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Introduction to Criminology

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  1. Introduction to Criminology Defining Criminology The Criminal Law Development of Academic Criminology Theories of Crime Politics/Ideology

  2. Defining Criminology • Edwin Sutherland’s definition • The scientific study of lawmaking, lawbreaking, and the response to lawbreaking • Lawmaking = how laws are created/changed • Lawbreaking = nature/extent of crime • Reaction = police, courts, corrections • Science vs. other ways of knowing stuff

  3. Criminology vs. Criminal Justice • Criminal Justice • The study of agencies related to the control of crime • Criminology • The study of crime trends, nature of crime, theories of crime • Reality? Two sides of the same coin

  4. Criminology vs. Deviance • Criminology focuses on crimes • Crime = violation of criminal law • Deviance focuses on violations of societal norms • These may or may not also be law violations • Can you think of a norm violation that is not a law? • How about a law violation that does not violate a norm?

  5. Types of Law • Criminal Law • Procedural vs. Substantive • Statutory vs. Common • Civil Law • Tort law

  6. Substantive vs. Procedural Law • Substantive Law • Written code that defines crimes and punishments • Procedural Law • Rules of the court, trials...

  7. Common Law v. Statutory Law Common Law is judge-made law. The law is found in previously decided cases. Statutory Laws are derived from legislative acts that decide the definition of the behavior that is codified into law.

  8. Criminal and Tort Law • A public offense • Enforcement is statebusiness • Punishment is oftenloss of liberties or sometimes death • Fines go to the state • State doesn’t ordinarily appeal • Proof beyond a reasonable doubt • A civil or private wrong • Individuals bring action • Sanction is normally monetary damages • Both parties can appeal • Individuals receives thecompensation for harmdone • “Preponderance of the evidence” is required for a decision.

  9. Seriousness of Crimes I Mala in se Mala prohibita Wrong because they are prohibited Change over time and across society Prostitution Gambling • Wrong or evil in themselves • Core of legal code • Homicide • Robbery

  10. FELONY MISDEMEANOR More serious offenses Punishable by death or imprisonment for more than a year in a state prison. Less serious offenses Punishable by incar- ceration for less than a year in a local jail or house of correction. Seriousness of Crimes II

  11. A criminal law must indicate a type of intent and a specific behavior • Actus Reas • Physical act must be voluntary • If crime is“Failure to act,” there must be legal obligation. • Statutory Obligation, Relationship between parties, Contract • Mens Rea • General or specific intent • Transferred Intent • Negligence • Strict Liability Offenses

  12. Specific Criminal Defenses • Deny the Actus Reas (I didn’t do it) • Deny the Mens Rea • Ignorance / Mistake • Intoxication? • Insanity Defense

  13. Who does the law serve? Consensus view • Law results from societal agreement on what behaviors are most harmful • Laws apply to all citizens equally Conflict view • Law results from conflict over what behavior should be criminalized • Those with the most power define what is criminal and often use the law to protect their interests Which is correct?

  14. Criminology as a Discipline • Until the 1970s, there was no “criminology” or “criminal justice” degree • Sociology became the dominant disciple • Still contributions from biology, psychology, political science • 1980-Present • Criminology emerging as separate entity • PhD in Criminology/Criminal Justice now the norm • Still debate about whether Criminology is a distinct discipline • Organized around a class of behaviors rather than a distinct way of looking at the world • Sociologists still see criminology as a “sub-discipline” of sociology

  15. Sociological Criminology—Good & Bad • Good: Focus on social structure and inequality; healthy skepticism (debunking) • Bad: Ignore/ridicule “outside” disciplines and their focus on individual differences • The Irony? Psychologists and biologists believe that social forces are as (or more) important than individual differences • This class will explore crime from a multidisciplinary lens

  16. A Crude History of Criminology • Demonic Perspective pre-1750s • Crime as god’s will, result of demonic possession • Classical School (1750s-1900; 1970s to now) • Utilitarian philosophy (Becarria, Bentham) • A response to an unjust/arbitrary legal system • Free will, humans use a “hedonistic calculus” • Rational legal code  less crime • Basis of deterrence theory

  17. Crude History—Part II • Positive School (1900-present) • Crime is “caused” by outside forces (determinism) • Solution is to fix these causes (medical model, rehab) • Scientific research on offenders, crime (not law) • Different types of positivism • Bio/psych determinism (1900-1920s) • Sociological theory (1920s-Present) • Critical theories (1960s-early 1970s) • Developmental Theory (1990s-present)

  18. Crime Theory • Backbone of criminology • Scientific Theory • Must be able to test theory • A GOOD theory survives empirical testing • Empirical = real world observations • Some theories are sexier than others • Parsimony • Scope • Usefulness of policy implications

  19. Flow Chart for Evaluation NO = Useless, stop here • Evaluate the • Following: • Scope • Parsimony • Policy Implications Falsifiable? Logical? Yes Empirical Evidence? YES NO: Modify/Discard

  20. Empirical Evidence is the KEY • Theories attempt to demonstrate cause-effect • Criteria for causation in social science using a poverty  crime example • Time ordering: poverty happens before crime • Correlation: X is related to Y • Relationship is not spurious (e.g., low self-control causes both poverty and crime)

  21. Methods for generating evidence • Experiment • Key is randomly assigned groups • Only factor that effects outcome is group difference at start of experiment • Limit = artificial nature

  22. Experimental Design

  23. Methods for generating evidence II • Non-experimental • Survey research • Cross sectional  Stimulant Study • Longitudinal • Limit = how to rule out spuriousness • Upside = ask whatever you want

  24. Ideology in Criminology • Walter Miller • Ideology is the “permanent hidden agenda of Criminal Justice” • What is “Ideology?” • American Political Ideology • Liberal/Progressive Ideology • Conservative Ideology • Radical Ideology

  25. Dominant Ideologies in U.S. CONSERVATIES LIBERALS Value equal opportunities and individual rights Success/failure depends on outside forces and where you start Crime is caused by outside influences • Value order/stability, respect for authority • People get what they deserve • Crime caused by poor choice (Free will)

  26. Implications of Ideology for Crime and Justice • Conservatives tend to fit with “Classical School” • “Neo-Classical” = deterrence, incapacitation • James Q. Wilson’s “policy analysis” • Liberal/Progressive fit with positive school • Favor decriminalizing some acts • “Root causes” of crime only fixed by social change • Rehabilitation may be possible • Elliott Currie = ample evidence that government can address social ills and prevent crime • Radical = Marxist/conflict theory

  27. Ideology as “hidden agenda” • Many policies and programs are driven more by ideology than empirical evidence • Intensive supervision probation (conservatives) • Restorative justice (liberals)

  28. The “Martinson Report” (MR) • The “Martinson Report” was review of studies on rehabilitation published in the early 1970s • Concluded that not much is working • Used by politicians as the reason for abandoning rehab • Social Context of the 1960s • Hippies, Watergate, Attica, Viet Nam, Kent State… • Conservatives? SKY IS FALLING • Liberals? Cannot trust the government • Reality = liberals and conservatives were both “ready” to pull the plug on rehabilitation

  29. The Limits of Empirical Evidence • Criminologists tend to be cautions with conclusions • All studies are flawed in some way • Politicians and public tend to “over generalize” from a single study • This can lead to bad policy • RAND Felony Probation study • Domestic Violence Experiments

  30. Good theory makes good policy… • In a perfect world, programs and policies would flow from empirically supported theories of crime • Unfortunately, people often “shoot from hip” • Policy without Theory • The “panacea” problem: scared straight, intensive probation, boot camps, warm and fuzzy circle… • Some hope in “evidence-based” movement • Multisystemic Therapy (MST) • Targets for change = parental supervision, delinquent friends, reducing rewards for deviance…

  31. Good theory makes good policy… • In a perfect world, programs and policies would flow from empirically supported theories of crime • Unfortunately, people often “shoot from hip” • Policy without Theory • The “panacea” problem: scared straight, intensive probation, boot camps, warm and fuzzy circle… • Some hope in “evidence-based” movement • Multisystemic Therapy (MST) • Targets for change = parental supervision, delinquent friends, reducing rewards for deviance…