Transcription

What Is Criminology?Understanding Crimeand Criminals“Society secretly wants crime, needs crime, and gainsdefinite satisfactions from the present mishandling of it! Wecondemn crime; we punish offenders for it; but we need it.The crime and punishment ritual is part of our lives!”—Karl Menninger11234567 Mikael Karlsson/Alamy66751 01 ch1 p001-020.indd 1Differentiate between crime, deviance, anddelinquency.Explain how the consensus perspective differs fromthe pluralist perspective.Describe criminology and the role of criminologists.Summarize the theoretical perspectives ofcriminology.Summarize the various ways crime is reportedand measured.Summarize statistics and trends in U.S. crime rates.Explain how criminology works with otherdisciplines and how it impacts the making of lawsand social policy.111/20/12 1:50 PM

INTROA FASCINATION WITH CRIME AND CRIMINALS AF archive/AlamyAccording to social commentators, people are simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by crime—especiallygruesome crimes involving extreme personal violence.The popularity of today’s TV crime shows, Hollywoodproduced crime movies, true-crime books and magazines, and websites devoted exclusively to the coverageof crime supports that observation. The CBS TV megahitCSI: Miami, for example, which ran for ten season untilgoing off the air in 2012, garnered 50 million regularviewers in more than 55 countries. By its eighth season,it had become the most popular television show in theworld.2 But CSI programming extends well beyond theMiami-based series, and the CSI franchise, which nowincludes shows featuring New York City, Las Vegas,and other locales, is available in both real time and ondemand to a global audience of nearly 2 billion viewers inThe cast of the popular TV show, CSI New York.200 countries around the globe.3 In 2012, the CSI serieswas named the most watched TV show in the world for theWe search for explanations for the seemingly unexplainfifth time.4 Other popular TV crime series, both past andable. How, for example, can the behavior of child killerspresent, include Awake (NBC), Criminal Minds (CBS), Bluebe understood, anticipated, and even prevented? WhyBloods (CBS), Without a Trace (CBS), Magic City (HBO),don’t terrorists acknowledge the emotional and personalNumb3rs (CBS), The Unit (CBS), The Unusuals (ABC), Thesuffering they inflict? Why do some robbers kill, utterlySopranos (in reruns on HBO), The Killing (AMC), Whitedisregarding human life?Collar (USA), The District (CBS), Boardwalk Empire (HBO),Toward this end, people wonder about spectacularThe Shield (FX), The Wire (HBO), Cold Case (CBS), NCIScrimes, and “everyday” crimes such as burglary, drug(CBS), Prison Break (Fox), and Law and Order (NBC)—use, assault, vandalism, and computer intrusion needalong with the Law and Order spin-offs Law and Order:explaining. Why do people fight? Does it matter to aCriminal Intent and Lawrobber that he may face prisonand Order: Special Victimstime? How can people sacrificeDISCUSS Why are people fascinated by crimeUnit. American TV viewlove, money, careers, and eveners are hungry for crimeand criminal behavior? How doestheir lives for access to illegalrelated entertainment anddrugs? What motivates terrorhave a fascination with the popularity of TV crime shows reflectists to give up their own livescriminal motivation and the American mindset?to take the lives of others? Whydetective work.do gifted techno-savvy teensSome crimes cry out for explanation. One thing that fascinates people about crime—especially violent crime—isthat it is inexplicable. While it’s true that some crimesare especially difficult to understand, our natural tendency is to seek out some reason for the unreasonable.and preteens hack seemingly secure sites on the Internet? While this text may not answer every question, itexamines the causative factors that are in effect whena crime is committed and encourages an appreciation ofthe challenges of crafting effective crime-control policy. What Is Crime?As the word implies, criminology is clearly concerned withcrime. As we begin our discussion of criminology, let’s considerjust what the term crime means. Like anything else, crime canbe defined several ways. For our purposes, crime is humanconduct that violates the criminal laws of a state, the federalgovernment, or a local jurisdiction that has the power to makeand enforce the laws. We prefer this definition because withouta law defining a particular form of behavior, there is no crime,no matter how deviant or socially repugnant the behavior inquestion may be.52Chapter 166751 01 ch1 p001-020.indd 2Edwin Sutherland, regarded by many as a foundingfigure in American criminology, said that crime’s “essentialcharacteristic is that it is behavior which is prohibited bythe State as an injury to the State and against which the Statemay react by punishment.”6 This is a legalistic perspective,Crime is human conduct that violatesthe criminal law.What Is Criminology? Understanding Crime and Criminals11/20/12 1:50 PM

Some people say that sagging pantsare a fashion statement, while otherssay that wearing such pants is a deviantact. Keeping that example in mind, whatkinds of human behavior might be deviant but not criminal? What things mightbe criminal but not necessarily deviant?example, a Palm Beach County (Florida) judgestruck down a law banning baggy pants, callingthe measure unconstitutional. The judge agreedwith a public defender representing a teenagerarrested for exposing his underwear by wearingpants that sagged. The attorney argued that thelaw was unacceptable because it restricted styles ofdress and empowered “the fashion police.”7However, some types of behavior, although neither deviant nor abnormal, are still against the law.Although speeding on interstate highways in some circumstancesis considered the norm and not deviant, it is still illegal. Complicating matters further, certain behaviors are illegal in somejurisdictions but not in others. Commercialized gambling (slotmachines and games of chance) are against the law in many partsof the United States, although they are legitimized in Nevada, onsome Native American reservations, on cruise ships operatingLEARNING Differentiate betweenoutside U.S. territorial waters,OUTCOMES crime, deviance, andon some Mississippi riverboats,delinquency.and in some state-sponsoredlocales. Even state governmentsGLOSSARYseeking to enhance revenuescrime Human conduct that vioallow gambling through statelates the criminal laws of a state,lotteries—which now operthe federal government, or a localate in 45 states8—althoughjurisdiction that has the power toonline gambling is forbidden make and enforce the laws.in an effort to protect states’criminalize To make an actlottery revenues. Similarly,illegal.prostitution, almost unideviant behavior Human activityformly illegal in the Unitedthat violates social norms.States, is legal in Nevada if itoccurs within licensed brothels statute A formal written enactthat meet state licensing andment of a legislative body.health requirements.delinquency Violations of theFinally, we should add thatcriminal law and other misbehaviordelinquency, a term often usedcommitted by young people.in conjunction with crime anddeviance, refers to violations ofthe criminal law and other misbehavior committed by young people. The laws of many statesproclaim that “youth” ends at a person’s eighteenth birthday,although other states specify the sixteenth or seventeenth birthdayas meeting that requirement. All states, however, specify certainoffenses, such as running away from home, being ungovernable,and drinking alcohol, as illegal for children but not adults.Mark Stout Photography(Think About It and it recognizes that laws are social products. The legalisticapproach to crime assumes that powerful individuals who arein a position to politically influence lawmaking strategies canimpose their preferred definitions of criminal behavior onlawbreakers. By making their own laws, powerful but immoralindividuals might therefore escape the label “criminal” andmay escape punishment for wrongdoings they have committed.Although democratic societies such as that of the United Statesseem immune from legislative process abuse, history demonstrates otherwise. Consequently, crime is socially relative inthe sense that it is created by legislative activity. Without a lawdefining it, there can be no crime. Hence, as social scientistsare fond of saying, “Crime is whatever a society says it is.” Laterin this book, we will focus on the process of criminalization,which is used to criminalize some forms of behavior—or makethem illegal.Crime, Deviance, and DelinquencyIn line with sociological thought, many crimes are seen as deviant or abnormal forms of behavior. The definition of deviantbehavior that we will use in this book is as follows: Deviantbehavior is human activity that violates social norms. Someactivities that are not condemned by statute are nonethelessregarded as “bad behavior.” Sufficiently “bad behavior” calls outfor a societal response, echoing, “That ought to be a crime!” or“There should be a law against that!”Abnormality, deviance, and crime are concepts that do notalways easily mesh. Some forms of deviance are not violations ofthe criminal law, and the reverse is equally true. (See Figure 1–1.)Deviant styles of dress, for example, are not restricted by criminal law unless they violate decency statutes by virtue of lack ofclothing. Laws are generally subject to interpretation, and theymay be modified as social norms evolve. A few years ago, for)1 What Should Be Criminal?IllegalFIGURE 1–1IllegalandDeviantThe Overlap between Deviance and CrimeDeviantBy now, you have probably realized that the question “Whatis crime?” differs from the question “What should be criminal?” Everyone would agree that murder, rape, burglary,and theft are illegal activities, but there is far less agreementabout the legal status of controlled substance abuse, abortion, “abortion pills” (RU-486, or Mifeprex), gambling, and“deviant” forms of consensual adult sexual behavior. Statelegislatures, along with the general public, have recentlyWhat Should Be Criminal?66751 01 ch1 p001-020.indd 3311/20/12 1:50 PM

debated the pros and cons of same-sex marriages and certainforms of biomedical research (specifically human cloningand stem cell research).Certainly, the question “What should be criminal?” can beanswered in many different ways. The social and intellectual processes addressing this question can be found in two contrastingpoints of view: (1) the consensus perspective and (2) the pluralistperspective. The consensus perspective holds that laws shouldbe enacted to criminalize given forms of behavior when membersof society agree that such laws are necessary. The consensus perspective is most applicable to homogeneous societies with sharedvalues, norms, and belief systems. Multicultural and diversesocieties such as the United States find it difficult to achieveshared consensus. Here, even minor matters may spawn complex debates over the issues. For example, a Chicago municipalordinance banned giving wine to a dog and provided that anyonewho did so could be arrested and jailed.9 While the ordinanceseemed reasonable when enacted (after all, dogs sometimes needto be shielded from their owners’ indiscretions), others viewedthe law as silly and unnecessary. The ordinance pitted wineconnoisseurs against collectors, growers, and sellers and animalrights activists against animal protectionists and city councilmembers.10 Those favoring repeal of the ordinance arguedMulticultural and diverse societiessuch as the United States findit difficult to achieve sharedconsensus. Here, even minormatters may spawn complexdebates over the issues.(4Chapter 166751 01 ch1 p001-020.indd 4)2 What DoCriminologists Do?A typical dictionary definition of a criminologist is “one whostudies crime, criminals, and criminal behavior.”11 Occasionally,the term criminologist describes almost anyone working in thecriminal justice field, regardless of formal training. Today, thegrowing tendency is to reserve applying the term criminologistto academics, researchers, and policy analysts with advanceddegrees who study crime, study trends, and analyze societalreactions to crime. In respect to this designation, we describeThink About It Some people believe that “there ought to be a law”about some forms of behavior that are currentlylegal. Others think that people should have morefreedom. What forms of behavior that are currentlycrimes would you like to see legalized? What formsof behavior that are currently legal would you liketo criminalize?Ronald Sumners/ShutterstockNot everyone agrees about what is moralor immoral; nor do they agree about whatshould be legal or illegal—and laws vary fromone place to another. What are some formsof behavior that are illegal in some jurisdictions (or states) but not in others?that it was old-fashioned andreflected badly on an acceptableconsumer product that is a stapleof some ethnic diets. Eventually,the ordinance was repealed, andthe hubbub it had inspired ended.The debate, however, shows theinherent difficulties in achievinga consensus over minor mattersin our complex society.In line with the pluralistview of crime, the pluralist perspective recognizes theimportance of diversity in our society. It states that behaviors are typically criminalized through a political processonly after debate over the appropriate course of action. Thepolitical process creates legislation and may involve additional appellate court actionLEARNING Explain how the conOUTCOMES sensus perspectiveto interpret the laws passedby the legislature. After thediffers from the pluralist perspective.2012 Aurora, Colorado, movietheater shooting and the 2007Virginia Tech University GLOSSARYconsensus perspective A viewshooting, for example, stateand federal legislatures reex- point that holds that laws shouldamined gun laws to deter

As the word implies, criminology is clearly concerned with crime. As we begin our discussion of criminology, let’s consider just what the term crime means. Like anything else, crime can be defined several ways. For our purposes, crime is human conduct that violates the criminal laws of a state, the federal government, or a local jurisdiction that has the power to make and enforce the laws .File Size: 1MBPage Count: 20