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Chapter 6 Crime and Criminal Justice. “It is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant.” Howard Becker, 1966 What.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 6 Crime and Criminal Justice. “It is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant.” Howard Becker, 1966 What."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 6 Crime and Criminal Justice

2 “It is not the act itself, but the reactions to the act, that make something deviant.” Howard Becker, 1966 What is Deviance?

3 The Problem in Sociological Perspective Norms: rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members Laws: the norms created through a society’s political system Crime: The violation of laws enacted by federal, state, or local governments Crime is culturally relative Crime: The Extent of the Problem  Most people in the US think crime is a serious problem  Fear of crime is a social problem, because it limits the things people do and the places they go

4 The Problem in Sociological Perspective Making acts criminal is a political process  Determining which behavior is criminal is a political process  Power: The capacity to achieve goals in the face of opposition  The universal nature of crime: No society exists without crime

5 Violent Crime: Patterns and Trends Property offenses account for 88% of all serious offences, while violent crimes against persons account for 12% Violent crime rose quickly from 1960 until the early 1990s After that, the trend turned downward  Stronger economy (may change due to recession that began in 2008)  Drop in use of crack cocaine  More police  Tougher sentences

6 Aggravated Assault  Aggravated assault accounts for nearly 2/3 of all reported violent crime  Aggravated assault is very much a male crime, with the majority of both victims and offenders being men

7 Robbery  Robbery involves both stealing and threatening another person, which makes this both a property and a violent crime  This is the least likely of all violent crimes to result in an arrest  victims usually don’t know a robber so that identification is difficult

8 National Map The Risk of Violent Crime across the United States

9 Property Crimes: Patterns and Trends  Burglary  only 11% of cases are cleared  Majority of those arrested are male (86%) and under 25 (59%)  Larceny-theft  includes shoplifting, pick pocketing, purse-snatching  the most common of all the serious crimes tracked by the FBI (account for 67% of total)

10 Property Crimes  Motor-vehicle theft  only 11% of cases are cleared  50% of those arrested are under 25 and 82% are male  Arson  the arson rate is holding steady  Only 27% are cleared  67% those arrested are under 25 and 84% are male

11 “Street” Crime: Who Are the Criminals?  Age  for all offenses, there is a strong link between crime and youth  Gender  In 2007, males accounted for 67% of arrests for property crime  For violent crime, men are arrested in 82% of the cases  Women are more often arrested for larceny-theft, fraud, runaway youth and prostitution  For all serious crimes, the number of women arrested is increasing

12 “Street” Crime: Who Are the Criminals?  Social class  Research shows that people of lower social position are involved in most arrests for street crime  The link between class and criminality depends on the kind of crime one is talking about

13 “Street” Crime: Who Are the Criminals?  Race plays a large part in the crime picture several ways  the deprivation faced by black youths may lead to hostility towards the police and various facets of the “system”  prejudice based on race may prompt people to suspect blacks on the basis of skin color  research suggests that such biases may lead police to arrest African Americans more than whites

14 Symbolic Interactionism  Labeling theory views an act as deviant only if other people respond to it as if it were deviant; the view that the labels people are given affect their own and others’ perceptions of them, thus channeling their behavior either into deviance or conformity.  Most people resist being labeled deviant, but some revel in a deviant identity.  Practice that can set people on different paths in life  Self-fulfilling Prophecy  Refers to something that becomes true because one said it might come true

15  Criminal Justice System: Agencies that respond to crime  Data comes from the Uniform Crime Report and National Crime Victimization Survey.  Police Discretion  Deciding whether to arrest someone or to ignore a particular offense  Social class influences the authorities' reactions affecting who shows up in official statistics Crime and Class

16 Race, Ethnicity, and Crime  Statistics show that African Americans and Latinos are dealt with more harshly than Whites – from arrest through indictment, conviction, sentencing, and parole.  Even when criminal offense is the same, African Americans and Latinos are more likely than Whites to be convicted and serve more time in prison than Whites.

17 Functionalism  Functionalists consider crime a natural part of healthy society.  helps clarify norms & and affirms values  increases social unity & brings about needed social change  Strain theory states that illegitimate opportunity structures encourage some people to commit crime and provide that others will not have the need to.  Robert Merton’s analysis: Conformists Innovators Ritualists Retreatists Rebels Innovation is most often the cause of criminal behavior Innovators turn to illegitimate means

18 Cloward & Ohlin (1998) – refined strain theory to emphasize that deviant behavior is not an automatic response but must be learned.  Illegitimate Opportunity Theory – Explains why social classes have distinct styles of crimes.  Social class and illegitimate opportunities  Illegitimate Opportunity Structures Opportunities woven into the texture of life in urban slums  Middle and upper classes are not free of crime  Ponzi Scheme Occurs when high investment returns are paid to clients using other clients’ money—not real investment profit

19 Conflict Theory: Crime and Inequality  Conflict theorists stress that every society is marked by power and inequality.  The Ruling Class  The Working Class: three major groups Upper-level managers and professionals White-collar and blue-collar workers Marginal working class  Law is controlled by the ruling class  Law is an instrument of oppression.

20 Conflict Theory: Crime and Inequality  Karl Marx: Class and Crime  Understood social problems in terms of class conflict  Crime was seen as a product of social inequality  Solution to the crime problem is to eliminate capitalism in favor of a more egalitarian system

21 White-Collar and Corporate Crime White-Collar Crime:  Any crime committed by respectable and high-status people in the course of their occupation  When white-collar offenders are caught, their cases are usually heard in a civil court, and they rarely go to jail Corporate crime – crime committed on behalf of organizations (e.g., environmental pollution and gross negligence)  Two major types: Those committed by employees on behalf of a corporation Those committed against a corporation Most of these offenses are tried in civil courts so that no individual is charged with criminal behavior

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23 Professional and Organized Crime  Professional Criminals  People who consider crime to be their occupation  Criminal Enterprise  Crime committed within a highly organized gang  Mafia  Famous organized crime group; made up only of Italians is a myth  Organized crime involves three main elements:  In-group loyalty  Scorn for the values of the straight world  Pride in specialized skills

24 Political Crime  Political Crime: crime motivated by a particular ideology  U.S. Constitution - First Amendment  Some view political actions of individuals as major social problems, while viewing similar acts by government as acceptable.  Crimes designed to maintain the social order

25 The Criminal Justice System Due Process  The criminal justice system must operate within the bounds of law.  No person can be “deprived of life liberty or property without due process of the law” The U.S. Constitution

26 Courts  In principle, the U.S. court system is an adversarial process by which the prosecutor presents the state’s case against the suspect and the suspect’s attorney presents a defense

27 Courts  The reality of justice, however, is something much different.  90% of criminal cases are settled through plea-bargaining, a negotiation in which the state reduces a defendant’s charge in exchange for a guilty plea even if innocent, for lesser charge ― encouraged by defense attorneys  While plea-bargaining saves the time and expense of a trial, efficiency doesn’t always produce justice Poor spend months (even years) behind bars awaiting trial Threats of mandatory minimum sentences to get guilty pleas Judges impose harsher sentences on those who insist on unnecessary trials Age, employment, and the number of previous arrests affect sentencing Number of arrests, not the seriousness of those charges, influences a sentence

28 The Sting of Justice  Respectability, wealth, and power insulate many lawbreakers.  Assembly-line justice  Plea bargaining has become standard in U.S. criminal justice system. Vast majority of cases, people accused of a crime do not receive a trial  Criminal justice system is also slow and inefficient.  Plea bargaining and the inefficiencies of the court system subvert the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.

29 Bias in the Criminal Justice System  African Americans are 12% of the U.S. population: 45% of prison inmates  Criminal conviction rates in U.S. vary greatly among different racial groups  Unclear why African Americans are most apt to be arrested and charged  Cannot conclude that the courts are biased for or against minorities or for or against Whites  The evidence is inconclusive.

30 Social Policy - Crime Control in the US  A criminal justice system may draw on four approaches to punishment:  Deterrence – emphasizes intimidation, using threat of punishment to discourage crime.  Retribution – criminals pay compensation equal to their offenses against society.  Incarceration – removes criminals from society.  Rehabilitation – attempts to resocialize criminals.

31 Does Punishment Work?  Some believe that it further brutalizes the society  Criminal recidivism  Subsequent offenses by people previously convicted of crimes.

32 Juvenile Crime  Juvenile crime refers to violations of the law committed by those less than eighteen years of age.  Juvenile offenders are the third largest category of criminals in the U.S.  Juvenile crime reached its lowest in a decade in 2001. Several factors account for this.  A decline in the demand for crack cocaine.  Gangs have reached truces.  Police have clamped down on illegal guns.  Repeat juvenile offenders have been given stiffer sentences.

33 Global Crime  The United States has more violent crime than other industrialized countries – highest murder, rape, and robbery rates.  According to the United Nations Survey of Crime (1996-2006):  rape and robbery increased, assault increased, burglary decreased  homicide declined  General trend in crime suggests that the world is becoming slightly safer.

34 Politics and Crime: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions  Conservatives believe that people raised in strong, law-abiding families are unlikely to commit crime  Most conservatives favor tougher laws, more aggressive policing, and harsher penalties as ways to combat the crime problem.  They believe the key to controlling crime is parents teaching children to make the right choices in a world of pressures

35 Politics and Crime: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions  Liberals believe that many people live in situations that pressure them to break the law  Crime is caused by a harmful environment, particularly living in poverty  To liberals, jobs are the key to a drop in the crime rate

36 Politics and Crime: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions  The radicals believes the real crime of society is tremendous economic inequality  The radical solution begins with a restructuring of the economic and political system toward a more egalitarian social order that can make a real claim to justice

37  According to U.S. Justice Department (2008):  12,000 terrorist attacks against noncombatants occurred around the world in 2008. 40% in the Near East 35% in South Asia  Terrorism occurs under certain social conditions:  in politically weak states or in nations that have undergone years of political violence  in countries with a foreign occupier  in countries with widespread racial or ethnic discrimination  in the presence of extreme secular or religious ideologies


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