Introduction to Criminology
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Introduction to Criminology Why Do They Do It?
Pamela J. Schram California State University, San Bernardino
Stephen G. Tibbetts California State University, San Bernardino
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Schram, Pamela J., author. | Tibbetts, Stephen G., author.
Title: Introduction to criminology : why do they do it / Pamela J. Schram, California State University, San Bernardino, Stephen G. Tibbetts, California State University, San Bernardino.
Description: Second Edition. | Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications,  | Revised edition of the authors’ Introduction to criminology,  | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2016040618 | ISBN 9781506347561 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Criminology.
Classification: LCC HV6025 .S38 2017 | DDC 364—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016040618
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Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors Chapter 1: Introduction to Criminology Chapter 2: Measuring Crime Chapter 3: Classical School of Criminology Thought Chapter 4: Contemporary Classical and Deterrence Research Chapter 5: Early Positivism Chapter 6: Modern Biosocial Perspectives of Criminal Behavior Chapter 7: Psychological/Trait Theories of Crime Chapter 8: Social Structure Theories of Crime I Chapter 9: Social Structure Theories of Crime II Chapter 10: Social Process and Control Theories of Crime Chapter 11: Labeling Theory and Conflict/Marxist/Radical Theories of Crime Chapter 12: Feminist Theories of Crime Chapter 13: Developmental/Life-Course Perspectives Criminality Chapter 14: White-Collar Crime, Organized Crime, and Cybercrime Chapter 15: Hate Crimes, Terrorism, and Home Land Security Chapter 16: Drugs and Crime Glossary Notes Index
Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors Chapter 1: Introduction to Criminology
Introduction Key Concepts to Understanding Criminology
What is a Crime? Case Study: Burke And Hare
What is Criminology and Criminal Justice? The Consensus and Conflict Perspectives of Crime
Learning Check 1.1 The Criminal Justice System
Law Enforcement Courts Corrections The Juvenile Justice System
Learning Check 1.2 Introduction to Comparative Criminology
Applying Theory To Crime: Motor Vehicle Theft Comparative Criminology: Motor Vehicle Theft Criminology Theory
Characteristics of Good Theories Learning Check 1.3
Three Requirements for Determining Causality Why Do They Do It? Diane and Rachel Staudte
Theory Informs Policies and Programs Victimology
Victim Precipitation Incidence/Prevalence of Victimization Child Abuse and Neglect Compensation/Restitution Victim Impact Statements
Learning Check 1.4 Victim Rights Awareness
Conclusion Key Terms Discussion Questions
Web Resources Chapter 2: Measuring Crime
Introduction Crime Data From Law Enforcement Agencies Case Study: September 11, 2001, Victims
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Comparative Criminology: Child Abuse Why Do They Do It? Learning Check 2.1
Supplementary Homicide Reports The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Data Collection Limitations of NIBRS Hate Crime Data Data Collection Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Statistics Data Collection
Crime Data from Victims of Crime: The National Crime Victimization Survey Learning Check 2.2
Limitations of the NCVS Comparing the NCVS with the UCR
Crime Data from Self-Report Surveys Monitoring the Future The National Survey on Drug Use and Health National Youth Survey—Family Study
Additional Approaches to Collecting Crime Data The National Youth Gang Survey
Applying Theory to Crime: Hate Crime Spatial Analyses of Crime
Learning Check 2.3 Conclusion Key Terms Discussion Questions Web resources
Chapter 3: Classical School of Criminology Thought Introduction Case Study: Deborah Jeane Palfrey Pre-Classical Perspectives of Crime and Punishment
Punishments under Pre-Classical Perspectives The Age of Enlightenment
Learning Check 3.1 The Classical School of Criminology
Influences on Beccaria and His Writings Beccaria’s Proposed Reforms and Ideas of Justice Beccaria’s Ideas of the Death Penalty Beccaria’s Concept of Deterrence and the Three Key Elements of Punishment
Learning Check 3.2 Beccaria’s Conceptualization of Specific and General Deterrence Summary of Beccaria’s Ideas and Influence on Policy
Learning Check 3.3 Impact of Beccaria’s Work on Other Theorists
Jeremy Bentham The Neoclassical School of Criminology Why Do They Do It? The Harpe Brothers
Applying Theory to Crime: Other Assaults (Simple) Loss of Dominance of Classical/Neoclassical Theory Policy Implications
Comparative Criminology: Homicide Rates Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 3 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 4: Contemporary Classical and Deterrence Research Introduction Case Study: Wayne Rebirth of Deterrence Theory and Contemporary Research
Formal and Informal Deterrence Rational Choice Theory Learning Check 4.1 Applying Theory to Crime: Driving Under the Influence Comparative Criminology: Threats and Assaults Routine Activities Theory
The Three Elements of Routine Activities Theory Applications of Routine Activities Theory
Learning Check 4.2 Policy Implications Why Do They Do It? The Green River Killer Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 4
Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 5: Early Positivism Introduction Early Biological Theories of Behavior Case Study: Javier
Physiognomy Lombroso’s Theory of Atavism and Born Criminals
Lombroso’s Theory of Crime Lombroso’s List of Stigmata Lombroso as the Father of Criminology and THE Father of the Positive School
Learning Check 5.1 Lombroso’s Policy Implications
Why Do They Do It? Dr. Harold Shipman Learning Check 5.2 AFTER Lombroso: The IQ-Testing Era
Goddard’s IQ Test Policy Implications
Sterilization Reexamining Intelligence
Applying Theory to Crime: Burglary Comparative Criminology: Burglary Body Type Theory: Sheldon’s Model of Somatotyping Learning Check 5.3 Learning Check 5.4 Policy Implications Case Study Revisited: Javier Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 5 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 6: Modern Biosocial Perspectives of Criminal Behavior Introduction Nature Versus Nurture: Studies Examining the Influence of Genetics and Environment Case Study: Faith and Hope
Twin Studies Adoption Studies
Learning Check 6.1 Twins Separated at Birth
Learning Check 6.2 Cytogenetic Studies: The XYY Factor Hormones and Neurotransmitters: Chemicals That Determine Criminal Behavior Applying Theory to Crime: Aggravated Assault Comparative Criminology: Assault Brain Injuries Learning Check 6.3 Central and Autonomic Nervous System Activity Why Do They Do It? Charles Whitman Learning Check 6.4 Biosocial Approaches Toward Explaining Criminal Behavior
Behavioral Genetics Studies Diet/Nutrition Toxins
Policy Implications Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 6 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 7: Psychological/Trait Theories of Crime Introduction Early Psychological Theorizing Regarding Criminal Behavior
Freud’s Model of the Psyche and Implications for Criminal Behavior Case Study: Albert Fish
Hans Eysenck: Theory of Crime and Personality Lawrence Kohlberg: Moral Development
John Bowlby: Attachment Theory Example Case History: Derek B.
Modern Versions of Psychological Perspectives of Criminality IQ and Criminal Behavior
Learning Check 7.1 James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein: Crime and Human Nature
Applying Theory to Crime: Rape Comparative Criminology: Sexual Offenses
Psychopathy and Crime
Box 7.1 Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System Learning Check 7.2
Treatment Why Do They Do It? Ariel Castro
Mental Health Courts Insanity Defense
Learning Check 7.3 Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 7 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 8: Social Structure Theories of Crime I Introduction Early Theories of Social Structure: Early to Late 1800s
Early European Theorists: Comte, Guerry, and Quetelet Case Study: The Black Binder Bandit Durkheim and the Concept of Anomie Learning Check 8.1 Learning Check 8.2 Merton’s Strain Theory
Cultural Context and Assumptions of Strain Theory Learning Check 8.3
Evidence and Criticisms of Merton’s Strain Theory Variations of Merton’s Strain Theory
Cohen’s Theory of Lower-Class Status Frustration and Gang Formation Cloward and Ohlin’s Theory of Differential Opportunity
General Strain Theory Why Do They Do It? Christopher Dorner
Evidence and Criticisms of General Strain Theory Learning Check 8.4 Why Do They Do It? Gang Lu Applying Theory To Crime: Bank Robbery Summary of Strain Theories Policy Implications of Strain Theory Comparative Criminology: Bank Robbery Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 8 Key Terms
Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 9: Social Structure Theories of Crime II Introduction The Ecological School and the Chicago School of Criminology
Cultural Context: Chicago in the1800s and Early 1900s Case Study: Los Angeles Gangs
Ecological Principles in City Growth and Concentric Circles Shaw and McKay’s Theory of Social Disorganization Learning Check 9.1
Reaction and Research for Social Disorganization Theory Applying Theory to Crime: Stalking Cultural and Subcultural Theories of Crime
Early Theoretical Developments and Research in Cultural/Subcultural Theory Learning Check 9.2 Comparative Criminology: Violence Against Females Criticisms of Cultural Theories of Crime Policy Implications Why Do They Do It? Whitey Bulger Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 9 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 10: Social Process and Control Theories of Crime Introduction Learning Theories Case Study: The Weavers
Differential Association Theory Learning Check 10.1 Differential Reinforcement Theory
Elements of Differential Reinforcement Theory Differential Reinforcement Theory Propositions
Applying Theory to Crime: Murder Psychological Learning Models
Operant Conditioning Comparative Criminology: Homicide
Bandura’s Theory of Imitation/Modeling Reaction to Differential Reinforcement Theory
Techniques of Neutralization Learning Check 10.2
Reaction to Neutralization Theory Control Theories Early Control Theories of Human Behavior
Thomas Hobbes’s Social Contract Emile Durkheim’s Idea of Collective Conscience Freud’s Concept of Id and Superego
Early Control Theories of Crime Reiss’s Control Theory Toby’s Concept of Stake in Conformity Nye’s Control Theory Reckless’s Containment Theory
Modern Social Control Theories Matza’s Drift Theory Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory
Integrated Social Control Theories Tittle’s Control–Balance Theory Hagan’s Power–Control Theory
A General Theory of Crime: Low Self-Control Psychological Aspects of Low Self-Control Physiological Aspects of Low Self-Control
Learning Check 10.3 Why Do They Do It ? Jesse Pomeroy Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 10 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 11: Labeling Theory and Conflict/Marxist/Radical Theories of Crime Introduction Labeling Theory Case Study: The Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis Foundation of Labeling Theory
Frank Tannenbaum: The Dramatization of Evil Edwin M. Lemert: Primary and Secondary Deviance Howard S. Becker: The Dimensions of Deviance Edwin M. Schur: Defining Deviance Basic Assumptions of Labeling Theory
Learning Check 11.1
Evaluating Labeling Theory Research on Labeling Theory Critiques of Labeling Theory
Why Do They Do It? Brian Banks and Wanetta Gibson Conflict Perspectives Applying Theory to Crime: Larceny-Theft The Conservative (Pluralist) Conflict Perspectives
George Vold: Group Conflict Theory Comparative Criminology: Larceny-Theft
Austin Turk: The Power to Define Criminal Behavior Richard Quinney: The Social Reality of Crime
Learning Check 11.2 The Radical Conflict Perspectives
Marxist Criminology William Chambliss and Robert Seidman and the U.S. Criminal Justice System
Additional Explanations of Crime Using a Marxist Framework Colvin and Pauly’s Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory Herman and Julia Siegel Schwendinger and Adolescent Subcultures Steven Spitzer and Problem Populations
Learning Check 11.3 Evaluating Conflict Theories
Research on Conflict Theories Critiques of Conflict Perspectives
Why Do They Do It? Ted Kaczynski Additional Critical Theories
Peacemaking Criminology Restorative Justice Perspective Left Realism
Policies Related to Labeling and Conflict Theories of Crime Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 11 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 12: Feminist Theories of Crime Introduction
A Brief History of Feminism in the United States Case Study: Gertrude Baniszewski
Key Terms of Feminist Perspectives Learning Check 12.1
Feminist Perspectives on Gender Traditional or Conservative Perspective Liberal Feminism Radical Feminism Marxist and Socialist Feminism Postmodern Feminism
Learning Check 12.2 Additional Feminist Perspectives
Traditional Theories of Female Crime Comparative Criminology: Trafficking in Persons
Cesare Lombroso: Physical Attributes of Female Offenders W. I. Thomas: The Biology of Female Offending Sigmund Freud: Female Inferiority Otto Pollak: Hidden Female Criminality
Learning Check 12.3 Feminist Critiques of Previous Research Studying Women and Crime Liberation Thesis Applying Theory to Crime: Female Sex Offenders Power-Control Theory Feminist Perspectives on Understanding Crime and Criminal Behavior Why Do They Do It? Lavinia Fisher
Objectivity and Subjectivity Qualitative “Versus” Quantitative Analyses Feminist Criminology
Learning Check 12.4 Critiques of Feminist Theories Applying Theory to Crime: Robbery Comparative Criminology: Robbery Policies Based on Feminist Theories of Crime Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 12 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 13: Developmental/Life-Course Perspectives criminality Basic Concepts and Early Developmental Theory Case Study: The Teen Burglar Antidevelopmental Theory: Low Self-Control Theory Learning Check 13.1 Comparative Criminology: Child Abuse
Modern Developmental/Life-Course Perspectives Sampson and Laub’s Developmental Model Moffitt’s Developmental Taxonomy
Why Do They Do It ? Henry Earl Thornberry’s Interactional Model of Offending
Applying Theory to Crime: Arson Learning Check 13.2 Policy Implications Comparative Criminology: Crime Rates Conclusion Summary of Theories in Chapter 13 Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 14: WHITE-COLLAR CRIME, ORGANIZED CRIME, AND CYBERCRIME Introduction What is White-Collar Crime? Definitions and History of White-Collar Crime Case Study: William T. Walters Why Do They Do It? Charles Ponzi Incidence and Impact of White-Collar Crime on Society Learning Check 14.1 Why Do They Do It ? Enron
Economic Costs Physical Costs Breakdown in Social Fabric
Types of White-Collar Crime Crimes Against the Environment
Learning Check 14.2 Labor Violations Transnational Comparisons of White-Collar/Corporate Crime
Comparative Criminology: Bribery Theoretical Explanations of White-Collar Crime Applying Theory to Crime: White-Collar Crime What is Organized Crime?
Definition of Organized Crime Historical Context of Organized Crime in the United States Types of Criminal Organizations The Mafia Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Prison Gangs Urban Street Gangs
Criminal Justice Responses to Organized Crime Chicago Crime Commission The Wickersham Commission The Kefauver Committee
Comparative Criminology: Organized Crime The McClellan Committee The President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 The President’s Commission on Organized Crime
Learning Check 14.3 Theoretical Explanations of Organized Crime
What is Cybercrime? Definition of Cybercrime Types of Cybercrime Identity Theft Child Pornography Internet Fraud Cyberstalking Criminal Justice Responses to Cybercrime Relevant Legislation Theoretical Explanations of Cybercrime
Learning Check 14.4 Conclusion Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 15: Hate Crimes, Terrorism, and Home land Security Introduction What Is a Hate Crime? Case Study: Charleston, South Carolina, Shooting
Definition of Hate Crimes Hate Groups Anti-Hate-Crime Legislation Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act of 1997 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009
Model State Legislation: Hate Crimes/Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness Why Do They Do It? Matthew Shepard
Theoretical Explanations of Hate Crimes Learning Check 15.1 Multicide
Categories of Mass Killers School Attacks Disparity in Rates of Committing Multicide Across Race and Religious Ideology What Is Terrorism?
Definition of Terrorism Typologies of Terrorism Extent of Terrorism Historical Context of Modern Terrorism The French Revolution Late 19th and Early 20th Century Terrorism
Applying Theory to Crime: Terrorism Comparative Criminology: Terrorism
Contemporary Terrorism Current Context of Terrorism Organizational Networks
Financial Support Influence of the Media Domestic Terrorism
Theoretical Explanations of Terrorism Learning Check 15.2 What Is Homeland Security?
Origins of Homeland Security Definition of Homeland Security Homeland Security Organizational Network
Agencies Responsible for Homeland Security Why Do They Do It? Omar Mateen Bureaucratic Problems and Solutions Issues Related to Civil Liberties
The Torture Debate Human Rights The Constitution
USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 Learning Check 15.3 Policy Implications Conclusion
Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
Chapter 16: Drugs and Crime Introduction Commonly Abused Drugs
Depressants Case Study: Kenneth Saltzman Diagnosing Alcohol Problems
Narcotics Stimulants Other Drugs
Learning Check 16.1 Trends of Drug Use
Early History of Cocaine and Opioid Addiction Prohibition Era “Reefer Madness” The 1960s and the Baby Boomers The “War on Drugs” Era Current Trends Regarding Drug Use
Why Do They Do It? Ryan Thomas Haight The Drug-Crime Link Learning Check 16.2
The Tripartite Conceptual Framework Modern Policies Related to Reducing Drug Use
Interdiction Strategies Eradication Strategies
Comparative Criminology: Drugs Drug Courts Maintenance and Decriminalization Harm Reduction
Applying Theory to Crime: Drug Selling/Trafficking and Drug Use Learning Check 16.3 Recommendations for Future Policies Why Do They Do It? Pablo Escobar Conclusion Key Terms Discussion Questions Web Resources
If you are considering a career in any aspect of criminal justice, and want to know more about the motivations and socio-psychological make-up of serious offenders, then this book is meant for you! Introduction to Criminology: Why Do They Do It? places a primary emphasis on applying the dominant theories in the existing criminological literature for why people commit crimes, and we also examine in detail many recent true (as well as many hypothetical) examples of serious crimes, and demonstrate theoretical applications for why they offended in those particular cases. While other textbooks do a decent job in discussing both the basic theories, as well as exploring the various types of crime, our book is distinctively unique in that it integrates various street crimes within each chapter, and applies theories that are appropriate in explaining such criminal activity. This is extremely important because most instructors never get to the latter typology chapters in a given semester or term. So our approach is to incorporate them into the theoretical chapters in which they apply directly to the theories that are being presented in the sections that they are most appropriate.
The emphasis on specific examples and true crime stories, such as notable serial killers and other recent crime stories, as well as utilizing established theoretical models to explain their offenses in each chapter, is another primary distinction of this book from that of most other criminology textbooks. Obviously, this book is meant to be used as a textbook in an introductory course in criminology, but due to the emphasis on applied theoretical explanations, this book is highly appropriate for higher-level undergraduate and graduate courses in criminological theory, as well as a reference for any person working in the field of criminal justice. This integration of true crimes (and some hypothetical examples) in this text occurs on both a general level, such as our Applying Crime to Theory section in each chapter, as well as more specific cases – the High Profile Crime sections—in each section, which often involve notable cases of serial killers, mass murderers, or other notorious example of offender/offending.
The subtitle of our book, “Why Do They Do It?” is the running theme in this book. Our goal in writing this book was to apply established theories of crime, which are often seen as abstract and hypothetical, to actual examples that have occurred, as well as to hypothetical examples that are quite likely to occur. To this end, we explore the various reasons of offending or the “why they do it” the subtitle for this book for various cases, from the first documented serial killers in the US—the Harpe Brothers in the late-1700s—to the most recent killers, such as California cop-killer/spree-killer Christopher Dorner in 2013 and Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white male, entering the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 and shooting numerous members. Importantly, theories will be applied throughout these discussions of the actual crimes. We shall see that some of the theories that applied to the earliest crimes also seem to apply to the most modern crimes as well.
Additionally, our textbook is unique from others because it does not include separate chapters on violent or property crimes, because we have worked those into each chapter, and applied them to the theories explored in those chapters. We strongly believe that by integrating discussions of such serious crimes—all of the FBI Index offenses of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, and arson,
as well as other non-Index crimes such as simple assault and driving under the influence—into the theoretical chapters is the best approach toward explaining why individuals commit such offenses. And the flip side is good as well; by discussing the offenses with the theories, this also provides an example of how to apply theories toward explaining criminal behavior. Again, this goes back to our theme of “why do they do it?” Our integration of such specific offenses into the chapters that discuss relevant theories in explaining them is the best way to approach such material and demonstrates our goal: apply the appropriate theories for the specific crime.
Additionally, our book is distinguished from other textbooks in that we don’t have an overwhelming amount of boxes and special sections that diverge from the text material. Rather, we narrowed down the special sections into three basic categories, largely based on the goal of this text, which are mostly dedicated to applying criminological theory to actual offenses, or true cases. We also added a special section in each chapter regarding international comparison of certain offenses (comparative criminology), with an emphasis on how various rates of such crimes differ across the world, especially as compared to the United States. The offenses we compare range widely, from homicide to human trafficking to the correlations of beer consumption and assaults (Ireland was a high outlier). We felt this was important for readers to see how the US compares to other nations in terms of various criminal offenses. So our goal is for readers to understand the ever-growing global nature of criminality, and where the United States is positioned regarding various rates and trends in illegal behavior.
This text is also unique from all of the others by providing a separate chapter on feminist criminology. Given that over half of our citizens are female, and there has been a recent increase in females committing certain crimes (e.g., simple assault), this is an important addition to the study of crime. Furthermore, while males are still universally responsible for the vast majority of violent acts—murder, robbery, aggravated assault—in all societies, if we can understand why females commit so much less violence, then maybe this will have significant implications for reducing male violence. So this separate chapter is vitally important for not only understanding female offenders, but also has implications for male criminals as well.
Another unique aspect of this book is that we devoted separate chapters on the developmental/life-course perspective, as well as modern biosocial approaches regarding propensities to commit crime. These two frameworks/perspectives have become some of the most accepted and valid frameworks on understanding why individuals engage in criminal behavior, but most other criminology textbooks do not examine these topics as closely as we do. A recent study that surveyed key criminologists in the field showed that the developmental/life-course perspective ranked as the second most accepted perspective in explaining chronic offending (and biosocial perspective ranked #6, out of 24+ theories), yet most other textbooks have only a small portion or shallow coverage of this perspective. This developmental/life-course perspective, as well as the biosocial perspective, currently is the “cutting edge” of the field right now, and our chapters on those frameworks highlights the importance of these theoretical models, as well as the recent empirical studies that have been done in those areas of study.
Our text does follow a somewhat traditional format in that it presents theories chronologically from the
Classical School to the Positive School of Criminology, discussing all of the established theories in the areas of social structure, social process, and conflict theories as they became popular over time. However, we place much emphasis on examining why certain theories became popular at certain times, which is often due more to politics and societal trends than what empirical studies showed regarding the empirical validity of the given theory. These political and societal trends are vital in every aspect of our lives, and criminological theory is no different. So we tried to work that principle into the text throughout each chapter, showing how crime and theorizing about it is just one manifestation about society at that time period.
Finally, our special typology chapters, located in the last three chapters of the book, are dedicated to more contemporary topics, such as cybercrime, hate crimes, terrorism, white-collar/corporate crimes, drug-related offenses, as well as several others that do not fit into the FBI Index crimes. We have done our best to provide the most current research on these topics, and we hope that readers will gain far more insight on these topics. Furthermore, we believe that our coverage of these modern forms of offending are the most vital in understanding the current state of criminal offending occurring in our society.
Our book also provides an ancillary package with numerous resources to support instructors and students.
SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. Learn more at edge.sagepub.com/schram2e.
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content and create a rich learning environment for students. A password-protected site, available at edge.sagepub.com/schram2e, features resources that have been designed to help instructors plan and teach their courses. These resources include an extensive test bank, chapter-specific PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, sample syllabi for semester and quarter courses, class activities, web resources, and links to the video, audio, city and state rankings, author podcasts, and SAGE journal articles.
Student Study Site
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment. An open-access student study site is available at edge.sagepub.com/schram2e. This site provides access to the video, audio, city and state rankings, author podcasts, and SAGE journal articles as well as several study tools including eFlashcards, web quizzes, web resources and chapter outlines.
Available tools that can be found in the Interactive eBook:
Videos: Links are provided to videos that correlate to the chapter content and increase student understanding.
Premium videos: Available only in the Interactive eBook, original videos showcase author Stephen Tibbetts discussing real-world examples and strange crimes and a first-person view of the correctional system from former offenders.
Journal articles: Articles from highly ranked SAGE journals such as Crime and Delinquency, Theoretical Criminology, Criminal Justice Review, and more can be accessed.
Audio Links: Links are provided to audio clips that enhance student comprehension of chapter content.
Web Links: Links are provided to relevant websites that further explore chapter-related topics.
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Overall, we really hope you appreciate our unique approach to studying criminology, and hope you believe that after reading this book that you will have a better understanding of why offenders do what they do.
New to This Edition
As we mentioned previously, a constant theme of this book is “Why Do They Do It?” We explore different reasons of offending by presenting various cases, both hypothetical as well as actual cases, current as well as historical. For this edition, we have updated some of these materials, including more recent crime data as well as more current news stories. Other significant changes in this edition include the following:
A more extensive discussion on victimization which focuses on victims of crime and presents key concepts in victimology. An entire chapter is dedicated to measuring crime (Chapter 2). This chapter provides students a strong, and essential, foundation to understanding and appreciating how crime data enhance our understanding of criminal activity. A new section on multicide examines the motivations behind mass murders, school shootings as well as issues of race and religious ideology linked to these types of crimes. Up-to-date coverage of contemporary issues such as gun control, mental health, disparity in the criminal justice system, cybercrime and internet fraud, hate crimes, and terrorism. Critical thinking questions have been included with other features of this text to help students understand the connection between the real-world examples and theory. The revised learning objectives follow Bloom’s taxonomy and provide students with a clearer pedagogical framework.
Pamela J. Schram, PhD
Stephen G. Tibbetts, PhD
California State University, San Bernardino
In the electronic edition of the book you have purchased, there are several icons that reference links (videos, journal articles) to additional content. Though the electronic edition links are not live, all content referenced may be accessed at edge.sagepub.com/schram2e . This URL is referenced at several points throughout your electronic edition.
We would first like to thank Publisher Jerry Westby. It was Jerry’s idea for us to write this book, and he has “gone to bat” for us numerous times regarding various unique things about this text, such as integrating the violent and property street crimes into the theoretical chapters, rather than just having separate chapters on these topics at the end of the book that instructors often don’t get time to cover in a single term, as well as including separate chapters on feminist and developmental/life-course perspectives. This is a rather unorthodox approach, compared to other introduction to criminology textbooks, but Jerry was fully supportive, even at the outset. So we offer him the highest level of respect for his support in backing us on our rather deviant way of approaching this material.
We would also like to thank the staff at SAGE Publishing, for doing such a great job at putting the book together, which includes checking all of the mistakes we made in drafts of the chapters, as well as so many other things that go into producing this book. We specifically want to thank Associate Editor Theresa Accomazzo for all of her help in getting the drafts of the first edition in order to be sent to the copyeditor, and for giving advice on how to make the book far more polished than it was in its original draft. We also want to thank our copyeditor, <copyeditor>, who has gone to great lengths to make us sound much better than we are. She did a fantastic job, and it was a pleasure working with her. Also, we would like give a special thanks to Digital Content Editor Nicole Mangona and Laura Kirkhuff, who were invaluable in finding the various links to videos and other sources that were vital in the e-text version of the text and for pulling together the new original filming for the second edition. Overall, we give the greatest thanks to all of the SAGE staff that worked on this book!
Pamela Schram would like to acknowledge some very special people who had an influence on her life prior to her college years. First and foremost, she would like to thank her ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Joe Devlin. She remembers her first day of English class. Mr. Devlin said, “I can’t learn you. First, that is poor English, and second, that is not how it works. I can teach you, but the learning part is on you.” Obviously, this has “stuck” with her; it has been over 30 years and she still remembers his “opening” lecture. Later, he was Pam’s Latin teacher; Pam continued to take Latin and she was the only student for Latin III. Mr. Devlin would stay after school to conduct this class. As you can imagine, this was not a popular after school activity. But, it taught Pam an important lesson as to how a truly dedicated teacher cares about his students.
Pam would also like to acknowledge Mrs. Frank. She was her second grade teacher. Mrs. Frank was one of those teachers who would incorporate learning with fun things, especially arts and crafts. Mrs. Frank encouraged Pam to write, especially short stories. These were the times when students learned cursive writing on paper with the various lines for lower and upper case. Pam still has some of those short stories written on the “special writing paper. “ It brings back many fond memories as well as an appreciation for another special teacher who touched her life.
Pam would finally like to give a special thanks to her organ teacher, Mrs. Cessna. (As you can tell, Pam wasn’t
considered popular in school.) Mrs. Cessna was one of the most patient teachers Pam has ever had in terms of continuously giving her encouraging words. It may have also helped that Mrs. Cessna had some hearing difficulties. When most of her friends were taking piano, she decided to try organ lessons. She obviously endured some ridicule, especially from her brothers. Their words of encouragement were something like, “Well, with those lessons you can one day play at the Detroit Tiger stadium.”
As Pam has gotten older, she has realized the numerous people that have touched her life in so many special ways. One of those special people is her co-author Steve Tibbetts. Steve is an extremely intelligent and well- respected criminologist in the field. He is also a wonderful friend with those important words of encouragement, usually with a sense of humor. He has been very patient and understanding with her not just when writing this book but during his years at CSUSB. Through his friendship, he has helped her to be a better person.
Stephen Tibbetts would like to thank some of the various individuals who helped him complete this book. First, he would like to thank some of the professors he had while earning his undergraduate degree in criminal justice at the University of Florida, who first exposed him to the study of crime and inspired him to become a criminologist. These professors include Ron Akers, Donna Bishop, and Lonn Lanza-Kaduce. He would also like to thank several professors who were key influences in his studies during his graduate studies at University of Maryland, such as Denise Gottfredson, Colin Loftin, David McDowell, Lawrence Sherman, and Charles Wellford. A special thanks goes to Raymond Paternoster, who was his mentor during his graduate studies at Maryland, and provided the best advice and support that any mentor could have given.
Tibbetts would also like to mention the support and influence that work with Alex Piquero, and his wife, Nicole Piquero, had on his career. He was lucky enough to share an office with Alex early on in graduate school, and the work that they did together early on in his career was key in inspiring him to do more work on biosocial and life-course criminology, which are both important portions of this book. Tibbetts’ collaboration with Nicole Piquero on the issues of white-collar crime was also important, and has led to more recent studies in this often neglected topic of illegal behavior. He would also like to acknowledge several colleagues who have been important in his research in more recent years, such as John Paul Wright at University of Cincinnati, Nichole H. Rafter at Northeastern University, Chris L. Gibson at University of Florida, Kevin Beaver at Florida State University, and Cesar Rebellon at University of New Hampshire.
Tibbetts would also like to include a special acknowledgment to Jose Rivera, who has contributed much to this book in terms of both video and written sections. Jose has gone above-and-beyond in trying to contribute to the information provided in this book, given his experience as a former incarcerated inmate for over 9 years in various prisons in Southern California. He has shown that such inmates can excel after they have been incarcerated, not only by earning his Master’s degree in Communication Studies, but by becoming a fantastic educator, which was proven when he was awarded the Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award by his college at California State University, San Bernardino, in 2012. Jose also recently was a recipient of the President Obama’s Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2012 for his work in programs that promote educational opportunities for Latinos.
Finally, but most important, Tibbetts would especially like to thank his co-author on this book, Pamela Schram, for providing him with the inspiration, motivation, and collaboration for completing this project. Without Pam’s constant support and advice, his work on this book could not have materialized. So he gives the highest acknowledgement to Pam; she will always be his most trusted consigliere.
Pam and Steve would like to thank the reviewers of the initial proposal for their advice and critiques. They would also like to express their sincere appreciation to their colleagues who reviewed the text and gave them invaluable feedback:
Reviewers of First Edition
Kevin Beaver, Florida State University—Tallahassee Doris Chu, Arkansas State University—Jonesboro Christopher Davis, Campbell University—Buies Creek Melissa Deller, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Daniel Dexheimer, San Jose State University Tina Freiburger, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chris L. Gibson, University of Florida Jennifer Grimes, Indiana State University—Terre Haute W. Bruce Johnson, Houston Community College/Northeast College Michael A Long, Oklahoma State University Scott Maggard, Old Dominion University—Norfolk PJ McGann, University Of Michigan—Ann Arbor Anna Netterville, University of Louisiana at Monroe Angela Overton, Old Dominion University—Norfolk Allison Payne, Villanova University—Villanova Lacey Rohledef, University of Cincinnati Anne Strouth, North Central State College—Mansfield Patricia Warren, Florida State University—Tallahassee Henriikka Weir, University Of Texas At Dallas—Richardson Douglas Weiss, University of Maryland Shonda Whetstone, Blinn College
Reviewers of Second Edition:
Marilyn S. Chamberlin, Western Carolina University Dan Dexheimer, San Jose State University Terri L. Earnest, University of Texas at San Antonio Shanell Sanchez-Smith, Colorado Mesa University Julie A. Siddique, University of North Texas at Dallas Bradley Wright, University of Connecticut Selena M. Respass, Miami Dade College Charles Crawford, Western Michigan University Tina L Freiburger, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Frank P. Giarrizzi, Jr., Colorado Technical University Lindsey Upton, Old Dominion University Egbert Zavala, University of Texas at El Paso Christopher Salvatore, PhD, Montclair State University
About the Authors
Pamela J. Schram has published articles on such topics as violent female offenders, female juvenile gang and non-gang members, as well as issues pertaining to women in prison, such as stereotypes about mothers in prison and vocational programming. She has co-authored three books on women in prison, theory and practice in feminist criminology, and a juvenile delinquency text. She is currently interested in issues pertaining to elderly prisoners. Dr. Schram has been involved in various research projects that have primarily focused on evaluating treatment effectiveness such as juvenile diversion options and programs for at-risk youths as well as programs for women in prison. Dr. Schram received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University. She is a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice. She is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Social and Behavior Sciences at California State University, San Bernardino.
Stephen G. Tibbetts is a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). He earned his undergraduate degree in criminology and law (with high honors) from the
University of Florida, and his masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Maryland. For more
than a decade, he worked as a sworn officer of the court (juvenile) in both Washington County, Tennessee, and San Bernardino County, California, providing recommendations for disposing numerous juvenile court cases. He has published more than 40 scholarly publications in scientific journals (including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice and Behavior), as well as eight books, all examining various topics regarding criminal offending and policies to reduce such behavior. One of these books, American Youth Gangs at the Millennium, was given a Choice award by the American Library Association as an Outstanding Academic Title. Tibbetts received a Golden Apple award from the Mayor of San Bernardino for being chosen as the Outstanding Professor at the CSUSB campus in 2010. One of his recent books, Criminals in the Making: Criminality Across the Life Course (Sage, 2008), was recently lauded by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the key scholarly publications in advancing the study of biosocial criminology.
1 Introduction to Criminology
Often, crimes such as the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, lead people to ask, “Why do they do it?”
Francine Orr/Getty Images
Learning Objectives As you read this chapter, consider the following topics:
Describe the various definitions of crime, including the difference between criminal behavior and deviant behavior. Distinguish between criminology and criminal justice. Determine whether a theory would be considered from a consensus or conflict perspective of crime. List and describe the three general components of the criminal justice system. Identify some of the key distinguishing features of the juvenile justice system compared with the adult criminal justice system. Identify the criteria that characterize a good theory. Identify key concepts associated with victimology.
When introducing students to criminology, it is essential to stress how various concepts and principles of theoretical development are woven into our understanding of crime as well as policy. This chapter begins with a brief discussion of such concepts as crime, criminal, deviant, criminology, criminal justice, and consensus and conflict perspectives of crime. The following section presents a general summary of the different stages of the adult criminal justice system as well as the juvenile justice system. Next, this chapter illustrates how criminology informs policies and programs. Unfortunately, there are instances when policies lack evidence and are not founded on criminological theory and rigorous research but are more of a “knee-jerk” reaction. The concluding section provides students with an overview of victimology and various issues related to victims of crime.
Key Concepts in Understanding Criminology
What Is a Crime?
There are various definitions of crime. Many scholars have disagreed as to what should be considered a crime. For instance, if one takes a legalistic approach, then crime is that which violates the law. But should one consider whether certain actions cause serious harm? If governments violate the basic human rights of their
citizens, are they engaging in criminal behavior?4 As illustrated by these questions, the issue with defining crime from a legalistic approach is that one jurisdiction may designate an action as a crime while another does not recognize such an action as a crime. Some acts, such as murder, are against the law in most countries as well as in all jurisdictions of the United States. These are referred to as acts of mala in se, meaning the act is “inherently and essentially evil, that is immoral in its nature and injurious in its consequence, without any
regard to the fact of its being noticed or punished by the law of the state.”5
Other crimes are known as acts of mala prohibita, which means “a wrong prohibited; an act which is not
inherently immoral, but becomes so because its commission is expressly forbidden by positive law.”6 For instance, prostitution is illegal in most jurisdictions in the United States. However, prostitution is legal, and licensed, in most counties of Nevada. The same can be said about gambling and drug possession or use.
This text focuses on both mala in se and mala prohibita offenses as well as other acts of deviance. Deviant acts are not necessarily against the law but are considered atypical and may be deemed immoral rather than illegal. For example, in Nevada in the 1990s, a young man watched his friend (who was later criminally prosecuted) kill a young girl in a casino bathroom. He never told anyone of the murder. While most people would consider this highly immoral, at that time, Nevada state laws did not require people who witnessed a killing to report it to authorities. This act was deviant, because most would consider it immoral; it was not criminal, because it was not against the laws of that jurisdiction. It is essential to note that as a result of this event, Nevada made withholding such information a criminal act.
Burke and Hare During the 1820s, Edinburgh, Scotland, was a major center for those pursuing an education in medicine. Almost 60 years prior to Jack the Ripper, the first serial murderers, William Burke and William Hare, captured media attention. During a 12-month period, Burke and Hare killed 16 people in Edinburgh before being arrested in November 1828. What made these killings so sordid was that Burke and Hare committed them for the sole purpose of selling the cadavers to medical schools for dissection and medical research. They were assisted by Burke’s companion, Helen M’Dougal, and Hare’s wife, Margaret. Burke and Hare would lure their victims with alcohol. Then, they would suffocate their inebriated victims by lying on their chests and holding their mouths and nostrils closed. Subsequently, Burke and Hare would sell these cadavers, “no questions asked,” to Dr. Robert Knox, a promising anatomist.
During the trial, Hare was granted immunity in return for testifying against Burke. Burke was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on January 28, 1829. Ironically, the next day, Burke’s cadaver was donated to the University of Edinburgh,
where Professor Alexander Monro conducted the dissection in the anatomical theater.1 In fact, the University of Edinburgh Anatomical Museum has an exhibit of William Burke’s skeletal remains. A description of the exhibit ends with a 19th-century children’s rhyme:
Up the close and down the stair
In the house with Burke and Hare
Burke’s the butcher
Hare’s the thief
Knox the boy who buys the beef.2
In January 2016, Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn from Grosse Point Park, Michigan (six miles outside Detroit), were indicted for running a black-market body part business. The Rathburns obtained most of the cadavers from two Chicago-area body donation labs. Many of the families who donated the bodies of their loved ones did so with the belief that they would go to science. A number of these cadavers were infected with HIV, hepatitis B, and other diseases. The Rathburns would use chainsaws, band saws, and reciprocating saws to butcher these cadavers for body parts. The Rathburns stored body parts from over 1,000 people inside a warehouse. Subsequently, they would sell these butchered body parts to medical and dental trainees. However, they sometimes did not disclose to their customers that these body
parts were infected with disease.3
Over 180 years separate these two cases; the technological expertise needed to carry out these crimes significantly changed during this time. However, one consistent theme that links these two cases is motive—monetary gain. This is one of the most fascinating aspects to studying crime—although technology may have changed how crimes are committed (e.g., Internet fraud), have the explanations (i.e., “why they do it”) changed?
WHAT MADE THESE KILLINGS SO SORDID WAS THAT BURKE AND HARE COMMITTED THEM FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF SELLING THE CADAVERS TO MEDICAL SCHOOLS FOR DISSECTION AND MEDICAL RESEARCH.
Other acts of deviance are not necessarily seen as immoral but are considered strange and violate social norms, such as purposely belching at a formal dinner. These types of deviant acts are relevant even if not considered criminal under the legal definition, for individuals engaging in these types of activities reveal a disposition toward antisocial behavior often linked to criminal behavior. Further, some acts are moving from being deemed deviant to being declared illegal, such as using a cell phone while driving or smoking cigarettes in public. Many jurisdictions are moving to have these behaviors made illegal and have been quite successful, especially in New York and California.
While most mala in se activities are also considered highly deviant, this is not necessarily the case for mala prohibita acts. For instance, speeding on a highway (a mala prohibita act) is not deviant, because many people engage in this act. Thus, while this is illegal, it is not considered deviant. This book presents theories for all
these types of activities, even those that do not violate the law.7
crime: there are various definitions of crime. From a legalistic approach, crime is that which violates the law.
mala in se: acts that are considered inherently evil.
mala prohibita: acts that are considered crimes primarily because they have been declared bad by the legal codes in that jurisdiction.
deviance: behaviors that are not normal; includes many illegal acts as well as activities that are not necessarily criminal but are unusual and often violate social norms.
What Is Criminology and Criminal Justice?
The term criminology was first coined by the Italian law professor Raffaele Garofalo in 1885 (in Italian, criminologia). In 1887, French anthropologist Paul Topinard used it for the first time in French
(criminologie).8 In 1934, American criminologist Edwin Sutherland defined criminology as
the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws. . . . The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of
knowledge regarding this process of law, crime, and treatment or prevention.9
Criminology is the scientific study of crime, especially why people engage in criminal behavior. While other textbooks may provide a more complex definition of crime, the word scientific distinguishes our definition
from other perspectives and examinations of crime.10 Philosophical and legal examinations of crime are based on logic and deductive reasoning—for example, by developing what makes logical sense. Journalists play a key role in examining crime by exploring what is happening in criminal justice and revealing injustices as well as new forms of crime. However, the philosophical, legal, and journalistic perspectives of crime are not scientific because they do not involve the use of the scientific method.
Criminal justice often refers to the various criminal justice agencies and institutions (e.g., police, courts, and corrections) that are interrelated and work together toward common goals. Interestingly, many scholars who referred to criminal justice as a system did so only as a way to collectively refer to those agencies and
organizations rather than to imply that they were interrelated.11 Some individuals argue that the term criminal justice system is an oxymoron. For instance, Joanne Belknap noted that she preferred to use the terms crime processing, criminal processing, and criminal legal system, given that “the processing of victims and offenders [is]
anything but ‘just.’”12
criminology: the scientific study of crime and the reasons why people engage (or don’t engage) in criminal behavior.
criminal justice: often refers to the various criminal justice agencies and institutions (e.g., police, courts, and corrections) that are interrelated.
The Consensus and Conflict Perspectives of Crime
A consensus perspective of crime views the formal system of laws, as well as the enforcement of those laws, as
incorporating societal norms for which there is a broad normative consensus.13 The consensus perspective developed from the writings of late-19th- and early-20th-century sociologists such as Durkheim, Weber,
Ross, and Sumner.14 This perspective assumes that individuals, for the most part, agree on what is right and wrong as well as on how those norms have been implemented into laws and how those laws are enforced. Thus, people obey laws not for fear of punishment but rather because they have internalized societal norms
and values and perceive these laws as appropriate to observe rather than disobey.15 The consensus perspective was more dominant during the early part of the 1900s. Since the 1950s, however, no major theorist has considered this to be the best perspective of law. Further, “to the extent that assumptions or hypotheses about consensus theory are still given credence in current theories of law, they are most apt to be found in ‘mutualist’
consensus perspective: theories that assume that virtually everyone is in agreement on the laws and therefore assume no conflict in attitudes regarding the laws and rules of society.
Around the 1950s, the conflict perspective was challenging the consensus approach.17 The conflict perspective maintains that there is conflict between various societal groups with different interests. This conflict is often resolved when the group in power achieves control.
Marsha Gay Reynolds, a JetBlue flight attendant, was accused of transporting $3 million worth of cocaine in her suitcase. What might have motivated such behavior?
Los Angeles Airport Police via AP
Several criminologists, such as Richard Quinney, William Chambliss, and Austin Turk, maintained that
criminological theory has placed too much emphasis on explaining criminal behavior; rather, theory needs to shift its focus toward explaining criminal law. The emphasis should not be on understanding the causes of criminal behavior but on understanding the process by which certain behaviors and individuals are formally designated as criminal. From this perspective, one would ask different questions. For instance, instead of asking, “Why do some people commit crimes while others do not?” one would ask, “Why are some behaviors defined as criminal while others are not?” Asking these types of questions raises the issue of whether the
formulation and enforcement of laws serve the interests of those in a more powerful position in society.18
conflict perspective: criminal behavior theories that assume most people disagree on what the law should be and that law is used as a tool by those in power to keep down other groups.
Learning Check 1.1 1. Crime that is evil in itself is referred to as _______________. 2. Acts that are not necessarily against the law but are considered atypical and may be considered more immoral than illegal are
_______________ acts. 3. Criminology is distinguished from other perspectives of crime, such as journalistic, philosophical, or legal perspectives, because it
involves the use of _______________.
Answers located at www.edge.sagepub.com/schram2e
The Criminal Justice System
According to the 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice,
any criminal justice system is an apparatus society uses to enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community. It operates by apprehending, prosecuting, convicting, and
sentencing those members of the community who violate the basic rules of group existence.19
This general purpose of the criminal justice system can be further simplified into three goals: to control crime, to prevent crime, and to provide and maintain justice. The structure and organization of the criminal justice system has evolved in an effort to meet these goals. The structure and organization is often presented as three
components: law enforcement, courts, and corrections.20
Law enforcement includes various organizational levels (i.e., federal, state, and local). One of the key features distinguishing federal law enforcement agencies from others is that they were often established to enforce specific statutes. Thus, their units are highly specialized and often associated with specialized training and
resources.21 Federal law enforcement agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Further, almost all federal agencies, including the Postal Service and the Forest Service, have some police power. In 2002, President George W. Bush restructured the federal agencies, resulting in the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. This department
was created in an effort to protect and defend the United States from terrorist threats.22
Law enforcement officials often find crime in unusual places. These two women were arrested after being accused of cooking meth inside a rural Illinois church.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office via New York Daily News
The earliest form of state police agency to emerge in the United States was the Texas Rangers, founded by Stephen Austin in 1823 to protect settlers. By 1925, formal state police departments existed throughout most of the country. While some organizational variations exist among the different states, two models generally characterize the structure of these state police departments.
The first model can be designated as state police. States such as Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, and Arkansas have a state police structure. These agencies have general police powers and enforce state laws as well as perform routine patrols and traffic regulation. Further, they have additional functions such as specialized units to investigate major crimes, intelligence units, drug trafficking units,
juvenile units, and crime laboratories. The second model can be designated as highway patrol. States such as California, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas have a highway patrol model. For these agencies, the primary focus is to enforce the laws that govern the operation of motor vehicles on public roads and highways. In some instances, this also includes not just enforcing traffic laws but investigating crimes that occur in
specific locations or under certain circumstances, such as on state highways or state property.23 Agencies on the local level are divided into counties and municipalities. The primary law enforcement office for most counties is that of county sheriff. In most instances, the sheriff is an elected position. The majority of local police officers are employed by municipalities. Most of these agencies comprise fewer than 10 officers. Local police agencies are responsible for the “nuts and bolts” of law enforcement responsibilities. For instance, they investigate most crimes and engage in crime prevention activities such as patrol duties. Further, these officers are often responsible for providing social services such as responding to incidents of domestic violence and
state police: agencies with general police powers to enforce state laws as well as to investigate major crimes; they may have intelligence units, drug trafficking units, juvenile units, and crime laboratories.
highway patrol: one type of model characterizing statewide police departments. The primary focus is to enforce the laws that govern the operation of motor vehicles on public roads and highways.
The United States does not have just one judicial system. Rather, the judicial system is quite complex. In fact, there are 52 different systems, one for each state, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. Given this complexity, however, one can characterize the United States as having a dual court system. This dual court system consists of separate yet interrelated systems: the federal courts and the state courts. While there are variations among the states in terms of judicial structure, usually a state court system consists of different levels or tiers, such as lower courts, trial courts, appellate courts, and the state’s highest court. The federal court system is a three-tiered model: U.S. district courts (i.e., trial courts) and other specialized courts, U.S.
courts of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court (see Figure 1.1).25
Before any case can be brought to a court, that court must have jurisdiction over those individuals involved in the case. Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear and decide cases within an area of the law (i.e., subject
matter such as serious felonies, civil cases, or misdemeanors) or a geographic territory.26 Essentially, jurisdiction is categorized as limited, general, or appellate:
A black wool crepe is draped over Justice Antonin Scalia’s bench chair in the Supreme Court courtroom. His death in 2016 left a vacancy on the Supreme Court bench.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Courts of limited jurisdiction. These are also designated as lower courts. They do not have power that extends to the overall administration of justice; thus, they do not try felony cases and do not have appellate authority.
Courts of general jurisdiction. These are also designated as major trial courts. They have the power and authority to try and decide any case, including appeals from a lower court. Courts of appellate jurisdiction. These are also designated as appeals courts. They are limited in their
jurisdiction decisions on matters of appeal from lower courts and trial courts.27
Every court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, is limited in terms of jurisdiction.
After an offender is convicted and sentenced, he or she is processed in the corrections system. An offender can be placed on probation, incarcerated, or transferred to some type of community-based corrections facility. Probation is essentially an arrangement between the sentencing authorities and the offender. While under supervision, the offender must comply with certain terms for a specified amount of time to return to the
community. These terms are often referred to as conditions of probation.28 Examples of general conditions include the offenders regularly reporting to their supervising officer, obeying the laws, submitting to searches, and not being in possession of firearms or using drugs. Specific conditions can also be imposed, such as participating in methadone maintenance, urine testing, house arrest, vocational training, or psychological or
psychiatric treatment.29 There are also variations to probation. For instance, a judge can combine probation with incarceration, such as shock incarceration. This involves sentencing the offender to spend a certain amount of time each week, oftentimes over the weekend, in some type of institution like a jail; during the remaining time period, the offender is on probation.
Some offenders are required to serve their sentences in a corrections facility. One type of corrections facility is jail. Jails are often designated for individuals convicted of minor crimes. Jails are also used to house individuals awaiting trial; these people have not been convicted but are incarcerated for various reasons, such as preventative detention. Another type of corrections facility is prison. Those sentenced to prison are often convicted of more serious crimes with longer sentences. There are different types of prisons based on security concerns, such as supermax, maximum, medium, and minimum security. Generally, counties and
municipalities operate jails, while prisons are operated by federal and state governments.30
limited jurisdiction: the authority of a court to hear and decide cases within an area of the law or a geographic territory.
probation: essentially an arrangement between the sentencing authorities and the offender requiring the offender to comply with certain terms for a specified amount of time.
jail: jails are often designated for individuals convicted of a minor crime and to house individuals awaiting trial.
Figure 1.1 Three-Tiered Model of the Federal Court System
Source: Adapted from http://judiciallearningcenter.org/our-programs/
Given the rising jail and prison populations, there has been increased use of alternatives to traditional incarceration. For instance, examples of residential sanctions include halfway houses as well as work and study release. Examples of nonresidential sanctions include house arrest, electronic monitoring, and day reporting
The Juvenile Justice System
Prior to the establishment of the juvenile justice system, children were treated the same as adults in terms of criminal processing. Children were considered as “imperfect” adults or “adults in miniature.” They were held to the same standards of behavior as adults. The American colonists brought with them the common law doctrine from England, which held that juveniles seven years or older could be treated the same as adult offenders. Thus, they were incarcerated with adults and could also receive similarly harsh punishments, including the death penalty. It should be noted, however, that youths rarely received such harsh and severe
punishments.32 Beginning in the early 1800s, many recognized the need for a separate system for juveniles.33
For instance, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss educator, maintained that children are distinct from adults, both physically and psychologically.
While there is some disagreement in accrediting the establishment of the first juvenile court, most acknowledge that the first comprehensive juvenile court system was initiated in 1899 in Cook County, Illinois. An essential component to understanding the juvenile justice system is the concept of parens patriae. This Latin term literally means “the parent of the country.” This philosophical perspective recognizes that the state has both the right and the obligation to intervene on behalf of and to protect its citizens who have some impairment or impediment such as mental incompetence or, in the case of juveniles, immaturity. The primary objective of processing juveniles was to determine what was in the best interest of the child. This resulted in the proceedings resembling more of a civil case than a criminal case. The implication of this approach was that the juvenile’s basic constitutional rights were not recognized; these rights included the right to the confrontation and cross-examination of the witnesses, the right to protection against self-incrimination, and compliance regarding the rules of evidence. Another distinctive feature separating the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system is the use of different terms for similar procedures in each system (see Table 1.1).
prison: generally for those convicted of more serious crimes with longer sentences, who may be housed in a supermax-, maximum-, medium-, or minimum-security prison, based on security concerns.
parens patriae: a philosophical perspective that recognizes that the state has both the right and the obligation to intervene on behalf of its citizens in the case of some impairment or impediment such as mental incompetence or, in the case of juveniles, age and immaturity.
During the 1960s, there was a dramatic increase in juvenile crime. The existing juvenile justice system came under severe criticism, including questions concerning the informal procedures of the juvenile courts. Eventually, numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions challenged these procedures, and some maintained that these decisions would radically change the nature of processing juveniles. For instance, in the case In re Gault (1967), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a juvenile is entitled to certain due-process protections constitutionally guaranteed to adults, such as a right to notice of the charges, right to counsel, right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and right against self-incrimination. The case In re Winship (1970) decided that the standard of proof in juvenile delinquency proceedings is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The first U.S. Supreme Court case to address juvenile court procedures was Kent v. United States (1966). The
court ruled that juveniles who are facing a waiver to adult court are entitled to some essential due-process rights.
Source: Taylor, R. W., & Fritsch, E. J. (2015). Juvenile justice: Policies, programs, and practices (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, p. 9.
Although the major impetus for establishing the juvenile justice system was to emphasize rehabilitation, since the 1980s, there has been an emerging trend toward a more punitive approach to juveniles. This changing trend is due to various converging developments, such as broadening due-process protections of adults to include juveniles, the resurgence of retribution, and societal changes in perceptions about children’s
responsibility and accountability.34 Another aspect to this more punitive trend is in reference to transfer provisions—waiving a juvenile offender from the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal justice system.
The reasons for waivers have often been that the juvenile justice system cannot provide the needed treatment or protect the community from the offender. In reality, however, the reason for waivers is an immediate
increase in the severity of response to the juvenile.35
Learning Check 1.2 1. Law enforcement agencies on the state level that have general police powers as well as additional functions, such as investigating
major crimes, are designated as the _______________ model. 2. Law enforcement agencies on the state level whose primary focus is to enforce laws concerning public roads and highways are
designated as the _______________ model. 3. Every court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, is limited in terms of _______________. 4. Recognizing that the state has both the right and an obligation to protect juveniles is referred to as _______________.
Answers located at www.edge.sagepub.com/schram2e
Some states have had transfer provisions since the 1920s; other states have had such provisions since the
1940s.36 Transfer provisions can be categorized into three types: judicial waiver, concurrent jurisdiction, and statutory exclusion.
Judicial waiver: The juvenile court judge has the authority to waive juvenile court jurisdiction and transfer the case to criminal court. States may use terms other than judicial waiver. Some call the process certification, remand, or bind over for criminal prosecution. Others transfer or decline rather than waive jurisdiction. Concurrent jurisdiction: Original jurisdiction for certain cases is shared by both criminal and juvenile courts, and the prosecutor has discretion to file such cases in either court. Transfer under concurrent jurisdiction provisions is also known as prosecutorial waiver, prosecutor discretion, or direct file. Statutory exclusion: State statute excludes certain juvenile offenders from juvenile court jurisdiction. Under statutory exclusion provisions, cases originate in criminal rather than juvenile court. Statutory
exclusion is also known as legislative exclusion.37
While all states have some type of provision that allows some juveniles to be tried in adult criminal court, 34 states have what is termed the “once an adult, always an adult” provision. Under this provision, juveniles who have been tried and convicted as adults must be prosecuted in criminal court for any subsequent offenses.
judicial waiver: the authority to waive juvenile court jurisdiction and transfer the case to criminal court.
concurrent jurisdiction: original jurisdiction for certain cases is shared by both criminal and juvenile courts; the prosecutor has discretion to file such cases in either court.
statutory exclusion: excludes certain juvenile offenders from juvenile court jurisdiction; cases originate in criminal rather than juvenile court.
Introduction to Comparative Criminology
Another area of criminological research is the study of the nature and extent of crime and criminal justice systems across societies. This is an expanding area of research given the complexities associated with crime,
prevention, and detection in a high-tech, global environment.38 There are various definitions for the term comparative criminology, some being more comprehensive in scope than others. Hardie-Bick, Sheptycki, and Wardak noted that comparative criminology should address questions such as the following:
Why do some societies have lower crime rates? What are the differences and similarities in crime definition and control across social and cultural frontiers?
How do theoretical models relating to crime translate across cultures?39
The comparative perspective is not a relatively new approach. In 1889, E. B. Taylor outlined the benefits of such an approach during his presentation to the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain. But it was not until the mid-1950s that researchers outside anthropological studies, such as those in sociology, psychology, and political science, incorporated a more comparative approach in their research. Criminologists also began to incorporate this perspective in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While this approach has been
relatively slow to gain prominence, a growing body of research incorporates this perspective.40
The study of comparative criminology is no longer considered an option but rather a necessity:41
In our global village, crime problems are no longer a domestic concern. Many types of crime have international dimensions, and trends in crime and justice in different countries are increasingly interdependent. The international nature of markets for drugs, sexual services, and illicit firearms is generally recognized. Less well understood is the international nature of many other criminal markets such as that for stolen cars with an estimated half million stolen cars transported from developed to less developed countries annually. More and more criminal groups operate internationally through loose
networks of partners in crime.42
As mentioned previously, although there is an increased appreciation for the study of comparative criminology, there are limitations regarding the availability of international statistics on crime and criminal justice. In recent years, there have been increasing efforts to enhance international statistics on global social issues such as diseases, infant mortality, and the consumption of illegal drugs. However, efforts to collect information on crime are limited. One explanation for the relative paucity of data on this global issue is that some governments do not want to be exposed to data that may reveal their countries in a negative light.
Scholars are working to break this politically inspired conspiracy of silence.43
This text will include a series of boxes that compare the United States with foreign nations in terms of various aspects of criminology and criminal justice. Nearly every chapter in this textbook will include a Comparative
Criminology box, and each will focus on a single type of serious crime; for example, the Comparative Criminology box in this chapter examines relative rates of motor vehicle theft. It is important to be aware of and understand where the United States stands in relative terms on crime rates, which enlightens us on how cultural and socioeconomic factors influence such rates. The same can be said of comparing various regions/states/cities across the United States, which some of the comparative boxes will also examine.
Most of the statistics in the various comparative criminology boxes of this book were obtained from The World of Crime by Jan Van Dijk, one of the best compilations of international crime statistics in that it synthesizes and reports on a variety of measures using both police reports and victimization surveys from a multitude of sources.
comparative criminology: the study of crime across various cultures to identify similarities and differences in crime patterns.
Applying Theory to Crime: Motor Vehicle Theft
A motor vehicle theft is defined as “the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. . . . A motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle
that runs on land surfaces and not on rails.”44 Examples of motor vehicles include sport utility vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. They do not, however, include farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment, or watercraft. In 2014, about 689,527 motor vehicle thefts were reported in the United States. In that time, more than $4.5 billion was lost as a result of motor vehicle thefts; the average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $6,537.
Slightly over 74% of all motor vehicle thefts were automobiles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Honda Accord is stolen more often than any other car in the United States. This is followed by the Honda Civic, Ford pickup (full size), Chevrolet pickup (full size), Toyota Camry, Dodge Ram pickup (full size), Dodge Caravan, Nissan Altima, Acura Integra, and
Nissan Maxima.45 Further, the NICB noted that one should also consider vehicle theft fraud. In the past, vehicle thieves were focused on stealing cars and trucks the “old-fashioned way,” such as by forced entry and circumventing ignitions. Today, there are new scams for stealing vehicles that involve fraud:
Owner give-ups: The vehicle owner lies about the theft of the vehicle and then orchestrates its destruction to collect insurance money. He or she claims the vehicle was stolen, but then it is found burned or heavily damaged in a secluded area, submerged in a lake, or, in extreme cases, buried underground. Thirty-day specials: Owners whose vehicles need extensive repairs sometimes perpetrate the 30-day special scam. They will report the vehicle stolen and hide it for 30 days—just long enough for the insurance company to settle the claim. Once the claim is paid, the vehicle is often found abandoned. Export fraud: After securing a bank loan for a new vehicle, an owner obtains an insurance policy for it. The owner reports the vehicle stolen to a U.S. law enforcement agency but, in reality, has illegally shipped it overseas to be sold on the black market. The owner then collects on the insurance policy as well as any illegal profits earned through overseas conspirators who sell the vehicle. Phantom vehicles: An individual creates a phony title or registration to secure insurance on a nonexistent vehicle. The insured then reports the vehicle stolen before filing a fraudulent insurance claim. Often, antique or luxury vehicles are used in
this scam, since these valuable vehicles produce larger insurance settlements.46
One interesting approach to addressing the problem of motor vehicle thefts, which has been popularized by the media, is the use of bait cars. The Los Angeles Police Department defines the use of a bait car as “an undercover operation where [they] bring in a plain motor vehicle and load it with desirable goods (iPod, GPS, cigarettes, etc.) and hope someone breaks into the car as [they] are
watching.”47 On June 25, 2012, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were quite surprised when one of their bait cars was stolen by an 11-year-old boy. This boy wanted to take the car for a joy ride; on the way, he also decided to pick up two of his 10-year-old friends. A video camera had been placed in the bait car. In the video, the boy can be heard bragging to his friends about his driving skills. For instance, while turning up the radio to enjoy the music as he drives, the boy says, “I’m a good driver, huh?” During their
joy ride, apparently one of the boys spotted a police officer; one of the boys said, “Quiet,” while the other said, “Slow down.”48
After reading about this youth, one might ask, “Why would he do that?” Some of you might consider that his 10-year-old peers somehow influenced his behavior, especially since it seems he wanted them to be a part of his criminal adventure. Others may argue that these boys lacked some form of adult supervision resulting from a dysfunctional family environment. Another possible explanation is that these boys lacked self-control, that they were thrill seekers who knew this was wrong, especially given their reaction when spotting the police. When we read about this type of behavior in a newspaper or hear about it on the news and ask, “Why would someone do that?” we are trying to find some kind of explanation. This is what theory attempts to do but in a more rigorous, scientific manner. Throughout this text, as we discuss various theories, we attempt to apply key points of those theories to either a real or hypothetical situation in boxes labeled “Applying Theories to Crime.” For each of these special boxes, we begin with a brief discussion of a particular crime, such as motor vehicle theft, robbery, or murder. Subsequently, we apply the relevant theory or theories in that chapter to that particular crime. With this approach, you will obtain general information about particular offenses as well as apply key features of various theories to those crimes.
Think About It: 1. What kind of influence did peers have on this 11-year-old’s behavior? 2. Do you think the lack of adult supervision could explain his behavior?
Comparative Criminology: Motor Vehicle Theft
Ranking Regions/Countries on Rates of Motor Vehicle Theft The key measure of prevalence of motor vehicle theft in the world is the International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS), which is a data bank that collects and standardizes police reports from more than 70 countries around the world. This measure has been conducted since 1987 and does have some weaknesses, but it is currently the best measure of most crimes in terms of cross-national comparisons.
The ICVS has collected many years’ worth of data on motor vehicle theft. Van Dijk synthesized the data from ICVS regarding car
theft from the years 1996 to 2005.51 Some regions have very high numbers of stolen vehicles, but to make a fair comparison across regions, rates of ownership should be accounted for. As seen in Figure 1.2, the countries with by far the highest percentages of car owners in urban areas who had been victimized by car theft were on the continent of Africa. A relatively distant second highest ranking area was countries in the region of Latin America/Caribbean.
To be more specific, we can examine the ranking of the countries in terms of their rates of vehicle theft. As can be seen in Figure 1.3, ICVS data show that Papua New Guinea had by far the highest rate (at 9.8% of car owners victimized each year), followed by Mozambique (7.5%) and then South Africa, Swaziland, and Brazil rounding out the top five. It is notable that the United States did not rank in the worst 15 countries for motor vehicle theft.
Figure 1.2 Percentages of Car Owners in Urban Areas Victimized by Car Theft or Joyriding During the Past 12 Months
Source: ICVS, 1996–2005, latest survey available.
Figure 1.3 World Ranking of Countries According to Victimization of Car Owners in Urban Areas by Theft of a Car in the Course of One Year, Rank Number, and Percentage of Victims per Year
Sources: ICVS, 1992, 1996–2005, latest survey available.
*Countries with data from ICVS, 1992.
It is not too surprising that motor vehicle theft tends to be higher (when accounting for rates of ownership) in some of the most deprived nations in the world, such as Africa and various Latin American/Caribbean countries. After all, in such extreme poverty, many individuals are driven to commit such crimes to survive. However, the results from the ICVS also reveal that vehicle theft actually happens quite a bit in many regions of the world (North America being ranked third), so motor vehicle theft is alive and well throughout virtually all societies.
Think About It: 1. According to the ICVS, what regions of the world had the highest rates of motor vehicle theft between 1996 and 2005? 2. Which regions had the lowest vehicle theft rates between 1996 and 2005? 3. Can you provide possible explanations for these differences across regions?
Respected scientific theories in all fields of study, whether chemistry, physics, or criminology, tend to have the same characteristics. This is further illustrated by the scientific review process (i.e., blind peer review by experts) used in all fields to assess which studies and theoretical frameworks are of high quality. The criteria that characterize a good theory in chemistry are the same ones used to assess what makes a good criminological theory. These characteristics include parsimony, scope, logical consistency, testability, empirical
validity, and policy implications.49 Each of these characteristics is examined in the next section.50
Characteristics of Good Theories
Parsimony is attained by explaining a phenomenon, such as criminal activity, in the simplest way possible. Other characteristics being equal, the simpler the theory, the better. The challenge with criminal behavior is that it is highly complex; however, some criminologists have attempted to explain this complex phenomenon using rather simplistic approaches. For instance, the theory of low self-control maintains that one personality factor—low self-control—is responsible for all criminal activity. As will be discussed in a later chapter, the originators of this theory, Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, contend that every act of crime and
deviance is caused by this same factor: low self-control.52 A simple theory is better than a more complex one. Given the complex nature of criminal behavior, however, it is likely that a simple explanation, such as identifying one factor to explain all types of criminal and deviant behavior, will not be adequate.
How would Lombroso classify this person?
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
Scope is the trait that indicates how much of a given phenomenon the theory attempts to explain. Other traits being equal, the larger the scope, the better the theory. To some extent, this is related to parsimony in the sense that some theories, such as the theory of low self-control, seek to explain all crimes and all deviant acts. Thus, the theory of low self-control has a very wide scope. As we will discuss later, other theories of crime may attempt to explain only property crime, such as some versions of strain theory or drug use. However, the wider the scope of what a theory can explain, the better the theory.
Logical consistency is the extent to which a theory makes sense in terms of its concepts and propositions.
Sometimes it is easier to illustrate this point with an example. Some theories do not make sense simply because of the face value of their propositions. For instance, Cesare Lombroso maintained that the most serious offenders are born criminals; they are biological throwbacks to an earlier stage of evolutionary
development and can be identified by their physical features.53 Lombroso, who is discussed later in this book, maintained that tattoos were one of the physical features that distinguished these born criminals. This does not make sense, or lacks logical consistency, because tattoos are not biological physical features (i.e., no baby has been born with a tattoo).
Testability is the extent to which a theory can be empirically and scientifically tested. Some theories simply cannot be tested. A good example of such a theory is Freud’s theory of the psyche, discussed in more detail later in this book. Freud described three domains of the psyche—the conscious ego, the subconscious id, and
the superego. None of these domains, however, can be observed or tested.54 While some theories can be quite influential without being testable (e.g., Freud’s theory), a theoretical model that is untestable and unobservable is at a considerable disadvantage. Fortunately, most established criminological theories can be examined through empirical testing.
Empirical validity is the extent to which a theoretical model is supported by scientific research. This is closely associated with the previous characteristic of testability. While almost all accepted modern criminological theories are testable, this does not mean they are equal in terms of empirical validity.
parsimony: a characteristic of a good theory, meaning that it explains a certain phenomenon, such as criminal behavior, with the fewest possible propositions or concepts.
scope: refers to the range of criminal behavior that a theory attempts to explain.
logical consistency: the extent to which concepts and propositions of a theoretical model make sense in terms of face value and consistency with what is readily known about crime rates and trends.
testability: the extent to which a theoretical model can be empirically or scientifically tested through observation and empirical research.
For instance, deterrence theory proposed in part that offenders will not repeat their crimes if they have been caught and given severe legal punishment. If research finds that this is true for only a small minority of offenders or that punished offenders are only slightly less likely to repeat crimes than are unpunished
offenders, then the theory has some, but not much, empirical validity.55
Thus, questions of empirical validity include these: “What degree of empirical support does the theory have?” “Do the findings of research provide weak or strong support?” “Does the preponderance of evidence support
or undermine the theory?”56
Learning Check 1.3 1. When a theory can explain a phenomenon using a simplistic approach, this is considered _______________. 2. When a theory attempts to explain all crimes and all deviant acts, this theory is broad in _______________. 3. Empirical validity is the extent to which a theoretical model is supported by _______________.
Answers located at www.edge.sagepub.com/schram2e
Three Requirements for Determining Causality
Various criteria are involved in determining whether a certain variable causes another variable to change—in other words, causality. For this discussion, we will be referring to the commonly used scientific notation of a predictor variable—called X—as causing an explanatory variable—called Y. These variables are often referred to as an independent or predictor variable (X) and a dependent or explanatory variable (Y). These criteria are used for all scientific disciplines, whether chemistry, physics, biology, or criminology. The three criteria required to determine causality are temporal ordering, covariation or correlation, and accounting for spuriousness.
Temporal ordering requires that the predictor variable (X) precede the explanatory variable (Y) if one is attempting to determine that X causes Y. Although this issue of time order appears to be quite obvious, there are instances when this criterion is violated in criminological theories. For instance, a recent scientific debate has focused on whether delinquency is an outcome variable (Y) caused by associations with delinquent peers and associates (X) or whether delinquency (X) causes associations with delinquent peers and associates (Y), which then leads to more delinquent behavior. This is an example of temporal ordering, or “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Research has revealed that both processes often occur, meaning that delinquency and associations with delinquent peers are likely to be both predictor and explanatory variables.
Correlation or covariation is the extent to which a change in the predictor (X) is associated with a change in the explanatory variable (Y). For instance, an increase in unemployment (X) is likely to lead to a rise in crime rates (Y). This would indicate a positive association, because both increased. Similarly, an increase in employment (X) is likely to lead to a decrease in crime rates (Y). This would be a negative, or inverse, association, because as one decreases, the other increases. The criterion of covariance is not met when a change in X does not produce any change in Y. Thus, if a significant change in X does not lead to a significant change in Y, this criterion is not met.
It is essential to stress, however, that correlation alone does not mean that X causes Y. For example, ice cream sales (X) tend to be highly associated with crime rates (Y). This does not mean that ice cream sales cause higher crime rates. Instead, other factors, such as warm weather, lead to an increase in both sales of ice cream and the number of people who are outdoors in public areas, which could lead to greater opportunities and tendencies to engage in criminal activity. This example leads to the final criterion for determining causality.
empirical validity: the extent to which a theoretical model is supported by scientific research.
temporal ordering: the criterion for determining causality; requires that the predictor variable (X) precede the explanatory variable (Y) in time.
correlation or covariation: a criterion of causality that requires a change in a predictor variable (X) to be consistently associated with some change in the explanatory variable (Y).
Why Do They Do It?
Diane and Rachel Staudte In an ABC 20/20 interview, Sarah Staudte stated that “she [her mother, Diane] had this journal that she wrote . . . her thoughts. She wrote the deaths of Shaun, my brother, and me. And that’s what worried me . . . I was shocked.” According to medical examiners, in April 2012, Mark Staudte, Sarah’s father, died of “natural causes”; five months later, her brother’s death was ruled as
being due to “prior medical issues.” Both bodies were cremated.57 In June 2013, Sarah was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. While she exhibited flulike symptoms, the doctors discovered that her kidneys and brain were deteriorating. After running a number of tests, doctors still could not determine the cause of her kidney and brain failure. While she was hospitalized, Springfield police detective Neal McAmis received an anonymous tip. The caller stated that Diane could be responsible for Sarah’s illness and might also have been involved in the deaths of Sarah’s father and brother. Following this tip, Detective McAmis went to the hospital. One of the doctors stated that he was suspicious that this was a possible poisoning case. He further noted that Sarah was essentially given a “zero percent chance” of living; the question was not whether she was going to die, but when. The detective also talked to a nurse, who commented that Diane was acting strangely, given the severity of the situation.
Diane was joking about Sarah’s condition and was talking about her upcoming Florida vacation.58
Subsequently, Detective McAmis brought Diane Staudte in for questioning. During a four-hour interview, Diane admitted to fatally poisoning her husband and son as well as poisoning her daughter. She, along with her then 24-year-old daughter Rachel, had put antifreeze in Coca-Cola and Gatorade. During her taped interview, Diane made some startling comments in reference to why she had poisoned her family members. She stated that she “hated his [her husband’s] guts.” Below are portions of the interview between Detective McAmis and Diane regarding her son, Shaun:
“He was almost to the point of inappropriate at times,” Diane Staudte said. “I mean he would walk into the bathroom if the door was shut. I mean just really bizarre stuff.” “He was such an interference and a bother that you just said you can’t take it anymore?” McAmis prodded. “He was more than a bother,” Diane Staudte said. “More than a bother, OK. Would a pest, would that be a good word for it?” McAmis asked.
“No, it was more than that,” Diane Staudte said.59
Diane and Rachel Staudte.
Greene County Sheriff’s Office via AP
Further into the interview, when asked about poisoning her daughter, Diane Staudte stated that Sarah was unemployed and
therefore could not financially contribute to the household.
Detective McAmis then interviewed Diane’s daughter, Rachel Staudte. Rachel stated that her mother initially brought up the idea, but soon after Rachel also became involved in the poisonings. When asked why she wanted to kill her father, Rachel stated, “[I]t was for a little peace.” When asked about her brother, she said, “Shaun, because he was annoying.” Finally, when asked about her sister, Sarah, Rachel stated “Sarah was just nosy. Very nosy.” Rachel told the detective that they were planning to poison her then 12-year- old-sister.
Diane Staudte was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; Rachel, since she agreed to testify against her mother, was also sentenced to life, but she will be eligible for parole after serving over 42 years in prison.
Sarah Staudte did survive, but she suffered serious brain injury. She now has a guardian and lives in an assisted living facility.60
Think About It: 1. How does a mother involve her own daughter in the poisoning of family members? 2. If Diane and Rachel had not been caught, how many more individuals might have been poisoned?
In this text, we will be presenting what some may consider “high-profile” crimes. These are crimes that have received a great deal of media attention due to the individuals involved and/or the horrendous nature of the offense. In some instances, such as the Diane Staudte case, these types of crimes go beyond the question, “Why did she do it?”
Considering for spuriousness is a complicated way of saying, to determine that X causes Y, other factors (typically called Z factors) that could be causing the observed association must be accounted for before one can be sure that X is actually causing Y. In other words, these other Z factors may account for the observed association between X and Y. What often happens is that a third factor (Z) causes two events to occur together in time and place. Referring back to Lombroso, tattoos may have predicted criminality at the time he wrote. However, Lombroso did not account for an important Z factor—namely, associates or friends who also had tattoos. This Z factor caused the simultaneous occurrence of both other factors.
What aspects of this neighborhood would cause it to be classified as “disorganized”?
Charles Ommanney/Getty Images
Researchers in criminology are fairly good at determining the first two criteria of causality—temporal ordering and covariance or correlation. Most scientists can perform classical experiments that randomly assign participants either to receive or not to receive the experimental manipulation to examine the effect on outcomes. The problem for criminologists, however, is that the factors that appear to be important (according
to police officers, parole agents, or corrections officers) are family variables, personality traits, employment
variables, intelligence, and other similar characteristics that cannot be experimentally manipulated to control for possible Z factors. Thus, as criminologists, we may never be able to meet all the criteria for causality. Rather, we are often restricted to building a case for the factors we think are causing crime by amassing as much support as we can regarding temporal ordering and covariance or correlation, and perhaps accounting for other factors in advanced statistical models. Ultimately, social science, particularly criminology, is a difficult field in terms of establishing causality, and as we shall see, empirical validity of various criminological theories is hindered by such issues.
spuriousness: when other factors (often referred to as Z factors) are actually causing two variables (X and Y) to occur at the same time; it may appear as if X causes Y, when in fact they are both being caused by other Z factor(s).
Theory Informs Policies and Programs
An essential aspect of a good theory is that it can help inform and guide policies that attempt to reduce crime. After all, a criminological theory is truly useful in the real world only if it helps reduce criminal offending. For instance, referring to the 11-year-old boy in Albuquerque who took the bait car for a joy ride, if one maintains that the reason he engaged in this criminal behavior was a lack of adult supervision, suggested policies and programs might be directed toward some type of after-school program. Many theories have been used as the basis of such changes in policy.
All major criminological theories have implications for, and have indeed been utilized in, criminal justice policy and practice. Every therapy method, treatment program, prison regimen, police policy, or criminal justice practice is based, either explicitly or implicitly, on some explanation of human nature in general or
criminal behavior in particular.61 In each chapter, we will present examples of how the theories of crime discussed have guided policy making.
One theoretical perspective we will be discussing is differential association. A central tenet of this theory is the influence of close peer groups or other role models. The major implication of this theory is to replace negative, antisocial role models with more positive, prosocial role models. The influence of this position is reflected in the conditions of probation or parole; offenders are required to stay away from convicted felons. Programs that bring juveniles together for positive purposes and positive interaction with others will face obstacles because “the lure of ‘the streets’ and of the friends they have grown up with remains a powerful countervailing force
Another theory perspective we will be presenting focuses on social structure. If individuals live in an environment that is considered disorganized, such as one characterized by high unemployment and transiency, this could be deemed the root cause of crime. The challenge with implementing policies and programs with this perspective is that it does not necessarily focus on the individual but rather the community. Clifford Shaw argued that rather than treating individual offenders, one needs to focus on the community. Subsequently, he developed the Chicago Area Project. Shaw, along with his staff, organized various programs aimed at establishing or enhancing a sense of community with neighborhoods. He also obtained the assistance and
cooperation of schools, churches, recreational clubs, trade unions, and businesses.63
Victimology can be defined as the scientific study of victims.64 Although this definition is quite simple, the range of specific topics and the depth to which they are examined can be complex. Specifically, the study of victims includes such widely varied topics as theoretical reasons that some individuals are more likely to be victimized, the legal rights of victims, and the incidence/spatial distribution of victimization in a given geographic area. These are just some of the many topics that fall under the general umbrella of victimology, and even these three topics can be broken into many categories of study. Before we discuss some of those areas, it is important to understand the evolution of the study of victims.
Victimology is a relatively new area of criminology, which is strange because there have been victims since the very beginning of human civilization. The earliest use of the term victimology is attributed to two scholars,
Fredric Wertham in his book The Show of Violence (1949)65 and Benjamin Mendelsohn, generally considered
the Father of Victimology, in his 1956 article titled “Victimology” and published in a foreign journal.66 This may not seem to many readers being that recent, but it is when you consider that most sciences, including criminology, had been studied for hundreds of years prior to the mid-20th century. Another indication that the science of victimology is very young is that the term victimology was not recognized as a correctly spelled word by spell checks in the most commonly used word-processing programs until the last few years.
However, the study of victims is a very insightful perspective for understanding crime. After all, for most crimes there is a victim, so to only try to understand the offender is to miss half the equation. As Wertham wrote:
The murder victim is the forgotten man. With sensational discussions on the abnormal psychology of the murderer, we have failed to emphasize the unprotectedness of the victim and the complacency of the authorities. One cannot understand the psychology of the murderer if one does not understand the
sociology of the victim. What we need is a science of victimology.67
It is also important to note that one of the most accurate measures of crime that exists is based on interviews with victims. Called the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), it was begun in 1973 and is generally considered a more accurate estimate of crime in the United States than the Uniform Crime Reports collected by the police and FBI, especially for certain types of offenses, such as forcible rape and burglary. It is certainly the most important source for victimization data across the United States.
One of the most basic underlying concepts of virtually all theoretical perspectives of victimology is that of
victim precipitation.68 Victim precipitation is when an individual does or doesn’t do something that increases the risk that he or she will be victimized. For example, if someone does not lock their car and it gets stolen, this is known as passive victim precipitation, because it was something they did not or forgot to do. The other type, active victim precipitation, involves an individual actually doing something that increases their probability of being victimized. For example, if John yells a racial slur at Ron and then Ron attacks John, what Ron did is not justified, but John clearly increased his likelihood of being attacked, which is the reason why it is an active form of precipitation. The concept of victim precipitation is not about blame; rather, it is simply about raising the odds or risk of being victimized. To be clear, victims should not be blamed, but often what they did or didn’t do made them more vulnerable to being targeted.
Marvin Wolfgang was a key researcher who conducted one of the first major studies of victim precipitation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in which he found that a substantial percentage of homicides in Philadelphia
involved situations in which the victim was the first to use force against the person(s) who killed them.69 At the time, this was a key insight, because previously most researchers had assumed that most victims were completely innocent. Wolfgang’s study showed that many of the victims of homicide were actually active precipitators of the crime. Many other theorists have expanded on this theory of victim precipitation, but none have really added to the original model and data provided by Wolfgang.
victim precipitation: the increased likelihood of an individual becoming a victim due to something they did (or did not do) that put them more at risk (e.g., not locking their car door).
Incidence/Prevalence of Victimization
One of the most common misperceptions about rates of victimization involves the type of individual who is most likely to be victimized. Studies have shown that many people believe that the most likely individuals to be victims of violent crimes are elderly persons. Perhaps this is due to media coverage; when a grandmother gets raped or robbed, it makes the front page of every newspaper. In fact, however, older individuals are by far the least likely to be victimized by violence. The highest rates of violent victimization clearly occur among
teenagers and young adults.70 This is likely because young people are the ones who typically associate or “hang” with the most common offenders, namely young males.
The vast majority of victimization is intraracial, meaning that typically the offender is of the same race or ethnicity as the victim (see Figure 1.4). Research from the Department of Justice shows that this is true for homicide, for example. This makes sense because people of a given race or ethnicity tend to socialize with
other people of the same race or ethnicity.71
The good news is that violent victimization has been falling drastically since the early 1990s. According to both the National Crime Victimization Survey and the Uniform Crime Reports (police reports summarized by the FBI), violent victimization has dropped by over 50% since 1993. The reasons for this huge decrease are still unknown, but both of these independent measures show it to be a fact. For example, New York City has seen a decrease from over 2,200 homicides per year in the early 1990s to fewer than 400 per year currently. Also, Los Angeles used to have well over 1,000 homicides per year in the early 1990s but is now averaging less than 500.
Figure 1.4 Homicide by Race of Victim and Offender
Note: “Other” includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
Source: Crime in the U.S. 2014. FBI. Expanded Homicide Data Table 6.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Rates of child abuse and neglect have decreased in the last few decades, probably due to more
acknowledgment and awareness.72 It is well known that in traditional times, police and other law enforcement felt that domestic issues should be best handled at the home. It should be noted that any citizen can make an anonymous claim about child abuse or neglect; to do so, they should call their local child protection agency. However, individuals working in a professional capacity must reveal their identity and agency if they report such accusations of abuse or neglect.
Several agencies have been created at the national level to measure rates of child abuse and to provide helpful services in such cases. One of the most prominent is the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, which is administered by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and its role is primarily to increase awareness about the long-term influence of children’s exposure to violence and to seek solutions to address the problem. Additionally, the OJJDP’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force program assists state and local enforcement in preventing and investigating technology-based sexual
exploitation.73 Also, the OJJDP works with the Office of Justice Programs to manage the AMBER Alert program, in which notices go out nationally to try to find abducted children; this program is credited with
helping to rescue over 800 children.74
The Law Code of Hammurabi was inscribed on a seven-foot basalt stele. It is now on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Roman Milert / Alamy Stock Phot
The Department of Justice has declared April to be National Child Abuse Prevention Month since 1983. Various agencies have been created to help children who are victims of crime and promote awareness of their rights and the services offered to them.
Compensation and Restitution
The main distinction between victim compensation and restitution is that the former is given by the state or government and the latter is given by the offender (typically as part of the sentence). New Zealand created the first victim compensation program in the world in 1963. California had the first state victim compensation program in the United States; it is still one of the largest and provides at least approximately $70,000 for victims of violent crime. Property crimes are not included because victims usually have some type of insurance for most of them; one big exception is drunk driving, which the organization MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] lobbied hard for and got, so that is actually allowed in most compensation programs. Now all states have victim compensation programs and receive federal funding from legislated programs, most of them enacted in the 1980s.
Interestingly, the first historical record about victims goes back to the Code of Hammurabi in 1754 BC. This code had many laws, but the most relevant for this course is a portion that called for a restoration of equity
between the offender and the victim as well as encouraged victims to forgive their offenders.75
Victim compensation programs are typically handled by the victims’ services unit or department at local or county offices. Victims’ services units are usually housed in the county district attorney’s office, and they typically do a great job of helping victims, not just as first responders (where they counsel and give information about social services after a major crime) but also in helping victims fill out reports to apply for state compensation (for funeral services, medical expenses, etc.).
If an offender is required to pay restitution as part of his or her sentence, the victim will likely not fare well in actually receiving it. Most offenders are unemployed and/or moneyless and thus unable to pay their victims. There are cases in which victims do receive their court-mandated restitution (often because the offender is a juvenile and his or her parents pay the money), but these instances are the exception.
compensation: often paid to victims of violent acts; provided by crime that are provided by local, state, or federal governmental funds.
restitution: often ordered by the court to be paid to victims by the offender(s) as part of their sentence.
Here a woman is reading her victim impact statement during sentencing. Should the impact a crime has on a victim be given more consideration during a trial and sentencing?
ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Phot
Victim Impact Statements
Victim impact statements are reports of a victim (often a family member) to the court about how an offender affected their life. The first victim impact statement given in a court in the United States was reported in California in 1976. The admittance of victim impact statements to courts was challenged, and a number of cases made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which wavered on the decision for many cases over the course of many years. However, the most definitive case is that of Payne v. Tennessee (1991), in which the highest court ruled that victim impact statements were relevant during the sentencing hearings. Nothing has really changed since that case; victim impact statements are still accepted under the law following a guilty verdict during the
sentencing phase presented to judges or juries.76
It is important to note that victim impact statements can be given only during the sentencing phase of a trial, not when the jury is determining the verdict. Thus, in most trials only the judge actually hears and rules based on such victim impact statements, which is likely why most studies show that such impact statements do not have much impact on the sentencing outcome. The reason for this, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, is that it is believed that such victim impact statements would too strongly bias the jury at the verdict phase of the trial, preventing jurors from making an objective determination of guilt or innocence. However, the Court believes they are relevant at the sentencing phase of the trial, particularly in capital cases, that is, those in which the defendant is facing the death penalty.
Studies show that such victim impact statements have little effect despite the victims’ families disclosing traumatic revelations of how the various crimes have affected their lives. Although some studies have found support for the influence of such victim impact statements on sentencing, most studies show no significant
increase on the sentencing of the offender.77 Still, such victim impact statements are largely deemed significant and important contributions to the judicial process, as the U.S. Supreme Court agrees, if only for providing a voice and some closure for victims and their families.
victim impact statements: formal statements given by victims in court about the incident in which they were offended, often in person but also in other ways (e.g., a video or written statement read by the court reporter); these statements can be considered in determining the offender’s sentence.
Learning Check 1.4 1. Who is considered the Father of Victimology by most scholars?
1. Lombroso 2. Beccaria 3. Sutherland 4. Mendelsohn
2. When an individual does or does not do something that increases their risk of being victimized, this is referred to as victim 1. anticipation. 2. precipitation. 3. expectation. 4. consideration.
3. When an offender is ordered to pay money to the victim as part of sentencing, it is referred to as _______________, whereas when the state or federal government provides funds to the victim for losses due to the crime, it is referred to as _______________.
1. compensation; restitution 2. restitution; compensation
4. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that victim impact statements can be given during only what stage of a criminal trial? 1. before the verdict but not after 2. after the verdict and before the sentencing 3. both before the verdict and before sentencing 4. neither during the actual trial nor before sentencing; only after the sentence
Answers located at www.edge.sagepub.com/schram2e
Victim Rights Awareness
April has been designated by the U.S. Department of Justice as National Crime Victims Awareness Month. Although different months bring awareness to specific offenses (such as September as Campus Safety Awareness Month, because that is the beginning of the academic year at many schools, or October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month), April is the most important month because it brings awareness to all victims of crime. Thus, you will likely see many candlelight vigils and parades during the month of April. It was first declared Crime Victims’ Rights/Awareness Month in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and was a good representation of the increase in attention to victims in the 1970s and 1980s.
Other examples of this increased attention to victims in the 1980s include the formation in 1983 of the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), which was created by the U.S. Department of Justice to implement recommendations from the President’s Task force on Victims of Crime initiated by President Reagan in 1982. Also, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was passed in 1984, which established the Federal Crime Victims Fund to support state compensation funds and local victim service units and programs. The fund comprises various fines, penalties, forfeitures, and so forth collected by federal agencies.
Overall, far more attention has been given to victims of crime since the early 1970s. It is surprising that it took until the last five decades before victims were given such interest in terms of study and rights, especially when one considers that there have always been victims since the beginning of human civilization. In contrast, extensive scientific studies and theories of offenders have been conducted and promulgated for centuries. It has been beneficial to the field of criminology to add such study of victims, especially considering that they are nearly always half the equation when trying to determine why offenders attack.
The purpose of this chapter was twofold. First, we wanted to provide a general understanding of different aspects related to the field. We started with key concepts in understanding criminology, such as crime, criminal, deviant, and victim. We explored the difference between criminology and criminal justice as well as consensus and conflict perspectives of crime. Next, we provided a broad overview of the major components of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. When discussing the juvenile justice system, we reviewed fundamental differences between the adult criminal justice system and the juvenile justice system. Next, we introduced criminological theory by discussing what criteria are considered when assessing whether a theory is deemed good. We also briefly discussed the three requirements to show that a given factor causes changes in another factor. Next, we noted how theory should inform policies and programs. It is essential to stress that theory is not to be thought of as some abstract or out-of-touch scientific endeavor. Rather, theory has an important purpose in terms of developing policies and programs. As Ronald Akers noted:
The question, then, is not whether policy can be or should be based on theory—it already is guided by theory—but rather, how well is policy guided by theory and how good is the theory on which the policy
While you are learning and critiquing the various theories presented in this text, it is essential to ask that question continually!
Finally, we presented an overview of victimology, or the study of victims. We briefly discussed such topics as victim precipitation, the incidence and prevalence of victimization, child abuse and neglect, and victim impact statements.
comparative criminology, 12 compensation, 23 concurrent jurisdiction, 11 conflict perspective, 6 consensus perspective, 5 correlation or covariation, 17 crime, 3 criminal justice, 5 criminology, 5 deviance, 3 empirical validity, 16 highway patrol, 7 jail, 8 judicial waiver, 11 limited jurisdiction, 8 logical consistency, 16 mala in se, 3 mala prohibita, 3 parens patriae, 9 parsimony, 16 prison, 9 probation, 8 restitution, 23 scope, 16 spuriousness, 19 state police, 7 statutory exclusion, 11 temporal ordering, 17 testability, 16 victim impact statements, 24 victim precipitation, 21
Discussion Questions 1. How does criminology differ from other perspectives of crime? 2. Should criminologists emphasize only crimes made illegal by law, or should they also study acts that are deviant but not illegal?
Explain why you feel this way. 3. Do you think the juvenile justice system procedures, as well as its philosophy, have changed since its inception in 1899? Why? 4. Would you consider the term criminal justice system an oxymoron? Explain your answer. 5. What characteristics of a good theory do you find most important? What are least important? Make sure to explain why you feel
that way. 6. How much do you think an individual’s behavior predicts their likelihood of being victimized? What types of circumstances do
you think are most relevant? 7. If a member of your family was violently victimized, would you likely give a victim impact statement? Why or why not? Do you
feel that such statements should be considered in the sentencing of offenders?
The Office for Victims of Crime website is the official website of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Office for Victims of Crime oversees programs that have been designed to benefit and assist crime victims (e.g., victims’ rights, public awareness).
The Office for Victims of Crime fact sheet summarizes the amount of monies that are deposited into this fund from such sources as criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, and penalty fees.
This website provides a general overview of the criminal justice system and a flowchart of events.
Student Study Site
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FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION AND APPLICATION, VISIT THE STUDENT STUDY SITE:
Justice Department to Move Away from Using Private Prisons
Proportion of Girls in Juvenile Justice System is Going Up, Studies Find
Neighborhood variation in police stops and searches: A test of consensus and conflict perspectives
Juvenile Justice: A system divided
The comparative method in globalized criminology
Why Study Criminology?
Introduction to U.S. Court System
They’re not adults: NY seeks new approach to juvenile justice
Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma
Victimology and Motive: The Case of David Buller
The Justice System
Violence Against Women’s Act Fact Sheet
National Center for Victims of Crime
Check out the Interactive eBook for premium videos, including videos from author Stephen Tibbetts, who discusses real-world examples and strange crimes; and videos from former offenders, who share their stories from a first-person view, and touch on key theories and concepts from the chapter.
2 Measuring Crime
New York City memorializes the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, at the World Trade Center site.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Learning Objectives As you read this chapter, consider the following topics:
Identify key features and the major limitations of the Uniform Crime Reports. Describe the Supplementary Homicide Reports. Identify key features of the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Describe the Hate Crime Statistics. Distinguish key features and some of the major limitations associated with the National Crime Victimization Survey. Distinguish the major differences between the Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey. Identify different types of self-report surveys. Describe additional data collection methods used for more specific purposes or specific populations.
One often hears on the news or reads in the newspaper about crime, such as that crime is increasing or decreasing in various communities, cities, or the country. Often, these reports are based on official crime statistics, or data on crime that has come to the attention of law enforcement. There are instances when crimes do not come to the attention of law enforcement or some other criminal justice agency. These undetected, or unreported, crimes are referred to as the dark figure of crime or, as illustrated in Figure 2.1, the iceberg. Later in this chapter, we will cover one approach to addressing these undetected or unreported crimes —surveying victims of crime.
When thinking further about this dark figure of crime, one may ask, “Do we truly want to know every crime that has been committed?” To do so may require “giving up” other aspects of our lives, such as privacy and freedom. Currently, there are millions of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in streets and businesses worldwide. The major impetus of CCTVs is to reduce crime while increase public safety. However,
some civil liberties groups have expressed concern (e.g., that they are susceptible to abuse).4 There is a
growing area of research focusing on the evaluation of CCTVs and reducing crime.5 This illustrates the continuing growth of our technological abilities to track, watch, and locate different types of activity and behavior. Given these technological advances, do we also want to improve our ability to detect and count crime? By improving these abilities, would we be willing to “give up” our privacy?
Measuring crime is necessary for various reasons.6 Some of these reasons include describing crime, explaining why crime occurs, and evaluating programs and policies. It is important to legislators, as well as concerned citizens, that crime statistics are available to describe, or gauge, criminal activity that can influence community well-being. Measuring crime is also needed for risk assessment of different social groups, including their potential for becoming offenders or victims. Another purpose of measuring crime is explanation. Identifying causes requires that differences in crime rates can be related to differences in people and their situations. Counting crime is also used to evaluate and justify programs and policies that try to address criminal activity (e.g., rehabilitation, incapacitation, deterrence).
This chapter examines various data collection methods used to enhance our understanding of criminal behaviors and patterns. The first portion describes various statistics collected by law enforcement agencies. The next portion provides an overview of the National Crime Victimization Survey. We then present a few examples of self-report surveys. The last portion summarizes additional approaches used to collect crime data, such as the National Youth Gang Survey and spatial analyses of crime.
Crime Data From Law Enforcement Agencies
Law enforcement agencies throughout the United States gather a number of crime statistics. In this section, we look at five methods used to accomplish this. They are the Uniform Crime Reports, the Supplementary Homicide Reports, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, Hate Crime Statistics, and the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Statistics.
September 11, 2001, Victims On September 11, 2001, there were a total of 3,047 victims from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In the 2001 report, Crime in the United States, it was decided that the victims of 9/11 would not be included in the general report as victims of murder. Rather, the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided a special report that focused on the terrorist attacks. This special report included summaries of the victims, including their race/ethnicity, sex, age, and location (i.e., the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or Somerset County, Pennsylvania). Included with these victims were the 71 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty:
37 officers with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department 23 officers with the New York Police Department 5 officers with the New York Office of Tax Enforcement 3 officers with the State of New York Unified Court System 1 fire marshal with the New York City Fire Department 1 agent with the U.S. Secret Service
1 agent with the FBI1
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the reason for not including these victims was, in part, as follows:
The statistics of September 11 are not a part of the traditional Crime in the United States publication because they are different from the day-to-day crimes committed in this country. Additionally, combining these statistics with our regular crime report would create
many difficulties in defining and analyzing crime as we know it.2
Further, it was argued that the murder count was so large that if one were to combine this with what is considered traditional crime statistics, it would have what is called an outlier effect. An outlier is an extreme value that significantly differs from the rest of the distribution.
Some have argued that this was not an appropriate decision. In 2002, Dr. Paul Leighton, a professor of criminology, argued that “mass murder is still murder.” He maintains that while it was reported that homicide increased just 3% from 2000 to 2001, it actually increased by 26%. Dr. Leighton contends that if the FBI had chosen to include the victims of 9/11, the various people who refer to the Uniform Crime Reports (e.g., bureaucrats, students, reporters) would have a visual reminder of the impact those terrorist attacks had on the country. Interestingly, the FBI had previously included the victims of other terrorist attacks (e.g., the first World Trade Center bombing
and the bombing of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building).3
Think About It: Do you think that the victims of 9/11 should have been include in the Crime in the United States report?
ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, THERE WERE A TOTAL OF 3,047 VICTIMS FROM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, THE PENTAGON, AND SOMERSET COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA.
Figure 2.1 The Dark Figure of Crime
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
Between 1830 and 1930, the collection of crime statistics involved various agencies. Individual cities, regions, and states collected crime statistics for their respective regions in an effort to guide policy making. This
resulted in the collection process being somewhat haphazard.7 There was an interest in developing a crime reporting system among police chiefs. During the 1927 meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of
Police (IACP), efforts were made to collect crime statistics in a consistent and uniform manner.8 As a result, seven main classifications of crime were selected to assess fluctuations in crime rates. These classifications were later identified as Part I crimes. In 1930, only 400 agencies submitted their crimes reports; it was difficult during the beginning stages of the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Program to assess the crime rate for the entire country. In 2014, the FBI reported that over 18,000 city, university, college, county, state, tribal,
and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily report data on those crimes brought to their attention.9
In 1960, these Part I crimes were termed the Crime Index. Part I crimes were those crimes most likely to be reported to the police, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Information was collected on additional categories of crimes, ranging from sex offenses to
parking violations; these are designated as Part II crimes.10 In 1979, by congressional mandate, the offense of arson was added as a Part I offense. In 2013, human trafficking/commercial sex acts and human trafficking/involuntary servitude were added as Part I offenses. Since 1929, forcible rape was defined as “the
carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”11 The modified definition of rape was changed prior to data collection in 2013. The definition is as follows:
Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration
by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.12
Four members of the New York City Police Department’s Honor Legion in the 1920s. How has police reporting of crime data changed since then?
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Table 2.1 provides a list of Part I and Part II offenses.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2013). Summary Reporting System (SRS) user manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, pp. 20–22.
Figure 2.2 Crime Clock
Source: Crime in the United States, 2015. FBI.
The UCR Program.
The primary objective of the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is to generate a consistent (or reliable) set of crime statistics that can be used in law enforcement administration, operation, and management. Over the years, however, the UCR has become one of the country’s foremost indicators of crime. The UCR has provided information on fluctuations in the level of crime for criminologists, sociologists, legislators, municipal planners, and the media—information that has subsequently been used for both research and
planning purposes (see Figure 2.2).13
The UCR has been used for a number of criminal justice studies, such as assessing the influence of gender
equality on female homicide victimization;14 evaluating the effect of home foreclosures on crime in
Indianapolis, Indiana;15 investigating the relationship between firearm ownership and violent crime;16
comparing the influence of community policing in large and small law enforcement agencies on crime rates;17
and assessing Weed and Seed Program effects on Part I offenses.18
In 2004, the FBI discontinued use of the Crime Index. The Crime Index had often been used to detect overall changes in crime across the country:
The Crime Index and the Modified Crime Index were not true indicators of the degrees of criminality because they were always driven upward by the offense with the highest number, typically larceny-theft. The sheer volume of those offenses overshadowed more serious but less frequently committed offenses, creating a bias against a jurisdiction with a high number of larceny-thefts but a low number of other
serious crimes such as murder and forcible rape.19
The FBI emphasizes that classifying and scoring crimes are the two most important functions of agencies
participating in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Classifying is defined as determining the appropriate crime category in which to report an offense in the UCR. This is based on information resulting from an
agency’s investigation of the crime.20 An important step in classification has been referred to as the hierarchy rule. Specifically, when more than one Part I offense is classified in a multiple-offense situation, the law enforcement agency must locate the offense that is highest on the hierarchy list and score that offense but not
any of the other offenses.21 There are some exceptions to this hierarchy rule. For example, the rule does not apply to arson, human trafficking/commercial sex acts, and human trafficking/involuntary servitude; these offenses are always reported, even in multiple-offense situations. See Table 2.2 for examples on how to classify multiple-offense situations.
Uniform Crime Reports: an annual report published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. Department of Justice. It is meant to estimate most of the major street crimes in the United States.
Scoring is defined as counting the number of offenses after they have been classified. The two rules for scoring Part I crimes pertain to the two types of crimes involved (i.e., crimes against persons and crimes against property). For crimes against persons, one offense is scored for each victim. For crimes against property, one
offense is scored for each distinct operation or attempt.22
Source: Albert D. Biderman, A.D., & Reiss, A.J. (1967). On exploring the ‘Dark Figure’ of crime, Annals, pp. 1–15. Skogan, W.G. (1977). The ‘Dark Figure’ of unreported crime. Crime and Delinquency, 23, p. 41.
Efforts to warn people of the dangers of smoking marijuana in the 1930s included propaganda films such as Reefer Madness. How has the societal response to marijuana changed since then, and what impact has that had on its classification as a crime?
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Limitations of the UCR.
As early as 1931, there were criticisms concerning the UCR, and some of these still apply to the current
UCR.23 Even with these criticisms, the UCR continues to be a major source of information pertaining to
crime in the United States.24 Below is a brief overview of the criticisms and limitations concerning the UCR:
1. Some crimes do not come to the attention of those responsible for collecting this information. In reference to the UCR, this pertains to law enforcement agencies. As stated above, these unknown crimes
constitute the dark figure of crime.25 Potential problems with not counting these “unreported” crimes have been outlined by Wesley Skogan:
It restricts the deterrent capability of the criminal justice system by shielding offenders from police action. It contributes to the misallocation of resources such as police manpower and equipment. It can influence the police role when officers do not recognize certain types of criminal activity in their own environment. As a result, officers might overlook addressing these problems. It can have a negative influence on victims of crimes who do not become “officially known” to the criminal justice system; for instance, these victims are ineligible for many supportive benefits from both public and private agencies. It can influence the perceived “socialized” costs of crime; this misperception can influence private
insurance premiums and the public cost of victim compensation programs.26
2. The UCR concentrates on conventional street crime (e.g., assaults, robbery) but does not adequately include other serious types of offenses such as corporate crime. This is illustrated by the priority given to the investigation and prosecution of such crimes within the federal government, including the collection
of crime statistics.27
3. Crime statistics, such as the UCR, can be used for political purposes. Some argue that official crime
statistics are a social construction.28 In this vein, these statistics are perceived as an objective reality for
program and policy purposes.29 When these claims are stated and supported by powerful groups, this can influence public perceptions, which can then result in policy changes. One historical example are the efforts to warn individuals of marijuana use in the 1930s (see Photo 2.3).
4. Some law enforcement agencies may submit incomplete or delinquent reports. These incomplete or delinquent reports can be due to such reasons as: (a) an agency may have experienced a natural disaster that prevented the timely submission of the crime data; (b) due to budgetary restrictions, some police agencies may have had to limit some routine clerical activities, including the collection of crime statistics; and (c) changes in personnel experienced in preparing UCR data (as a result of, e.g., retirement, promotion) may result in problems with data reporting if the individual is replaced by
someone who is not adequately trained and/or experienced with these activities.30
5. Problems with the collection of UCR data can also occur because of clerical and data-processing errors. Based on his experience as a senior analyst in the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services,
Henry Brownstein described how accuracy can be compromised due to clerical error.31
6. Changes in the legal code can influence subsequent crime reports and make later comparisons difficult. Thus, when a previously acceptable behavior is later criminalized or when a classification is altered (e.g.,
from misdemeanor to felony, or the reverse), this will likely result in a change in reported crimes.32 For
instance, some have argued that there are increasing efforts to criminalize homelessness. Some cities have
implemented laws that make it illegal to sleep, eat, or sit in public spaces.33
Comparative Criminology: Child Abuse
Some Exploratory Studies on Child Abuse in Other Countries Unfortunately, there is no systematic global data collection regarding child abuse; however, the World Health Organization (WHO, 2002) estimated that there were about 57,000 homicides of children under 15 in just the year 2000. This study also found that perpetrators of child abuse had witnessed violence against their mothers when they were young. This is consistent with studies that repeatedly find links between childhood exposure to domestic violence and violent offending at older ages (see discussion in Van Dijk, 2008, p. 88). This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “cycle of violence.”
Van Dijk (2008) points out that perhaps the most comprehensive studies of child abuse in modern times were done in Germany, surveying more than 11,000 teenagers about their experiences with domestic violence. One consistent finding was that children of immigrants reported significantly higher rates/percentages of violence against mothers, with extremely high rates among those from Turkey (32%), Yugoslavia (25%), and Russia (20%). Another interesting pattern was that the immigrant families that had resided in Germany for longer periods had higher rates of domestic violence, which Van Dijk claimed suggested “growing tensions between spouses after a longer exposure of women to German norms and values concerning gender equality” (p. 88).
Also notable, WHO (2004) estimated that annual economic costs in the United States due to child abuse totaled about $94 billion. And although traditionally rare, there is a growing trend to punish much more severely parents and caretakers who abuse children, which also adds to the costs in terms of processing and incarcerating offenders. For example, in October 2012, a 23-year-old Texas woman was sentenced to 99 years in prison for such abuses as gluing her daughter’s hands to the wall and beating her as punishment for potty-training setbacks. (Read more about this story here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/texas-mom-glued-daughtershands-wall- 99-years/story?id=17436643.)
Think About It: 1. In the 2008 German study of teenagers discussed in this section, what types of youths were consistently found to have higher
rates of exposure to violence in the household? 2. What did this study show regarding living in Germany over time did to such rates, and what did the authors provide as an
explanation for this trend?
Sources: Van Dijk, J. (2008). The world of crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; World Health Organization. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva: Author; World Health Organization. (2004). The economic dimensions of interpersonal violence. Geneva: Author.
It is essential to note that the UCR is a “summary-based system.” These data are a summary, or total count, of crimes based on the reporting agencies. Thus, disaggregation of UCR data can occur only on the reporting agency level. The units of analysis are groups (i.e., reporting agencies). The UCR data are limited to the totals reported by each participating agency. The best-known summary UCR measures are numbers of Part I and Part II offenses. Additional summary data can include property recovered and weapons used in specific types
of offenses as well as summary totals of arrests, classified by sex, race, and age grouping of offenders.34
Why Do They Do It?
As mentioned in Chapter 1, throughout this text, we are presenting what some may consider “high-profile” crimes or crimes that have received a great deal of media attention, either due to the individuals involved or the outrageous nature of the offense. When reading or hearing about these crimes, many of us may ask ourselves, “Why do they do it?” For this particular chapter, however, we have decided to present what many may consider “odd” or “strange” types of offenses. While these crimes may not be as highly publicized as other offenses in later sections, they often evoke the same question, “Why do they do it?”
Contaminated Meth The Granite Shoals (Texas) Police department posted the following to Facebook:
Breaking News: Area Meth and Heroin Supply Possibly Contaminated With Ebola. Meth and Heroin recently brought in to Central Texas as well as the ingredients used to make it could be contaminated with the life threatening disease Ebola. If you have recently purchased meth or heroin in Central Texas, please take it to the local police or sheriff department so it can be screened with a special device. DO NOT use it until it has been properly checked for possible Ebola contamination! Contact any Granite Shoals PD officer for testing. Please share in hopes we get this information to anyone who has any contaminated meth or heroin that needs tested.
A few days later, Chastity Hopson brought her drugs to the Granite Shoals police station so it could be tested for Ebola.
Subsequently, she was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. The Facebook posting was a hoax.36
Homemade License Plate Amanda Schweickert, of Buffalo, New York, was pulled over by Erie County Sheriff’s officers. The officers noticed that there was something odd about her license plate. Upon further inspection, they noticed that she had painted a piece of cardboard in an attempt to make it look like a New York license plate. They also discovered that she was driving with a suspended license and no insurance. Ms. Schweickert was charged with possession of a forged instrument, driving with a suspended registration, and three traffic
Beer-Battered Fish Defense John Przybyla, 75, was a serial drunk driver in Adams County, Wisconsin. He had nine previous charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. On October 12, 2015, he was pulled over for the 10th time. However, he explained to the officers that he had eaten
some beer-battered fish and that that was the reason his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.38
Usher Steals Offerings Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) received a call from officials at the Blessed Trinity Catholic Church. The church officials had some suspicions that one of their ushers was stealing money. The deputies set up surveillance cameras in the church. The cameras caught Mario Condis, a 60-year-old church usher, stealing money from the church offering baskets while the congregation was in prayer. He would take the money from the baskets and place it in his pockets. Condis was arrested on one count
of grand theft and three counts of petit theft.39
So, “why do they do it?” Do you think it may be due to mental illness? Alcohol abuse? Substance abuse? In the following chapters, we will present theories that try to understand and explain criminal behavior from various perspectives (e.g., sociological, psychological, biosocial). As you continue with the text, you will learn how criminologists throughout the centuries have attempted to understand and explain what is considered criminal behavior.
Using UCR data, one can obtain total counts of crimes on a city or county level and move upward to a state or regional level. One cannot obtain information on individual crimes, offenders, or victims. The U.S. Department of Justice sponsors two types of crime measures that are based on incidents, rather than reporting agencies, as the units of analysis. The first crime measure is the Supplementary Homicide Reports; the second
crime measure is the National Incident-Based Reporting System.35
Learning Check 2.1 1. The UCR is based on offenses reported to _______________. 2. Unknown crimes are referred to as _______________. 3. When more than one Part I offense is classified, the law enforcement agency must locate the offense that is highest the list; this is
referred to as the _______________. 4. Exceptions to the hierarchy rule are _______________.
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Supplementary Homicide Reports
Homicides are less likely to be underreported compared to other crimes counted in the UCR. Homicides are also more likely to result in an arrest or to be cleared than other offenses. Finally, compared to other offenses such as forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, homicide offense reports are more likely to have details
about the incident, such as the victims and/or offenders.40 Thus, in the 1960s, the FBI developed the Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR). Since 1976, these data have been archived at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), which is maintained by the University of Michigan’s Inter-university
Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).41
Supplementary Homicide Reports: part of the UCR Program. These data provide more detailed information on the incident (e.g., the offender, the victim).
In the Summary Reporting System (SRS) User Manual, SHR collects additional information pertaining to the incident, including details of the murder victim and offender, their relationship to one another, the weapon
used, and the circumstances in each criminal homicide.42 For offenses of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as well as manslaughter by negligence, reporting agencies include information such as the following: single or multiple victims; single, multiple, or unknown offenders; age, sex, race, and ethnicity of the victim and offender; description of the weapon and how it was used (e.g., if a bottle was used in the commission of a murder, the reporting agency must note whether the person was killed by beating, cutting, or stabbing); relationship of the victim to the offender (e.g., in a murder incident where a wife is killed by her husband, the relationship must be reported as “wife”); and circumstances (e.g., lover’s quarrel, drunkenness,
argument over money, revenge, narcotics, gangland killings).43
Modifications of the SHR have been put in place when unusual incidents reveal such a need. For instance, the underlying data structure of the SHR allows up to 11 victims and 11 offenders for each record. In those unusual incidents where a crime involves more than 11 homicides, the victim information is repeated over more than one record. If an individual does not have any knowledge of the specific incident, it may be difficult to determine the separate records involving the same incident:
In April, 1995, an explosion at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 individuals. At the time information was reported to the Supplementary Homicide Reporting Program, law enforcement believed three offenders were responsible for this act. Following reporting guidelines, the information on this incident in the FBI’s 1995 SHR data file was spread over 16 records (15 containing 11 victims and the last containing 3 victims) with 3 offenders noted on each record. Without extraordinary knowledge of this incident, an analysis of these records would yield 168 victims and 48 offenders. The data files underlying this analysis package have been adjusted to accurately reflect an incident with 168 victims and
In addition to the SHR, another national data collection system administered in the United States to collect
detailed information on homicides is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They developed the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). When comparing the SHR and the NVSS, there is substantial overlap in homicide reporting (see Table 2.3). Overall, the NVSS consistently demonstrates a higher number of homicides than the SHR. This is probably due to the variations in coverage and score as
well as the voluntary versus mandatory reporting requirements.45
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 10, 1995. What challenges do horrific incidents like this pose for the reporting of crime statistics?
Staff Sergeant Preston Chasteen, Department of Defense
The SHR has been key in developing policy related to homicide, especially since these data include not only the number of homicides but also factors associated with these crimes (e.g., characteristics of the victims and
offenders).46 The SHR has also been used to enhance our understanding of patterns and trends pertaining to
homicides, including the following: exploring sibling homicide, or siblicide;47 examining choice of weapon in
male sexual homicides;48 comparing and understanding lethal violence in Finland and the United States;49
and suggesting improvements of the SHR for collecting data on workplace homicides.50 The SHR can also be considered the forerunner to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), since it provided
additional information about incidents.51
Source: Regoeczi, W., Banks, D., Planty, M., Langton, L., Annest, J. L., Warner, M., & Barnett-Ryan, C. (2014). The nation’s two measures of homicide. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, p. 3.
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
The NIBRS Program.
Initially, the UCR was considered primarily a tool for law enforcement agencies. By the 1980s, it was evident that these data were being used by other entities involved with social planning and policy. Thus, there was a need to collect more detailed information on these data. The FBI, the Department of Justice Statistics (the agency responsible for funding criminal justice information projects), and other agencies and individuals from various disciplines were involved with setting in place the changes needed to update the program for collecting
crime data.52 After various stages of development and pilot programs, the FBI developed a draft of guidelines for this enhanced UCR Program, which is named the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
By the end of the 1980s, NIBRS was operational. By 2013, NIBRS was collecting data on each incident and arrest within 23 offense categories comprising 49 specific crimes (i.e., Group A). There are 10 Group B offenses for which only arrest data are collected (see Table 2.4). As of 2013, approximately 33% of law
enforcement agencies reported data in the NIBRS format.53
There are two goals of the NIBRS data collection program: (1) to enhance the quantity, quality, and timeliness of crime statistical data collected by law enforcement entities; and (2) to improve the methodology
used for compiling, analyzing, auditing, and publishing the collected crime data.54 As a result of providing
more “detailed, accurate, and meaningful data than those produced by the traditional UCR Program,”55
NIBRS data have also been used to enhance criminological research. Examples of studies using NIBRS
include the following: analyzing victims’ injuries in robbery incidents;56 examining elder abuse;57 studying
offender, victim, and incident characteristics of sibling sexual abuse;58 comparing three hypotheses about
intimate partner violence;59 and examining sibling violence.60
National Incident-Based Reporting System: an enhanced version of the UCR Program that collects more detailed information on incidents (e.g., the offenders, the victims).
To illustrate how NIBRS data are collected, this section includes some of the major differences between
NIBRS and the UCR Program.61
While the UCR Program collects counts on the number of criminal incidents involving eight offenses
(i.e., Part I offenses), NIBRS expands the types of offenses reported (i.e., Group A and Group B).62
Since NIBRS uses an incident-based reporting system, it includes a greater degree of detail in reporting (see Figure 2.3). The unit of analysis for the UCR is the reporting agency. For NIBRS data, however, there are six possible “units of analysis.” Specifically, NIBRS data consist of six segments pertaining to the crime incident: administrative, offense, property, victim, offender, and arrestee. Within each segment, various information is collected on each incident. Examples of the various items collected for each segment include the following: administrative—incident number, incident date/hour; offense— attempted/completed, type of location, type of weapon or force involved; property—type of property loss, value of property; victim—type of injury, victim relationship to offender; offender—age, sex; arrestee—
armed with weapon, resident status.63
An incident can consist of multiple offenses. For NIBRS reporting procedures, the FBI defined an incident “as one or more offenses committed by the same offender, or group of offenders acting in concert, at the same time and place.” Acting in concert was defined as follows: “[A]ll of the offenders to actually commit or assist in the commission of all of the crimes in an incident. The offenders must be aware of and consent to the commission of all of the offenses; or even if nonconsenting, their actions
assist in the commission of all of the offenses.”64 Thus, all of the offenders in an incident are considered to have committed all the offenses that made up the incident. If one or more of the offenders, however, did not act in concert, then there is more than one incident. As mentioned in the previous section, the UCR Program uses the hierarchy rule with some exceptions. NIBRS does not use the hierarchy rule. Thus, if more than one crime was committed by the same person(s) and the time and space distinguishing these crimes were insignificant, all the crimes are reported within the same incident.
* In January 2011, the FBI discontinued the collection of arrest data for runaways. Law enforcement agencies can continue to collect and report data on runaways, but the FBI will no longer use or publish the data. Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2013). Summary Reporting System (SRS) user manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, pp. 14–18.
Figure 2.3 The NIBRS Interactive Crime Map
Visit the NIBRS interactive map at: https://nibrs.fbi.gov/
Limitations of NIBRS
There are some limitations to NIBRS. Some of these limitations have slowed its widespread adoption.65 A few of these limitations are listed below:
1. As with the UCR Program, NIBRS data include only crimes reported to law enforcement; unreported and unrecorded crimes are not included in NIBRS.
2. Since the NIBRS specifications were developed by a federal agency, participating local agencies may find it difficult to work with inflexible specifications and impose problems with reporting procedures.
3. Various organizations may have different goals and incentives. While the FBI and other national agencies are interested in a national monitoring system and national-level research applications, local and state agencies may have different organizational interests. For instance, local and state agencies may be more interested in local data collection requirements and analyses to support local operations, such as the deployment of law enforcement areas in certain problem areas.
4. While NIBRS data include more detailed information than the UCR Program, this is also a drawback. With this detailed information, the NIBRS record structure is more complex; researchers and analysts may find collecting this detailed information quite a challenge.
5. Currently, little is known about the extent of the errors made when collecting NIBRS data. While some errors can be addressed, other types of errors will be noted only after the NIBRS data collection program is adopted on a more widespread basis.
Hate Crime Data
On April 23, 1990, the president signed into law the “Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.” This was due to increasing concern regarding these types of offenses. As part of the UCR Program, the attorney general is required to develop guidelines and collect data about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The UCR Program’s first publication was titled Hate Crime Statistics, 1990: A Resource Book. This report was a collection of hate crime data from 11 states that compiled these data and volunteered to submit their data as a prototype. There have been significant changes to hate crime data collection since this time.
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof killed nine people while attending a prayer meeting at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. What characterizes this as a hate crime?
Joe Raedle/Getty Image
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to include crimes committed against people with physical or mental disabilities that should also be viewed as hate crimes. The Church Arson Prevention Act was signed into law in 1996. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 was passed. This amendment included the collection of data for crimes motivated by any bias against gender or gender identity. In 2012, system modifications were implemented that allowed agencies to report up to four additional
bias motivations per offense type. In 2013, bias types in the religion category were expanded to include all of those identified by the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau. The program also started collecting data on anti-Arab bias. In 2015, law enforcement agencies were allowed to submit the following religious bias types: anti- Buddhist, anti-Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, etc.), anti-Hindu, anti–Jehovah’s Witness, anti- Mormon, anti–other Christian, and anti-Sikh. Also, the program started to collect data on race and
ethnicity bias under the category of Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry.66
To develop procedures for collecting national hate crime data, many emphasized avoiding any new data- reporting responsibilities on those law enforcement agencies participating in the UCR Program. Thus, the collection of hate crime data provides additional information on traditional UCR collection:
Hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes, but rather traditional offenses motivated by the offender’s bias. For example, an offender may commit arson because of his/her racial bias. It is, therefore, unnecessary to create a whole new crime category. To the contrary, hate crime data can be collected by
merely capturing additional information about offenses already being reported to UCR.67
Thus, if a traditional offense has been motivated by the offender’s bias, the reporting agency is to complete the “Hate Crime Incident Report.” Table 2.5 provides two examples of how hate crimes would be reported. Figure 2.4 provides a breakdown of hate crimes reported in 2014. When examining the bias for these single incidents, 47% are classified as racial bias.
hate crime data: the best-known hate crime data source is the Hate Crime Statistics, which collect information on traditional offenses, such as murder and vandalism, that have an additional factor of bias.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Statistics
The FBI also collects data on the number of law enforcement officers killed and assaulted in the United States each year. This is important information that has been used for several reasons, including estimates of the risk involved in police work and analyses of what influences assaults against, and killings of, police officers. The
UCR Program began gathering these data in 1972.68
Source: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/november/latest-hate-crime-statistics- available/image/bias-breakdown-chart/@@images/a34d567e-641a-4f28-b390-436bf85c00de.jpeg
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) is a supplementary data collection program of the UCR. LEOKA collects data from participating agencies on officer line-of-duty deaths and assaults. Information obtained from these data assist agencies in developing policies to enhance officer safety.
The UCR Program provided the following definitions to distinguish between line-of-duty, felonious, and accidental deaths:
Line-of-duty death: This type of death occurs when the officer is on or off duty and acting in an official capacity while reacting to a situation that would ordinarily fall within the scope of his or her official duties as a law enforcement officer. Suicides and deaths caused by heart attacks or other natural causes as well as deaths occurring while the officer is acting in a military capacity are not included in this definition. Felonious death: This type of death occurs when an officer is killed because of or while performing his or her official duties and as a direct result of a criminal act by a subject. Accidental death: This type of death occurs when an officer dies as a result of an accident he or she is involved in while performing his or her duties (e.g., an officer is struck by a vehicle while directing
traffic or drowns during a rescue attempt).69
Participating law enforcement agencies are required to report on officers who are killed or assaulted and meet the following criteria: (1) working in an official capacity, (2) having full arrest powers, (3) wearing a badge (ordinarily), (4) carrying a firearm (ordinarily), and (5) being paid from governmental funds allocated for payment of sworn law enforcement representatives. These officers are usually employed by local, county, state, tribal, or federal entities and working in occupations such as municipal or county police, constables, state police, highway patrol officers, sheriffs or deputies, marshals, or special agents. Officers usually not included are those involved with protective, prosecutorial, or confinement activities, such as federal judges, U.S. attorneys, probation officers, corrections officers, jailers, and prison officials.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted: LEOKA is part of the UCR Program. LEOKA collects data on officer line-of- duty deaths and assaults.
The UCR Program includes a special form used to collect information on those incidents involving line-of- duty felonious or accidental killing of an officer or assault of an officer. In reference to officer assaults, the UCR emphasizes that reporting agencies must count all assaults. Even those incidents that involve more than verbal abuse or minor resistance to an arrest but do not result in the officer being injured need to be
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Uniform Crime Reporting Program. (2015). Hate crime data collection guidelines and training manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, pp. 27 & 25.
Crime Data From Victims of Crime: The National Crime Victimization Survey
While Canada and some European counties have surveyed individuals regarding their experiences of being victims of crimes, the United States has the longest and most extensive background with such surveys. Unofficial measures of crime, such as the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), further broaden our understanding of crime with information from official measures of crime (e.g., Uniform Crime Reports).
National Crime Victimization Survey: a primary measure of crime in the United States. It is collected by the Department of Justice and the Census Bureau and is based on interviews with victims of crime.
The primary purpose of these data is to provide additional insight into what was referred to at the beginning of this chapter as the dark figure of crime (e.g., crimes unreported to law enforcement). Some of the reasons that victims failed to report these crimes to law enforcement include: (1) the victim believed nothing could be done about the incident; (2) the victim felt that the crime incident was not important enough to report to the police; (3) the victim perceived the incident was too private or personal; and (4) the victim thought that the
police would not want to be inconvenienced with the crime incident.71 The NCVS is also intended to (1) identify portions of the population at risk of victimization, (2) estimate multiple victimization rates, (3) provide data needed to evaluate crime prevention programs, and (4) allow for comparisons of patterns,
amounts, and locations of crime with the Uniform Crime Reports.72
The NCVS is used by various groups who are concerned about crime and crime prevention. Community groups and government agencies use these data to develop neighborhood watch programs as well as victim assistance and compensation programs. Law enforcement agencies use the NCVS for (1) enhancing citizen cooperation with officials in deterring and detecting crime, (2) establishing special police strike forces to combat those crimes that the NCVS reported as being most prevalent, and (3) developing street and park lighting programs in those areas with high reported crime rates. The print and broadcast media also use
NCVS findings when reporting on various crime-related topics.73
Learning Check 2.2 1. _______________ are not separate, distinct crimes; rather they are traditional crimes motivated by the offender’s bias. 2. Like the UCR Program, _______________ data include only those crimes reported to law enforcement. 3. NIBRS does not use the hierarchy rule (true or false?). 4. Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) is a supplementary data collection program of the _______________.
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Researchers also use the NCVS to prepare reports, to make policy recommendations, to provide testimony
before Congress, and to present documentation in court.74 The NCVS has also been used for various criminal
justice research, such as examining the seasonal variation (i.e., the school calendar) in violent victimization;75
exploring routine activity theory and lifestyle-exposure theory in terms of demographic characteristics and
victimization risk;76 investigating the epidemiology of self-defense gun use;77 and studying the dynamics of
From January 1971 to July 1972, the Census Bureau implemented the first nationwide victimization survey. The survey was included as a supplement to the existing Quarterly Household Survey (QHS). In July 1972, the National Crime Survey (NCS) evolved into a separate national sample survey. Due to a mandate, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) was the first sponsor of the NCS. This mandate required that data be collected, evaluated, published, and disseminated regarding the progress of law enforcement in
the United States.79 In 1979, the NCS was moved to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Various groups have had some serious reservations about collecting these data:
Groups supportive of police-based crime statistics were already suspicious of this new data collection system. Academics began to raise questions about a multimillion-dollar data collection with few variables that could be used in testing theories of crime and that could not produce estimates for local jurisdictions.
They also worried that this new data collection would take funds away from criminological research.80
To address these concerns, in the mid-1970s, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration commissioned the Committee on Social Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences–National Research Council (NRC)
to evaluate the victim surveys.81 From 1979 to 1985, experts in criminology, survey design, and statistics conducted a detailed study of the NCS. Their findings recommended a redesign of the victim survey that would (1) increase the reporting of crime victimization and (2) include additional information on specific crime incidents. These recommendations were implemented in a two-stage process and were completed by July 1993. In addition to these changes, in 1991, BJS renamed the NCS the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCSV).
These major changes included the following:
1. The new questionnaire uses detailed cues to assist respondents in recalling and reporting incidents. These new questions and cues also encourage responses that include a broad continuum of incidents rather than just those involving weapons, severe violence, or strangers.
2. The NCVS includes multiple questions and cues on crimes committed by family members, intimates, and acquaintances.
3. Previously, only the categories of rape and attempted rape were measured in the survey. The NCVS broadened the scope of sexual incidents to include sexual assault (other than rape), verbal threats of rape or sexual assault, and unwanted sexual contact without force but involving threats or some type of harm to the victim.
Other changes have been made to the NCVS, including a series of hate crime questions as well as a series of identity theft questions. Also, in 2006, the NCVS converted to a computer-assisted personal interviewing
Any individual living in the United States and 12 years of age or older is eligible for participation in the NCVS. The households are selected by using scientific sampling methods. The NCVS collects data on individuals who have been the victims of crimes, whether or not these crimes were reported to law enforcement. The NCVS estimates the proportion of the various crime types reported to law enforcement; it also provides information as to why victims reported or did not report these crimes to law enforcement. The NCVS provides various information, including data about the victims (e.g., age, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, income, and educational level), the offenders (e.g., sex, race, approximate age, and victim–offender relationship), and the crimes (e.g., time and place of occurrence, use of weapons, nature of the injury, and economic consequences). The victims are also asked about their experiences with the criminal justice system,
if they used any self-protective measures, and possible substance abuse by offenders.83
Limitations of the NCVS
1. Crimes such as prostitution, drug dealing, and gambling are not often revealed in interviews for obvious reasons. Further, since murder victims cannot be interviewed, the most serious criminal offense is not
included in the NCVS.84 The NCVS also does not incorporate those situations when an individual is being victimized by drunkenness, disturbances of the peace, impaired driving, drug abuse, or sexual solicitation or procuring. The surveys cannot measure those situations where individuals are unaware
they have been victimized, such as various types of fraud.85
2. Since the NCVS surveys only households, crimes committed against commercial businesses (e.g., stores)
are not included. Thus, data on crimes such as burglaries, robberies, and vandalism are not collected.86
3. The validity of the NCVS is also an issue. Validity refers to whether an instrument is measuring what it intends to measure. The validity of the NCVS refers to whether is it measuring individuals who have been victims of crimes. Two different procedures have been used to test the validity of the participants’ responses: forward record checks and reverse record checks. A forward record check begins with victims’ reports, and these are subsequently checked against crimes known to police. A reverse record check starts with police records and then traces these back to victims to determine whether these crimes were
reported to NCVS interviewers.87
Comparing the NCVS With the UCR
Since the NCVS was developed to complement the UCR, both data collection programs are similar in some respects. They both collect data on the same types of serious crimes; they collect information on rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. The definitions of rape, robbery, theft, and motor vehicle theft are practically the same for both programs. However, prior to 2013, the UCR measured rape as a crime against women only, while the NCVS measures rape as a crime against both sexes.
There are some meaningful differences between the UCR and the NCVS. First, each program was developed to serve different purposes. The UCR’s primary purpose was to provide reliable criminal justice data for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. The purpose of the NCVS was to collect information that was previously unavailable on crime (e.g., crimes unreported to the police), victims, and offenders.
Second, while both programs collect information on overlapping types of crimes, these types of crimes are not necessarily identical. As mentioned previously, the NCVS collects data on crimes that were both reported and unreported to law enforcement. The UCR collects information on homicides, arson, commercial crimes, and crimes against children under the age of 12, whereas the NCVS does not collect these data.
Third, the UCR and the NCVS programs use different methods to collect crime data. Thus, for some crimes, they use different definitions. For instance, the UCR defines burglary as the unlawful entry or attempted entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. Since the NCVS surveys individuals, it is difficult for the victims to ascertain offender motives; burglary is defined as the entry or attempted entry of a residence by a person who had no right to be in that residence.
Fourth, the two programs use different bases to calculate rates for certain crimes. For property crimes (e.g., burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft), the UCR calculates rates using a per-capita rate based on 100,000 persons. The NCVS calculates rates for these crimes using a per-1,000-household rate. If the number of households does not grow at the same rate each year compared to the population, trend data for property crimes rates for these two programs may not be comparable.
Fifth, since the UCR and the NCVS implement different sampling procedures, there may be variations in estimates of crime. Estimates from the NCVS are obtained from interviews; thus, these data are susceptible to a margin of error. The NCVS uses rigorous statistical methods to calculate confidence intervals around all survey estimates. Trend data in the NCVS reports are listed as genuine only if there is at least a 90% certainty that the measured changes are not due to sampling variation. The UCR data are based on actual counts of those crimes reported by law enforcement agencies. There are instances when UCR data are estimated for nonparticipating jurisdictions or those jurisdictions reporting only partial data.
Thus, the UCR and the NCVS have unique strengths. One needs to realize the strengths and limitations of these programs to obtain a greater understanding of crime trends as well as the nature of crime in the United
Crime Data From Self-Report Surveys
Generally, surveys address four broad classes of questions: (1) the prevalence of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; (2) changes in these attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors over time; (3) differences between groups of people in their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; and (4) causal propositions about these attitudes, beliefs, and
behaviors.89 Self-report surveys collect data by asking respondents to provide information about themselves, usually as to whether they have engaged in certain forms of illegal behavior. Self-report information can be collected either through written questionnaires or through in-person interviews.
The earliest self-report studies were conducted in the 1940s. In 1946, a researcher wanted to compare male college students’ involvement in illegal behavior with that of alleged juvenile delinquents. He compared the court records of these delinquents with the self-reported behavior of male college students enrolled at a southwestern university. The study revealed that all of the respondents in the college sample had been involved in at least one of the 55 offenses listed in the self-report questionnaire. He concluded that these college students had been involved in offenses that were as serious as those of these alleged delinquents,
although these students may not have engaged in these behaviors as frequently as the juveniles.90
Research has continued to examine juveniles’ involvement in delinquent behavior by using self-reporting
procedures.91 Self-report studies have also been administered to measure drug and alcohol use: for example,
evaluating the Minnesota D.A.R.E. Plus Project;92 examining drug use and violent offending;93 and exploring
the relationship between substance use and weapons aggression.94 Research focusing on physical and sexual abuse has also used self-reporting procedures: examining the relation between dating violence and marijuana
use;95 investigating the correlation between abuse and other adverse childhood experiences among low-
income women;96 and exploring the prevalence of women’s offending behavior and experiences with intimate
While there are no nationwide surveys implemented to collect self-report surveys of all types of crime, various types of self-report surveys have been implemented to collect data on specific types of behaviors. In addition to focusing on certain types of behavior, these surveys sometimes just focus on certain groups (e.g., juveniles). Three self-report surveys are discussed below: Monitoring the Future, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and the National Youth Survey—Family Study.
Monitoring the Future
Substance abuse by adolescents continues to be an issue, not only because it is itself illegal and can pose a health risk, but also because it may be linked to other types of criminal activity. In 1975, the National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored the annual self-report survey Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of Lifestyles and Values of Youth. It is sometimes referred to as Monitoring the Future (MTF). The MTF collects information to measure substance and alcohol use patterns among youths. While the survey initially sampled just 12th-grade students, in 1991, 8th- and 10th-grade students were also included in the annual survey.
Currently, the MTF survey of 12th-grade students contains about 1,400 variables. The survey measures use of drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hashish, LSD, hallucinogens, amphetamines, Ritalin, Quaaludes,
barbiturates, cocaine, crack cocaine, GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and heroin.98 The MTF also collects information on students’ attitudes and beliefs about drugs, drug availability, and the social meanings of drug use. In addition to measuring issues of substance and alcohol use, the survey asks students about their attitudes on topics such as education, work and leisure, sex roles and family, population concerns (overpopulation and
birth control), conservation, religion, politics, interpersonal relationships, race relations, and happiness.99
Monitoring the Future: an annual self-report survey that collects information to measure substance and alcohol use patterns among youths.
One limitation to the MTF research design is that it does not survey those youth who drop out of high school. This is a problem because certain behaviors, such as illegal drug use, occur at a higher-than-average rate in this group of individuals. However, it would be difficult to survey these individuals. Each spring, the data from students involve approximately 420 public and private high schools and middle schools. Within each school, up to 350 students may be selected to participate in the survey. The surveys are administered by local Institute for Social Research representatives and their assistants. The questionnaires are group-
administered in classrooms during a normal class period whenever possible.100
There are often severe and tragic consequences associated with underage drinking and DUI-related automobile accidents.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Since 1971, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH; formerly, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse) has been used to collect information annually on the use of illegal drugs by individuals in the United States. The NSDUH is currently sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services; the data collection is conducted
by RTI International (formerly the Research Triangle Institute).101 The NSDUH is one of the largest surveys of drug use ever conducted in the United States.
The primary goal of NSDUH is to provide national as well as state-level estimates on the following:
the level and patterns of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substance use and abuse; trends in the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other types of drugs; the consequences of substance use and abuse; and groups at high risk for substance use and abuse.
These data are used by various government agencies, private organizations, and researchers as well as the
public at large.102 Numerous studies have used the NSDUH to examine issues pertaining to crime and
criminal behavior: identifying the prevalence and correlates of group fighting among youths;103 exploring the
relationship between alcohol use and violence;104 comparing the prevalence of externalizing behaviors (e.g.,
crime, violence, and drug use) and migration-related factors between immigrant and U.S.-born individuals;105
and examining the extent of substance use, mental health issues, and criminal behavior among high school
National Survey on Drug Use and Health: since 1971, the NSDUH been used to collect information annually on the use of illegal drugs by individuals in the United States.
National Youth Survey—Family Study
A major shortcoming of earlier juvenile delinquency research was that it concentrated on those youths who were already in the juvenile justice system. (This will be discussed in later chapters in reference to developing theories based on these data.) One reason that these data were used for such studies was that their records (e.g., police, juvenile hall) were easily accessible to researchers. The problem was that this research focused only on those juveniles who were formally processed in the system. Usually, these juveniles came from disadvantaged backgrounds and were more likely to come to the attention of the system, whereas juveniles
from middle- or upper-class backgrounds were more likely to be diverted from the system.107
Implementing self-report surveys is one approach to addressing problems associated with studying only those juveniles formally in the system. In 1977, researchers at the University of Colorado implemented the National Youth Survey (NYS) with an initial sample of 1,725 male and female juveniles born between 1959 and 1965. Each respondent, along with his or her parents/legal guardians, was asked about various events and behaviors that had occurred the previous year. The study is ongoing. Thus, in 2011, the respondents were aged 46 to 55. In 1993, the partners and children of the original respondents were interviewed. As a result, in 2000, the
name of the survey was changed to the National Youth Survey—Family Study.108
The NYS includes items that measure a respondent’s involvement in criminal activity. It measures over 40 offenses that represent the full range of offenses reported in the UCR. The NYS also measures respondents’ attitudes on issues such as level of community involvement, educational aspirations, employment skills, pregnancy, abortion, neighborhood problems, and the use of drugs and alcohol. The National Youth Survey— Family Study includes additional questions that cover the respondent’s family, family relationships, educational attainment, and careers.
In regard to comparing data collected only on those youths who have come to the attention of the criminal justice system (i.e., official statistics) with self-report studies, researchers have cautioned that “to abandon either self-report or official statistics in favor of the other is ‘rather shortsighted; to systematically ignore the findings of either is dangerous, particularly when the two measures provide apparently contradictory
findings.’”109 Thus, to obtain a full understanding of delinquent behavior, one should use both self-report surveys and official record research.
Additional Approaches to Collecting Crime Data
In this section, additional approaches to collecting crime data are briefly covered. It is important for those involved in the criminal justice field to realize that there are various types of data collection programs other than the UCR and NCVS. These additional data collection efforts are usually for a more specific purpose or target a more specific population. The National Youth Gang Survey and spatial analyses of crime are reviewed below.
The National Youth Gang Survey
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of gangs and gang-related crime:
Previous national surveys suggested growth in the number of cities, towns, and counties with gang problems, but there was no single source of uniform data that could be used to compare changes and
trends over time.110
In response to this growing concern, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research established the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC). One of NYGC’s primary tasks was to implement periodic national surveys to collect data on problems associated with youth gangs. The first National Youth Gang Survey was conducted in 1995. For this initial survey, NYGC wanted to collect basic information concerning the gang problem in different jurisdictions. The survey was mailed to 4,120 police and sheriff’s departments across the United States. Approximately 83% of the
participating agencies responded to the survey.111
National Youth Gang Survey: this survey collects basic information from law enforcement agencies concerning the gang problem in different jurisdictions.
Applying Theory to Crime: Hate Crime
As noted previously, the UCR Program collects information on both single-bias and multiple-bias hate crimes. Law enforcement agencies are required to note at least one bias motivation. A single-bias incident is “an incident in which one or more offense types are motivated by the same bias.” A multiple-bias incident is “an incident in which one or more offense types are motivated by two or
In 2014, over 15,000 law enforcement agencies participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program. Of these, 1,666 reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses. Recall that hate crimes are not separate or distinct crimes; rather, they are traditional offenses but considered hate crimes when they are motivated by the offender’s bias. Among the 6,418 hate crime offenses, 63.1% were crimes against persons and 36.1% were crimes against property. The remaining offenses were considered crimes against society (see Table 2.6).
As noted previously, in 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed. It was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was tortured and killed in 1998. His murder was motivated by the offenders’ bias against gay men. James Byrd Jr., an African-American, was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death, also in 1998. His murder was motivated by the offenders’ bias against African-Americans. The act expanded the definition of hate crimes to include
violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.115 In terms of sexual-orientation bias, law enforcement agencies reported 1,178 hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation bias in the 2014 Hate Crime Statistics. Of these offenses:
58.0% were classified as anti-gay (male) bias. 23.6% were classified as anti-lesbian, -gay, -bisexual, or transgender (mixed-group) bias. 14.3% were classified as anti-lesbian bias. 2.6% were classified as anti-bisexual bias.
1.5% were classified as anti-heterosexual bias.116
Would you consider this hate speech?
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images
One example of a violent offense that was subsequently considered a hate crime occurred in June 2015 in Sacramento, California. Timothy Brownell was accused of attacking three area musicians because they wore skinny jeans. Brownell allegedly yelled a homophobic slur at the musicians and subsequently assaulted them with a knife because of their skinny jeans. Later, he turned himself in at the county jail. Brownell’s initial arrest was on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and possessing a firearm. However, the police later issued an arrest warrant when the attack was reclassified as a hate crime. One of the three victims, Alex Lyman, stated that Brownell approached him without any provocation. Next, Brownell called him a homophobic slur and then
began to stab him just because he was wearing skinny jeans.117
Think About It: 1. After examining the factors associated with this incident, such as “no provocation” and using a homophobic slur, what do
you think would cause him to react in this manner? 2. What are some key factors that would indicate this offense should be classified as a “hate crime”?
As noted in the previous chapter, throughout this text we will attempt to apply key points of the theories to either real or hypothetical situations. For this particular example, it is essential to realize that while this offense was initially considered an assault, law enforcement later realized that motivation was a key aspect of this offense—Timothy Brownell had a bias toward what he perceived were gay men because they were wearing skinny jeans.
a The actual number of incidents is 5,479. However, the column figures will not add to the total because incidents may include more than one offense type, and these are counted in each appropriate offense category.
b The term victim may refer to a person, business, institution, or society as a whole.
c The figures shown in the rape (revised definition) row include only those reported by law enforcement agencies that used the revised Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) definition of rape.
d The figures shown in the rape (legacy definition) row include only those reported by law enforcement agencies that used the legacy UCR definition or rape.
e Includes additional offenses collected in the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2015). Uniform Crime Reports: 2014 hate crime statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
A key aspect to any research on gangs is how a “gang” is defined. The NYCG requires that participants report information for any “group of youths or young adults in your jurisdiction that you or other responsible persons in your agency or community are willing to identify as a ‘gang.’” Further, participating agencies are required to
report such groups as motorcycle gangs, hate or ideology groups, prison gangs, and adult gangs.112
The 2012 NYGS consisted of two groups: (1) all police departments serving cities with a population of 50,000 or more and all suburban county police and sheriff’s departments; and (2) a randomly selected sample of police departments serving cities with a population between 2,500 and 50,000 and a randomly selected sample of rural county police and sheriff’s departments. Approximately 87% of the selected agencies responded to the survey. Key findings from this survey are as follows:
Approximately 30% of all responding law enforcement agencies reported gang activity. Compared to 2011, slightly fewer jurisdictions had experienced gang activity (3,100 versus 3,300). Gang activity remained essentially concentrated in urban areas, with indications that it was occurring more than in previous years. Gang-related homicides had increased overall nationally, partly due to increased reporting by
Spatial Analyses of Crime
Spatial analyses of crime focus on crime places. This interest in crime places “spans theory from the perspective of understanding the etiology of crime, and practice from the perspective of developing effective criminal
justice interventions to reduce crime.”118 Thus, rather than attempting to understand crime from an individual perspective, spatial analysis also incorporates where and when crimes occur. This perspective can then assist in efforts to reduce future criminal activity.
Spatial analyses of crime: this type of analysis focuses on crime places. One major aspect is mapping crimes which provides information as location, distance, direction, and pattern.
Mapping crimes can provide such information as location, distance, direction, and pattern. Location is considered the most important piece of information. Understanding where crimes have occurred or what crimes may occur in the future is essential, especially when considering how to allocate police personnel and community resources. Distance is also a crucial element. For instance, distance can answer such questions as, “How far did the victim live from the place where she was attacked?” Direction is most helpful when considered along with distance. Usually, direction is referred to in a broader context, in statements such as, “Serial robberies are moving southeast” or “The east side is becoming a high-crime area.” Finally, pattern is what crime analysts attempt to develop when using place-based crime data. Patterns are usually designated as
random, uniform, clustered, or dispersed.119
Example of using pins on maps to represent crimes in a particular area. What are some advantages and some drawbacks of this method?
Attempting to understand crime through location is not new. Law enforcement agencies have considered crime location to be an important component of crime control. In fact, the use of maps can be traced as far
back as 1900 by the New York City Police Department.120 Police departments would place pins on maps to represent crimes that occurred in various locations (see Photo 2.9). Thanks to technological advances, they now have more sophisticated and responsive ways to track this information (see Figure 2.5). Criminologists have also explored whether there is a relationship between criminal activity and location. These criminologists
attempt to understand crime with what are called social ecological theories.121 These criminologists examine how ecological conditions such as housing standards, poverty, and transient populations influence criminal activity.
Figure 2.5 The San Jose Police Department Interactive Crime Map
Visit the San Jose Police Department interactive crime map: http://www.sjpd.org/CrimeStats/CrimeReports.html
Since the 1990s, there have been major advances in the methods available for analyzing place-based crime data. These advances are primarily due to technological improvements, especially with computer capabilities. In addition to these computer capabilities, there have been major contributions from geographic information systems (GIS). GIS is a system made up of not only hardware but also incorporating computer software and data that are later used to analyze and describe information (e.g., crime). This information is then linked to spatial location. Further, law enforcement agencies continue to enhance the computerization of police records management systems as well as computer-aided dispatch systems (i.e., citizen calls to police).
Not only does spatial analyses of crime assist law enforcement, but researchers have also used these analyses to further our understanding of crime, such as by examining the relationship between school vicinity and
criminal activity;122 exploring community factors (e.g., poverty, ethnic diversity) and residents’ perceptions of
bias crime;123 comparing the changes in the spatial patterns of automotive theft;124 and examining the effects
of population displacement after the demolition of an urban housing project.125
Learning Check 2.3 1. The _______________ survey collects information on substance and alcohol use patterns among youths. 2. The _______________ started with an initial sample of youths born between 1959 and 1965. 3. A key aspect of the National Youth Gang Survey is how the term _______________ is defined. 4. _______________ focuses on crime places.
Answers located at www.edge.sagepub.com/schram2e
This chapter began by reviewing various data collection procedures using law enforcement statistics. The Uniform Crime Reports Program is one of the best-known and most established data collection programs used to measure crime in the United States. The UCR Program also incorporates supplementary data procedures to collect information on homicides, hate crimes, and law enforcement officers who are killed and assaulted in the line of duty. To further enhance our understanding of crime in the United States, the National Incident-Based Reporting System was developed to provide additional information, especially pertaining to crime incidents and victims, that was not available with the UCR Program.
A major drawback to understanding crime using law enforcement statistics is that not all crimes come to the attention of police. In recognition of this “dark figure of crime,” the National Crime Victimization Survey was developed in the 1970s. The NCVS collects data from individuals who were victims of crime, regardless of whether or not they reported these crimes to law enforcement. The UCR and the NCVS are the two major data collection programs used to measure crime in the United States. While they have some similarities, there are also key differences. It is essential to stress that both data collection programs are necessary to understanding patterns and trends of criminal activity in the United States.
We also covered more specific data collection methods. These various methods are used primarily to collect data on certain issues related to criminal justice (e.g., Monitoring the Future and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health) or to collect data on certain populations (e.g., the National Youth Gang Survey). Finally, we briefly discussed a new technique, spatial analyses of crime, which is being explored not only for law enforcement purposes but for criminal justice research endeavors as well.
hate crime data, 43 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 44 Monitoring the Future, 49 National Crime Victimization Survey, 45 National Incident-Based Reporting System, 40 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 50 National Youth Gang Survey, 51 Spatial Analyses of Crime, 54 Supplementary Homicide Reports, 38 Uniform Crime Reports, 33
Discussion Questions 1. How are the UCR collect data? 2. What are some key limitations to the UCR data, and how have these limitations been addressed? 3. How does the UCR collect information on homicides? 4. How does the UCR collect information on hate crimes? 5. How does the UCR collect information on law enforcement officers killed or assaulted in the line of duty? 6. What are some key differences between the UCR and NIBRS? 7. How does the NCVS attempt to measure the amount of crime that is not reported to law enforcement? 8. What are some similarities and differences between the UCR and the NCVS? 9. How do the various self-report surveys differ from the UCR and other types of law enforcement statistics?
10. What data collection program should be considered the source for understanding crime in the United States?
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting website includes reports from various sources, such as the Uniform Crime Reports, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, and Hate Crime Data.
The National Crime Victimization Survey can be located on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, which provides information (such as methodology), questionnaires, and publications regarding this data source.
The Monitoring the Future website provides information regarding their survey, such as press releases, publications, and tables and figures.
The National Gang Center website provides resources such as publications, training, as well as their newsletter.
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FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION AND APPLICATION, VISIT THE STUDENT STUDY SITE:
FBI: Murders Up Nearly 11 Percent in 2015; Violent Crime Rose Slightly
Historians Mine 400 Years of Crime Data at the Old Bailey
Shooting for accuracy: Comparing data sources on mass murder.
Missing data and imputation in the Uniform Crime Reports and the effects on National estimates
Assessing the practice of hot spots policing: Surveying results from a national convenience sample of local police agencies
Janet Lauritsen (1 of 3): What is the National Crime Victimization Survey
What is a Hate Crime?
Crime Statistics: The Dark Figure
Study Highlights a New Epidemic of Drug Abuse that is a Growing Problem Among US Teens
Not there for your children? Gangs will be
Federal Bureau of Prisons – Inmate Statistics
Crime in the United States
Check out the Interactive eBook for premium videos, including videos from author Stephen Tibbetts, who discusses real-world examples and strange crimes; and videos from former offenders, who share their stories from a first-person view, and touch on key theories and concepts from the chapter.
3 The Classical School of Criminological Thought
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Learning Objectives As you read this chapter, consider the following topics:
Identify the primitive types of “theories” explaining why individuals committed violent and other deviant acts for most of human civilization. Describe how the Age of Enlightenment drastically altered the theories for how and why individuals commit crimes as well as how it changed criminal justice policies. Explain how Cesare Beccaria’s book in 1764 drastically influenced various criminal justice systems throughout the world, and be able to list the concepts and propositions recommended in his book. Summarize what Jeremy Bentham contributed to this movement toward the Classical School of criminological thought. Explain what the Neoclassical School of criminology contributed to the propositions of the Classical School that led most of the Western world (including the United States) to embrace this model as the major paradigm for the criminal justice system.
A 2009 report from the Death Penalty Information Center, citing a study based on FBI data and other national reports, showed that states with the death penalty have consistently higher murder rates than states
without the death penalty.4 The report highlighted the fact that if the death penalty were acting as a deterrent, the gap between these two groups of states would be expected to converge, or at least lessen over time. But that has not been the case. In fact, this disparity in murder rates has actually grown over the past two decades, with states allowing the death penalty having a 42% higher murder rate (as of 2007) compared with states that do not—up from only 4% in 1990.
Thus, it appears that in terms of deterrence theory, at least when it comes to the death penalty, such potential punishment is not an effective deterrent. This chapter deals with the various issues and factors that go into offenders’ decision-making about committing crime. While many would likely anticipate that potential murderers in states with the death penalty would be deterred from committing such offenses, this is clearly not the case, given the findings of the study discussed above. This type of deterrence, or rather the lack thereof, regarding the death penalty and related issues makes up a key portion of this chapter.
This chapter examines explanations of criminal conduct that emphasize individuals’ ability to make decisions based on the potential consequences of their behavior. The natural capability of human beings to make decisions based on expected costs and benefits was acknowledged during the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. This understanding of human capability led to what is considered the first rational theory of criminal activity—namely, deterrence theory. Of any other perspective to date, deterrence theory has had the most profound impact on justice systems in our nation. Furthermore, it is easy to see examples in contemporary life of offenders engaging in such rational decision-making, and a number of variations of this theoretical model have been developed that focus on the reasoning processes of people considering criminal acts.
Such theories of human rationality stand in stark contrast to the theories perpetuated for most of human civilization, up to the Age of Enlightenment—theories that focused on religious or supernatural causes of crime. Additionally, the Classical School theories of crime are distinguished from the other theories we examine in future chapters by their emphasis on free will and rational decision-making, which modern theories of crime tend to ignore. Specifically, the theoretical perspectives discussed in this chapter all focus on the human ability to choose one’s own behavior and destiny, whereas paradigms popular before the Enlightenment and in contemporary times tend to emphasize the influence of external factors on individual choice. Therefore, the Classical School is perhaps the paradigm best suited for analysis of what types of calculations go on in someone’s head before committing a crime.
deterrence theory: theory of crime associated with the Classical School; proposes that individuals will make rational decisions regarding their behavior.
Age of Enlightenment: a period of the late 17th to 18th century in which philosophers and scholars began to emphasize the rights of individuals in society.
Classical School: a model of crime that assumes that crime occurs after a rational individual mentally weighs the potential good and bad consequences of crime and then makes a decision about whether to engage in a given behavior.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the “DC Madam,” was brought up on charges of racketeering and money laundering related to running a prostitution ring in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. The clientele of this prostitution ring included some notable politicians, such as state senators and other elected officials. Palfrey faced a maximum of 55 years in prison but likely would have received far less time had she not committed suicide before her sentencing. Her body was found in a storage facility at her mother’s home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
News reports revealed that she had served time before (for prostitution). Author Dan Moldea told Time magazine that she had contacted him for a book he was working on and told him “she had done time once before . . . and it damned near killed her. She said there was
enormous stress—it made her sick, she couldn’t take it, and she wasn’t going to let that happen again.”1 The situation could have been worsened by the heightened media attention this case received; while most prostitution cases are handled by local or state courts, this one was handled by federal courts because it concerned Washington, DC.
It is quite likely that the impending maximum prison sentence led her to take her own life, given what she had said to Moldea. This shows the type of deterrent effect that jail or prison can have on an individual—in this case, possibly leading her to choose death over serving time. Ironically, Palfrey had commented to the press, after the suicide of a former employee in her prostitution network—Brandy
Britton, who hanged herself before going to trial—“I guess I’m made of something that Brandy Britton wasn’t made of.”2 It seems that Palfrey had the same concerns as Britton, and she ended up contradicting her bold statement when she ended her own life.
This case study provides an example of the profound effects legal sanctions can have on individuals. Legal sanctions are not meant to inspire offenders to end their lives, but this case does illustrate the potential deterrent effects of facing punishment from the legal system. We can see this on a smaller scale when a speeding driver’s heart rate increases at the sight of a highway patrol or other police vehicle (which studies show happens to most drivers). Even though this offense would result in only a fine, it is a good example of deterrence in our everyday lives. We will revisit the Palfrey case at the conclusion of this chapter, after you have had a chance to review some of the theoretical propositions and concepts that make up deterrence theory.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the “D.C. Madam,” committed suicide before being sentenced. Her case reveals the potentially powerful effects of formal sanctions on individuals’ decision-making.
© AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
On a related note, a special report from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, concludes that the suicide rate has
been far higher among jail inmates than among prison inmates (see Figures 3.1 through 3.3).3 Specifically, suicides in jails have tended
over the past few decades to occur 300% (or three times) more often than among prison inmates.
A likely reason for this phenomenon is that many persons arrested and/or awaiting trial (which is generally the status of those in jail) have more to lose, such as in their relationships with family, friends, and employers, than do the typical chronic offenders that end up in prison. Specifically, many of the individuals picked up for prostitution and other relatively minor, albeit embarrassing, offenses are of the middle- and upper-class mentality and, thus, are ill-equipped to face the real-world consequences of their arrest. The good news is, this same Department of Justice report showed that suicides in both jails and prisons have decreased during the past few decades, likely due to better policies in correctional settings regarding persons considered at “high risk” for suicide.
Think About It: 1. Do you think that some of the clientele (e.g., notable politicians) should have also been charged for a criminal offense? 2. Do you think it made a difference that this case was handled by federal courts rather than local or state courts? 3. Do you think prostitution should be legal?
“SHE HAD DONE TIME ONCE BEFORE . . . AND IT DAMNED NEAR KILLED HER. SHE SAID THERE WAS ENORMOUS STRESS—IT MADE HER SICK, SHE COULDN’T TAKE IT, AND SHE WASN’T GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN.”
Figure 3.1 Causes of Death in State Prisons and Local Jails, 2013
Figure 3.2 Suicide in State Prisons and Local Jails
Figure 3.3 Homicide in State Prisons and Local Jails
Sources: Mumola, C. J. (2005, August). Suicide and homicide in state prisons and local jails. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; Noonan, M. (2015, August). Mortality in local jails and state prisons, 2000–2013—Statistical tables. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The aspects of Classical School theory presented in this chapter vary in many ways, most notably in what they propose as the primary constructs and processes by which individuals determine whether or not to commit a crime. For example, some Classical School theories emphasize only the potential negative consequences of criminal actions, whereas others focus on the possible benefits. Still others concentrate on the opportunities and circumstances that predispose one to engage in criminal activity. Regardless of their differences, all the
theories examined in this chapter emphasize a common theme: Individuals commit crimes because they identify certain situations and actions as beneficial due to a perceived lack of punishment and a perceived likelihood of profits, such as money or peer status. In other words, the potential offender weighs out the possible costs and pleasures of committing a given act and then behaves in a rational way based on the conclusions of that analysis.
The most important distinction of these Classical School theories, as opposed to those discussed in future chapters, is that they emphasize individual decision-making regardless of any extraneous influences on a person’s free will, such as the economy or bonding with society. Although many outside factors may influence an individual’s ability to rationally consider offending situations—and many of the theories in this chapter deal with such influences—primary responsibility rests on the individual to take all influences into account when deciding whether to engage in criminal behavior. Given this emphasis on individual responsibility, it is not surprising that Classical School theories are used as the basis for U.S. policies on punishment for criminal activity. After all, the Classical School theories are highly compatible and consistent with the conservative “get-tough” movement that has existed since the mid-1970s because they focus on individual responsibility. Thus, the Classical School still retains the highest influence in terms of policy and pragmatic punishment in the United States as well as throughout the Western world.
As you will see, the Classical School theoretical paradigm was presented as early as the mid-1700s, and it is still the dominant model of offending behavior in criminal justice systems. The Classical School paradigm remains the most popular theoretical framework among U.S. legislators and society and throughout the world. Although the Classical School theories have remained dominant in most Western societies, scientific and academic circles have somewhat dismissed many of the claims of this perspective. For reasons we explore in this chapter, the assumptions and primary propositions of the Classical School theories have been neglected by most recent theoretical models of criminology, which is likely premature given the impact this perspective has had on understanding human nature as well as its profound influence on most criminal justice systems, especially in the United States.
Pre-Classical Perspectives of Crime and Punishment
For the vast majority of human civilization’s history, people believed that criminal activity was caused by either supernatural or religious factors. Some primitive societies believed that crime increased during major thunderstorms or droughts. Most primitive cultures believed that when people engaged in behavior that
violated the rules of the tribe or clan, the devil or evil spirits were making them do it.5 For example, in many societies at that time, if a person had committed a criminal act, it was common to perform an exorcism or primitive surgery, such as breaking open the offender’s skull to release the demons thought to be lodged there. Of course, this almost always resulted in the death of the accused, but it was seen as a liberating experience for the defendant.
Exorcism was just one form of dealing with criminal behavior, but it epitomizes the nature of primitive cultures’ understanding of what causes crime. However, as the movie The Exorcist showed, the Catholic Church, among other religious institutions, still uses exorcism in extreme cases. Exorcisms are performed in the 21st century by representatives of a number of religions, including Catholicism, “to get the devil out.” For instance, in June 2005, a Romanian monk and four nuns acknowledged engaging in an exorcism that led to the death of a 23-year-old woman. During the procedure, the woman was chained to a cross, had a towel
stuffed in her mouth, and was deprived of food for three days.6 When the monk and nuns were asked to explain why they did this, they were defiant and said they were trying to take the devils out of the woman. Although they were prosecuted by Romanian authorities, many governments around the world still believe in and condone such practices and may not have prosecuted in this case.
One of the most common supernatural beliefs of primitive cultures was that the moon, in its fullest state, was a trigger for criminal activity. Then, as now, there was much truth to that theory. But in primitive times, this influence was believed to be caused by higher powers, such as the “destructive influence” of the moon itself. Modern studies have shown that this connection between the full moon and crime is primarily due to a Classical School theoretical model: There are simply more opportunities to commit crime when the moon is full. Specifically, there is more light during the full-moon phase, which means there are more people on the streets and more opportunities for crime. Also, nighttime is well established as a higher-risk period for adult crime, such as sexual assault.
Some of the primitive theories of crime had some validity in determining when crime was more likely to occur; however, virtually none of the primitive theories accurately predicted who would commit the offenses. During the Middle Ages and before, nearly all individuals were part of the lower classes, and only a subsection of that group engaged in offending against the normative society. So, for most of human civilization, there was close to no rational theoretical understanding for why certain individuals violated the laws of society.
Thus, for most of human civilization’s history, people believed that crime was caused by supernatural or religious factors, leading to theories of crime such as “the devil made me do it.” There were many variations on this perspective, such as crime caused by the full moon or excessive thunder. Due to the assumption that evil spirits were driving the motivations for criminal activity, punishments for criminal acts—especially for
those deemed particularly offensive to the norms of a given society—were often quite inhumane by modern standards.
Punishments Under Pre-Classical Perspectives
For example, during the Middle Ages (Dark Ages), common punishments included beheading, torturing, burning alive at the stake, drowning, stoning (still used by many Islamic courts in portions of Africa and the Middle East), and quartering (in which the limbs of a convicted criminal are tied to four horses and then the horses are made to run in opposite directions, ripping limbs from the torso). These punishments seem harsh
by contemporary standards, but given the context of the times, they were fairly standard and widely accepted.7
Although many would find primitive forms of punishment and execution quite barbaric, many societies still practice some of them. Recent examples can be seen among Islamic court systems (as well as in other religious/ethnic cultures), which are often allowed to carry out executions and other forms of corporal punishment. For instance, a number of offenders were flogged (i.e., whipped) for what is considered a relatively minor crime—or no crime at all—in most of the United States: gambling. Gambling was the most serious offense committed by the 15 individuals in Aceh, Indonesia (a highly conservative Muslim region of
that country), who were publicly caned outside a mosque.8
Medieval punishments were quite brutal, compared to how we execute offenders in current times. Most developed countries would never use such forms of execution today.
It is interesting to note that a relatively recent Gallup Poll addressing the practice of caning (i.e., publicly whipping) convicted individuals revealed support for the practice from most of the American public. More extreme forms of corporal punishment, particularly the methods of public execution carried out by many religious courts and countries—such as stoning, in which persons are buried up to the waist and local citizens
throw small stones (but not large stones, as those lead to death too quickly)—are drawn out and painful compared with modern forms of punishment in the United States. In most of the Western world, such brutal forms of punishment and execution were done away with in the 1700s due to the impact of the Age of Enlightenment.
The Age of Enlightenment
In the midst of the extremely draconian times of the mid-1600s, Thomas Hobbes, in his book Leviathan
(1651), proposed a rational theory for why people are motivated to form democratic states of governance.9
Hobbes proclaimed that people are rational, so they will logically organize a sound system of governance to create rules that will help alleviate the constant fear of offense by others. It is interesting that the very emotion (fear) that motivates individuals to cooperate in the formation of government is the same emotion that inspires these individuals to obey the laws of the government created—because they fear the punishment imposed for breaking the rules.
Hobbes clearly stated that until citizens in such societies received a certain degree of respect from their governing bodies, as well as from their justice systems, they would never fully buy in to the authority of government or the system of justice. Hobbes proposed a number of extraordinary ideas that came to define the Age of Enlightenment. He suggested a drastic paradigm shift with this new idea of social structure, which had extreme implications for justice systems throughout the world.
Specifically, Hobbes declared that human beings are rational beings who choose their destiny by creating a society. Hobbes further proposed that individuals in such societies democratically create rules of conduct that all members of society must follow. These rules that all citizens decide on become laws, and the result of not following these laws is a punishment determined by the democratically instituted government. It is clear from Hobbes’s statements that the government, as instructed by the citizens, not only has the authority to punish individuals who violate the rules of the society but, more important, is bound by duty to punish such individuals. If such an authority fails to fulfill this duty, it can quickly result in a breakdown in the social order.