Class Discussion/Activity

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss the prevalence of mental health issues among inmates and what problems arise from these inmates within the CJ system, including court proceedings, corrections, and recidivism rates.

d. Psychology and Crime

1. People have traits that make them more or less predisposed to criminal activity

2. Social psychology focuses on how human beings relate to and influence one another

3. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment focused on aggression in a mock-correctional setting

e. Trait Theory and Public Policy

1. Trait theories suggest that antisocial behavior should be identified and treated before it manifests in first-time or further criminal activity

D. Bad Neighborhoods and other Economic Disadvantages

Sociological theories indicate that crime is the result of social conditions in a person’s environment

i. Social Disorganization Theory

a. Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay studied high-crime neighborhoods in Chicago and found these “zones” were characterized by “disorganization”

b. Breakdown of traditional institutions of social controls such as family, school systems, or local businesses

c. Ecological factors that lead to crime in these neighborhoods are perpetuated by continued elevated levels of high school dropouts, unemployment, deteriorating infrastructures, and single-parent families.

ii. Strain Theory

a. Durkheim believed that anomie resulted when social change threw behavioral norms into a flux, leading to a weakening of social controls and an increase in deviant behavior.

b. Merton believed that anomie was caused by a social structure in which all citizens have similar goals without equal means to achieve them

iii. Social Conflict Theories

a. Identify power (the ability of one person or group of persons to control the economic and social positions of other people or groups) as the key component in explaining crime

b. Often associated with a critique of our capitalist economic system

1. Capitalism is seen as leading to high levels of violence and crime because of the disparity of income it encourages

2. Laws reflect only the values of the segment of society that has achieved power and is willing to use the criminal justice system as a tool to keep that power

What If Scenario

What if . . . a police officer killed an African-American, unarmed street-level marijuana dealer while he was attempting to serve a search warrant at his apartment in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Circumstances suggest that the police officer was mistaken about his belief that the suspect was armed. If you were a proponent of social conflict theory, how would you interpret the man’s death?

E. Life Lessons and Criminal Behavior

i. Social Process Theories

a. The potential for criminal behavior exists in everyone and will be realized depending on an individual’s interaction with various institutions and processes of society

ii. Learning Theory

a. Popularized by Edwin Sutherland

b. Theory of differential association sees crime as learned behavior, where the “teacher” is usually a family member or a friend who exposes the “student” to criminal behavior

c. The offender mimics the dominant values they are exposed to

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss whether deviant friends cause a juvenile to become deviant or whether deviant juveniles flock together. You might also ask students to discuss peer pressures and the impact of social media.

iii. Control Theory

a. Hirschi focuses on the reasons why individuals do not engage in criminal acts, rather than why they do

b. According to Hirschi, social bonds promote conformity to social norms. The stronger these social bonds the less likely that any individual will commit a crime

c. James Q. Wilson and George Kelling describe control theory in terms of the “broken windows” effect. Neighborhoods in poor condition are filled with cues of lack of social control that invite further vandalism and other deviant behavior.

iv. Life Course Theories of Crime

a. Believe that lying, stealing, bullying, and other conduct problems that occur in childhood are the strongest predictors of future criminal behavior and have been seriously undervalued in the examination of why crime occurs

b. Self-Control Theory

1. Gottfredson and Hirschi believe that criminal behavior is linked to “low self-control,” a personality trait that is formed before a child reaches the age of ten and can usually be attributed to poor parenting

2. These two criminologists ascribe to what has been called the continuity theory of crime, which essentially says that once negative behavior patterns have been established, they cannot be changed.

3. Someone with low self-control is generally impulsive, thrill seeking, and likely to solve problems with violence rather than his or her intellect

4. The Possibility of Change

a. Robert Sampson and John Laub have gathered a great deal of data showing that offenders may experience “turning points” when they are able to veer off the road from a life of crime

b. Several researchers have studied the role that religion and spirituality can play as “hooks for change.”

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss the underlying assumption of self-control theory. Is self-control a constant condition or does it vary within individuals? What are the implications of the answer to this question for the validity of the theory? Can they think of crimes that require high self control?

Class Discussion/Activity

Which of the criminological theories presented in this chapter do you believe is most sound? What are the reasons you have for supporting this theory? Do you think this chosen theory could be used to explain all types of crimes and the actions of all criminals?

Place Your Order Here!

Class Discussion/Activity
Class Discussion/Activity

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *