Crime Deviance And Incarceration Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Crime is any act that goes against or breaks the law while deviance is in line with the word to deviate which means going off track. Our concern in sociology is about what keeps people on track or what gets them to go off line. Deviation is therefore a violation of the norms of society. Both crime and deviance are violation of the norms of the society built the difference comes in because crime has some characteristic added on it in that a low has been passes against it. This makes a crime an offence. However not everything that is illegal becomes a crime (Hazlehurst 1994).

Those people who show deviant behaviour dress and act in a way different to the values and norms of the whole society. An example of such a person is Goths. In most cases deviant behaviours are illegal but in some instances they lead to crime. The norms of this group of people are very different from other members of the society and form a distant sub culture. The media often labels deviant group of people in a negative manner. According to Hazlehurst (1994), it has also been noted that the tabloid newspapers take a more overtly biased approach when labelling the deviant groups although this labelling is not necessarily confined to the "top red" press. TV stations have also been known to a play a key role in labelling these groups.

The amplification of deviance occurs when the media focuses majorly on the negative side of the deviant groups. For instance there has been a recent focus on young people who put on hoods. They have been associated with engaging in crime and causing trouble in the society. Unnecessary media portray can even cause panic within the society unnecessarily and this can lead to these groups becoming folk devils: groups that are used as scapegoats for all the wrongs that happen in the society. When you name certain groups, the society usually expects certain kinds of behaviour from that particular group for instance people from a maginalarized ethnic group. All these labels are in most cases based on stereotypes and could either be negative or positive. In some cases racism can lead to giving of negative labels to certain groups. You should therefore be aware of the potential impact of this labelling like a self fulfilling prophecy (Carolyn 1994).

Two famous sociologists Durkheim and Merton advocate for a functionalism perspective where they view deviance as an affirmation of norms, a clarification of boundaries and the promoter of social change and social unity. According to Christopher & Gary (1993), they also established that the societies in which we live in are highly differentiated and split along lines of ethnicity, social unity, culture and occupation. In this sense, things that were considered deviant or not acceptable at one time are now part of our societies.

There is no behaviour that is deviant by itself, it is judged to be deviance when you base it on the norms of a particular society. There are things that seemed so bad and yet they are not considered to be a crime yet others they may look so simple are considered crime. For instance in some places cannibalism is not necessarily against the law. Most people have once in their life become victims of a crime. For instance phone theft and domestic burglary or even in some extreme cases murder or rape. Some crimes are normally a long term profession and are mostly motivated by drugs. In the study of deviant behaviour we have three levels of explanation (Deflem 2005).

The first one is because of the existence of many different kinds of human behaviour that exist in the society of which biology can contribute to its explanation but it could never give enough explanation. The second explanation is because of the variation in various norms between two or more groups within the society and this is manifested within the sub cultural differences. The socialization that takes place within individual social groups provides a standard for recognition of a certain kind of behaviour as being deviant. According to Deflem (2005), the final explanation is based on the fact that some individuals are considered deviant by others even before they are, and then they develop this deviant identity. In such cases it becomes an issue of social reaction and control.

Not every law is criminal. The lawyers recognize constitutional law, civil law and various other types of legal norms. Civil law is concerned with the relations between private individuals for example in cases such as the contracts involved in areas of employment and consumer purchasing. If a person breaks a contract by say failing to supply the agreed goods or dismissing an employee unfairly from his job, he will have infringed on civil law. Legal action can be taken against the individual. According to Carolyn (1994), police are not involved in civil law and a very different court is used in hearing of civil crime. Successful civil cases may lead to damages or financial compensation. By contrast, criminal law involves the legal norms that are set u by the state and are enforced by the police and the criminal courts. Those who break the criminal laws are arrested, charged and later tried at the expense of the public. If they are found guilty they are either fined or imprisoned.

Criminal law covers a wide range of activities including driving above the required legal speed, breaking into a house, signature forging, stealing a car among many more. Crimes that are seen to be most visible do not necessarily have the greatest impact as one might think. Many small crimes are usually normalized. For instance not every one would report cases of over speeding to the police. Some policemen even disregard offences of such kind. Statistics in the United States have shown huge increase in the cases of crime. It is the young men who are more likely to become victims of crime but a few of those aged above 65 have also been victims (Christopher & Gary 1993).

Records indicate that women just like men would enter into criminal activities whenever an opportunity to commit the crime is realized. Women drift to crime yes but they very rarely go for criminal careers. However prostitution is the form of female crime that seems to be exceptional for this rule. In law someone who sales sex is a prostitute and this is an offence. Men who engage in prostitution are seen to be engaging in some indecency rather than a crime. Never the less it has been realized that prostitute get into some agreement with the police where everyone does his job without interference from the other. According to Carolyn (1994), when the police are put under pressure to take action, these agreements between the prostitutes and the police are usually broken down. Prostitute therefore become more vulnerable in such cases and can easily be susceptible to suggestions and persuasions from the police.


This is the detention of someone in prison or jail upon conviction or suspicion of committing a crime. The frequency of imprisonment, the severity and the duration have varied considerably over time. In America, more than one in every one hundred Americans are incarcerated and this is the highest incarceration rate in the world. The incarcerated prisoners have often given sever punishment. These include prolonged deprivation of sleep, chaining, and beating. Several reasons are however given to justify these punishments. According to the US Department of justice's statistics, more than two million women and men are behind bars in the United States. This is a country that claims to be a land of freedom and yet the highest percentage of its people is incarcerated (Epstein 2001).

According to Bruce & Becky (2000), an imprisonment is a very important part in fighting crime in every country but it's used in different ways in different regions. It's used lavishly by some nations while others use it with considerable prudence. At this point in time, over 10 million individuals are held in penal institutions in the whole world.

The fight for abolishment of cruel treatment of prisoners started long ago and went on through the 19th and the 20th century. Despite this, there has been reports of continued severe punishment and even increased in the 21 century. The contemporary justification for proper treatment of prisoners lies around their rights. According to Epstein (2001), the main reason for incarceration should be the re-education and reform of the prisoners to make them come back into the society.

Offenders of less serious crimes may be given short term sentences which could be served in a local county or city jail or even receive other forms of sanctions like a community correction. In the United States, different prisons operate at different security levels ranging from minimum security to supermax facilities where more dangerous criminals are housed. The greatest force for the growth of population in prisons is the national war on crime. Drug offenders in prison have increased twelve times from 1980. Twenty two of those convicted in the state and federal prisons in 2002 were there because of drug issues. According to Carolyn & Morrison (2009), the greatest number of those in prison are said to be blacks and yet the blacks' population in the US is only 12 percent.

Which the increase in the rates of incarceration, the imprisonment now affects so many children of America every year. More than three quarters of the parents are imprisoned each year and this affects the parent child relationship. Great distance usually separates the parents from the children. For instance, women are held in prisons which are about 160 miles away while males are held in prisons over 100 miles away. These distances make it difficult for the families to come and visit their loved ones. The only communication available remains to be through phone and letter and this is also problematic. The number of letters or calls a prisoner can receive is also limited and this adds to the problem. However despite this huge barrier around 40 percent of the fathers and the 60 percent mothers in prison say they have weekly contact with their offsprings (Bruce & Becky 2000).


The low level criminal activities should be handled by the local communities by instilling a climate of respect for the property of other people. If we instil proper discipline in schools, it will lead to the establishment of criminal control. The elders are heard many times saying that things were not the way they are during their days. This could not be true because crime and deviance has been in existence since the beginning of time. The first human beings to commit the acts of crime and deviance were Adam and Eve and people in the whole world have been committing crime ever since. If human beings could attend to their children and prohibit them from running the streets till late at night like it was done in the passed, the crime rates could be very low.