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CRIME AND JUSTICE IN AMERICA. Crime in America Defining crime How much crime is there? Criminal victimization Crime and justice as public policy issues. Crime in America. Crime in American History and trends in the level of crime Crime in America compared to other industrialized countries.

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Crime and justice in america l.jpg


  • Crime in America

  • Defining crime

  • How much crime is there?

  • Criminal victimization

  • Crime and justice as public policy issues

Crime in america l.jpg

Crime in America

  • Crime in American History and trends in the level of crime

  • Crime in America compared to other industrialized countries

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Defining Crime

  • What is crime?

  • Sources of definitions of crime

    • Who makes the decisions?

    • Consensus model

    • Conflict model

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Crime Defined

  • A specific act of commission or omission in violation of the law for which a punishment is prescribed.

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Consensus Model

  • Law reflects the need for order.

  • Law results from a consensus on widely shared values in society.

  • Law is an impartial system to protect the public.

  • Law provides neutral means of resolving disputes.

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Conflict Model

• Politically powerful groups influence the content of criminal law.

• “Mala prohibita” offenses are prohibited by government but not wrong in themselves. (Cf. “mala in se” – wrong in themselves).

• Harsh penalties are sometimes enforced on the poor or disadvantaged while the powerful are given lighter sentences.

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Types of Crime

  • Level of crime

    • Misdemeanor

    • Felony

  • Categories of crime

    • Occupational crime

    • Organized crime

    • Visible crime

    • Crimes without victims

    • Political crimes

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Types of Occupational Crime

  • Committed in the context of legal business or profession:

- For the benefit of the employing organization.

- Through the exercise of government authority.

- Professional crimes by doctors, lawyers or stockbrokers.

- Employee theft, false claims or embezzlement.

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Organized Crime

  • A framework for the perpetuation of criminal acts - usually in fields such as gambling, drugs, and prostitution - providing illegal services that are in great demand.

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Visible Crime (street crime)

  • Offenses against persons and property committed primarily by members of the lower class.

  • Most upsetting to the public.

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Crimes Without Victims

Offenses involving a willing and private exchange of illegal goods and services that are in strong demand. Participants do not feel they are being harmed, but these crimes are prosecuted on the ground that society as a whole is injured. Includes activities such as:

  • Gambling

  • Drug Sales and Use

  • Prostitution

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Political Crimes

  • Acts that constitute a threat against the state such as treason, sedition (rebellion), or espionage.

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  • Use of computers and internet

  • Various different types

    • Information theft

    • Vice

    • Embezzlement

    • “Vandalism” (i.e. hacking)

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How much crime is there?

  • Measuring crime

  • Uniform crime reports

  • National crime victimization survey

  • Trends in crime

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How is Crime….





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Major Uniform Crime Report Index Crime Groups


  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter

  • Aggravated assault

  • Forcible rape

  • Robbery



*Motor vehicle theft


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Assessment of Uniform Crime Reports

  • Not all crime is reported.

  • Administrative errors in recording data:

    • Interpreting UCR definitions.

    • Systematic counting errors.

    • Deliberately altered or manipulated data.

  • Methodological problems.

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Revising the UCR - NIBRS

  • Definitions of crimes will be revised.

  • More crimes will be included in each category.

  • Other changes to make the data more accurate.


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National Crime Victim Survey

  • Data is gathered by the Bureau of Census and compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

  • Sample includes 100,000 people in 50,000 households.

  • Respondents are over the age of 12.

  • Respondents queried every six months about household and personal victimizations.

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NCVS Crimes


Robbery (personal)

Assault (aggravated and simple)

Household burglary

Larceny (personal and household)

Motor vehicle theft

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Comparison – UCR vs. NCVS



Scope - Both reported and

unreported to police. Nation

as a whole.

Collection Method -

Survey Interview

Kinds of Information-

Details about victims and

crimes - reported and unreported. Use of weapons,

injuries, economic effects.

Sponsor - Bureau of

Justice Statistics.

Scope - Crimes reported to

the police in most jurisdictions

Collection Method - Police

departments and FBI

Kinds of Information - Offense

counts; crime clearances; persons

arrested, persons charged;

officers killed, characteristics

of homicide victims.

Sponsor - FBI

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Crime Trends, 1973-2001

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Explaining Crime Trends

Violent Crime

Crime in General

  • Crime rates are not steadily rising.

  • Most property crimes have dropped.

  • Violent crime has dropped since 1993.

  • Males 16-24 are the most crime prone group.

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Youth Population and Crime

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  • Victimology

  • Who is victimized?

  • The impact of crime

  • Fear of crime

  • Victims in the criminal justice system

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Victimology – the study of victims

  • Emerged in the 1950s

  • Change in the way that we study crime

  • New focus

    • Who is victimized?

    • Impact of crime

    • Role of victims in Criminal Justice process

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Who are the victims of crime?

Where Does Crime Take Place?

Module 2 - 11

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Relative victimization rates

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Intra vs. Inter racial crime

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Why some people are victims

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The Impact of Crime

  • Economic costs

  • Psychological and social costs

  • Criminal justice system operating costs

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Fear of Crime

  • Limits freedom

  • Sometimes out of proportion to actual risk

  • Increasing

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Victims in the Criminal Justice system

  • Victims often overlooked

  • System becoming more sensitive

  • Role of victims in crime

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Women and Crime

  • Little early research

  • New theories

  • Increasingly arrested

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Crime and Justice as Public Policy Issues

  • Maintaining order vs. protecting rights

  • Differing perspectives on the causes of crime and its cures

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