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Defining crime and criminals. Crime is what is illegal in criminal law Includes some dangerous and harmful acts Other bad practices are not included Criminals are people charged Includes some harmful people Other harmful people are not included. The FBI’s ‘crime rate’. Violent

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defining crime and criminals
Defining crime and criminals
  • Crime is what is illegal in criminal law
    • Includes some dangerous and harmful acts
    • Other bad practices are not included
  • Criminals are people charged
    • Includes some harmful people
    • Other harmful people are not included
the fbi s crime rate
The FBI’s ‘crime rate’
  • Violent
    • murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault
  • Property
    • larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson
  • Not...
    • Work hazard or disease, pollution, health care, cigarettes, food additives, poverty
who is a criminal
Who is a ‘criminal’?

Source: Reiman (2004), p. 58-9.

how 12 943 americans are murdered fbi
How 12,943 Americans are murdered (FBI)

Source: FBI Statistics from Reiman (2004), p. 83.

how 94 681 americans are murdered reiman
How 94,681 Americans are murdered (Reiman)

Source: Reiman (2004), p. 84.

weeding out the rich
Weeding out the rich

For the same crime, the rich are less likely...

T o b e a r r e s t e d

t o b e c h a r g e d

t o b e c o n v i c t e d

to go to prison

to get long sentences

state prisoners by conviction type
State prisoners, by conviction type

Source: BJS (

race ethnicity and drug use
Race/ethnicity and drug use

Source: Use rate from Sentencing Project, 2005 (2002 data).

from drug use to prison
From drug use to prison

Source: Sentencing Project (cocaine 1990; marijuana 2002) BJS (prison 2002 [stopped after that]).

drug war moves to marijuana
Drug war moves to marijuana

Source: Sentencing Project, "War on Marijuana," 2005.

violent crime versus arrest
Violent crime versus arrest

% of those arrested who are Black

% of criminals reported Black

Source: CVS and UCR in Reiman (1998).

why are the poor charged more
Why are the poor charged more?
  • Definition of crime
  • Least able to protest police action
  • Less privacy from state surveillance
  • Police actions
    • Judgement as to seriousness, need for action
    • Profiling, based on training or prejudice
Study of I-95 in Maryland, 1995-96:
    • 93% of drivers violate traffic laws
    • Black and white drivers violate equally
    • Black drivers: 17%, Black stops: 73%
  • Rhode Island vehicle stops, 1st Q 2005
    • Of those stopped, 7% of minorities, 3% of Whites searched
    • In State Police searches 26% of Whites, 13% of minorities had contraband

white collar crime
White-collar crime
  • Far more costly than ‘street’ crime
    • Reiman’s estimate: $404 billion
  • Widespread, probably more common
  • Rarely arrested or charged
    • Property crime: 1 arrest per $14,000
    • Embezzlement: 1 arrest per $898,000
  • Sentences are very light
disparities in conviction
Disparities in conviction
  • The rich get bail
    • Poor are punished while legally innocent
    • Can’t aid in their defense
    • Coerced into pleas based on time served
    • Prejudice of juries and judges
  • The rich get better lawyers
    • Private lawyers: 5-times more likely to win through dismissal or acquittal
convicting the innocent
Convicting the innocent
  • The Innocence Project has used DNA to exonerate 174 innocent people
  • Mistaken identity most common cause
    • In lineups (photo or live), witnesses are pressured, assume one of them is guilty
    • Cross-race identification is hardest
  • Many cases of false confessions
    • Coercion, duress, intoxication, impairment, threats
  • Example: Lonnie Erby
central park jogger 1989
Central Park Jogger, 1989
  • White woman raped and beaten
  • Five Black teenagers arrested nearby, for another mugging
  • Confessions after 14 to 30 hours
    • Threatened, coached, offered release
  • Released after someone else confessed, with DNA evidence
  • Served sentences of 6, 8, and 11 years

Kharey Wise

disparities in sentencing
Disparities in sentencing
  • By judgement call
    • prejudice, deals, assumptions, and priors
  • By statute
    • Laws biased against crimes of the poor
    • E.g., Crack v. powder cocaine
      • Mandatory 5-year federal sentences for:
      • 5g of crack (85% Black convicts)
      • 500g of powder cocaine (58% White convicts)
warren mccleskey
Warren McCleskey
  • Key witness struck a deal on sentencing
    • When asked at trial, prosecutor lied
    • Two jurors say they wouldn’t have convicted
    • Judge: waited too long to appeal
  • Death penalty
    • 11-times more common when victim is white
    • 4.3 considering severity and circumstances
  • Supreme Court agreed
race and the death penalty
Race and the death penalty

Source: Baldus study of the Georgia dealth penalty, cited in McCleskey v. Kemp.

electrocuted sept 25 1991
Electrocuted Sept. 25, 1991
  • Individualism to the death
  • Supreme Court said:
    • Proof of systematic bias is not enough
    • Must prove racism in his case