective Comics #33 (November 1939), written by Bill Finger.
- Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime.
- Emma Goldman, "Anarchism, What it Really Stands For", Anarchism and Other Essays (1917).
- Never think that war, no matter how necessary, no matter how justified, is not a crime.
- Ernest Hemingway, Introduction to "Treasury for the Free World" by Ben Raeburn, 1946.
- Plan harm for another and harm yourself most,
the evil we hatch always comes home to roost.
- Hesiod, Works and Days, as translated by Stanley Lombardo (1993), line 305
- Almost all crime depends on the acquiescence of the victim. If the victim refuses his assigned role, the criminal is placed at a disadvantage, one so severe that it usually takes an understanding and compassionate judge to set things right. I had broken the rules; I had fought back.
- Robert A. Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985), Chapter 5
- Nine-tenths of our crimes an' calamities are made possible by th' automobile. It has unleashed all th' pent-up criminal tendencies o' th' ages. It's th' central figure in murders, hold-ups, burglaries, accidents, elopements, failures an' abscondments. It has well nigh jimmed th' American home.... No girl is missin' that wuzn' last seen steppin' in a strange automobile.... An' ther hain't a day rolls by that somebuddy hain't sellin' ther sewin' machine, or ther home, or somethin' t' pay on an automobile.... Maybe th' jails an' workhouses are empty, but that's not because th' world is gittin' better. It's because all th' criminals escape in automobiles.
- Kin Hubbard writing for his character, "th' Hon. Ex.-Editur Cale Fluhart."
Quoted in Norris W. Yeats, The American Humorist: Conscience of the Twentieth Century, Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1964, p. 107.
- Kin Hubbard writing for his character, "th' Hon. Ex.-Editur Cale Fluhart."
- My servant ... was numbered with the transgressors.
- When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people's hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.
- People try to excuse their brutality by saying that it is the custom; but a crime does not cease to be a crime because many commit it. Karma takes no account of custom; and the karma of cruelty is the most terrible of all... The fate of the cruel must fall also upon all who go out intentionally to kill God's creatures, and call it "sport".
- Jiddu Krishnamurti, At the Feet of the Master (1911)
- The unpunished crime is never regretted. We weep over the consequence, not over the fault.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Heath's Book of Beauty, 1833 (1832), 'An Evening at Lucy Ashton’s'
- Any time you think of a decent crime, there are fifty ways to fuck it up. If you can think of twenty-five, you're a genius.
- "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
- Mark 15:4
- The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself. All that you despise, all that you loathe, all that you reject, all that you condemn and seek to convert by punishment springs from you.
- Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. playwright. 'The Soul of Anaesthesia,' The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945).
- The prisoner is not the one who has committed a crime, but the one who clings to his crime and lives it over and over.
- Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. playwright. Sexus, chapter 14 (1949).
- The stinking puddle from which usury, thievery and robbery arises is our lords and princes. They make all creatures their property—the fish in the water, the birds in the air, the plant in the earth must all be theirs. Then they proclaim God's commandments among the poor and say, "You shall not steal."
- People seem good while they are oppressed, but they only wish to become oppressors in their turn: life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
- Bertrand Russell, in a letter to Ottoline Morrell, 17 December 1920.
- Rursus prosperum ac felix scelus virtus vocatur; sontibus parent boni, ius est in armis, opprimit leges timor.
- Prosperous and successful crime goes by the name of virtue; good men obey the bad, might is right and fear oppresses law.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules), lines 251-253 (Amphitryon)
- Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
- If little faults, proceeding on distemper,
Shall not be wink'd at, how shall we stretch our eye
When capital crimes, chew'd, swallow'd, and digested,
Appear before us?
- Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream.
- Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn'd, Hubert.
- Tremble, thou wretch,
That has within thee undivulged crimes,
Unwhipp'd of justice.
- There shall be done
A deed of dreadful note.
- Theft is only punished because it violates the right of property; but this right is itself nothing in origin but theft.
- We may isolate two ways in which these "sub-political" traditions affect the early working-class movement: the phenomena of riot and of the mob, and the popular notions of an Englishman's "birthright". For the first, we must realise that there have always persisted popular attitudes towards crime, amounting at times to an unwritten code, quite distinct from the laws of the land. Certain crimes were outlawed by both codes: a wife or child murderer would be pelted and execrated on the way to Tyburn. Highwaymen and pirates belonged to popular ballads, part heroic myth, part admonition to the young. But other crimes were actively condoned by whole communities—coining, poaching, the evasion of taxes (the window tax and tithes) or excise or the press-gang. Smuggling communities lived in a state of constant war with authority, whose unwritten rules were understood by both sides; the authorities might seize a ship or raid the village, and the smugglers might resist arrest—"but it was no part of the smuggling tactics to carry war farther than defence, or at times a rescue, because of the retaliatory measures that were sure to come... On the other hand, other crimes, which were easily committed and yet which struck at the livelihood of particular communities—sheep-stealing or stealing cloth off the tenters in the open field—excited popular condemnation
- E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), p. 59
- From a single crime know the nation.
- Virgil [Publius Vergilius Maro] (70-19 B.C.), Roman poet. Aeneid, Book. 2, line 65.
- Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.
- H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia (1905), Chapter 5; reprinted in The Works of H.G. Wells, Volume 9 (1925).
- The sole means of ridding man of crime is to rid him of freedom.
- Yevgeny Zamyatin We (1921).
Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice (2008) edit
<small. Helfgott, Jacqueline B. (2008). “Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice”. SAGE.
- My hope is that students, scholars, mental health and criminal justice practitioners, and others who read this book will come away reminded of several important things that can take us further toward preventing, controlling, and responding to crime. First, crime is a common everyday occurrence with very real and often tragic consequences we are all forced to deal with at some level in our everyday lives, whether we are offenders, victims, witnesses, citizens, jurors, or professionals in criminal justice, mental health, or social service. Second, feasible and effective solutions to the prevention and control of crime can come only from the conjoining of scientific and practical perspectives of different disciplines, keeping in mind that nothing about real crime will ever fall as neatly into place as the theories suggest and no empirical study can be so perfectly designed as to provide definitive answers. Third, crime types included in this text that are rarely covered in traditional criminology texts, such as political and copycat crimes, will hopefully inspire researchers to pursue otherwise untouched avenues of research.
- [C]riminal behavior is not a static phenomenon. Crime is a subcultural and cultural product-a human behavior that changes in form and meaning across time, place, culture, subculture, gender, and so on. The hope is that this book will inspire students, researchers, criminal justice professionals, and citizens to think creatively about crime, to work together across disciplines and arenas to make use of the best theories and practices, and to never forget that for every crime that is prevented, every offender who is (even slightly) reformed, every victim who is better supported, every citizen who is less afraid of crime, and every criminal justice professional who is given better tools with which to do his or her job, many lives and communities will be affected and improved.
- [C]rime is a social, interpersonal, and personal harm that, more often than not, has tragic and enduring consequences.
- If it were possible to produce a complete catalog of human criminal behavior over time and around the world, such a document would likely be one of the most fascinating reads of all time. <br. The popularity of TV crime shows like Law and Order, CSI, and the long-running NYPD Blue; films such as Taxi Driver, Silence of the Lambs, Natural Born Killers, and Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen; and classic literature such as In Cold Blood and Crime and Punishment suggests that most people are fascinated with the deviant and criminal side of human behavior. However, fictional accounts of crime (many of which are loosely or not-so-loosely based on real events) rarely compare to the reality of crime. Any law enforcement officer, medical examiner/death investigator, crime scene technician, criminal attorney, judge, juror, criminologist/researcher, or citizen who has been exposed to some or all aspects of real-life criminal events knows that real-life crime is just as fascinating as if not more so (and in some cases much more horrific) than what our imaginations can come up with.
- On the other hand, media focus on the most extreme variants of criminal behavior often makes people forget that most crime does not involve stranger abductions, sadistic torture, chopping off body parts, elaborate Internet schemes, or using commercial airliners as bombs. Although the real-life catalog of bizarre and extreme crimes is filled with horror, tragedy, and untold human harm and loss, it includes an even larger list of more benign offenses that most TV producers would have no interest in devoting a 1-hour prime time show to; and even if they did, most of us would probably rather do our laundry than watch.
- In some ways, crimes that fall on the more “normal” side of the continuum of criminal behavior are even more interesting because they involve regular people in usual settings making decisions (some spontaneous, some not) about violating the law. The nature and dynamics of these sorts of everyday crimes provide a great deal of information about the root of criminal behavior-in fact, probably more than the extreme forms of criminal behavior, which can often be explained in terms of severe psychopathology or social or political conflict.
- Crime exists only to the extent to which behavior is legally defined as criminal by the larger society and culture. In some contexts (e.g., war, executions in correctional contexts) it is not a crime to kill another human being. In some states (e.g., Nevada) it is not a crime to engage is prostitution. Until 2003 engaging in a homosexual act was a crime in many states in the United States, and it is currently illegal in some places around the world. (1) “Crime is not an entity in fact but an entity in law” (Radzinowicz, 1966, p. 22) and “technically speaking, there is no ‘crime’ without ‘criminal law’” (Shelden, 2002, p.23). “Criminal behavior is a special category of behavior that has been defined through socio-cultural-legal-political-economic processes as outside of the bounds of the law.” This is important in reviewing criminal behavior research because theoretical concepts central to understanding the mechanisms of criminal behavior such as “antisocial behavior”, “aggression”, “psychopathy”, or “deviance” are sometimes confounded with criminality in the research literature and popular discourse. For example studies on aggression are often conducted in laboratory settings with animals or humans who are engaged in some laboratory task. “Can research on aggression in rats be applied to human crime and violence? Are the processes that produce antisocial behavior, such as lying or cheating on a spouse, the same processes as are involved in violating the law? Can theories explaining how people develop deviant identities also explain how people develop criminal identities? Much of the current knowledge base on crime and criminal behavior draws from research focusing on these other concepts.
- The term “social and behavioral sciences” is often used to encompass the many disciplines and subdisciplines involved in the study of criminal behavior, with scholars from a wide range of fields in sociology, psychology, criminology, and criminal justice engaged in the study of crime. The scientific study of crime evolved from the classical and positivist schools of thought and the disciplines of sociology and psychology. Eighteenth-century discourse on criminal behavior came from the work of classical theorists Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, who saw crime as a product of free will, committed by people who made cost-benefit analyses regarding the pleasure crime would bring. The positivist school of thought emerged in the early 1800s with the writings of Cesare Lombroso (The Criminal Man) and with French mathematician-astronomer Adolphe-Jacques Quetelet’s “social physics” and French lawyer Andre-Michel Guerry’s “moral statistical analysis”, supporting the notion that crime could be measured and predicted. Criminology emerged as a subfield of sociology in the 1930s, and Criminology and Criminal Justice as a distinct academic discipline originated in the 1960s and 1970s. Psychologists have been interested in criminal behavior since the advent of psychology as a discipline (Blackburn, 1993).
- The study of criminal behavior is much more interdisciplinary today than in the past. However, scholars continue to be divided into the same two camps that have historically defined the study of crim. More than 40 years ago, criminologist Sir Leon Radzinowicz wrote:
We are here at the sources of the two fundamental approaches to the study of crime; crime as a product or expression of society and crime as a product or expression of individual constitution. From them developed two schools of thought. To one the central task of criminology was to explain the existence and distribution of crime in society; its natural tendency was to see the social factors as of overwhelming importance. To the other, the purpose of criminology was to discover why certain individuals became criminal. The tendency here was to stress the significance of constitutional factors. (Radzinowicz, 1966, pp. 29-30)
- The long history of these two general schools of thought-criminal behavior as a product of social forces versus criminal behavior as a product of individual constitution-has been somewhat resistant to change, and even the titles of text about crime have historically reflected one or the other perspective. Texts titled “Criminology” tend to approach the study of crime from a macrosociological framework whereas texts titled “Criminal Behavior” often focus more on the micro-level dynamics of individual criminality.
- "Criminal behavior” is an individual-level behavioral product of an infinite array of factors and forces that converge at a given point in time. The term “crime” can be understood more broadly as the collective amount of criminal behavior in a society.
- Over the past 200 years, a large body of literature has accumulated on crime and criminal behavior. Advances in the academic fields of criminology, criminal justice, and forensic psychology had led to recognition that theory and empirical research is critical to effective and efficient use of social resources to respond to crime. Old “tough on crime” approaches that called for harsh response to crime without attention to the nature of different types of offense behavior, rehabilitative potential, and levels o risk have been replaced by a trend favoring “smart on crime reforms” such as elimination of mandatory minimum sentences, more effective response to technical violations of probation and parole, and prison closures (Greene, 2003). These reforms rely heavily on theory and empirical research on the nature and extent of criminal behavior and the accurate measurement of crime. “Prevention and corrections have moved from ‘noting works’ through ‘what works’ to ‘making what works work’” (Andrews * Bonta, 2006, p. iii). More than at any other time in history, the science of criminal behavior today is making its way into policy and practice at every stage of the criminal justice system.
- When a crime occurs, the first question that tends to comes to people’s minds is “Why?” This is especially true when the crime in question is heinous or extraordinary. Many prominent scholars have attempted to answer the question, “What makes people commit crime?” In 1988, Jack Katz, author of “Seductions of Crime”, wrote:
The social science literature contains only scattered evidence of what it means, feels, sounds, tastes, or looks like to commit a particular crime. Readers of research on homicide and assault do not hear the slaps and curses, see the pushes and shoves, or feel the humiliation and rage that may build toward the attack, sometimes persisting after the victim’s death. How adolescents manage to make the shoplifting or vandalism of cheap and commonplace things a thrilling experience has not been intriguing to many students of delinquency. Researchers of adolescent gangs have never grasped why their subjects so often stubbornly refuse to accept the outsider’s insistence that they wear the “gang” label The description of “cold blooded, senseless murderers” has been left to writers outside the social sciences. Neither academic methods nor academic theories seem to be able to grasp why such killers may have been courteous to their victims just moments before the killing, why they often wait until they have dominated victims in sealed-off environments before coldly executing them, or how it makes sense to kill when only petty cash is at stake. (Katz, 1988, p.3)
Twenty years later, many integrative theories have been developed to explain how biological, developmental, personality, social, and situational factors and forces converge to produce criminal behavior (e.g., Agnew, 2005; Barak, 1998; Elliott, Ageton, & Canter, 1979; Gottfredsen & Hirschi, 1990; Moffit, 1993; Robinson, 2004; Thornberry, 1987; Tittle, 1995), yet none sufficiently answers all of the questions about all types of crime nor do they bring us much closer to understanding, as Karz suggests, “what it means, feels, sounds, tastes, or looks like to commit a particular crime.”
- The botched Arctic training dive from the icebreaker has nothing to do with criminal behavior, except that the conclusion of the Healy investigation is a useful analogy in thinking about the causes of crime. Like the botched dive resulting in the accidental deaths of the “Healy” divers, criminal behavior occurs as a result of a series of interlocking events and would not occur if any link in a chain of events and decisions were broken.” This notion of a series of intertwined factors that converge to produce a particular outcome, whether accidental death or medical disease or criminal behavior, is far from novel and not especially exciting. Furthermore, such a complex explanation does not lend itself to a single concrete answer to the problem of crime. However, it is important to note that the outcome of the Healy investigation led to concrete changes in the Coast Guard in memory of Office Duque and Lieutenant Hill, with the goal of preventing future diver deaths by breaking links in the events and decisions that led to the botched dive. If every crime were analyzed to the extent that this Coast Guard tragedy was investigated and data collected to determine the successive events linked to produce the criminal act, then the science of criminal behavior would be much more advanced and steps could be taken to prevent future crimes. The final action memorandum from the U.S.Coast Guard said, “We will honor our lost shipmates and keep faith with our Core Values of Honor, respect, and Devotion to Duty by diligently directing our energies toward improving our performance through the elimination of the shortfalls that led to this tragedy” (Final Action, 2007, p. 27). Like the Healy diving incident, many criminal acts result in tragic consequences for victims and communities who would be similarly honored by “directing energies toward improving performance through the elimination of shortfalls” that led to the criminal event. “In thinking about and researching what makes people commit crime, it is important to think in terms of a chain of events that can be closely examined and deliberately interrupted.” Like the “Healy” incident, if we were to retrospectively analyze every criminal event, we would likely find that most crime is preventable-that if one link in the chain had been missing, the crime would not have occurred. Identifying how to prevent and respond to crime requires this sort of detailed analysis of criminal events.
- It is unlikely that each and every criminal behavior committed will ever be retrospectively scrutinized in the same manner as accidental deaths (whether in the line of duty, in the medical field, or from accidents resulting from product malfunction or negligence in other arenas). However, understanding why crime occurs requires focus on both aggregate-level factors (e.g., factors statistically associated with criminal behavior across large groups of offenders) and individual-level factors (the unique influences and chain of events in an individual’s life contributing to the criminal behavior). Theory and research directed toward identifying correlates of crime at the aggregate level as well as detailed analysis of individual-level offenses are necessary to explain why crime occurs. For example, research shows that gender, age, and social class are highly correlated with criminal behavior, with young males of lower socioeconomic status being more likely to commit crime. However, knowing that a person is young, male, and poor yells us very little about why a particular person decides to engage in an individual criminal behavior or a lifestyle of crime, nor can these factors be used to predict or clearly explain the dynamics of individual-level criminal acts.
- The second most frequently asked question about crime is, “How much crime is there?” Criminal justice policies and practices are generally ties to both the nature and the extent of crime. Attention and resources are allocated based on where the greatest need arises, which can depend on the amount of social harm or public fear crime causes. For example, even though some types of crime are particularly shocking or horrific, such as cannibalism and fetus theft, these crimes are extremely rare. It is unlikely that a great deal of resources will be directed to preventing or responding to crimes that almost never occur. On the other hand, some types of crime are so common people almost forget that they are crimes at all, such as drunk driving and domestic violence. With these types of crimes, all it takes is a few atrocity tales and a moral panic to generate a wave of concern that sometimes leads to increased resources and attention.
How much crime exists is a question of great interest to the news media, who often report when crime in general or certain types of crime are on the rise or falling, crime sprees in a certain location, or particular areas experiencing disproportionate amounts of certain types of crimes. This information is also important to the public, politicians, and policymakers who use official crime rates to make decisions about allocation of resources to law enforcement agencies. Newspaper deadlines typically provide a snapshot of information from governmental reports or studies informing the public about the rise, fall, or pattern of crime[.]
- [C]riminologists have proven to be notoriously bad predictors of crime rates. This is because there are so many factors that converge to produce increases or decreases in aggregate levels of crime.
For example, the most powerful correlates of crime are age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Males between the ages of 14 and 24 from impoverished backgrounds are disproportionately represented in both offender and victimization statistics. This means that a criminologist could safely predict that when demographic shifts occur in society, such as decreasing number of male youth age 14 to 24 in the population, crime will decrease. However, crime rates in aggregate and individual-level criminal behavior are much more complicated that the theories would lead us to believe, and some might say virtually impossible to accurately predict given the varieties of human behavior and the endless parade of variables that affect criminal behavior.
- Similar to that old philosophical conundrum, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” criminologists ask “if you’re not caught, is it really a crime?” The term dark figure of crime refers to all of the unknown crimes that do not make it into official crime data, victimization surveys, or research studies or the discrepancy between crime known to police an the true extent of crime. The amount of crime that actually occurs far exceeds the amount of crime reported to police. The majority of crime becomes known to police through citizen complaints. However, in many cases citizens do not report crime to the police. Mosher, Miethe, and Phillips (2002) offer some of the many reasons crimes are not reported to police:
Some victims lack trust in the police or have severe reservations about the ability of law enforcement officials to solve crimes. Some fear retaliation and reprisals from offenders for reporting crimes; others think it is not worth their while to report offenses because, for example, the property is uninsured and probably will not be recovered. The victims in some crime situations may also be involved in criminal activities themselves (e.g. drug sellers or prostitutes who are victims of robbery) which decreases their likelihood of reporting. Others believe the incident was a “private matter,” “nothing could be done,” or was not important enough.” Public apathy and the desire to “not get involved” may underlie some witnesses’ reluctance to report offenses they observe. (p.84)
Other reasons include the belief that someone else will report the crime (e.g., in the case of nuisance offenses such as disorderly conduct or vandalism against public property) or a belief that calling the police may cause more harm than good to a family (e.g., I the case of domestic violence). Whether or not a crime makes its way into official statistics also depends on police discretion in recording an incident as a crime. There are many offenses that never make it past 911 dispatchers and many that officers choose not to report either because the evidence is weak, the crime has no clear victim, the crime is not serious, or the complainant prefers not to press charges. In many such situations, criminal behavior has occurred, however the behavior does not make it into official statistics. Even in cases in which the offense is reported to and by police, many details about the criminal behavior never make it into the police report and are forever lost.
- In thinking about the dark figure of crime and the gap between the true extent of crime and crime known to police, it is important to realize that, for any behavior to be defined as criminal, it has to be prohibited by law. “Crime is a social construction” that depends on cultural, social, political, economic, and legal decisions about what is and what is not outside the bounds of the law. If there is no law against a particular behavior, then that behavior is not criminal behavior. Or, if certain people are not perceived as offenders, they may not show up in official statistics. For example, until relatively recently law enforcement did not recognize female gang members because females were excluded from official definitions of gang membership (Sikes, 1996). Thus, even though criminal behavior is studied by psychologists and other behavioral scientists who research anger, aggression, impulsivity, and other characteristics associated with behavior that violates the law, criminal behavior cannot be understood without recognizing that “criminal behavior is a special category of human behavior that is defined by a broad range of cultural forces.”
Crime also requires that certain elements be present-most important, “mens rea” (criminal intent) and “actus reus” (act violating the law). Furthermore, if a person intentionally engaged in behavior that violates the law, to be considered a criminal (and recorded in official statistics), the person would have to be convicted of the offense in a court of law. Thus, to be defined as a crime, a behavior must be an intentional violation of the law. An interesting question to consider is, “if a person commits a crime-steals something or kills someone-and isn’t caught, has that person committed a crime?”
- Almost 15 years after the murders, many people still believe O.J. Simpson committed the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. However, he was not convicted for the offense, so even if he now decided to confess to the crime in a book or any other forum, he did not commit the crime. The homicides of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were obviously reported to police, someone was arrested, and the crime was reflected in the Uniform Crime Reports for 1994. However, O.J. Simpson himself did not make it into the official data as a convicted or incarcerated offender.
What if Simpson did commit these murders? What if, even though he was acquitted for the offense, he “confessed” years later? Can Simpson’s behavior be considered criminal? How can we understand the universe of criminal behavior, when there are so many offenses for which we don’t have all the information because the offender is not caught or convicted, or because the offense never comes to the attention of the police in the first place? While most homicides do not come to the attention of police, only “half of all crimes are reported to police” (Hart & Rennison, 2003). This means that official data collected by police tell only half of the story. And, as the O.J. Simpson case illustrates, even crimes that do make it into official statistics sometimes go unsanctioned with the offender unknown. “The 50% of all crime that is never reported to police is the dark figure of crime.” Beyond this, there are many details of criminal acts for which offenders aren’t caught or aren’t talking. Thus, even when offenses are known to police, may unknown features of criminal behavior are never uncovered.
- Victimization data supplement UCR data by providing information about crimes not reported to police, but they are still not able to capture the entire dark figure of crime. Victimization surveys are, of course, not able to capture offenses where there is no identifiable victim, such as public order offenses like drug offenses, gambling, disorderly conduct, trespassing, public drunkenness, and prostitution. Other excluded crimes include murder, bank robbery, and nonresidential economic crimes such as tax evasion, nonresidential burglary, possession of stolen property, and employee theft. Thus, since a large majority of offenses involve public order and nonresidential economic crime, victimization surveys are able to provide information about only a small subset of crimes, primarily violent and sex crimes, personal theft, motor vehicle theft, and residential burglary.
Mosher, Miethe, and Phillips (2002) caution that using victimization data has four inherent problems:
1. Victimization surveys cover only a small range of crimes.
2. Victimization surveys are based on sample data rather than population counts, subjecting them to distortion from sampling error and sampling bias.
3. Victimization surveys are based on victims’ perceptions without independent confirmation.
4. Question wording and technical elements of the survey, including the use of different procedures over time, make it difficult to compare victimization rates over time.
These problems do not diminish the value of victimization data, given that official UR data have their own flaws. Victimization data are important in minimizing the dark figure of crime and necessary to understanding criminal behavior. A first step in studying any form of criminal behavior should involve consulting both UCR and victimization data (and any other available data) for crime categories in which data are available.
- Beyond official statistics collected by the FBI in the UCR and victimization surveys, there are many self-report surveys that attempt to gather information from the offenders’ perspective. Self-report surveys provide information about criminal incidents from the offenders’ perspective and are able to capture information about crimes that do not come to the attention of the police, that victims are not willing to report, as well as public order and other offenses that may not have a clearly identifiable victim.
Self-report surveys were developed beginning in the 1940s and 1950s out of concern among criminologists that official statistics were reflecting a distorted picture of crime. Self-report measures have developed substantially over the past 50 years and are now considered a fundamental reliable and valid method of scientifically measuring criminality and the bedrock of etiological studies (Thornberry & Krohn, 2000).
Self-report surveys provide information about criminal events that is not translated into legalistic definitions and the victim perspective and are one of the few means through which information about offender motivation can be obtained. Information about offender motivation generally comes from two sources: self-report of involvement in crime or inferences made by researchers from behavioral evidence. Obtaining accurate data on offender motivation is problematic because it involves either trusting the offenders’ account or making inferences from behaviors.
- There are two general types of self-report surveys: surveys of unknown offenders and surveys of known offenders. Surveys of unknown offenders provide information that has not made it into official police data. Surveys of known offenders may provide insight into the details of a criminal event including offender motivation, situational factors, and thoughts and feelings of the offender before, during, and after the event. Surveys of unknown offenders can be problematic in that respondents may not want to share information that they fear may be reported to police. Surveys of known offenders may not provide a completely accurate picture if offenders are fearful that the information could be used against them in some way. With both types of self-report surveys, results may not be valid and reliable because they depend on the offender’ memory of a criminal event, recall ability, and the extent to which the offender is willing to share information about the event. Furthermore, offenders may experience memory lapses or want to present themselves in a more positive light. In some cases, this may not even be a conscious decision because oftentimes people remember what they want to remember about an event, especially in recalling a criminal event in which the offender’s behavior may cause shame or embarrassment.
- The association of legalization of abortion and crime rates is a novel and controversial suggestion based on the notion that unwanted children are at greater risk for crime and abortion reduces the number of unwanted children. In other words, unwanted children born after 1973, would have become the criminals who elevated the crime rate in the mid-1990s. Other shave argues that the dramatic drop in crime in the mid-1990s was the result of changing sensibilities. According to Tonry (2004), “Crime rates change slowly, in response to long-term social and normative changes: (p. 112) and when people’s attitude toward a particular criminal behavior changes and becomes less tolerant, citizens are more likely to report crime to the police. Thus, at times when people are less tolerant of drug crime, more drug crimes will be noticed and reported to police, which in turn will inflate the statistical incidence of this type of criminal behavior. Still others have argued that the pea in crime rates in 1980 was the result of the expansion of the crack cocaine market couples with the spread of youth gangs and increased access to firearms. When the crack cocaine market matured and turf battled ended, crime began to decrease. The 1990s crime decrease in all offense categories suggests that “something fundamental was changing in the United States and it affected each of these major crimes in the same ways” (Tonry, 2004, p. 116). For example, historians have found that homicide rates since the 12th century (the earliest time for which quantitative data are available) declined steadily in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, and Switzerland from between 30 and 100 per 100,000 in the population to 10 per 100, 000 in the 18th century, to 1 to 2 per 100,000 in the 20th century. Considering more recent periods in Western countries in the mid-1990s, historians have described the violent crime rates as a “U” or “reversed J-shaped” curve (Tonr, 2004).
To make sense of criminal behavior at any given time and in a particular society or community, it is important to know whether or not a particular criminal behavior is a statistical anomaly or so common a behavior it can be said to be barely a crime at all, and to pay attention to the differences in the extent of crime types across geographical areas, communities, cultures, and time periods. It is also important to recognize that it is no easy task to compare/contrast and synthesize data across sources, and an even more difficult challenge to compare crime rates across time periods and cultures. For example, UCR crime categories are not the same as NCVS categories and self-report studies such as the NYS and NSDUH measure crimes and crime categories at a level not possible with official police data and victimization surveys (e.g., NSDUH provides data on drug use that are not available through other sources). Official statistics present only a limited picture of the extent of crime in the United States, and making sense of the nature and extent of crime in general or of a particular type of crime requires synthesizing multiple sources of data. Figure 1.2, Table 1.4, and Table 1.5 present UCR data on crime types from 1986 to 2006, the NCVS data for 2005, and a rough look at the difference in the amounts of violent and property crime reported by the UCR and NCVS.
- Crime is often approached as if it were an unchanging phenomenon-as if the reason why a person would commit crime in one time period or context carry over to very different or distant times, cultures, and situations. Perhaps this is because scientific paradigms do not shift fast enough to keep up with the many social and cultural forces at the heart of definitions of crime and individual-level criminal behavior. Politics influence what behaviors are legally defined as criminal. Economics shape individual choices, who has power to make and enforce the law, who will be targeted, and what items in society are valuable targets for crime. Technological advances, which have far surpassed any gains the social sciences have been able to make in the study of criminal behavior, have had an enormous impact on methods of committing and detecting certain types of crime and mass communication, though which people learn about are influenced by crime in society.
- A number of themes emphasized throughout this text are of critical importance for the study of criminal behavior in the 21st century. First, the typology approach to understanding similarities and differences of various types of crime lets us refine theories of how types and subtypes of crime are similar and different, allowing for concrete application of theory to practice. Second, the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and more recently criminology and criminal justice have historically operated in their own disciplinary vacuums. The time has come to connect and synthesize the longstanding theoretical and empirical dots to make a more sophisticated understanding of criminal behavior possible. Third, as the number-one correlate of crime, the role of gender needs to be more central in developing theory and empirical research on crime. Finally, how and why technology shapes criminal behavior is only beginning to be explored. Theories of the future must be able to explain how crime and criminal behavior is influenced by rapid changes in technology over short periods of time. Dynamic theories and creative research methodology is needed to tap into the ways in which technological and cultural changes quickly alter the face of crime.
- “All criminal behavior is not alike” in terms of motivation, offender-victim dynamics, situational factors, social harm, legal sanctions, and so on. While it is important to develop general theories of crime that attempt to explain most, if not all, criminal behavior, it is also important to identify the similarities and differences between types of crime Focus on typologies of criminal behavior and the distinct and overlapping features of crime categories offers a more nuanced understanding of the nature of different types and subtypes of crime. “Can a single theory explain why a woman kills her abusive husband, why a teenager steals a car, and why a group of people engage in drug smuggling? Are there features of the many different types of criminal behavior that are so distinct that they call for minitheories to explain subtypes of offense behaviors? What details do general theories of crime overlook regarding the nature and dynamics of distinct types of offensive behaviors? How an understanding these details enhance opportunities for meaningful criminal justice policy and practice at different stages of the criminal justice process?
“Dynamic theories and creative research methods designs are needed” to tap into the ways in which changes in technology and culture quickly alter the nature and dynamics of criminal behavior. Much of the empirical research is based on data collected many years ago and even recently published results often utilize aging data sets or involve secondary data analysis based on surveys from sources such as the nation Youth Survey that, though it has been changed over time, is not designed to answer questions relevant to particular time periods, places, subcultures, communities, gender, ethnic groups, and so on. Findings based on data collected 10, 20, or 50 years ago assume that there is little relationship between cultural changes and individual-level criminal behavior. “Does it make sense to explain criminal behavior using the same theories over time? Is crime committed in 2008 the same as it was in 1908, 1948 or 1988? Has popular culture and technology played a role in shaping criminal behavior in terms of offender motivation? Do the ways in which offenders commit their crimes change over time in relation to changes in technology and culture? Have advances in computer and media technology shaped criminal behavior in ways that call for new theories and empirical research that utilizes timely samples?” Surprisingly, researchers have only begun to ask these questions, and there is little empirical research to shed light on how or if crimes of today and in the future may be different from or similar to crimes of the near or distant past.
- pp.31, 37
- "Insulation and disconnection across disciplines is a major hindrance to advances in criminal behavior research.” Even though the study of crime has become much more interdisciplinary over time, with a greater number of scholars coming from PhD programs in criminology/criminal justice (that emphasize multiple disciplinary perspectives on the study of crime and its societal response), important work being done in many fields remains disconnected. Even scholars whose academic background is heavily interdisciplinary often have a particular allegiance to one or another disciplinary camp. The more students and researchers of criminal behavior are willing to cross disciplinary boundaries to make critical theoretical linkages, the more advanced our understanding of crime will be. Contributions from the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, social wor, political science, communications, cultural studies, women studies, ethnic studies, theology, philosophy, biology, neurochemistry, neuropsychology, computer science, and other disciplines must be linked and synthesized to advance the knowledge base. Many pockets of important work are being done in multiple disciplines. Critical
- Since then, increasing attention has been paid to the applicability of male theories of crime to women and girls, the male as predator/female as victim dichotomy maintained by patriarchy, and gender discrimination and disparity in the criminal justice system. Meda Chesney-Lind, author of The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime (1997) and numerous other books and articles, has been referred to as the “Mother of feminist criminology” (Belknap, 2004) and is one of the most prolific writers and outspoken voices on feminist criminology. Her work highlights the contextual features of the lives of girls and women that influence their involvement in crime as offenders and victims and the disparate and discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system.
Feminist criminology raised issues regarding not only the applicability of male theories of crime to female offenders, but also the gendered nature of crime. In his important work, Masculinities and Crime, Messerschmidt (1993) called for attention to the masculinity-crime connection, arguing that criminology has ignored the most central predictor of crime. According to Meserschmidt,“Crime by men is a form of social practice invoked as a resource, when other resources are unavailable, for accomplishing masculinity” (p.85). In Feminism and Criminology, Naffine (1996) offered a critical analysis of the impact of masculinity and feminimity on criminal behavior and the discipline of criminology, arguing that the gendered nature of crime is perpetuated by “a desperate desire to preserve men from associations with the feminine and its supposed weakness and subordination” (p. 148). Gerbner (1994) and Jhally (1999) have highlighted the role of mass media technology in shaping and solidifying the masculinity-crime/feminimity-victim ideology, giving attention to the ways in which media images pit the male aggressor against the female victim and make it virtually impossible for males or females to break out of these culturally designated roles.
This research suggests that there is still a lot of work to be done to unravel the gendered nature of criminal behavior. Katz (2006) argues that violence against women is a men’s issue and men need to take action and personal responsibility for the problem of crime. Others such as Naffine (1996) emphasize the need to address the gendered nature of criminology as a discipline more centrally:
The most pressing intellectual and ethical obligation of those of us who wish to persist with the study of crime, its meaning and reasons, is to bring women (and other exiles) in from the cold. In order to know more about who we are as criminologists, about the very nature of our enterprise and whether it is worth pursuing at all, we need to open up the conventional borders of the discipline. (Naffine, 1996, p 153)
This important work in the area of feminist criminology an gender and crime has set the theoretical foundation for future research that may begin to explain the masculinity-crime link and gender differences and similarities in offending patterns.
- In the last 30 to 40 years, male and female crime rates have converged and the gender gap in offending has narrowed considerably (Heimer, 2000). Some argue that three has been a rise in female crime and violence (Krista, 1994), whereas others caution that increases in official rates of female offending reflect changes in law and criminal justice policy and practice that have disproportionately targeted girls and women (Chesney-Lind, 1997; Daly & Chesney-Lind, 1988). It is unclear, however, whether this convergence is the result of actual differences in male and female offending patterns or an artifact of increased police attention to female offenders and society’s acceptance of the notion that girls and women are just as capable as boys and men of committing crime. Important gains have been made in recent years in research on female aggression and the application of historically male constructs such as psychopathy to female offender populations. This research suggests that females are just as aggressive as males but that behavior manifestations of aggression in females (and males) depend on cultural, situational, and individual-specific factors (Bjorkqvist & Niemela, 1992; Campbell, 1994).
- Fortunately, the statistical likelihood of being the victim of a heinous crime is slim to none. Most of us are more likely to die or become incapacitated by our own bad habits than by violent crime. However, crime touches all of our lives. Most of us will be, or will come into personal contact with, victims or perpetrators of some type of crime during our lifetimes. Even for the rare person who manages to avoid personally experiencing crime, daily consumption of crime in the media ensures that fear of crime and public safety have a permanent place as one of our top priorities for communities, politicians, local and federal government, and citizens.
Much public and media attention is directed to the business of how to catch, convict, and punish criminals. It is impossible to respond to crime without asking, "What causes a person to engage in criminal behavior?” Beyond natural human curiosity, we need to know something about why crime occurs and who we’re dealing with in order to control and respond to crime. Knowing something about the factors associated with criminal behavior, the characteristics of offender types, and the “causes” of crime provides information with which to pursue and investigate suspects, adjudicate defendants, make sentencing determinations, manage offenders in correctional institutions, make parole and reentry decisions, and design crime prevention and crime control strategies. All kinds of theories about why individuals commit crime are bandied about in public discourse. Crime is the product of rational choice and free will. Crime is caused by parental neglect and sexual and physical abuse. Crime is caused by poverty and social disorganization. Crime is caused by too much TV, mental illness, peer influences, the quest for power, violent films and video games, bad genes, head trauma, lack of attachment, too much attachment, pornography, social isolation, being bullied in school, Twinkies, PMS, Beevis and Butthead, The Catcher in the Rye, and so on . . . .
- Chapter 2, p.46
- In recent years criminologists have recognized that comprehensive and accurate understanding and prediction of criminal behavior require theoretical and disciplinary integration. Many disciplines and knowledge bases are necessary to fully understand criminal behavior. Crime has been explored within the disciplines of criminology and criminal justice, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, biology, philosophy, social work, law, anthropology, political science, economics, cultural and media studies, women’s studies, and others. Though no unified theory or model yet exists that can be considered truly integrative (Fishbein, 2001; Schmalleger, 2004), promising integrative models that have emerged (Barak, 1998; Hickey, 2002; Robinson, 2004) offer insight into the developmental pathways and manifestations of criminal behavior. Criminologists are challenged to develop a comprehensive and coherent explanation of criminal behavior that takes into account the diverse and sometimes conflicting theories, frameworks, and perspectives across the range of disciplines from which criminal behavior has been historically approached.
The lack of complex integrated theory construction (largely rooted in historical competition between macro-level sociological theories and micro-level psychological theories) and inability to come up with a general theory to explain all types of criminal behavior call into question how much criminologists really know about crime. Criminologists’ analyses are rarely heard in mass media, which are dominated by the perspectives of criminal justice professionals and news journalists (Tunnel, 1998). However, “the mass media pundits, the public cultural critics, and the professional politicians who are all engaged in the business of talking about crime know far less than criminologists do” (Barak, 1998, p.5). This “talking about crime” that inundates us on a daily basis through news media, pop culture, the Internet, and politics makes it especially important to be able to sort fact from fiction, theory from anecdote, and scientific methodology from everyday observation and the may fallacies that exist about crime (Felson, 2002).
- "Criminology” is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on crime, criminal behavior, and its social response. “Criminologists” are searchers, academics, and policy analysts with advanced degrees (usually in criminology, criminal justice, or sociology) who study crime, crime trends, and social reactions to crime (Schmalleger, 2004). Contemporary criminology is historically rooted in two schools of thought-positivist criminology and classical criminology. “Positivist criminology” locates the root fo criminal behavior in identifiable factors such as biological, psychological, and environmental forces. “Classical criminology” identified free will as the root of criminal behavior, based on the notion that all human beings make choices about the behaviors they engage in, and offenders engage in a cost-benefit analysis before choosing to commit a crime.
“Contemporary criminologists recognize than criminal behavior involves both free will and deterministic forces.” A clear line cannot be drawn between classical and positivist thought (Barak, 1998), and an individual’s decision to engage in criminal behavior cannot be viewed as an either-or phenomenon. According to Katz (1988):
The statistical and correlational findings of positivist criminology provide the following irritations to inquiry: (1) whatever the validity of the hereditary, psychological, and social-ecological conditions of crime, many of those in the supposedly casual categories do not commit the crime at issue, (2) many who do commit the crime do not fit the causal categories and (3) what is most provocative, many who do fit the background categories and later commit the predicted crime go for long stretched without committing the crimes to which the theory direct them. (pp. 3-4)
- Most crimes are adaptive, normal, and easy to understand, and (in legalistic terms) all crime can be explained by the existence of a criminal law prohibiting such behavior (Robinson, 2004). Some crimes are much more difficult to understand and explain. It is not hard to comprehend why someone would steal because they’re hungry or to support a drug addiction. But understanding an explaining why a woman would shoot a pregnant acquaintance in the head and then cut out her fetus or why a young man would abduct, rape, torture, and murder a child is much more difficult and requires attention to research and theory from multiple disciplines.
- Multiple theories can be used to explain criminal behavior, with recognition that no single discipline is capable of offering “the answer.” The study of criminal behavior has historically been approached from a range of disciplines and perspectives with minimal theoretical integration. Many theories of crime, antisocial behavior, and deviance overlap and cannot be neatly separated by discipline. For purpose of clarity, disciplinary perspectives and criminology knowledge bases are broken down into six general areas and related research questions:
1. Biological: What are the biological roots of criminal behavior?
2. Psychological: What psychological factors contributed to this behavior?
3. Sociological: What sociological forces contributed to this behavior?
4. Routine Activity/Opportunity/Ecological: What situational, contextual, environmental factors provided the setting and opportunity for this crime to occur?
5. Cultural: What cultural forces provided the context in which this crime could occur?
6. Phenomenological: What personal meaning does the crime hold for the offender?
Although there is much disciplinary and theoretical overlap, the six bodies of knowledge represent unique ways of looking at crime and offer specific tools with which to analyze criminal behavior. Each area represents particular factors that contribute to criminal behavior and is briefly summarized to provide a general overview of the knowledge bases from which interdisciplinary criminology draws.
- Biological theories explain crime in terms of the interaction between biological predisposition and environmental conditions on behavioral outcomes (Fishbein, 2001). Studies show that behaviors, characteristics, and traits associated with crime such as aggression, impulsivity, antisocial personality, and psychopathy are influenced by a range of biological factors including evolution and genetics, brain biochemistry and function, brain injury, hormonal influences, physiology, physical anomalies and body build, diet and blood sugar levels, and cognitive deficits (Raine, 1993).
- Evolutionary theories of crime are based on the notion that natural selection is the inevitable result of three fundamental features of live:
1. Heredity-physical and behavioral traits are genetcally passed form parent to offspring.
2. “Variation”-individuals differ in their physical traits and behaviors.
3. Differential reproduction”-the inherited traits of some individuals will result int eh reproduction of more offspring.
- Hereditable traits are reproductively “adaptive” (advantageous), “maladaptive” (disadvantageous), or “neural” (Jones, 1999). Rooted in neo-Darwinian theories of evolution, these theories state that genes dictate that reproduction is the most vital function of an organism, and that DNA codes for priority reproduction must take in order for a species to survive (Fishbein, 2001). Reproduction is a genetically driven evolutionary process that codes for anatomical and physiological traits. Criminal behavior, like all behaviors, revolves around reproductive drives. Proposed evolutionary theories relevant to antisocial and criminal behavior include the r/K theory, the cheater theory, the adaptation hypothesis, and evolutionary theories of rape. All attempt to explain criminal behavior in terms of its long-term reproductive consequences.
Heritability studies (involving twin and adoption studies) suggest that personality factors and traits linked to aggressive and violent behavior, may be heritable. Findings suggest that childhood aggression, disruptive behavior, and aggressive behavior across the life course may be mediated by genetic factors (Mik et al., 2007). Some research suggests that aggressiveness is transmitted across generations within families (Huesmann, Enron, & Lefkowitz, 1984) and that alcoholism, susceptibility to aggressive and impulsive behaviors, and personality disorders including conduct disorder, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit disorder, and antisocial personality disorder are genetically influenced (Fishbein, 2001). Studies have found that children who have mothers with histrionic personality disorder (HPD) and fathers with antisocial personality disorder (APD) are more likely to have the disorders themselves (histrionic personality disorder if female and antisocial personality disorder if male) and that HPD and APD are sex-types manifestations of psychopathy (Spalt, 1980; Warner, 1978). However, heredity studies do not identify the genetically influences biological mechanisms that may contribute to these traits (Fishbein, 2001), which may be identified in the future through the discovery of the human genome sequence.
- One of the more interesting of the biological theories is the “cheater theory”. This theory holds that, in some species, alternative reproductive strategies have evolved in some males. In these species, at least two types of males have evolved-“dads” and “cads.” Because males do not need to grow offspring to reproduce as females do, they have greater latitude in their reproductive behavior. Dads reproduce by accommodating female preferences for males who are prone to provide parental care for their offspring. Cads reproduce by using force or deception to mate without providing adequate care for their offspring. According to this theory, chronic offenders are “human cads,” and cheater males are more likely to evolve in large, impersonal societies where their adaptive strategy is likely to go undetected. This tendency to use deception in the mating process extends to other situations, resulting in the use of cheating, theft, risk-taking, and other antisocial behaviors and crimes (Fishbein, 2001, pp. 22-23)
- Studies on the relationship between hormones and crime have focused on testosterone and other male hormones called androgens. Data from animal and human studies suggest that male hormones are associated with aggression in some individuals under some circumstances (Fishbein, 2001). The surge of testosterone in postpubertal males (10 times greater than in postpubertal females) partially accounts for the onset of antisocial behavior in most adolescent males and the differences in offending rates between males and females of any age (Walsh, 2002). Male sex hormones operating on the human brain appear to increase the probability of “competitive/victimizing behavior”-behavior directed at others that exists along a continuum from altruistic acts that make no profit to acts that intentionally and directly harm or dispossess others of their property (Ellis, 2005). There is some evidence to suggest that testosterone is associated with juvenile delinquency, but the association between testosterone and antisocial behavior diminishes in adulthood (Bold, Bernard, & Snipes, 2002). Other findings suggest that the link between testosterone and adult aggressive and violent behavior is well established byt this relationship may be absent, or reversed with respect to aggression in children (Raine, 2002). Regarding sex offenders, testosterone provides the basis for general sexual drive, but research linking abnormality of androgen metabolism with aberrant sexual behavior is not strongly supported and is characterized by conflicting results (Hucker & Baine, 1989). The testosterone-aggression relationship appears to be dependent on contextual, social circumstance, and personality factors (Fishbein, 2001). A critical question is whether or not her relationship between testosterone and aggression and violence is causal (Raine, 1993).
- Recent research addressing the interaction between biological and environmental factors shows that biological and social factors interact to produce antisocial and criminal behavior. The best-replicated biosocial effect appears to be the interaction of birth complications with negative home environments in predisposing adult violence (Taine, 2002). Sophisticated theories, particularly in the are of evolutionary psychology, are now being develop to explain the complex relationship between biology and environment in producing criminal behavior. Ellis (2005) proposes the evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory, which envisions criminality as the result of a complex interaction between biological factors resulting from evolutionary history, social learning, and social environmental factors.
- Psychological theories attribute criminal behavior to individual differences resulting from early psychodynamic development, information processing and cognition, and conditioning processes. Psychological theories of crime are micro-level theories that locate the source of criminality within the individual, with the idea that crime is a symptom of an individual’s internal psychological condition. Much of the psychological research on criminal behavior has focused on the relationships between personality, mental disorder, and crime. Research at the intersection of psychology and criminology has emphasized integration of cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic perspectives in the development of functional concepts of psychopathy and criminality (Meloy, 1988; Walters, 1990). Because crime is a social construct, psychological research on criminal behavior involves study of internal psychological conditions that produce behaviors associated with crime such as antisocial behavior, psychopathy, aggression, and impulsivity. From this perspective, “crime is a behavioral symptom that is a manifestation of an internal psychological condition.” Recent research has focused to a large extent on the role of psychopathy in criminal behavior and the predictive utility of the construct in assessing dangerousness and future violence.
- Psychodynamic theories of criminal behavior focus on development of the psyche in infancy. From this perspective, motivation for criminal behavior is rooted in an individual’s psychodynamic structure and development. Contemporary psychodynamic theories of criminal behavior are rooted in Freud’s theory of the id, ego and superego. Freud postulated that behavior is the product of the interaction of the id, ego, superego with the environment. The id represents the human drive for pleasure, the ego regulates the id in accordance with the demands of the external environment, and the superego reflects the conscience and ego ideal or the parental voice inside one’s head that says “Do the right thing.”
- Many theories and typologies developed from the psychoanalytic perspective suggest that there are different developmental routes to criminal behavior. Andrews and Bonta (2003) review four offender types that have emerged from psychodynamic theory: (1) weak superego type, (2) weak ego type, (3) the “normal” antisocial offender, and (4) the neurotic offender. The weak “superego type” needs immediate gratification and does not hear or respond to that “voice inside the head.” The “weak ego type” is immature and has poorly developed social skills, gullibility, and dependence resulting in criminal behavior through misreading of the external environment and stumbling into crime (e.g., following the leader). The ““normal” antisocial offender type” passes through normal stages of development as a fully functioning adult but possesses a procriminal superego as a result of identification with a criminal parent and ego-mastery of criminal skills. The “neurotic offender type” has an overactive superego that results in criminal behavior to fulfill the wish to be punished for “past sins.”
The “weak superego theory” is the most popular of the theories in the psychodynamic literature and was the topic of much discourse and discussion of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Behavioral indicators of a weak superego include reckless disregard for conventional rules, lack of conscience and antisocial cognitions, weak ambition, absence of guilt, early conduct problems, expressions of bravado, authority conflicts, and isolation (Andrews & Bonta, 2003). These features have been consistently associated with antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and criminal behavior. An example of a the weak superego theory is Hervey Cleckley’s (1941) classic work, “The Mask of Sanity”, which, thogh not solely focused on criminal behavior, offers case study illustrations of criminal and noncriminal psychopaths. According to Cleckley, psychopaths have a “defect in affect” that enables them to harm and manipulate others without remorse. Psychopaths delight in shocking others and have no interest in engaging in conformist behaviors. Cleckley identified 16 characteristics of the psychopath (discussed in Chapter 4, such as unreliability, lack of remorse or shame, and failure to learn from experience, that reflect defect in interpersonal relations and unwillingness or inability to adhere to social (and superego) norms, rules, and values.
- Another prominent superego pathology theory is Kernberg’s theory of “borderline personality organization (BPO)”. BPO theory is particularly helpful in terms of understanding how internal conditions across the continuum of personality produce a tendency toward criminal behavior. According to Kernnberg (1966, 1967, 1984, 1985a, 1985b, 1992), personality is organized by capacity for reality testing and unconscious defensive process. Psychotic personality organization is characterized by absence of reality testing and the use of primitive defenses, borderline personality organization by capacity for reality testing and use of primitive defenses, and neurotic personality organization by capacity for reality testing and use of higher-level defenses (Figure 2.1).
Kernberg’s “primitive defenses” center around the lower level mechanism of “splitting”, the the related mechanisms of “primitive idealization, projective identification, denial, omnipotence,” and “devaluation”. Splitting is a genotypic defensive operation that is expressed through the phenotypic defensive process of dissociation. This defensive operation is pathognomic of general borderline ego functioning, particularly in the psychopath (Meloy, 1988). Kernberg (1976) views splitting as alternating ego states, each consisting of completely separate complex psychic manifestations, a fundamental feature of the borderline ego functioning experienced by the narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, and psychopathic personalities. Splitting is a defensive process exemplified by lack of personality integration, and the coexistence of distinct cohesive personality attitudes with conflicting aims, goals, and moral and aesthetic values (Kohut, 1971). Put simply, splitting is the view of oneself and others as all good or all bad with an inability to reconcile the two identities.
- Primitive defenses facilitate criminal behavior because they enable an individual to objectify and harm other human beings while maintaining an image of themselves as all-good. By definition, crime requires “mens rea” (a guilty mind); thus, individuals who are psychotic may commit criminal behavior, but if they are determined to be out of touch with reality they are not legally responsible for their behavior. On the continuum from psychotic to borderline to neurotic, individuals with personalities organized at the borderline level of functioning are most susceptible to criminal behavior by the very nature of their defensive structure.
- According to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), a personality disorder is “An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” (p. 686). To be diagnosed with a personality disorder, an individual must manifest the disorder in two or more of the following areas: cognitions (ways of perceiving the world), affectivity (emotional response), interpersonal functioning, and impulse control. The enduring pattern must also be inflexible and pervasive across a range of circumstances and situations, lead to clinically significant impairment or distress, and be stable, having originated in adolescence or early adulthood. The pattern also cannot be the product of another mental disorder, substance abuse, or a medical condition.
Of the personality disorders defined in the “DSM-IV-TR:, the ‘Axis II’, “Cluster B” disorders are most relevant to the study of criminal behavior. These disorders include “Antisocial Personality Disorder”, “Borderline Personality Disorder”, “Histrionic Personality Disorder”, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. These four disorders share behavioral features such as impulsive acting out, unpredictable behavior, and dramatic presentation, as well as a common intrapsychic structure centered on a lower-level defensive organization that uses primitive defenses. Wulach (1988) suggests that features of each of these disorders comprise the “criminal personality” and there is evidence to suggest that each may represent distinct behavioral expressions of psychopathy. Much of the psychological research on criminal behavior has focused on “antisocial personality disorder” and “psychopathy”. In fact,the concepts of criminality, insanity, antisocial personality, and psychopathy have been so intertwined over the past two centuries that much of the research, particularly in the discipline of psychology, has failed to clearly differentiate between meal ntdisorder (an internal condition) and crime (a behavioral symptom and social construct). Researchers have spent the last 20 years trying to sort out the conceptual differences and in recent years there have been rapid advancement in our understanding of the relationship between antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and crime.
According to the “DSM-IV-TR”, the essential feature of APD is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood” (p.701).
- Criminal behavior can also be classically conditioned when such behavior is associated with a secondary or conditioned stimulus. A simple example: A teen runaway who’s been living on the streets for some time finds a gun and decides to commit an armed robbery to acquire money to live. Immediately following the robbery, the offender is rewarded with a wallet full of cash. The anxiety of the offender had been experiencing over having no financial resources is immediately alleviated. In this case, the offender’s robbery behavior is positively reinforced by acquiring the ash and negatively reinforced by the alleviation of anxiety. However, what if immediately following the robbery a bystander intervenes, tackling and severely beating the offender? Rather than receiving reinforcements (money, decreased anxiety), the offender receives punishment (attack, beating) and the likelihood of repeating the behavior is reduced. This is an example of “operant conditioning.”
Classical conditioning is somewhat different in that behavior is increased through pairing of stimuli. When the offender commit the robbery, the act of robbing someone at gunpoint generates feelings of exhilaration. After committing a number of subsequent robberies and experiencing this physiological arousal each time, the offender begins to associate armed robbery with feeling good. This pairing of an unconditioned or secondary stimulus (the act of robbing someone) with unconditioned or primary stimuli (physiological arousal produced by fear and uncertainty) increases the likelihood of future robbery behavior.
- For the learning theorist, crime is a product of social learning whereby an individual’s decision to commit crime results from observation and association.
- Differential association theory suggests that individuals act on the basis of who they associate with. People learn criminal behavior through interaction with friends and family members who engage in such behavior. Burgess and Akers’s (1966) differential association-reinforcement theory combines differential association with conditioning theories to suggest that people learn to engage in crime through differential association but criminal behavior is then maintained through operant and classical conditioning.
- A great deal of research has accumulated applying social learning theory to analyzing the impact of crime and violence in media and pop culture. Early studies (called the Payne Fund Studies) conducted in the 1930s found that many in a sample of 2,000 respondents were conscious of having directly imitated acts of violence they saw in films. This research spawned decades o controversy and research on the subject of media violence (Sparks & Sparks, 2002). A more recent study found that 25% of juvenile offenders got ideas about how to commit their crimes from popular culture (Surette, 2002). From the perspective of social learning theory, expectations and ideas are conveyed through television, film, music, computer games, and other forms of popular culture and are mimicked by youth in particular. Although there is some disagreement in the literature about whether or not media violence is criminogenic (crime producing) or cathartic (crime reducing) or both, a large and growing body of research suggests media violence triggers the occurrence of criminal behavior and shapes its form (Surette, 1998).
Beyond anecdotal accounts of media-mediated violence, little empirical research supports a direct criminalizing effect of violent media. Findings suggest that media depictions of violence are more likely to shape criminal behavior than trigger it (Surette, 1998). People already inclined to commit a crime get ideas about how to commit the crime from media images, but few otherwise law-abiding citizens will be influenced by media to commit a crime. On the other hand, compelling case study evidence suggests that the behavior of a small group of “media junkies” may be unduly influenced by media violence though the potential for violent media to trigger criminal behavior is very small.
- There is considerable overlap between sociological theories of crime and theories of (noncriminal) deviance. Sociological theories that explain criminal behavior also explain deviant behavior such as college student cheating, eating disorders, bad habits and unusual sexual behaviors.
Sociological theories can be broken down into three general types: “structural”, “cultural” and “interactionist”. Structural theories see criminal behavior as a product of social structure, cultural theories contend that criminal behavior is rooted in and shaped by delinquent subcultures, and interactionist theories look at the interactional forces that explain why some people commit crime while others from the same background and social circumstances do not.
- Structural theories view crime as a product of the structure of society, asking the question, “Why do some societies have more crime than others?” From this perspective, crime is rooted in two primary factors-differential opportunity and discrimination toward certain (powerless) groups within society. In a society where the rich and poor live in relatively close proximity, the poor turn to crime as an alternative pathway to success. Crime is defined by the powerful, and laws are created to ensure that the group of groups in power retain the resources. Examples of structural theories are structural functionalism, strain theory and conflict theory.
The ominant sociological theory of crime for the first half of the 20th century was “structural functionalism”. According to Durkheim, founding father of sociology and structural functionalist, crime and deviance is the product of social distancing and “anomie”-a state of normlessness. Durkheim also believed that deviance and crime, despite their negative effects, serve a social function by promoting social solidarity among the law abiding. When a criminal or deviant act is committed and made public, law-abiding members of society are united in pointing their fingers at the perpetrators. Law-abiding citizens can also look to deviant behavior to help them define the boundaries of acceptable behavior (Durkheim, 2003). Structural functionalism is illustrated by Kai Erikson’s (1966) case study analysis of Puritan response to revolutionaries in 17th century Bay Colony, showing how societal response to these “offenders” served to solidify the rest of the community and strengthen their moral convictions.
Strain theory is another example of a structural theory of crime. According to strain theorists, crime is the product of differential opportunity. Robert Merton extended Durkheim’s ideas, suggesting that anomic results when access to prescribed goals and availability of legitimate means to obtain those goals are lacking. Crime occurs when individuals do not have access to legitimate noncriminal means to obtain the success everyone strives for. Cloward and Ohlin (1960) took this idea further, suggesting that crime is more likely to occur when particular illegitimate opportunities are present, and some people have greater access to particular types of illegitimate opportunity.
“Conflict theories” locate the cause of crime in the incompatible interests of multiple groups in society. Conflict theories became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s with the work of Quinney (1970, 1977). Whereas structural functionalists view society from a consensus perspective in which norms are created through a shared understanding of the majority, conflict theorists contend that society is heterogenous and conflictual. Crime is defined by the dominant class to include behavior patterns of those who do not have power in society ad used as a tool to serve the interests of the powerful. A reflexive relationship exists between the definers of crime (the powerful) and those defined as criminal (the powerless) whereby those defined as criminal begin to see themselves as such and learn to play the role with increasing probability of being defined as criminal in the future. Those in power construct an ideology of crime to make sure they stay in power. A social reality of crime is created by defining crime, creating and applying laws, and constructing behavior patterns in such a way that the probability of criminality (and sanctions for criminality) is high for powerless members of society. Conflict theory offers an explanation of both criminal behavior and criminal justice.
- ”Marxist and critical theories” are historically related to conflict theories, and many of the conflict theorists are also considered Marxist theorists. The terms “critical criminology” and “radical criminology” are often used synonymously with Marxist criminology, though critical criminology has branched out considerably from Marxism. Some suggest that critical criminology does not reflect a coherent body of theories and should be viewed under the umbrella term “constitutive criminology” along with other critical approaches such as postmodernism, chaos theory, semiotics, edgework, catastrophe theory, critical race theory, and peacemaking criminology (Akers * Sellers, 2004). Like conflict theory, Marxist theory locates the cause and legal definitions of criminality in power relations, but rejects the idea that the conflict is between multiple groups. From the Marxist perspective, there are two groups-the power elite and the masses or working class. Laws are constructed by the power elite-the small group of ruling class who has all the social, economic, and political power. The power elite manipulate social institutions such as the academic community, mass media, and other sources of public opinion to make it appear that the law protects everyone’s interests so that the masses wil continue to believe the system is legitimate.
Marxist theory contends that the riminal justice system is a tool to repress the working class, but the theory has little to say about crime. Karl arx himmself did not write about criminal behavior. Marxist (and conflict) theorists explain criminal behavior as an inevitable response to the capitalistic system. People engage in crime because either they are brutalized by and trying to accommodate the capitalistic system or their crimes are conscious or unconscious acts of revolution and resistance. Marxist theories can be particularly useful in explaining certain types of crime (e.g., political crime), but fall short in offering etiological explanation for most types of criminal behavior.
- "Feminist theories” of crime focus on gender issues as central to understanding criminal behavior. Feminist criminology asks the questions, ""Do theories of men’s criminality apply to women?”” (generalizability problem) and "Why do girls and women commit so much less crime than boys and men?” (gender ratio problem; see Daly & Chesney-Lind, 1988). Feminism is a “set of theories about women’s oppression and a set of strategies for social change” (Daly & Chesney-Lind, 1988, p.502). Feminist criminology and feminist thought consist of a range of perspectives including a Marxist, socialist, radical, liberal, power, postmodern, Black feminist, and critical race feminisms. Feminist criminology raises issues regarding the applicability of male theories of crime to female offenders and the gendered nature of crime. Scholars such as Klein (1973), Adler (1975), Simon (1975) Daly and Chesney-Lind (1988) Simpson (1989), Naffine (1996), and Messerschmidt (1993) have contributed to the body of work now known as feminist criminology. Feminist criminologists argue that feminist inquiry should be applied to all facets of crime, deviance, ad social control (Daly & Chesney-Lind, 1988) and that the striking gender difference in crime suggests that genders should be the central focus of criminology and anything less is disciplinary negligence (Naffine, 1996).
- The “power-control theory” of gender and delinquency integrates conflict, Marxist, and control theories. Power-control theory asks, “What differences do the relative class positions of husbands “and” wives in the workplace make for gender variations in parental control and in delinquent behavior of adolescents?” (Hagan, Simpson, & Gillis, 1987, p. 789). According to power-control theory, the predominantly male pattern of crime and delinquency is the result of the class structure of patriarchal families. The parent-daughter relationship is an “instrument-object relationship” in which fathers and especially mothers are expected to control their daughters more than they control their sons. This instrument-object relationship between parents and daughters exists in the extreme int eh patriarchal family. As a result, daughters are prepared for a “cult of domesticity” that significantly reduced their involvement in delinquency. In contrast, reduced parental control on boys encouraged risk-taking behaviors associated with criminality.
- Cultural theories recognize that society is made up of conflicting subcultures with different norms, values, beliefs, and characteristics. Cultural conflict exists between different subcultures and those whose values conflict with the dominant culture. When a subculture conflicts with dominant culture, the norms, values, and behaviors of that subculture are deemed deviant or criminal. When members of a subculture are defined as deviant by the larger society, they adopt and solidify values and norms that contrast with those of the dominant culture. Subcultures that conflict with the dominant culture ensure their survival through cultural transmission, passing their norms and values from generation to the next, ensuring the continuation of cultural conflict and placement outside the dominant culture (Aler & Adler, 2003). <br. The “subculture of violence theory” is an example of a cultural theory. This theory (originally developed by Wolfgang and Ferracuti in their text “The Subculture of Violence”) states that more violence occurs in lower-class subcultures as a result of particular norms, values, expectations, and behaviors. Values such as honor, masculinity, defense of status, and the use of physical violence to settle disputes define subcultures of violence. Some researcher suggest that a subculture of violence exists in the American South and among African Americans, and delinquent gangs (Vold, Bernard Snipes, 2002). In general, cultural theories suggest that crime is the product of criminal subcultures within a society whose values conflict with the dominant culture. Features of criminal subcultures include an exaggerate sense of masculinity, toughness, thrill-seeking, fatalistic philosophy, getting into trouble, and an antiauthority stance.
- The routine activity theory is a type of “rational choice theory”. Rational choice theories suggest that individuals freely choose to engage in criminal behavior when the benefits outweigh the costs. The routine activity theory is unique in that the theory recognizes that the degree to which a person can freely choose is constrained by a multitude of factors and forces. For example, if an individual who is biologically predisposed to commit crime (ie., a person with low autosomic arousal, low self-control, and traits such as impulsivity, irresponsibility, etc.) finds him- or herself in a situation in which there are high temptations and low controls (e.g., brand new Range Rover with keys in the ignition left in a dark parking lot with no one around), he or she would be more inclined to “choose” to steal the car then someone who is not biologically predisposed to commit crime.
From the perspective of the routine activity theory, crime is the product of the interaction between individual, situational/contextual, and environmental factors that converge in a way that increases the likelihood that crime will occur. Certain types of crime are more likely to occur in certain contexts where there are particular presences and absences. For example, violent crime is more likely to occur in a setting such as a bar where there a high number of young males drinking alcohol. In such a setting, there are presences (young males, alcohol) and absences (a prosocial audience-elderly individuals, children). A particular “chemistry for crime” exists in this setting, with elements such as a likely offender, a suitable target, and the absence of capable guardians converging to produce a crime-generating context that produces a crime-attracting sequence of events (Felson, 2002). Routine activity theory is one of the more applicable theories in terms of providing concrete recommendations to policy aker charges with increasing public safety. Box 2.2. provides an example of how routine activity theory has been applied to community gang problems.
- In their book “Cultural Criminology” Ferel and Sanders (1995) argue that to make sense of crime, it is necessary to make sense of culture. The authors propose the development of a “cultural criminology” that recognizes criminality and criminalization as cultural enterprises that must be studies through a synthesis of divergent perspectives including social, feminist, and cultural theories. From this perspective, criminal behavior (and its control) is constructed, in part, through media, popular culture, and the “aesthetics” of authority that dictates what is beautiful,” decent,” clean,” and “appropriate” (p.15). Criminal identities are born and shaped within culture and within criminal subcultures0collective criminal aesthetic and style, symbolism, and meaning are important factors in understanding the criminality.
Ferrell and Hamm (1998) suggest that “jailhouse criminology,” which has attempted to study crime through official sources, social science surveys, and traditional quantitative measures, has prohibited true understanding of crime or “criminological verstehen.” Criminologists have neglected findings produced through ethnographic studies that offer the insider perspective on crime and deviance. To truly understand criminal behavior, researchers must study crime with quantitative (surveys, available data) and qualitative (ethnographic) methods that together are able to tell the complete story of crime. For example, official statistics tell us things like what percentage of armed robbers are male, what percentage of known serial killers have been physically and sexually abused, the correlation between age and violence, and so on. However, this sort of information tells us little about the personal style and aesthetics of bank robbers, the nature of the communities and subcultures within which they spend their time, the specific ways in which girls and women learn that aggression is not a tool with which they are able to obtain resources, the process by which a serial killer comes to attach meaning to particular types of victims or crime scene trophies, or the complex nature of the collusion between youth culture, media and pop culture, alternative style and meaning, and crime.
- pp.75, 78
- Culture plays a contributing role in the development and expression of criminal behavior. In her book “Zero Tolerance: Punishment Prevention, and School Violence”, Casella (2001) states, “Whether people in the United States are willing to accept it or not, violence is a defining characteristic of U.S. Culture. (p.2). According to Levin and Fox (2001),
We used to put our heroes on pedestals where they could be admired, revered and emulated, but those days are long gone. Today’s children grow up collecting trading cards which bear the images of mass murderers rather than baseball payers. On their bedroom walls youngsters hang calendars featuring Ted Bundy and the Hillside Strangler. Instead of chronicling the good deeds of superheroes, cartoons and comics today depict the seedier side of life. Batman and Robin have been supplanted by [[Beevis and Butthead as well as South Park. The conquests of Superman have been replaced by a comic book version of Jeffrey Dahmer. Children can also locate killer websites, wear killer t-shirts, and join killer fan clubs. They listen to the lyrics of Marilyn Manson who inspires them to try Satanism, vampirism, Gothic fashion, and mass murder. (p.83)
- "Criminal behavior is a cultural and subcultural product”. Media and popular culture and the escalating number of “media junkies” and media-mediated crimes (Black, 1991) call attention to the need to make sense of how media and popular culture shape criminal behavior.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations edit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 148-49.
- Non nella pena,
Nel delitto è la infamia.
- Disgrace does not consist in the punishment, but in the crime.
- Vittorio Alfieri, Antigone, I. 3.
- Il reo
D'un delitto è chi'l pensa: a chi l' ordisce
La pena spetta.
- The guilty is he who meditates a crime; the punishment is his who lays the plot.
- Vittorio Alfieri, Antigone, II. 2.
- Oh! ben provvide il cielo,
Ch' uom per delitto mai lieto non sia.
- Heaven takes care that no man secures happiness by crime.
- Vittorio Alfieri, Oreste, I. 2.
- A man who has no excuse for crime, is indeed defenceless!
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Lady of Lyons, Act IV, scene 1.
- Le crime fait la honte et non pas l'échafaud.
- The crime and not the scaffold makes the shame.
- Pierre Corneille, Essex, IV. 3. Quoted by Charlotte Corday in a letter to her father after the murder of Marat.
- C'est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute.
- It is worse than a crime, it is a blunder.
- Joseph Fouché, As quoted by himself in his Memoires, original Ed., 1824. Referring to the murder of the Duke of Enghien. Fouché's sons deny that it originated with their father. Quoted by others as "C'est pis qu'un crime," and "C'estoit pire qu'un crime." (See Notes and Queries, Aug. 14, 1915, p. 123. Aug. 28, p. 166).
- Crime is not punished as an offense against God, but as prejudicial to society.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Reciprocal Duties of State and Subjects.
- Every crime destroys more Edens than our own.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Marble Faun, Volume I, Chapter XXIII.
- Deprendi miserum est.
- It is grievous to be caught.
- Horace, Satires, Book I. 2. 134.
- A crafty knave needs no broker.
- Ben Jonson, quoted in Every Man in his Humour; also in Taylor's London to Hamburgh.
- 'Tis no sin love's fruits to steal;
But the sweet thefts to reveal;
To be taken, to be seen,
These have crimes accounted been.
- Ben Jonson, Volpone, Act III, scene 6.
- Se judice, nemo nocens absolvitur.
- By his own verdict no guilty man was ever acquitted.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), XIII. 2.
- Multi committunt eadem diverso crimina fato;
Ille crucem scleris pretium tulit, hic diadema.
- Many commit the same crimes with a very different result. One bears a cross for his crime; another a crown.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), XIII. 103.
- Nam scelus intra se tacitum qui cogitat ullum,
Facti crimen habet.
- For whoever meditates a crime is guilty of the deed.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), XIII. 209.
- Non faciat malum, ut inde veniat bonum.
- You are not to do evil that good may come of it.
- Law Maxim.
- Solent occupationis spe vel impune quædam scelesta committi.
- Wicked deeds are generally done, even with impunity, for the mere desire of occupation.
- Ammianus Marcellinus, Annales, XXX. 9.
- Pœna potest demi, culpa perennis erit.
- The punishment can be remitted; the crime is everlasting.
- Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, I. 1. 64.
- Factis ignoscite nostris
Si scelus ingenio scitis abesse meo.
- Overlook our deeds, since you know that crime was absent from our inclination.
- Ovid, Fausti, Book III. 309.
- Ars fit ubi a teneris crimen condiscitur annis.
- Where crime is taught from early years, it becomes a part of nature.
- Ovid, Heroides, IV. 25.
- Le crime d'une mère est un pesant fardeau.
- The crime of a mother is a heavy burden.
- Jean Racine, Phèdre, III. 3.
- With his hand upon the throttle-valve of crime.
- Lord Salisbury, speech in House of Lords, 1889.
- Prosperum ac felix scelus
Virtus vocatur; sontibus parent boni;
Jus est in armis, opprimit leges timor.
- Successful crime is dignified with the name of virtue; the good become the slaves of the impious; might makes right; fear silences the power of the law.
- Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens, CCLI.
- Nullum caruit exemplo nefas.
- No crime has been without a precedent.
- Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, DLIV.
- Scelere velandum est scelus.
- One crime has to be concealed by another.
- Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, DCCXXI.
- Cui prodest scelus,
- He who profits by crime is guilty of it.
- Seneca the Younger, Medea, D.
- Ad auctores redit
Sceleris coacti culpa.
- The guilt of enforced crimes lies on those who impose them.
- Seneca the Younger, Troades, DCCCLXX.
- Qui non vetat peccare, cum possit, jubet.
- He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.
- Seneca the Younger, Troades, CCXCI.
- Dumque punitur scelus,
- While crime is punished it yet increases.
- Seneca the Younger, Thyestes, XXXI.
- Amici vitium ni feras, facis tuum.
- If you share the crime of your friend, you make it your own.
- Syrus, Maxims.
- Du repos dans le crime! ah! qui peut s'en flatter.
- To be at peace in crime! ah, who can thus flatter himself.
- Voltaire, Oreste, I. 5.
- La crainte suit le crime, et c'est son châtiment.
- Fear follows crime and is its punishment.
- Voltaire, Semiramis, V. 1.
- Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.
- Oscar Wilde, Ballad of Reading Gaol.
"Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System" (June 1983) edit
Joan Petersilia, "Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System", National Institute of Corrections, Department of Justice, (June 1983)
- Earlier studies have shown that arrests depend heavily on witnesses' or victims' identifying or carefully describing the suspect (Greenwood, Petersilia, Chaiken, 1978). Prosecutors may have a more difficult time making cases against minorities "beyond a reasonable doubt" because of problems with victim and witness identifications. Frequently, witnesses or victims who were supportive at the arrest stage become less cooperative as the' case proceeds. Defenders of the system argue that the statistics do not lie, and that the system does not discriminate but simply reacts to the prevalence of crime in the black community.
- p. xxiii
- When the' crime is murder, forcible rape, robbery, or aggravated assault, a judge has less latitude in deciding about probation, sentence length, or whether the sentence will be served in jail or prison-no matter what color a man is. As we move down the line to lesser crimes, disparity emerges. The most striking example is larceny; Blacks make up only 30 percent of the arrest population, but 51 percent of the prison population. Why the disparity for these crimes? One explanation may be that judges can exercise more discretion in dealing with offenders convicted of these crimes.
- p. 2
- There were few' clear trends, but statistically significant racial differences. Hispanics strongly preferred knives and were more likely to report doing grievous harm to their victims. It seems possible that this behavior could legitimately lead to harsher sentences and longer time served. Blacks were much less likely than Hispanics to use a knife, and less likely than whites to use a gun. Indeed, when the study combined all crime types and looked at the overall percent of racial groups armed during a crime, there was only one statistically significant difference: Blacks were less likely to be armed in a burglary. Nevertheless, blacks make up a larger percent of the prison than of the arrest population for burglary.
- p. 88.
- For critics of the criminal justice system, the arrest and imprisonment rates for blacks and other minorities suggest that the system discriminates against those groups. They argue, for example, that blacks, who make up 12 percent of the national population, could not possibly commit 48 percent of the crime: Yet that is exactly what arrest and imprisonment rates imply about black criminality. Defenders of the system argue that the arrest and imprisonment rates do not lie; the system simply reacts to the prevalence of crime in the black community. As we have noted repeatedly, prior research has not. settled this controversy. For every study that finds discrimination in arrests, convictions, sentencing, prison treatment, or parole, another denies it.
- p. 89.
- A minority male is almost four times more likely than a white male to have an index arrest in his lifetime: One in every two nonwhite males in large U.S. cities can expect to have at least one index arrest. However, the RIS data indicate that, once involved in crime, whites and minorities in the sample have virtually the same annual crime commission rates. This accords with Blumstein and Graddy's (1981) finding that the recidivism rate for index offenses is approximately .85 for both whites and nonwhites. Thus, the data suggest that large racial differences in aggregate arrest rates must be attributed primarily to differences in involvement, and not to different patterns among those who do participate. Under these circumstances, any empirically derived indicators of recidivism should target a roughly equal number of whites and minorities. In other words, even if recidivism among whites had different causes or correlates than recidivism among non-whites, they should at least balance one another. They should not consistently identify nonwhites as more appropriate candidates for more severe treatment.
- p. 98.
- If England treats her criminals the way she has treated me, she doesn't deserve to have any.
- Poverty is the mother of crime.
- We don't seem able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?
- The doctrine that the cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy is like saying that the cure of crime is more crime.
- Whatever opens opportunity and hope will help to prevent crime and foster responsibility.
- Hungry men have no respect for law, authority or human life.
- Anyone who takes it on himself, on his own authority, to break a bad law, thereby authorizes everyone else to break the good ones.
- One man's justice is another's injustice; One man's beauty another's ugliness; One man's wisdom another's folly.
- Justice is truth in action.
- Crime is contagious.
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