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Introduction to Criminal Justice


Introduction to Criminal Justice Chapter Two – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Criminal Justice

Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Chapter Two

The Study of Crime
  • Criminology, the study of crime, gives us many
    philosophies as to why people break the law
  • There is a difference between---
  • Correlation Two variables that tend to vary
    together (Washing car)
  • Causation One variable is responsible for
    the change in another (gun wound)

Theories of Crime
  • Criminologists have developed theories
  • ---Designed as explanations of happenings or
    circumstances, based on observation,
    experimentation and reasoning
  • ---Researchers test theories to determine their
  • ---Primarily concerned with reasons behind
    criminal behavior, but can provide practical
    guidelines for the criminal justice system

Choice Theories (Wilson)
  • Before criminal act, person weighs benefits vs.
  • Likely to commit crime when perceived benefits
    are greater (Bank Robbery example)
  • Cornerstone of American criminal justice
  • Severe punishment may deter crime
  • Supports mandatory sentences, death penalty

Trait Theories
  • Physical characteristics identified criminals
  • Biological and psychological traits could incline
    persons toward criminal behavior
  • Biochemical conditions
  • Phrenology---Bumps on the head
  • The hormone testosterone
  • Psychopaths---Unable to experience human
    emotions, control impulses
  • Problematic theories

Trait Theories
  • Suggest anti-social behavior should be identified
    and treated before becomes criminal activity
  • There is a danger in this should we do it?
  • Mood altering drugs have been used
  • Group and individual therapies
  • Favors rehabilitative practices (closer to the
    old medical model)

Sociological Theories
  • Crime is a result of social conditions in a
    persons environment.
  • Social Disorganization Theory (Shaw and McKay)
    said high crime neighborhoods in Chicago were
    characterized by disorganization. (Fig. 2.1, p.
  • Breakdowns of traditional institutions of social
    control in those areas

Sociological Theories
  • Disadvantaged because of poverty or racial
    discrimination more likely to commit crime
  • Normal avenues of success cut off
  • Changing those negative conditions can prevent
    crime e.g.---
  • ---Decrease unemployment
  • ---Reduce poverty
  • ---Improve education in low income areas
  • Question Then why does crime happen in good

Social Process Theories
  • Major influences on individuals are interactions
    which dominate everyday life
  • Learning Theory (Sutherland)---Crime is learned
    behavior Teacher is usually a family member or
  • Labeling Theory---Someone labeled criminal is
    more likely to consider himself as such
  • Society creates criminals by labeling certain
  • Policies focus on removing juveniles from formal
    system to avoid label (Diversion)

Social Conflict Theories
  • Power Ability of one person or group to control
    economic or social positions of others
  • Key component in explaining crime
  • Capitalism leads to high levels of crime due to
    disparity of income it produces.
  • Laws reflect values of the power holders, who use
    the system to hold that power.
  • One theory---Women were traditionally confined to
    domestic roles, and did not have opportunities to
    commit crimes

Life Course Theories
  • Deviant behavior (lying, stealing, bullying,
    conduct problems) in childhood are strongest
    predictors of future criminal behavior.
  • Crime linked to low self control---Trait formed
    in childhood (Hirsch)
  • Impulsive, thrill seeking, solves problems with
  • Poor parenting

  • Is there one single
  • answer/theory
  • to why crime?
  • Which one do you
  • think best?

Experience of Being a Victim
  • Victim previously described as causative
    element, often consciously or unconsciously
    provoking the criminal act
  • 1970s---Concentrated on physical, emotional and
    economic damages suffered by victim
  • Some data---Same persons tend to be victims and
  • Being a victim may lead to future criminal
  • Heavy drinkers at great risk of assault when
    drinking, but no greater risk when sober

Identifying Victims
  • National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
    identifies categories who are at most risk to be
  • Criminologists can explore how aspects of their
    lives affect the probability of being a victim.

Victims Rights
  • Movement began with feminist groups rape crisis
    centers in 1970s
  • Advocates decry system revictimization
  • Nearly 30,000 victim-friendly laws passed in last
    20 years, which focused on
  • ---Enabling victim to receive restitution
  • ---Allowing victim to participate in
    prosecution and sentencing of offender
  • ---Protecting victims from harassment or abuse
    from criminal justice system.

Small Group
  • What would it feel
  • like to be a victim?
  • 2) Of the various types of crime? Violent,
  • Assault, Theft, etc.
  • 3) How would it make you feel toward the various
    parts of the system? (Police, prosecutors,
    court, corrections)

The Chronic Offender
  • Criminological research established idea of
    chronic offender.
  • Small proportion of offenders (6) responsible
    for large amount of violent crime
  • Has allowed police, courts, corrections to devise
    specific strategies to apprehend, prosecute and
    monitor these offenders

Serial Killers
  • Our knowledge of serial killers in inadequate.
  • Problem lies with serial killers motives
  • Most violent crime is instrumental---used to
    achieve a purpose
  • Serial killers are affective---for the thrill of
    the kill
  • Victim rarely has ties to serial killer
  • Often well-organized compared to other types

Linkage Blinders
  • Exploited by serial killers
  • Most local police do not communicate with each
  • No means of knowing when similar murders occur in
    different areas
  • Killer can avoid detection by crossing state or
    county lines.
  • FBI established Violent Crime Application Program
    (VICAP) to collect, analyze and share data on
    violent crimes nationwide

Motivation of Serial Killers
  • Some serial killers want to be in the public eye
  • ---Son of Sam, Zodiac Killer, and BTK
    Killer all sent letters to media.
  • ---Need to distinguish themselves as they cannot
    do in their every day lives
  • Each killer is unique---unable to provide many
    clues to actions of other murderers
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