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Criminology and Measuring Crime

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1 Criminology and Measuring Crime
Chapter 2 & 3 In Your Textbook John Massey Criminal Justice

2 Criminology Criminology – scientific study of crime and causes of criminal behavior Why is it important to measure crime/gather statistics? 3 reasons: 1) know when crime is decreasing/increasing 2) know what types of crimes are becoming problems in certain areas 3) see who are prone to be victims/perpetuators Variety of Ways to Measure Crime (UCR, NIBRS, NCVS, Self-Reported Surveys) UCR – Uniform Crime Report – 1930 Gather crimes that are reported to police 3 forms of measurement: number of people arrested, number of crimes reported by victims, witnesses or police, and number of officers

3 More on the UCR Rate per 100,000 people
Does not include crimes not reported 2001 – just under 12 million index crimes Results/stats published every year Part I – Index Crimes – more serious Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, etc. Covered by media Part II – misdemeanors and other felonies Arrest data Five times more likely than index crimes Problems with the UCR Citizens have to report it, chain of command


5 NIBRS & Victim Surveys National Incident Based Reporting System
Emerged because of criticisms of the UCR 22 offense categories, 46 specific crimes Formed in 1989 Not used frequently Results are similar to those found with the UCR Victim Surveys Researchers ask victims of crime directly Mail/phone surveys 1966 Results indicate a higher victimization rate Shows that a lot of crime may go unreported

6 NCVS & Self-Reported Surveys
National Crime Victimization Survey 1972 – people are interviewed twice a year Measures both reported/underreported crime Unaffected by police bias Does not rely on victims directly reporting to the police Some people may not answer truthfully Self-Reported Surveys Question offenders rather than victims Ask about criminal activity Some may not admit, some may overstate their involvement


8 Crime Trends and Patterns
Crime peaked in the 80’s, has since decreased. Why is crime data important? (2 reasons) Can give a general idea of crime patterns Use the stats to determine geographic patterns of crime What we know Urban areas have higher rates of index crimes States in the south and west have higher rates of index crimes More crime in warmer summer months Crime is concentrated in hotspots Class and Crime Highest rates = poorest, lowest income, urban neighborhoods Unemployment – predictor of violent crime Poverty – predictor of violent crime POVERTY DOES NOT CAUSE CRIME – can be a contributing factor

9 Crime Trends and Patterns
Race and Crime Strong correlation African Americans – 13% of population, 38% of those arrested for violent crimes, 31% of those arrested for property crimes Greater victimization rates Age and Crime Strongest statistical determinant of criminal behavior 41% of arrests for violent crime involve Americans 24 and under Age 50 + = only 5.6% of violent crime arrests Guns and Crime Juvenile criminal behavior Rise in gun ownership among gangs and its members 2001 – 63% of homicides involved firearm

10 Crime Trends and Patterns
Drugs and Alcohol and Crime As many as 8 out of every 10 prisoners under the influence of one when committing their crimes or had history of abuse Gender and Crime Males Murder 10 times more than females Gender roles Career Criminals Chronic offenders Marvin Wolfgang, 9945 males born in Philadelphia in 1945 Studied til 1963 6 percent had committed five or more offenses “The Chronic 6 percent”

11 Causes of Crime Many proposed theories and explanations
Choice Theories Rational choice Commit the crime because you choose to do so Rewards and punishments, gains and losses Trait Theories Lombroso, father of criminology Criminals are throwbacks, not fully evolved (atavistic) Crime is in the body and the brain Sociological Theories Crime is the result of social conditions in a person’s environment People socially disadvantaged because of poverty Social disorganization theory

12 Social Disorganization Theory


14 Social Process Theories
Crime is the result of a person’s interaction with their environment Learning Theory Sutherland Crime is a learned behavior Conditioned teacher exposes student Labeling Theory If labeled criminal by authority, you will take the role seriously Stigma, bragging rights Social Conflict Theory Power Poverty, racism, sexism and destruction of environment are “true crimes” Critical of capitalistic society

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