Colloquium in Criminal Justice College of Adult Professional Studies Course Number: CRJ 290 Colloquium in Criminal Justice Thomas N. Davidson, J. D.
Colloquium A colloquium is an informal meeting to discuss some subject matter. The purpose of this colloquium is to: 1. Identify key contemporary criminal justice and homeland security theories and issues; 2. Demonstrate knowledge of the overall criminal justice field; 3. Discuss the history of the criminal justice field; 4. Express an educated opinion on the present condition and future prospects of American society in the context of criminal justice and homeland security issues.
Issue 1. Are US crime problems a result of our failure to get tough on crime? • Yes. Criminal behavior is rational choice; crime rates will go down when society increases penalties. • No. The system fails because it produces substantial benefits for those in power. The wealthy uses ideology to convince people that the system is the best one that society can create.
Crime Prevention& Deterrence Crime Prevention Crime Deterrence Likelihood of being caught Desire Ability Desire Gravity of harm if caught Opportunity
Ego Identity • Ego identity is formed when youths develop a full sense of the self, combining how they see themselves and how they fit with others.
Role diffusion • Role diffusion occurs when people spread themselves too thin, experience personal uncertainty, and place themselves at the mercy of people who promise to give them a sense of identity they cannot develop for themselves. Example: Gangs. For a discussion on what factors increase the chances of gang activity among juveniles got to: http://www.lao.ca.gov/1995/050195_juv_crime/kkpart3.aspx
At Risk Youth • Young people extremely vulnerable t the negative consequences of school failure, substance abuse, and early sexuality.
Cynical & Preoccupied with Material Acquisitions By the time they reach 18, most young people have spent more time in front of the TV than in the classroom. They see thousands of depictions of rape, assault, murder, theft, and other anti-social behaviors. They also listen to hours of music with violent and sexual content. Research indicates that kids who listen to music with sexual content are more likely to engage in precocious sex than those who don’t.
Each day in America: • 2 mothers die in childbirth • 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect • 5 children or teens commit suicide • 9 children or teens are killed by firearms • 32 die from accidents • 202 arrested for violent crimes • 377 arrested for drug crimes • 964 babies are born at low birthrate • 1,210 babies are born to teen mothers Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2012). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Each day in America continued: • 1,240 public school students corporally punished • 2,060 babies born without health insurance • 2,175 children are confirmed as abused or neglected • 2,222 drop out of high school • 2,692 babies are born into poverty • 4,435 children are arrested • 4,498 babies are born to unwed mothers • 18,493 public school students are suspended from school Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2012). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Poor Education • About 70% of all 4th graders cannot read at level • About 90% of blacks • About 80% of Latino • About 80% of American Indian • Black children are about 50% more likely to drop out of school than white children; in part caused by poor reading ability that leads to stress Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2012). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Status Offenses Conduct is only illegal because the offender is under age. • Smoking and drinking • Skipping school • Runaway • Participating in sex • Curfew • Profanity • Disobeying parents • Truantcy
Part I Crimes Serious crimes against property and people • Murder • Rape • Burglary • Arson • Motor vehicle theft • Theft • Aggravated assult
Part II Crimes All other crimes that are not Part I crimes • Public intoxication • Driving under the influence • Littering • Disorderly conduct, et cetera • Drug use
What the data says • More than 13.6 million arrests each year • 2.3 million are Part I crimes • 11 million are less serious Part II crimes • Juveniles are arrested for approximately 15% of Part I violent crimes and 24% Part I property crimes • Kids 14-17 account for only 6% of population, but are arrested for a disproportionate amount of crime. • 1.1 million juvenile arrests in 2009 for Part II offenses • 74,000 status offenses arrests in 2009
Causes of Crime • Socioeconomic Status Theory • Cognitive Behavior Theory • Rational Choice Theory • Trait Theory • Biosocial Theory • Psychological Theory
Routine Activities Theory • Capable Guardians • Motivated Offenders • Suitable Targets
Social Factors Believed to affect Crime • Interpersonal interactions: family, peers, schools, jobs • Community conditions: inner-city, poverty, decay • Exposure to violence • Social change: politics, mistrust, economic stress • Low socioeconomic status: poverty creates incentive • Racial disparity: poverty among minorities is higher than that of whites
Theories • Social Structure: crime (“C”) is function of place in economic structure. • Social Process: C as result of interaction with socialization elements. • Stratified Society: Grouping society into classes based on the unequal distribution of resources. • Culture of Poverty: View that poor people form their own values which sometimes clash with conventional society.
Theories • Underclass: Group of poor whose members have little chance of upward mobility. • Social Structure: Crime is result of socioeconomic conditions and cultural values. • Enculturated: The process learning what is accepted in a culture. • Social Disorganization: Links crime to being locked out of economic mainstream which cause anger. • Cultural Deviance: Lower class culture develops in disorganized areas whose beliefs are in conflict with conventional norms
Theories • Social Transmission: Norms and values passed down from each generation. • Social Control: Ability of institutions to influence social behavior. • Social Ecology: Law abiding behavior is result of social rather than individual forces. • Transitional Neighborhood: Transition of population & structure from middle class to poorer (White flight).
Theories • Siege Mentality: Residents become suspicious of authority and consider outside world as the enemy. We see this when communities refuse to cooperate with police even when the crimes are outrageous and heinous. • Collective Efficacy: The ability of communities to regulate behavior through influences of school and family. • Street Efficacy: Using one’s wit to avoid violence and feel safe.
Theories • Strain Theory: Suggests that most people share similar values and goals. When people feel shutout they feel frustrated and angry, a condition called strain. • General Strain Theory (GST): Multiple sources of strain interact with a person’s traits and responses to produce crime. • Anomie: Normlessness produced by rapidly shifting moral values. Personal goals cannot be achieved using available means.
Sources of Stress Causing Strain • Failure to achieve positively valued goals. • Disjunction between expectations and achievements. • Removal of positively valued stimuli (loss of friends). • Presentation of negative stimuli (child abuse).
Research that Supports GST • People who think they have been treated unfairly report high levels of anger & high levels of theft. • People who live in strain producing conditions are more likely to commit anti-social acts. • People who believe that path to success is blocked are more likely to engage in criminal activities. • Similar results in foreign countries (indicating not cultural based outcomes).
Focal Concerns Unique value system that defines lower-class culture. Conformance to these focal concerns dominates life. Promotes illegal or violent behavior. The need for being seen as tough or the need for excitement, trouble, smartness (streetwise & savvy), fate, and personal autonomy (independent of authority figures).
Crime Subcultures • Status Frustration: Culture conflict experienced by lower-class youths because social conditions prevent them from achieving success as defined by society. • Middle-class Measuring Rods: Standards used by teachers & others to evaluate behavior-when poorer kids do not meet standards they are subject to failure, which brings about anger and frustration. • Reaction Formation: ψ Reaction that occurs when a person does or says something that is the opposite of what he really wants or is socially appropriate.
Differential Opportunity • View that poorer youths, which have limited opportunities, join gangs and pursue criminal careers as an alternative means to achieving success. • Criminal gangs: Criminal goals. • Conflict gangs: Protect their own. • Retreatist gangs: Retreat and create fringe society; often getting high, sex, and music is goal.
Social Process • Socialization: People learn to adopt the behaviors of the community in which they live. • Family influence • School • Peers • Religion
Social Learning Theory Crime is learned through close relationships with others; asserts that children are born good and learn bad from others. • Differential Association: Asserts that crime is learned within interpersonal groups and youths will become crime if violating the law is favorable to obeying the law.
Principles of Differential Association (DA) • Crime behavior is learned. • Learning is a by-product of interaction. • Learning occurs within intimate groups. • Criminal techniques are learned. • Perceptions of legal code influence motives. • Crime participation may vary in duration, frequency, priority, & intensity. • Crime is an expression of needs & values, but not an excuse.
Neutralization Theory (NT) Subterranean values: The ability of people to repress social norms. People can drift back and force between conventional and crime norms.
Neutralization Techniques A set of attitudes that allow people to negate moral apprehension so that they may freely engage in crime behavior without regret. • Deny responsibility. • Deny injury (no one hurt, so not wrong). • Deny the victim (he had it coming). • Condemn the condemners (world, school, society is corrupt). • Appeal to higher loyalties (Caught between being loyal to peers and rules of society).
Social Control Theory (SCT) All people have the potential to violate the law and that society presents many opportunities for illegal activity. Drugs, illicit sex, even theft offer exciting pastimes. Is it fear of punishment that prevents offending behavior (choice theory)? Obeying law is a function of success, so we don’t disobey (structural theory)? Obedience is because of contact with law-abiding parents and peers (learning theory)? SCT argues that internal and external forces control desire and passion. Proper socialization renders us incapable of committing D acts.
Social Reaction Theory (Labeling Theory) Pygmalion effect. Tell someone they are bad, injudicious, lazy, or unqualified (and they and those around them) and the resulting reinforcement can actually cause the outcome.
Symbolic Interaction People communicate via gestures, signals, symbols, and words that stand for something else. Ring on fourth finger of left hand indicates that the person is married for example.
Status Symbols Possession, rank, or activity that indicates one’s social prestige.
Stigmatized Mark someone with disgrace or reproach; to characterize or brand someone as disgraceful or disreputable.
Differential Labeling Law is differentially applied; white collar criminals ordinarily get lighter sentences than common burglars for example. This is due to discretionary decision making.
Identity • Damaged identity-stigmatized. • Primary deviance-norm violations that little influence on the actor and can be quickly forgotten. Minor crimes that go unnoticed and therefore have little influence on the person’s life. • Secondary deviance-deviant acts that define the actor and create a new identity. Crimes that come to the attention of others who apply a negative label.
Labeling & Delinquency • Pure deviants-engage in illegal acts and get caught. • Conformists-do not engage in delinquent acts. • Falsely accused-blamed for something they did not do. • Secret deviants-engage in illegal acts, but do not get caught.
Conflict Theory & Prevention • Restorative justice- humanistic, non-punitive strategies. • Shame-personal feelings we have when we fail to meet personal standard or those of significant others. • Reintegrative shaming-allowing offenders to understand their wrongdoing and shame themselves. • Restoration-using the system to heal the offender.
Concept Summary • Developmental theory • Life-course theory • Latent trait • Propensity • Trajectory theory
General Theory of Crime Integrates social control theory with biosocial, psychological, routine activities, and rational choice theories.
Pathways to crime • Authority conflicts-early age defiance and authority avoidance • Covert pathway-begins with minor underhanded behaviors and then leads to more serious theft and fraud crimes • Overt pathway- begins with minor aggression and leads to fighting and violent crimes See next slide
Issue 2. Does the US have the right to torture suspected terrorists? • Yes. Appropriate for preventing the greater evil. • No. The use of torture is immoral and counterproductive.
Egoism Ethical Model Egoism is belief that one ought to do what is in one's own self-interest, although a distinction should be made between what is really in one's self-interest and what is only apparently so. What is in one's self-interest may incidentally be detrimental to others, beneficial to others, or neutral in its effect.
Guiding Formula for Moral Judgment • Select moral principle that best defines the problem: honesty, fairness, equity, loyalty, et cetera. • Justify the situation by examining whether it conforms to the selected principle. If not, accentuating or mitigating factors that make it more or less fitting? • If situation fits exactly, then the judgment should be made exactly in accordance with the principle. • If it does not fit, judgment is made by determining a high or low likelihood that the situation fits the principle by examining the accentuating & mitigating factors.