Criminology: Exam 1 Study Guide

Crime definition
Human conduct in violation of the criminal laws of the federal government, a state, or a local jurisdiction that has the power to make such laws

4 ways to define crime
1) Legalistic
2) Political
3) Sociological
4) Psychological

Human behavior that violates social norms (expected behavior by society)

Deviance vs. Crime
~Related concepts but not the same:
– Deviance and Crime (ex=theft, drugs)
-Deviance but not Crime (going against social norms)
-Crime but not Deviance (ex=marijuana, speeding)

2 Perspectives on Crime
1) Social Problems Perspective
2) Social Responsibility Perspective

Social Problems Perspective
Crime is the result of social problems and the breakdown of social institutions

Social Responsibility Perspective
-Individuals are responsible for their own behavior
-Crime is the result of individuals choosing crime over other forms of behavior

3 Ways to view Criminology
-Disciplinary: body of knowledge, many disciplines
-Causative: underlying causes of crime
-Scientific: application of scientific method

Criminology definition
An interdisciplinary profession built around the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior, including their forms, causes, legal aspects, and control

Evidence-Based Practice
-A form of contemporary criminology that makes use of rigorous social scientific techniques, especially randomized, controlled experiments and the systematic review of research results
-Importance of science
-Research methods are scientific

Why EBP important
-Declining resources
-Expansion of knowledge and technology

Theory Defined
-A series of interrelated propositions that attempts to describe, explain, predict, and ultimately control some class of events

Sutherland’s 9 Principles of Differential Association
1) Criminal behavior is learned
2) Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with others in a process of communication
3) The principle part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups

How do Theories Help Us
-Theories provide explanations for patterns we observe in data
-Theories link one study with another
-Theories supply frameworks within which concepts and variables acquire special significance
-Theories allow us to interpret the larger meaning of our findings for ourselves and for others

Research defined
The use of standardized, systematic procedures in the search for knowledge

Research Steps
-Problem identification
-Development of a research design
-Choice of data-collection techniques
-Handling problems in data collection
-Review of findings

5 Data-Collection Techniques
-Survey Research
-Case Studies
-Participant Observation
-Secondary Analysis

Survey Research Technique
Research using a social science data-gathering technique that involves the use of questionnaires

Case Studies Technique
In-depth investigations into individual cases

Participant Observation Technique
A strategy in data gathering in which the researcher observes a group by participating, to varying degrees, in the activities of the group

Self-Reporting Technique
Asking individuals to record and report secretive or sensitive behaviors

2 Statistics to Review Findings
-Descriptive Statistics
-Inferential Statistics

Descriptive Statistics
-Statistics that describe the findings in a sample of the population
-Uses measures of central tendency

Inferential Statistics
-Statistics that identify the degree to which we can apply findings in a sample to the population from which that sample was drawn (infer about entire population)
-Test of significance: a statistical technique to provide researchers with confidence that their results are, in fact, true and not the result of sampling error

Crime Description Before Crime Explanation
-First must be able to describe crimes- what criminal behavior “looks like”, what crimes are committed, how much, by whom
-Then try to explain why this behavior occurs

Crime Typology
A classification of crimes along a particular dimension, such as legal categories, offender motivation, victim behavior, or characteristics of individual offenders

Violent Crime Typologies
-Aggravated Assault

The unlawful killing of a human being in which the element of malice aforethought was present

The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will, regardless of age (statutory rape not included)

The felonious and forcible taking of property from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by violence or putting the person in fear against their will

Aggravated Assault
The unlawful attack or attempt to attack through force or violence to do physical injury to another

2 Sources of the Collection of Crime Data
-Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR)
-National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

Uniform Crime Reporting Program
-Crimes reported to the police
-Summary counts of reported crimes/ Summary Reporting System
–number of crimes/offenses reported
–number of arrests
–number of crimes/offenses cleared by arrest
-Provide details at the incident level
–property involved

National Crime Victimization Survey
-“Dark figure of crime”= crimes that are not reported to the police and remain unknown to officials
-Nationally representative sample that’s used to make inferences about the population
-Use of sampling techniques to ensure that every household has an equal chance of probability of being selected for the survey (known chance or probability)

Serial Murder
A type of criminal homicide that involves the killing of several victims in three or more separate events

Workplace Violence
the crime of murder, rape, robbery, or assault committed against someone who is at work or on duty

Hate Crime
– A criminal offense in which the motive is hatred, bias, or prejudice against another individual or group of individuals
– Based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation

A course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves
-unwanted repeated visual or physical proximity
-nonconsensual communication
-verbal, written, or implied threats
– a combination of the above that would cause a reasonable person fear

Violent and Non-Violent Crime Trends
-seeing a national downward trend in the number of crimes being committed each year

Non-Violent Crime Typologies
-Motor Vehicle Theft

Any unlawful or attempted forcible entry of a structure to commit a felony or larceny, even though force may not have been used to gain entry

The unlawful taking of property of another with the intent to deprive them of ownership without the use of force, violence, or fraud

Motor Vehicle Theft
The unlawful taking or attempted taking of a motor vehicle

Any willful or malicious burning, or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud

Persistent Thieves
-Continue to commit property crimes despite no better than ordinary level of success

Offense Specialization
-quite limited among property offenders
-more appropriate description is cafeteria-style offending, which helps understand the varied and unplanned nature of offending (criminals more often generalists or have limited specialization)

Drug Addiction
A chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences
-Affects areas of the brain that control:
— judgment and decision making
— learning and memory
–behavior control

Commonly Abused Drugs
-Anabolic steroids

Increase central nervous system activity, resulting in:
-higher heart rate
-elevated blood pressure
-increased mental activity
Common stimulants include:

Common effects:
– euphoria
– intense stimulation
– psychic and physical well-being
– seemingly boundless energy

Used legitimately for:
– reduction of anxiety
– treatment of psychological problems
– as mood elevators
Illegal users use them to:
– produce intoxication
– counter the effects of other drugs
– treat themselves for drug withdrawal
Common depressants include:

= marijuana
Used illegitimately to induce states of:
– euphoria
– relaxation
– intoxication
Current research examines the medical uses of marijuana

Used legitimately for:
– pain relief
– cough suppression
Illegal users use them to:
– produce drowsiness
– produce relaxation
Can be toxic when taken in large doses
Physical addiction may result in drug dependence
Common narcotics include:

Have no official legitimate use
– hallucinations
– perceptual distortions
– these “trips” may be pleasurable or frightening
Common hallucinogens include:

Anabolic Steroids
Used legitimately for:
– weight gain
– treatment of arthritis, anemia
– battle against certain forms of cancer
Often considered banned substances in athletics as performance enhancing drugs

Highly volatile substances that act as central nervous system depressants
– light-headedness
– disturb vision
– reduce muscle and reflex control
Can be found in:
–Fast-drying glues
–Nail-polish remover
–Lighter fluid
-Paint thinner

Drug-Defined Crime
A violation of the laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs

Drug-Related Crime
A crime in which drugs contribute to the offense

Drug Trafficking
The manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, importing, and/or exporting of a controlled substance or a counterfeit substance

The Enlightenment
-Also known as the Age of Reason
-A social movement that arose during the 18th century and that built upon ideas like rationality and free will

Major Principles of Classical Criminology
-Crime, like any other behavior, is caused by the individual exercise of free will
-Humans are rational, so our behavior is the result of free will coupled with rational choice
-Pain and pleasure are the two central determinants of human behavior

4 Main Concepts of Classical Criminology
-Free will
-Rational choice
-Pain and Pleasure

Cesare Beccaria
-Wrote Essay on Crimes and Punishments
-Developed a philosophy of punishment
–punishment should be deterrence rather than retribution. In other words, crime prevention is more important than revenge
–To be a deterrent, punishment should be
-only severe enough to deter: make pain outweigh pleasure

Modern Beliefs from Beccaria
-Criminals have control over their behavior
-That they choose to commit crimes
-That they can be deterred by the threat of punishment

Jeremy Bentham
-Wrote Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
-Believed humans are fundamentally rational
-Believed criminals would weigh the pain of punishment against the pleasure of crime
-Developed Hedonistic Calculus: the belief that people choose behaviors based on the amount of pleasure or pain those behaviors will produce

Principles of Positivism
-Acceptance of social determinism: the belief that behavior is caused by forces beyond our control, not our choices
-Application of scientific techniques to the study of crime and criminality

Crime vs. Criminality
-Crime: violation of law
-Criminality: a behavioral predisposition that disproportionally favors criminal activity

Biology and Criminality
Theories and research of the biological basis of behavior can give us insight into individuals predispositions for criminal
– violence
– aggression
– impulsivity
– lack of self-control

Biological Theories
-Biological Roots of Human Aggression
-Genetics and Crime
-Biosocial and Psychological Criminology

Phrenology ( roots of aggression)
-Franz Joseph Gall
-The study of the shape of the head to determine anatomical correlates of human behavior
-theory never tested but widely accepted at the time

Atavism ( roots of aggression)
-Cesare Lombroso
-Criminals are throwbacks to earlier stages of human evolution
-Lombroso estimated 70% of offenders were “born criminals”

Somatotyping ( roots of aggression)
The classification of human beings into types according to body build and other physical characteristics
-Endomorph: relaxed and sociable (bigger/fatter body)
-Mesomorph: associated with delinquency (middle body)
-Ectomorph: restrained and shy (small/thin body)
-little support that body type is related to criminality

Chemical and Environmental Precursors
-Sugar: high sugar intake may increase hyperactivity and aggressiveness
-Allergic reactions to common foods: may cause brain swelling and reduce ability to control impulses
-Material diet during pregnancy: may affect IQ and early infant behavior and might determine risk of criminality

Hormones and Criminality
Testosterone: primary male sex hormone
– high blood testosterone levels are related to increased aggressiveness in men
– most studies consistently show this relationship
Estrogen: primary female sex hormone
– fluctuations in estrogen and serotonin, a “behavior-regulating chemical”, may produce aggressive and impulsive behavior
– low levels of this hormone are associated with aggression

Weather and Crime
Temperature and Criminal Behavior: more violent crime is reported to the police on warm days than on cold days
Barometric Pressure and Violent Crime: low pressure may change cerebral blood flow and increase impulsivity

Chromosomes and the XYY Supermale (genetics and crime)
-Some males are born with an extra Y chromosome- a “supermale”
-XYY men are overrepresented in prisons and mental hospitals
-XYY men may commit more crimes overall, but little evidence they commit crimes of greater violence

Chromosomes and Genetic Mutation (genetics and crime)
-In 1993, Ropers and Brunner identified a specific gene with links to criminal behavior
-This gene produces an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), which helps break down serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain
-When this gene is mutated, it fails to produce enough MAOA to break down these chemical transmitters
-Brains are therefore overwhelmed with stimuli, resulting in impulsive and criminal behavior

Behavioral Genetics (genetics and crime)
Twin studies:
-Identical twins, or monozygotic (MZ)
-Fraternal twins, or dizygotic (DZ)
-if criminal behavior is heritable, we should observe more similar criminal behavior among identical twins than fraternal twins
-Data does seem to show somewhat of a correlation

Male-Female Differences in Criminality (genetics and crime)
-Women commit far fewer crimes than men
-Culture and Criminality
–we would predict that as culture varies, so would the involvement of woman in crime
–reduction in cultural inhibition of women’s behavior
–However, women’s low participation in crime is stable over time and has been observed in cross-cultural studies
-Biology and Crime
–One hypothesis is that differences in testosterone is associated with male-female differences in criminality
–These differences are moderated by social environment

The systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior
– a branch of evolutionary biology and modern population biology
Edward O. Wilson argued that aggression and violence are based on evolutionary concept of territoriality
– humans have an evolutionary need for survival and reproduction

Biosocial Criminology
A theoretical perspective that sees the interaction between biology and the environment as key to understanding human behavior, including criminality

Policy Implications of Biological Theories
-Pre- and postnatal care and monitor for signs that could increase aggression
-Monitoring of children in early stages of development
-Neurological exams when needed
-More studies of prison population
>Potential Benefits
-Crime prevention, “right to treatment” policy
>Potential Dangers
-Crime control that involves excessive measures that violate human rights

Critiques of Biological Theories
-Problems defining criminality
–“several studies have defined criminality on the basis of a single arrest”
-Some twin studies fail to adequately distinguish MZ from DZ twins
— few studies have used biological testing to distinguish
-Methodological problems
–lack of comparison groups, small sample sizes, biased samples
-Lack of generalizability
–do findings in other countries apply to US and vice-versa

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