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Chapter 1. Crime, Criminology, and the Criminal Law. What is Criminology?. Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause, and control of criminal behavior. Criminology is an interdisciplinary science: Sociology Criminal justice Political science Psychology Economics

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Chapter 1


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  1. Chapter 1 Crime, Criminology, and the Criminal Law

  2. What is Criminology? • Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause, and control of criminal behavior. • Criminology is an interdisciplinary science: • Sociology • Criminal justice • Political science • Psychology • Economics • Natural science

  3. What is Criminology? • Criminology and Criminal Justice • Criminology explains the origin, extent, and nature of crime in society • Criminal justice refers to agencies of social control • Both discipline areas overlap

  4. What is Criminology? • Criminology and Deviance • Deviant behavior departs from social norms • Not all crimes are deviant and not all deviant acts are criminal • Criminologists study both criminology and deviance to understand the nature and purpose of law (I.E. drug use)

  5. What is Criminology? • Weblink: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/

  6. A Brief History of Criminology • Classical Criminology 18th century • Utilitarianism emphasized behavior is considered purposeful and useful by the actor • Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) believed people have free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions to meet their needs • Choice is controlled by fear of punishment • Punishment should be severe, swift, and certain to control behavior

  7. A Brief History of Criminology • Nineteenth-Century Positivism • Application of scientific methods to study crime • Auguste Comte (1798-1857) • Two main elements: 1) human behavior is a function of forces beyond a person’s control and 2) embracing the scientific method to solve problems • Charles Darwin (1809-1882) popularized the positivist tradition • Influences of physiognomy and phrenology • Biological determinism - Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) atavistic anomalies • Social positivism developed to study the major social changes (sociology)

  8. A Brief History of Criminology • Foundations of Sociological Criminology • L.A.J. Quetelet – cartography (demographic variables) • Emile Durkheim – anomie ( role confusion) • Crime calls attention to the social ills • Rising crime rates can signal the need for social change

  9. A Brief History of Criminology • The Chicago School and Beyond • Robert Ezra Park (1864-1944), Ernest W. Burgess (1886-1966), Louis Wirth (1897-1952) • The Chicago School - social ecology (reaction to an environment that was inadequate for proper human relations and development) • Edwin Sutherland suggested people learn criminality • Walter Reckless linked crime to an inadequate self-image. • Both views linked criminality to the failure of socialization

  10. A Brief History of Criminology • Conflict Criminology • Karl Marx (1818-1883) • Relationship between bourgeoisie (capitalists) and proletariat (labor) developing class conflicts • Development of conflict theory (the linkage between crime and capitalism) • Impact on civil rights/women’s movements

  11. A Brief History of Criminology • Contemporary Criminology • Rational choice theory argues people are rational decision makers • Social structure theory argues social environment controls criminal behavior • Social process theory argues criminal behavior is learned

  12. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Criminal Statistics • Measuring the amount and trends of criminal activity • Creating valid and reliable measurements of criminal activity

  13. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Sociology of Law • Subarea of criminology concerned with the role of social forces in shaping criminal law (I.E. legality of art works) • Criminologists help lawmakers alter the content of criminal law to respond to the changing times (I.E. sex offender registration)

  14. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Developing theories of Crime Causation • Psychological view contends crime is a function of personality, learning, or cognition • Biological view incorporates biochemical, genetic, and neurological linkages to crime • Sociological view includes social forces such as poverty, socialization, and group interaction

  15. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • The Nature of Theory and Theory Development • Social theory is a systematic set of interrelated statements that explain some aspect of social life • Some theory may be grand, while others are narrow in their focus • Theory is based on social facts, which can be readily observed

  16. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Criminal Behavior Systems • Involves crime types and patterns (I.E. violent, public order, and organized crime) • Edwin Sutherland’s “white-collar” crime • Crime typologies involve different types of crime and criminals

  17. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Penology • Correction and control of known criminal offenders • Capital punishment is used as social control • Mandatory sentences are aimed at social control and prevention of criminal acts.

  18. What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise • Victimology • Examines the critical role of the victim in the criminal process (Hans von Hentig andStephen Schafer) • Use of victim surveys to measure the nature and extent of criminal behavior • Creating probabilities of victimization risk • Victim culpability or precipitation of crime • Designing services and programs

  19. How Criminologists View Crime • The Consensus View of Crime • Substantive criminal law defines crime and punishment • Criminal law is a function of beliefs, morality and rules • Laws apply equally to all members of society • Acts which are considered as social harms should be outlawed to protect the social fabric and members of society

  20. How Criminologists View Crime • The Conflict view of Crime • Criminal law reflects and protects established economic, racial, gendered, and political power and privilege • Definition of crime is controlled by wealth, power, and social position • Crime is shaped by the values of the ruling class and not the moral consensus of all people

  21. How Criminologists View Crime • The Interactionist View of Crime • This position holds 1) People act according to their own interpretations of reality, 2) People observe they way others react either positively or negatively, and 3) People reevaluate and interpret their own behavior according to the meaning and symbols they have learned from others • There is not objective reality, according to interactionists • The definition of crime reflects the preferences and opinions of people who hold social power • Crime is socially defined by moral entrepreneurs

  22. How Criminologists View Crime • Defining Crime • Crime is a violation of societal rules of behavior as interpreted and expressed by the criminal law, which reflects public opinion, traditional values, and the viewpoint of people currently holding social and political power • The definition combines all three criminological perspectives (consensus, conflict, and interactionist)

  23. Crime and the Criminal Law • Code of Hammurabi (eye for an eye) • Mosaic Code (basis for U.S. legal system) • Compurgation (use of oathhelpers) • Trials by ordeal (divine intervention)

  24. Crime and the Criminal Law • Common Law • English system of law based on precedent cases • Mala in se refers to crime considered as evil • Mala prohibita refers statutory crimes • Legislatures supplement common law with statutes

  25. Crime and the Criminal Law • Contemporary Criminal Law • Felony offenses are serious criminal actions • Misdemeanor offenses are minor or petty criminal actions • Criminal law seeks to: Enforce social control, Discourage revenge, Express public opinion and morality, Deter criminal behavior, Punish wrongdoing, and Maintain social order

  26. Crime and the Criminal Law • The Elements of a Crime • Actus Reus is the action of a crime • Mens Rea is the mental intent of a criminal action • Strict Liability does not necessarily require specific intent

  27. Crime and the Criminal Law • Criminal Defenses • Excuse defenses – insanity, intoxication, and ignorance • Justification defenses – necessity, duress, self-defense, and entrapment

  28. Crime and the Criminal Law • The Evolution of Criminal Law • Criminal law evolves to reflect social and economic conditions, such as stalking statutes or sexual predator laws (Megan’s Law) • Changing technology requires modifications in criminal law

  29. Ethical Issues in Criminology • What to study (influence of research money) • Whom to study (unmasking the poor) • How to study (experiments and harm)