2. Definition. Criminology is a sub-field of sociology dealing with matters related to crime and criminal behavior. It includes fields such as crime statistics, criminal psychology, forensic science, law enforcement, and detective methods.Naturally, criminology must take into account that the defin
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Criminology is a sub-field of sociology dealing with matters related to crime and criminal behavior. It includes fields such as crime statistics, criminal psychology, forensic science, law enforcement, and detective methods.
Naturally, criminology must take into account that the definition of crime varies according to the cultural mores and, especially, laws of a given area. This is an area where caution is warranted; if one is comparing, e.g., violent crimes between nations, one must be careful that the actions counted in that category are similar for each nation; otherwise the comparison is meaningless.
A crime in a broad sense is an act that violates a political or moral law. In the narrow sense, a crime is a violation of the criminal law. For example, most traffic violations or breach of contracts are not crimes in a legal sense.
Understanding Human Behavior
According to Behaviorist
Why People Obey the Law
Whether people obey the law depending on what one considers just and moral.
Sociologists have found that deterrence does not fully explain why people obey the law. Citizens choose to obey the law when the chances of being caught violating it are virtually zero. Yet citizens break the law when it is risky to do so.
The Chicago study focused on six laws with which people deal on a daily basis. Illegal parking, 51%; speeding, 62%; shoplifting, 3%; disturbing the peace, 27%; littering, 25%; DUI, 19%.
How likely they thought it was that they would be arrested: DUI, 83%; parking violation and shoplifting, 78%; speeding, 72%; disturbing the peace, 35%, littering, 31%.
Whether each offense was wrong: almost every one of the participants felt that any violations of the six laws were wrong. 99% think shoplifting immoral and speeding is the least immoral.
Theories of Crime Causation
Routine Activities Theory
Social Process Theories
Based on the philosophical principle of utilitarianism, has its roots in the belief that human beings are rational and calculating creatures and therefore do things in order to avoid pain and produce pleasure.
People have free will which they can use to elect to engage in either criminal or noncriminal behavior.
Criminal behavior will be more attractive if the gains are estimated to be greater than the losses
The more certain, severe, and swift the reaction to crime, the more likely it is that the penalties will control the behavior.
Difficulties inherent in the theory
Many people do not stop and add up the gains and losses of lawbreaking before they engage in it.
The impact of penalties can be very different for different people
It is very difficult to know whether the penalty will in face result from the behavior: most offenders optimistically assume that they will not be caught.
Routine Activities Theory
A variation of classical theory, holds that both the motivation to commit crime and the supply of offenders is constant.
The availability of suitable targets, such as companies and individuals
The absence of capable guardians, such as auditors and security personnel
The presence of motivated offenders, such as unhappy or financially-challenged employees.
Criminal behavior is not the result of choice, but rather is caused by the physical traits of those who commit crime, proposed by Cesare Lombroso.
There are “born” criminals.
Biological theorists now take a much less deterministic position. Given certain environmental circumstances, is apt to produce illegal acts.
Criminal behavior is the product of mental processes.
Freud’s idea focus on early childhood development and on unconscious motivations. Freud identified a three part structure to human personality: the id(the drive for food, sex, and other life-sustaining things), the superego (the conscience which develops when learned values become incorporated into a person’s behavior), and the ego(the product of the interaction between what a person wants and what his conscience will allow him to do to achieve what he wants).
Cognitive theories stress inadequate moral and intellectual development as lying at the root of criminal acts. There are also personality theories, which believe that traits such as extroversion are responsible for a significant amount of crime.
Draw from choice theory, biological theory, and psychological theory.
While criminal activity is a choice, this choice is heavily influenced by biological and psychological factors. Other social factors, such as family life, schools, and gang membership, were also explored.
It argues that the failure of a person to incorporate satisfactorily the dictates of society represents the major explanation for subsequent criminal behavior.
Frustration is the the precursor of aggression. The theory suggests that the expression of aggression, such as a fraud perpetrator “getting back” at his employer, will alleviate the frustration and allow the organism to return to a more satisfactory state.
Social Structure Theories
There are various kinds of sociological theories, all based on similar premises but with differing kinds of emphases.
As a group, social structure theories suggest that forces operating in the lower-class areas of the environment push many of their residents into criminal behavior. They challenge those who would suggest that crime is an expression of psychological imbalance, biological traits, personal choice, etc.
People living in equivalent social environments seems to behave in a similar, predictable fashion.
Theory of Anomie
The discrepancy between what people are indoctrinated into desiring and the ways that are available to them to achieve such ends is the cornerstone for explanation of criminal behavior.
Anomie in the United States was characterized by an almost overpowering emphasis on the acquisition of things and on the fact that social status and importance is usually measured in terms of money. There are different ways to obtain money.
Social Process Theories
Criminality is a function of individual socialization and the social-psychological interactions people have with the various organizations, institutions, and processes of society.
The various social process theories all share one basic concept: all people regardless of their race, class, or gender, have the potential to become delinquents or criminals.
Social Learning Theories
Criminal behavior is a function of the way people absorb information, viewpoints, and motivations from others, most notably from those to whom they are close, such as their peer.
Social learning theories believe that all people have the potential to commit crime if they are exposed to certain kinds of circumstances.
Theory of Differential Association
Provided by Edwin Sutherland.
Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication.
The criminal learning process includes not only techniques of committing crime but also the shaping of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.
While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by these general needs and values because noncriminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.
Social Control Theory
By Travis Hirschi (1969)
The institutions of the social system train and press those with whom they are in contact into patterns of conformity. To the extent a person fails to become attached to the variety of control agencies (school, parents) of the society, his or her chances of violating the law are increased.
There is no well-accepted definition.
The term was coined by Edwin H. Sutherland in 1939.
Definition by Sutherland:”Crime in the upper, white-collar class, which is composed of respectable, or at least respected, business, and professional men.”
Then he gave examples of thefts by chain store employees and overcharges by garage mechanics and watch repairers—which is inconsistent with his definition.
More commonly accepted definition:
“nonviolent crime for financial gain committed by means of deception by persons whose occupational status is entrepreneurial, professional or semi-professional and utilizing their special occupational skills and opportunities.”
An employee embezzles $10
A store owner knowingly puts “large eggs into containers marked “extra large”
A person makes an obscene phone call
Public Perceptions of White-Collar Crime (National Survey of Crime Severity)
An employee embezzles $1,000
A person beats a victim with his fists. The victim requires treatment by a doctor but not hospitalization.
Public Perceptions of White-Collar Crime
Profiles of White-Collar Offenders
White males, with a moderate social status.
They are slightly more likely than the general population to have a high school diploma (78% vs. 69%), or a college degree (24.7% vs. 19%).
They look like any honest people
When compared with prisoners incarcerated for property offenses, they are
less likely to be caught, turned in, arrested, convicted, and incarcerated
less likely to serve long sentences
better educated, more religious
less likely to have criminal records, abused alcohol, use drugs
in better psychological health, enjoy more optimism, self-esteem, achievement, motivation and family harmony.
When compared with college students, they differed only slightly.
Why people commit Fraud?
Pressure(perceived or real one)
Opportunity (perceived or real one)
Rationalization (I didn’t do anything wrong, I’ll pay it back, didn’t hurt anyone)
Best way to prevent fraud is to eliminate opportunity
What are the 4 types of pressure?
Types of Financial Pressures
Living beyond one’s means
High bills or personal debt
Personal financial losses
Unexpected financial needs
What are the three parts of perceived opportunity?
To commit fraud
To conceal fraud
To avoid punishment
What factors increase opportunity to commit fraud?
Ability to get around internal controls
Inability to judge performance
Failure to discipline prior frauds
Lack of access to information
Ignorance, Apathy, Incapacity
Lack of an audit trail
30% Situationally Honest
40% Honest All the Time
Internal Audit Detects 20% of Detected Frauds
Comment on the Control Environment
Clear Organizational Structure
Effective Internal Audit & Security & Loss Prevention Programs
What are the 3 components of every fraud?
The Theft – Assets Are Taken
Concealment – Hide It from Others
Conversion – Spends or Converts to Cash and then Spends
What does a good account system do?
Provide a Good Audit Trail
What does a good accounting system do for transaction?
Report in Correct Time Period
What are the 5 primary control procedures?
Segregation of Duties or Dual Custody
System of Authorizations
Independent Checks and Balances
Documentation & Records
Review the concept
Provide examples of how you have heard people rationalize unacceptable behavior as acceptable