Chapter 9

Crime and Criminal Justice
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Crime as a social problem
 Crime is a serious problem that endangers people’s lives ,
property, and sense of well being.
 35 million people annually are victims of crime in the U.S.
$1 billion is spent each year fighting crime.
 Official Statistics
 Uniform Crime Report (UCR) is leading source of
information on crime.
 Produced each year by the FBI and tracks 3 categories of
reported crime:
Violent crime, property crime, and other offenses.
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Crime Statistics
 Violent crime:
 Murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault
 Property crime:
 Burglary, mother vehicle theft, arson, and larceny
 UCR is in process of being replaced by national Incident
Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
 National Crime Victimization Survey is also sent to
selected households to probe frequency of unreported
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Crime and Delinquency
 Crime: behavior that violates the criminal law and is
punishable by a fine, jail term, or other negative
 2 categories of criminal law:
 Misdemeanors: minor crime, punishment is fine or <1
year in jail (ex: public drunkenness)
 Felonies: serious crimes, punishment is >1 year in jail or
even death. (ex: murder, rape)
 Delinquency: when someone under 18 commits a
crime or violates engages in an antisocial act.
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Violent Crime
 Actions involving force, or threat of force against
others and includes murder, rape, robbery, and
aggravated assault.
 Murder: unlawful, intentional killing of one person by
 Mass murder: killing 4 or more people at one time in
one place
 Serial murder: 3 or more people over more than a month
 Manslaughter: unlawful, unintentional killing of one
person by another.
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Murder, cont.
 Very accurate statistics as most don’t go unreported.
 Men are bulk of offenders and victims
 90% of murder victims over age 18, and half are between
20 and 35
 Most murderers kill people of their same race
 Poor people are more likely to kill and be killed
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 Act of violence in which sex is used as a weapon against a
powerless victim.
 Several kinds of rape:
 Forcible rape: forced sex on adult of legal age
 Statutory rape: sex with someone under legal age of consent
 Acquaintance rape: forced sex involving people who meet in
a social situation (also called date rape)
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Rape, cont.
 Rape is very often unreported so rates don’t reflect
extent of problem.
 Men are most often the offenders
 Rapists tend to be under age 25 and victims also under
age 25
 Offenders and victims are usually of the same race
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Property Crime
 Taking property from another without force, threat of
force, or the destruction of property
 Most frequently reported in victimization surveys is
African Americans and Latinos/as have a higher than average
risk of being burglarized than whites
 Most frequently reported index crime is larceny-theft
 Statistics on auto theft are relatively accurate
Insurance companies require reporting auto theft
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Occupational and Corporate Crime
 Occupational (White-Collar) Crime
 Illegal activities committed by people in the course of their
employment or normal business activity
 Examples: employee theft, embezzlement, soliciting bribes
 Corporate Crime
 Illegal acts committed by corporate employees on behalf of the
corporation with its support.
 Examples: unlawful labor practices, price fixing, deceptive
 Direct losses from corporate crime are immense and cost
significant amounts of tax payer money in comparison to
losses from street property crime
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Organized Crime
 Organized Crime
 A business operation that supplies illegal goods and services
for profit
 Examples: Drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, loan-
sharking, money laundering, and large-scale theft such as
truck hijackings
 Syndicated crime networks thrive because there is great
demand for illegal goods and services
 Organized crime often links up to legitimate businesses and
forms alliances with law enforcement and politicians.
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Juvenile Delinquency
 Juvenile delinquency involves a violation of law or the
commission of a status offense by a young person under a
specific age
 Juvenile crime accounts for 16% of crime in U.S.
 Status offenses are not criminal acts per se, but are illegal
because of the offender’s age
 Examples: Skipping school, buying and consuming
alcoholic beverages, running away from home
 Most juvenile cases are heard in juvenile court or by special
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Who commits crime?
 Men are more likely to be arrested than women
 Teenagers and young adults are most likely to be arrested
for serious crimes such as homicide, rape, and robbery
 People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more
likely to be arrested for violent and property crimes
 People from upper classes generally commit white-collar or
elite crimes
 Low-income African Americans are overrepresented in
arrest data
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Explanations of Crime
 Biological:
 Cesare Lombroso: 19th century Italian
Criminals are biological throwbacks (atavists)to earlier stage of evolution
 William Sheldon
Mesomorphs: muscular, aggressive and assertive
More prone to crime than other 2 types
Endomorphs: fat, soft, round, extroverted
Ectomorphs: thin, wiry, sensitive, and introverted
 Today:
Violence is a natural and inevitable part of human behavior
Link between brain injury and crime?
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Explanations of Crime (cont)
 Psychological:
 People with lower IQs commit more crime than people with higher
 Validity of IQ tests have come under scrutiny
 Frustration-aggression hypothesis :
 Frustrated people take out aggression onto others
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Sociological Explanations of Crime
 Functionalist:
 Strain theory (Robert Merton)
People feel strain when they are exposed to cultural goals they
can’t reach through approved means
Response to these cultural pressures leads to:
Conformity, Innovation, ritualism, retreatism, rebellion
 Control theory
 Delinquency and crime are more likely when a person’s ties to
society are broken
 Social bonds involve:
Attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief
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Sociological Explanations of Crime, cont.
 Authority and power relations contribute to some
people becoming criminals
 Crime as a status (not a behavior) is acquired when
those in power create and apply rules to others.
Radical-Conflict approach
 Crimes people commit are based on their class position
Feminist approaches
 Gender discrimination, patriarchy, and a combination of
capitalism and patriarchy explain why women commit
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Sociological Explanations of Crime (cont.)
Symbolic Interactionist
 Criminal behavior is learned through interaction and
socialization with others
2 Theories:
 Differential association theory
 Associating with people who are more likely to deviate from social
norms increases likelihood of committing crime.
 Labeling theory
 Criminals are persons who have been successfully labeled as such by
Initial act is called primary deviance
When a person accepts the label and continues the behavior it is called
secondary deviance
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Criminal Justice System
 Police
 Most visible link because they initially arrest and jail
 Courts
 Responsible for determining guilt or innocence
 Punishment and prisons
 Serve four functions: retribution, social protection,
rehabilitation, and deterrence
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Can crime problem be solved?
 Functionalist/Conservative:
 Community policing can help
 Learn about current problems to help prevent them
 3 strikes and you’re out laws
 Conflict/Liberal:
 Must reduce power differential to solve problem
 Since race and crime are so connected, need to reduce racism
to reduce crime
 Interactionist:
 Teach people importance of law abiding behavior
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010

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