Chapter 2: Measuring and Explaining Crime

Chapter 2: Measuring and Explaining Crime



Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, students should:

1. Identify the six different main categories of crime.

2. Identify the publication in which the FBI reports crime data, and list the two main ways in which the data are reported.

3. Distinguish between the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and self-reported surveys.

4. Discuss the prevailing explanation for the rising number of women being incarcerated in the United States.

5. Discuss the difference between a hypothesis and a theory in the context of criminology.

6. Explain how brain-scanning technology is able to help scientists determine if an individual is at risk for criminal offending.

7. Describe the importance of early childhood behavior for those who subscribe to self-control theory.

8. Explain the routine activities theory of victimization.

9. Discuss the connection between learning process and the start of an individual’s drug use.

Lesson Plan

Correlated to PowerPoints

I. Types of Crime

Learning Objective 1: Identify the six different main categories of crime.

A. American Criminal Law focuses on six categories of misconduct

i. Violent Crime

a. Crimes against persons, which dominate our perspectives about crime

b. Four general categories

1. Murder

2. Sexual Assault

3. Assault and Battery

4. Robbery

c. These acts are further classified by degree, depending on the circumstances surrounding the criminal act

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss the differences between burglary and robbery as well as between assault and battery.

ii. Property Crime

a. Most common form of criminal activity, during which the goal of the offender is some form of economic gain or damaging of the property

b. Four general categories

1. Larceny / Theft

2. Burglary

3. Motor Vehicle Theft

4. Arson

iii. Public Order Crime

a. Linked to the consensus model discussed in Chapter 1

b. Outlawed activities that are considered contrary to public values and morals

c. Most common include public drunkenness, prostitution, gambling, and illicit drug use

d. Often referred to as victimless crimes because they only harm the offender (e.g. prostitution, illegal gambling)

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss examples of public order crimes and why these crimes are classified as crimes. Ask them to discuss the consensus model and its connection to public order crimes.

iv. White-Collar Crimes

a. Business-related crimes

b. Describes illegal acts or series of acts committed by an individual or business entity using some nonviolent means to obtain a personal or business advantage

v. Organized Crime

a. Describes illegal acts by illegal organizations, usually geared toward satisfying the public’s demand for unlawful goods and services

b. Implies a conspiratorial and illegal relationship among any number of persons engaged in unlawful acts

c. Employs criminal tactics

1. Violence

2. Corruption

3. Intimidation for economic gain

d. The hierarchical structure of organized crime operations often mirrors that of legitimate businesses

vi. High-Tech Crime

a. Newest typology of crime, directly related to increased use of computers in everyday life

b. Internet has become the site of cyber crime

1. Selling pornographic materials

2. Soliciting minors

3. Defrauding consumers with bogus financial investments

Media Tool

“Project 2020 – Scenarios for the Future of Cybercrime”

· A news clip about the future of cyber crime

· Discussion: Discuss what the implications of the new technologies are for the criminal justice system.

See Assignment 1

II. Measuring Crime in the United States

Learning Objective 2: Identify the publication in which the FBI reports crime data, and list the two main ways in which the data are reported.

A. The Uniform Crime Report

i. Uniform Crime Report (UCR) released each year since its inception in 1930 as an attempt to measure the overall crime rate in the United States

ii. The UCR is produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

iii. UCR relies on the voluntary participation of local law enforcement agencies, with three measurements

a. Number of persons arrested

b. Number of crimes reported by victims, witnesses, or police themselves

c. Number of law enforcement officers

iv. Annual publication

a. The UCR presents data in three ways

1. As a rate

2. As a percentage

v. Part I offenses

a. Those crimes that, due to their seriousness and frequency, are recorded by the FBI to give a “general picture” of crime in the United States

b. There are eight Part I offenses

1. Murder

2. Forcible rape

3. Robbery

4. Aggravated assault

5. Burglary

6. Larceny/theft

7. Motor vehicle theft

8. Arson

c. Reflects those offenses that are “known,” or reported to the FBI by local agencies

vi. Part II Offenses

a. Those crimes that can be designated as either felonies or misdemeanors

b. Measured only by arrest data

B. The National Incident-Based Reporting System

i. Local agencies collect data on each single crime occurrence within twenty-two offense categories made up of forty-six specific crimes

ii. Started in 1989

iii. Provides information about four “data sets”

a. Offenses

b. Victims

c. Offenders

d. Arrestees

C. Victim Surveys

i. An alternative source of data collection attempting to avoid distorting influences of local police agencies

ii. Victims are asked directly about their experiences of crime, using techniques of mail or phone surveys

iii. The dark figure of crime

a. Results of victim survey indicate a higher victimization rate than had been previously expected

1. Researchers believe that a better understanding of the “dark figure of crime” is revealed through victim surveys

2. Dark figure of crime is the actual amount of crime that occurs in the country

b. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (LO 3)

1. Started in 1972

2. Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census in cooperation with the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Justice Department

3. An annual survey of more than 41,000 households with nearly 73,500 occupants over 12 years of age

4. Participants are interviewed twice a year concerning their experiences with crimes in the prior 6 months

iv. A voice for victims

a. Supporters of the NCVS highlight a number of aspects in which the victim survey is superior to the UCR:

1. Measures both reported and unreported crime

2. Unaffected by the police bias and distortions in reporting the crime to the FBI

3. Does not rely on victims directly reporting crime to the police

D. Self-Reported Surveys

a. Form of data collection, in which persons are asked directly through personal interviews or questionnaires, or over the telephone, about specific criminal activity to which they may have been a party

b. Victims may be more forthcoming because of anonymity

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Chapter 2: Measuring and Explaining Crime
Chapter 2: Measuring and Explaining Crime
Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss the problems with victim surveys. Why is self-reported data not necessarily correct?

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