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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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Unit 1: Chapter 2

Causes of Crime

bell work
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
  • 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
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
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

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