Measuring & Explaining Crime Mr. Concannon Smith
Uniform Crime Report (UCR) • Each year, statisticians from the U.S. Department of Justice release the Unified Crime Report (UCR). • First report issued in 1930 • Attempts to measure the overall rate of crime by organizing offenses known to the police • This report relies on the voluntary participation of local law enforcement agencies (think Holden PD)
The Data • The data are based on these three measurements: • The number of persons arrested for said crime • The number of crimes reported by victims, witnesses and police • The number of officers and support law enforcement officials
FBI Number Crunchers • Once the data are collected the FBI presents it in two ways: • As a rate per 100,000 people per year. • For example: In 2011, the rate of property crime was estimated at 2,908 per 100,000 inhabitants (for the year) • As a percentage change from the previous year or other time periods • Example: between 2008 and 2009 violent crimes decreased by 6.1 percent.
Part I Offenses • Most measured crimes • Murder • Forcible Rape • Robbery • Aggravated assault • Burglary- B&E • Larceny/Theft • Motor Vehicle Theft • Arson
Explaining Crime Trends Or desperately trying to… Mr. Concannon Smith
Do Now • What is a trend (statistically speaking)? • What are some common trends we hear about related to crime? • Are they myth or fact?
Crime in Decline • Between 1900-2000 the homicide rate in the U.S. dropped by 39% • Robberies dropped by 44% • Burglary dropped by 41% • Auto theft by 37% • What was responsible? • According to criminologists, many things contributed to this “golden era” of declining crime rates
Reasons Provided for Recent Drop in Crime: • The economy was robust. • Police tactics (to be discussed later) became more efficient during this time period • Incarcerations were high due to passage of many zero tolerance laws on lesser crimes • Sadly, many involved in the crack-cocaine boom of the 1980s are dead (killed or otherwise), some are in prison, or no longer offending (as is often the case with rehabilitated drug offenders) • Legalized Abortion? • Recent economic downturn helps this theory…
Difficulty in Explaining Crime The Crack Epidemic and the War of Drugs
Criminology in Action Mr. Concannon Smith
Criminology • Criminology: the scientific study of crime and the causes of criminal behavior • Criminologist: a specialist in the field of crime, the causes of crime, and certain criminal behaviors • We must be very careful when we start talking about causation. • Correlation is NOT Causation • Criminologists use correlative data to form theories
Important Distinction Theory Hypothesis A possible explanation for an observed occurrence that can be tested by further investigation • Explanation of a happening or circumstance based on observation, experimentation, or reasoning
Theories about Crime Choice Theories (Classical) Trait Theories Biological or Psych traits incline them towards criminal activity Hormonal responsibility Criminal activity in males has been linked to high levels of testosterone (which controls secondary sex characteristics and triggers aggression) • A person commits a crime because the choose to do so • Before committing the crime he/she weighs the benefits against the costs • End result of a series of rational choices • Leads to deterrence policies
Theories about Crime Sociological Theories Interactionist Theories Biological or Psych traits incline them towards criminal activity Hormonal responsibility Criminal activity in males has been linked to high levels of testosterone (which controls secondary sex characteristics and triggers aggression) • A person commits a crime because the choose to do so • Before committing the crime he/she weighs the benefits against the costs • End result of a series of rational choices • Leads to deterrence policies
Do Now • Why would someone who subscribes to Choice Theory believe that increasing the harshness of a penalty for a crime would likely lead to a reduction in that crime? • Why would a Trait Theorist disagree?
The Brain & Crime Mr. Concannon Smith
The Brain and Crime: Psych 101 • The study of brain activity––neurophysiology––is a growing field in criminology. • Neurophysiology explained: • Cells in the brain known as neurons communicate with each other by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters • NPY Criminologists have isolated three that are related to aggressive behavior • Serotonin • Norepinephrine • Dopamine
Serotonin: chemical that regulates moods, appetite, and memory • Antidepressant medication changes these levels • Norepinephrine: regulates sleep-wake cycles and controls how we respond to anxiety fear, and stress • Prescription sleep medication and general anxiety medication alter these levels • Dopamine: regulates perceptions of pleasure and reward. • Levels altered by many things from simply eating to doing drugs (heroin is a good example) • Research has shown that low levels of serotonin and high levels of norepinephrine are correlated with aggressive behavior.
Research shows strong connection between violent behavior and damage to the frontal lobe • Among other things, the frontal lobe regulates out ability to behave properly in social situations • Tend to act more impulsively and violently (not generally but in reactive situations)
Do Now • How many of you have seen a really drunk person? • How did they act? • Were they in a group setting?
Drugs & Crime Mr. Concannon Smith
Drugs and Crime • Criminologists (Penn State) believe that alcohol consumption has a causal effect on victimization • “frequent and heavy drinkers” are at great risk of being assaulted when they are drinking • (no abnormal signs show while sober) • They hypothesize that consuming alcohol leads to aggressive and offensive behavior (especially in men) which in turn triggers violent reactions from others.
Drug use in America • Today, about 20,000,000 Americans regularly use illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine (6.5%) • Another 200,000,000 regularly use legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine
Criminologist Explanations of Drug Use • Why use drugs? • At first glance: because drugs give pleasure and provide a temporary escape for those with tension and anxiety • This fails to explain why some people use and others do not. • Social Disorganization Theory: rapid social change can cause disaffiliation with society causing antisocial drug use • Learning Theory: sees drug use as a learned behavior (habitual) • Learn the techniques • Learn to perceive pleasure • Learn to enjoy the social experience
Use vs. Abuse • Drug Abuse: use that results in physical or psychological harm for the user or a third party. • For most drugs only between 7 and 20 percent of all users suffer from compulsive abuse. • Addiction: the most extreme abusers are often physically dependent on a drug. • To understand addiction, you must understand the role of dopamine in the brain. • So much dopamine is triggered that the receptors are worn out over time so more dopamine is needed to obtain the same levels of pleasure
Drug Crime Relationship • More than 2/3 of jail inmates are either dependent on or abuse drugs • More then 1/3 were under the influence at time of offense • Drug use and our laws have been a primary factor in the enormous growth of the American correctional industry • Three models: • Psychopharmacological model: drugs made me do it • Economically impulsive: need drug money • Systemic model: by product of the interpersonal relationships in the drug subculture
Broken Window Theory Mr. Concannon Smith
Criminology from Theory to Practice • Criminology can play a crucial role in the criminal justice system • Research has established the idea of the chronic offender or career criminal • A small group of offenders (6 %) are responsible for a disproportionate number of violent crimes • Further research has supported this claim • Has allowed law enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices to devise specific strategies to apprehend and prosecute repeat offenders
Broken Windows Theory • The broken windows theory is the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime. How it works: • In an urban environment, with few or no other people around, social norms and monitoring are not clearly known. • Individuals look for signals within the environment as indicators of social norms in the setting (assess risk for violating those norms; one of those signals is the area's general appearance) • An ordered and clean environment sends the signal that the area is monitored and that criminal behavior will not be tolerated. • Conversely, a disordered environment – one which is not maintained (broken windows, graffiti, excessive litter) – sends the signal that the area is not monitored and that one can engage in criminal behavior with little risk of detection.