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Chapter 2 – The Nature and Extent of Crime

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1 Chapter 2 – The Nature and Extent of Crime

2 Crime Patterns and Trends
Want to know How much crime is there? Is it increasing or decreasing? Who commits crime? Answers are used to formulate theories and develop policies to control crime

3 Methods of Measuring Crime
Uniform Crime Reports Victim Surveys Self-Report Surveys

4 Uniform Crime Reports Best known source of aggregate criminal statistics 98% of the police departments in the US voluntarily participate in UCR Yearly FBI publication Started 1930

5 Uniform Crime Reports 2 types of data collected:
1) Offenses reported to the police Collect information on index crimes reported to the police Known as Index or Part I crimes

6 Uniform Crime Reports Violent Crime Non-violent Crime Index Crimes
Criminal Homicide Forcible Rape Robbery Aggravated assault Burglary Larceny/theft Motor vehicle theft Arson Non-violent Crime

7 Uniform Crime Reports 2) Number and characteristics (age, gender, and race/ethnicity) of those arrested for all other crimes Known as non-index or Part II crimes On average, 20% of all reported index crimes are cleared by arrest, lower for many non-index crimes.

8 Overall 21 % clearance rate


10 Uniform Crime Reports Problems with the UCR
1) On average approximately 50% of all index crimes are reported to the police 26% of thefts 50% of burglaries 45% of rapes 57% of robberies

11 Uniform Crime Reports 2) On average, 20% of all reported index crimes are cleared by arrest 3) State law definitions may be different than UCR definitions 4) Systematic errors in reporting 5) Deliberate alteration

12 Uniform Crime Reports 6) Only the most serious crime is an “episode”
7) Weak on “white collar” crime

13 The Future of the Uniform Crime Reports
National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Maintained by the F.B.I. Twenty-two crime categories More information on each crime in each category Data compiled based on incidents, not arrests.

14 Victimization surveys
National Crime Victimization Survey-NCVS US Census Started in 1972 60,000 households 120,000 people over 12 years old Interviewed 2 times a year for 3 years

15 NCVS Ask about theft, burglary, robbery, assault, rape, and auto theft
Used to estimate the national frequency of index crimes

16 Data provided by NCVS Victimizations Victims, offenders, crime event
Reported loss & injury Whether crimes were reported

17 NCVS Number of Offenses
*Includes 357,000 “personal crimes” of purse snatching & pocket picking. Number of Offenses 20,106,000 7,359,000 4,635,000 1,433,000 944,000 311,000 Theft* Assault Burglary Motor vehicle theft Robbery Rape/ Sexual assault Total = 35,145,000 Source: National Crime Victimization Survey. Criminal Victimization, Adapted from U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1998), p. 3.

18 Advantages & Limitations of NCVS
1) Best victimization data 2) “larger picture of crime” DISADVANTAGES 1) Victim misinterpretation 2) Memories fade 3) Lying to interviewer 4) Telescoping – problems with recall 5) Expensive

19 Self-Report Surveys Participants reveal information about their violations of the law Helps to get at “Dark Figure of Crime” Supplement and expand official data Can find out about the personality, attitudes, and behavior of criminals Accuracy for chronic offenders and drug abusers may be limited

20 Self Report Studies Interviews mainly with juveniles
Most youth engaged in delinquency (crime is universal Higher crime patterns than UCR and NCVS

21 Self-Report Surveys Strength of self-reports surveys is get more detailed information Weaknesses include Inaccuracy – are they telling the truth? Focus on trivial acts frequently

22 Current Crime Trends Current data from the Uniform
Crime Reports and the National Crime Victim Surveys reveal a steady decrease in crime. Self- reported data reveals no discernable change in the rate.

23 Current Crime Trends Caution in interpreting UCR and other data
Time frame is important Overall rate hides increases and decreases within crime categories Want disaggregated data By offense, state/region, etc.

24 Explaining Crime Trends
Some of the important critical factors that have been used to explain the puzzle of crime rate trends. Age The economy Guns Gangs Drugs Justice Policy

25 Correlates of Crime Social class Race Gender Age

26 Correlates of Crime – Social Class
Higher crime rates in lower class areas Rely on official statistics Concern over whether function of police practices or actual behavior patterns Crime is not just street crime Self-report studies indicate class-crime relationship doesn’t exist Focus on trivial offenses

27 Correlates of Crime – Social Class
Why important? 1) If class-crime relationship then poverty and neighborhood deterioration related to crime 2) If not then factors experienced by all classes (poor family environment, peer pressure, school failure, free will) related to crime

28 Correlates of Crime – Age
Some argue that age structure of society is the single most powerful influence on the crime rate 13-17 year olds make up 6% of the population but 30% of index crime arrests

29 Correlates of Crime – Age
Property crime arrests peak at age 16 Violent crime arrests peak at age 18

30 Correlates of Crime – Age
Why does aging out occur? Cognitive changes in late teens No longer need for immediate gratification Fear of punishment Adulthood brings powerful ties to conventional society

31 Correlates of Crime – Gender
Male crime rate higher than female Males commit more serious crimes Recent view of female criminality Socialization of females (supervised closely) Changing social and economic role of women

32 Correlates of Crime – Gender
Crime more a function of economic inequality instead of female rights End of “chivalry hypothesis”

33 Correlates of Crime – Race/Ethnicity
Minorities involved in disproportionate % of crimes Blacks 12% of population, 44% of index violent crime arrests Reflection of police practices or true criminal participation?

34 Correlates of Crime – Race/Ethnicity
Causes of racial disparity in crime Differential treatment by police Subculture of violence Racism and discrimination affect personality and behavior Poverty/Urban problems Etc.

35 Knowledge drawn from UCR, NCVS, and Self Report Studies
Crime Trends Characteristics of Crimes Characteristics of offenders & victims Correlates of Crime

36 The “Chronic 6%” After following a birth cohort of 9,945 boys
born in Philadelphia in 1945, Wolfgang and his associates found that 6% of the total sample were responsible for 51.9% of all offenses.

37 The “Chronic 6%” Wolfgang findings
1) Small number of offenders commit a disproportionate amount of crime 2) Chronic offenders continue into adulthood 3) More violent as generations progress

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