Crim 101 Notes #1

* What is criminology? A social science studying crime and related phenomenon such as law making, criminal behavior, victimization and punishment Discipline of criminology is a recent development Most ideas and concepts we now have about crime and criminals emerged over last 2 or 3 centuries Modern criminology is multi-disciplinary (inter-disciplinary) Influenced by sociology, psychology, and biology
The fascination with crime Crime is popular topic for newspapers, TV shows , books and movies There is little relationship between crime news and actual amount of crimes Media focus primarily on violent crimes, even though such crimes forms only smart part of all criminal activity Appears as though police solve more crimes and arrest more cirminals than they do in reality The appeal of crime stories and crime news
Crime related stories are often dramatic and lurid Deal with moral questions of good vs evil Criminals appear in stories as insane or dangerous psychopaths Stories happen in short time p- between newscasts or newspaper editions Easy for the public to understand Felson’s 10 fallacies about crime Book 1. the dramatic Fallacy o keep ratings high, media seek strange/violent incidents to report/create dramas around murder makes up less than 1% of all crime, yet from watching TV or reading the papers, it seems like a commonplace events seems that most murders are well-planned, grisly affairs, or they happen solely by random chance in fact, most murders start as arguments that escalate into violence most crimes are relatively minor property crimes 2. the cops and courts fallacy police work made to look more dangerous and challenging than it actually is increased policing found to be of limited value ost crimes are not reported, most of crimes that are reported are not solved by police very few elaborate court trials (charges dropped, plea bargaining, guilty plea) 3. the “not-me” fallacy most people think they could never (or would never) commit a crime however, many people have shoplifted, smoked marijuana, driven when they’re impaired, or gone joy-riding in a car most people violate at least some laws sometimes, even though they may not get caught or end up with a criminal record 4. the innocent youth fallacy endency to view younger people as being “pure” or “innocent” in reality, teen years are the most active years for criminal activity majority of crimes committed by younger offenders younger offenders often are more dangerous than older offenders 5. the ingenuity fallacy tendency to think criminals are more clever than they really are in reality, lightweight, high value items have made crime even more simple most criminals take little planning, little skill, and almost no time to commit 6. the organized crime fallacy endency to view crime as more organized and conspiratorial than it really is most criminals act quickly, avoid contact with co-offenders, and don’t do a lot of work or planning dealing with “organized” criminals makes what law enforcement officials are doing seem more important and sophisticated than its really is 7. the juvenile gang fallacy juvenile gangs nowhere near as sinister as the media and law officials make them out to be loosely structured lots of so-called “members” just hanging out on the periphery crime that such “gangs” engage in is “petty” and disorganized 8. he welfare state fallacy wrong to blame crime on unemployment and poverty no evidence to show that government hand-outs or government programs do anything to decease crime when the economy improves, or when government hand-outs increase, statistics show that crime goes up too 9. the agenda fallacy many individuals and groups blame crime on declining morality; say that a healthy does of moral and religious values is what criminals and society really needs most criminals already know right from wrong, and simply choose to ignore it, especially when they’re not being observed 10. he whatever-you-think fallacy wrong to think that some crime is “subjective, and is only regarded as crime because of labeling, media attention or influence of interest groups laws are actually quite similar across different countries and different social systems criminologists who talk about negative effects of labeling and how moral problems are turned into “crime-control problems” are misguided and side-stepping their responsibility to help solve the crime problem crime myths and realities * * * myth| * reality| Most criminals are dangerous and clever| * Most criminals resemble their victims| * Most criminals are pathological individuals who kill at random| * Most crimes are routine, mundane and often trivial| * Police investigators are clever and effective| * Most crimes are not detected, or not reported, most go unsolved| * Most crimes are violent| * Only a small portion of crime is violent| * The elderly are more likely to be victimized| * Young, low SES males are more likely to be victimized| * Victimization are rates going up| * Victimization rates are going down| onceptualizations of crime crime as a legal construct crime as a violation of social norms debate between the consensus vs. and conflict models the legal construct model Sacco and Kennedy say the dominant way of thinking about crime is in legal terms Crime is conceptualized relative to the concept of law- crime is breaking the law Because committing criminal act amounts to breaking the law, it is subject to prosecution and punishment The four main components a.

Actus Reus: a real event, in which somebody has committed or failed to commit an act b. Men Rea: criminal intent; you must have the intent to commit the act c. No legal defense or justification d. Must be contrary to a provision of criminal law Crime as normative violation pictures Mala in Se Mala in se: “something bad or evil in itself” Laws that criminalize acts most societies and cultures agree are inherently wrong, e. g. , murder and incest Mala Prohibita
Mala prohibita: something that is deemed to be wrong or criminal only because it is prohibited Acts where there might be considerable disagreement from society to society re: their legality Concensus vs. conflicy * consensus| * conflict| * Society as a functional organism| * Society and social transformation rooted in social conflict| * Norms/expectations based on shared values/interests| * Society not organic or natural. But forced upon us| * Those who are different (e. g. ,criminals) are deemed to be abnormal| * Society/laws based on values and interests of those with the power|

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