Unit 1: Chapter 2
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Unit 1: Chapter 2. Causes of Crime. Bell Work. How is it possible to have a consensus about what should or should not be illegal in country with several hundred million adults from all races, religions, and walks of life?

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Causes of Crime

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Unit 1: Chapter 2

Causes of Crime

Bell Work

  • How is it possible to have a consensus about what should or should not be illegal in country with several hundred million adults from all races, religions, and walks of life?

  • Although DNA profiling has been a boon for law enforcement, why are some observers concerned about its widespread use?

Exploring the Causes of Crime

Criminology and Correlation vs. Causation

  • Criminology:

    • “The scientific study of crime and the causes of criminal behavior”

  • Correlation:

    • Correlation between two variables means that they tend to vary together

    • Ice Cream Sales and Crime in the Summer?

  • Causation:

    • Causation means that one variable is responsible for the change in the other

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Crime and Free Will: Choice Theories of Crime

    • Classical Criminology

      • People have free will to choose their behavior

      • Crime as a choice, is more attractive to some than abiding by the law

      • People may refrain from crime if the punishment or pain for it may be greater than the gain from it

      • Threat of punishment is the primary deterrent to crime

Exploring the Causes of Crime


  • “A school of social science that sees criminal and delinquent behavior as the result of biological, psychological, and social forces.”

  • Because wrongdoers are driven to deviancy by external factors, they should not be punished but treated to lessen the influence of those factors.

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime

    • Biological Theories

      • Biochemical Conditions and Crime

      • Genetics and Crime

        • Behavioral Genes

        • Twin Studies

      • Brain Activity and Crime

    • Psychological Theories

      • Psychoanalytic Theory – id, ego, superego

      • Psychopaths

Psychological Theories

  • Psychological Theories

    • Psychoanalytic Theory

      • Id- controls sexual urges

      • Ego- controls behavior that leads to the fulfillment of id

      • Superego- directly related to the conscience and determines which actions are right and wrong, with person’s environment

      • Psychopath/Sociopath, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

Psychopath/Sociopath, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

  • Repeat unlawful behavior

  • Deceitfulness, persistent lying for profit or pleasure

  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan for future

  • Reckless disregard for safety

  • Irresponsibility, unemployment or indebtedness

  • Lack remorse

  • Aggressiveness in form of repeated fights or assaults

Substance Abuse Disorders

  • Drug Abuse- the use of any drug- licit or illicit- that causes either psychological or physiological harm to the abuser or to third parties

    • Dopamine

    • Medical Model of Addiction- addicts are not criminals, ill individuals, rehabilitate

    • Criminal Model of Addiction- endanger society and should be treated the same as other criminals

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Sociological Theories of Crime

    • Social and Physical Environmental Factors

      • The Chicago School- human behavior reflects their environment

      • Social Disorganization Theory- crime is largely a product of unfavorable conditions in certain communities

      • Strain Theory- crime is a result of frustration felt by individuals who cannot reach their financial and personal goals through legitimate means

      • Cultural Deviance Theory- people adapt o the values of the subculture to which they belong

Figure 2.1 The Stages of Disorganization Theory

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Family, Friends, and the Media: Social Processes of Crime

    • Social Process Theories

      • “A school of criminology that considers criminal behavior to be the predictable result of a person’s interaction with his or her environment.”

      • Learning Theory

        • Criminal behavior is learned

      • Control Theory

        • Social bonds promote conformity to social norms

      • Labeling Theory

        • Society creates crime by labeling certain behavior and individuals as deviant

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Social Conflict Theories

    • Criminal behavior is the result of class conflict

    • Certain behavior is labeled illegal because the ruling class has an economic or social interest in restricting such behavior in order to protect the status quo.

    • Marxism vs. Capitalism

    • The Social Reality of Crime

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Life Course Theories

    • “The study of crime based on the belief that behavioral patterns developed in childhood can predict delinquent and criminal behavior later in life”

    • Self-Control Theory

    • Continuity Theory of Crime

    • The Possibility of Change

      • Moffitt believed there were two groups of youthful offenders: Those that age out of crime (their life of crime pertains to childhood), and those that continue to commit crime as adults

Exploring the Causes of Crime

  • Emerging Theories in Criminology

    • Biosocial Theory

      • Combines aspects of biological and sociological theories

      • Racial Threat Theory

        • Focuses on the relationship between modern racism and the amount of control the criminal justice system exerts on African Americans

    • Differential Coercion Theory

      • Focuses on the types of force that compel a person to commit crime

    • Convict Criminology

      • Involves the unique input of ex-inmates who offer experiential views of corrections

Victimology and Victims of Crime

  • Victimology

    • “A school of criminology that studies why certain people are the victims of crime and the optimal role for victims in the criminal justice system”

    • The growing emphasis on the victim has had a profound impact on criminal justice administrators

Victimology and Victims of Crime

  • Repeat Victimization- certain people and places are more likely to be subject to criminal activity and that past victimization is a strong indicator of future victimization

  • Domestic Violence- willful neglect or physical violence within familial or intimate relationships

Victimology and Victims of Crime

  • Factors of Victimization

    • Aspects of an individual’s life, including gender, lifestyle, and environment affect the possibility of being a crime victim

    • Examples of the factors associated with victimization are:

      • Alcohol

        • At greatest risk are frequent and heavy drinkers

      • Gender

        • More consistent clues as to actual threat of violence toward women

Criminology from Theory to Practice

  • Chronic Offenders- career criminals

    • Earlier research suggested that a small group of juvenile offenders was responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime

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