In week one, we learned about the difference between criminal justice and criminology. We learned that criminology has two types of study. The first would be classical criminology meaning that criminals are basically of sound mind and body. Those criminals have cognitive learning and reasoning skills. The problem is they do not know how to survive in a normal society, or as society says they should act (Sycamnias, 2013).
There are two types of study in criminology, classical and neo classical. Classical theory shows that criminals are responsible for their own actions. That they have the mental capacity to understand that what they are doing is right or wrong, depending on the situation at hand. With neo classical, it's the actual surroundings of the criminal, not the criminal at all that is at fault. They believe that because there are so many great things out there that they have every right to go out and just take them, instead of working for them (Sycamnias, 2013).
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The crimes that would fit this theory are more the personal crimes like robbery, assault and shop lifting. This is where the criminal sees what they want and plans and schemes on how they can get it without getting caught. They don't care who they hurt in the process, just as long as they got what they wanted (Criminology Careers, 2013).
The second is the criminal justice system which means "crimes and criminals are detected, detained, tried and punished. The three main components of the criminal justice system are law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Â These three entities work together to prevent and punish deviant behavior" (Criminology Careers, 2013). Within this system there is the court system and the correction system. These organizations both detain and try to treat the criminal to help alleviate the recidivism rate (Criminology Careers, 2013).
Criminology looks at the deviant behavior of criminals while the criminal justice system looks at how society views the crimes. They both use the same research methods, both came out in the mid - 20th century, and they both use sociology, psychology and political science as a base of knowledge (Roufa, 2012).
In week two of the course we covered the biological theories of crime. This theory thinks that criminals are born that way; it's in their biological make up. This abnormality is believed to be caused by the family or heredity, a neurotransmitter dysfunction or a brain abnormality caused by stunted growth or a head injury (seiken, 2013).
Emile Durkheim believed that crime is a fact of society and "the dissociation of the individual from the collective conscience or the criminality resulting from a lack of opportunity to achieve aspirations or by the learning of criminal values and behaviors. Therefore criminality results by the failure to properly socialize individuals and by unequal opportunities between groups." (seiken, 2013).
There are many different factors taken into the sociological theory. There is education, their gender, their age, and the color of their skin. This theory wants to prove that not all social groups are equal; some have more opportunities than others. So, the have not's are more likely to turn to crime than the haves (Biological, Sociological and Psychological Theories of Crime, 2007).
With heredity it is believed to be passed down through generations. This is similar to those that are on welfare for several generations at a time. Crime comes from what they see and hear throughout their adolescence and early teen years.
Once they are old enough to start making their own choices, they can choose to do right or follow in the family footsteps (Bartol & Bartol, 2011).
The neurotransmitter affects the chemical balance in the brain. This issue can happen at any time by either an accident or head injury of some type, like post-traumatic stress disorder. This is happening a lot with our troops that are coming home from war. With this type of injury they have a hard time dealing with themselves and society. So, in turn they can turn to drugs and eventually crime to support their newly formed drug habit (Bartol & Bartol, 2011).
In week three we learned about the important theories like labeling, social learning, rational choice, and routine activity theories. With these theories sociologist and criminologists can help figure out why people commit murder, robbery, assault, road rage, and kidnapping. The criminal is studied more than the crime is in these theories (Theories of crime , 2013).
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The labeling theory has a stigma for the criminal; they can be shunned by society. These criminals are treated as if they are a leper and not to be associated with. This happens when you tell someone at a vulnerable stage in their life that they are no good, will amount to nothing, and should have never been born. This type of environment can push a person into criminal activity as a way to try to prove the abuser wrong (Theories of crime , 2013).
With the social learning theory criminals can learn their behavior by positive or negative reinforcement. If they are shown a positive and prosperous environment they may not become criminals. However; if they grow up in a negative environment they may turn to crime to gain respect. A good example would be the gangs in the United States. They turn to someone who is showing them support, albeit negative but, still acknowledgement of their self-worth (Theories of crime , 2013).
In the rational choice theory the criminal is in it for monetary, status, or sexual gain. This theory can be explained through our political system. There is always a senator, governor, or politician caught with their hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. The politician will use their position and power to gain monetary, sexual, and status gain. Meaning, they chose to do criminal activities as long as they are not caught (Rational Choice Theory (Criminology), 2013).
In week four Robert Merton anomie theory believes there are four ways to deal with social strain. First there is innovation, then ritualism, then retreatism, and finally rebellion. Messner and Rosenfeld went a step further and blamed crime on the "American dream promotes and sustains an institutional structure in which one institution, the economy, assumes dominance over all others" (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
Messner and Rosenfeld believed that if you limited the primary source of stress, then crime would not follow. However; they also believed that legitimate opportunities should not be limited. If legitimate opportunities were eliminated then crime rates would not go down. They believed high crime rates are brought on by weak controls and the desire to obtain monetary rewards (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
In 1985, Agnew introduced the general strain theory. In this theory "individuals experiencing strain may develop negative emotions, including anger, when they see adversity as imposed by others, resentment when they perceive unjust treatment by others, and depression or anxiety when they blame themselves for the stressful consequence" (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
In this theory kids are more apt to turn to crime because of peer pressure, lack of life experience, and not being able to leave a situation. Tis theory also believes that anger is the main stressor. Delinquency and violence can increase the need for retaliation, lower inhibitions, increase levels of pain, and energize the need for action in juveniles (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
Juveniles have a problem dealing with short term anger and situation specific anger. Juveniles do not have the mental capacity to deal with the stresses of adult hood, even though they think they do. Juveniles are quick to lose their temper, over react, and be impulsive (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
According to relative deprivation theory, "objective conditions may have little relationship to people's behavior, since their perceptions of these conditions may be at odds with the actuality" (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).Basically, people will compare themselves to others in society and see how they rate. This is not a good theory especially if they are not comparing themselves to someone in their same social standing (Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews, 2010).
If they compare themselves to someone in a higher social standing, criminal activity will follow. The four theories to relative deprivation are look at what they have, what others have, and try to obtain as much or more in a legal or illegal manor. Criminals will put value to what they have and others have, and aspire to increase their own value legally or illegally (Miquel, 2013).
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The Patriarchy theory is in week five. Patriarchy theory is "social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly control by men of a disproportionately large share of power" (Miriam Webster, 2013).
This theory is used mainly by the radical feminist movement. They believed gender must be observed as a product of power between men and women. They believe that masculinity is more important than femininity. Women believe that they are being oppressed by their male counterparts (Miquel, 2013).
So, criminal nature is constantly under review. There are a multitude of ways to measure why criminals do what they do and how they developed these inclinations. These can come from your surroundings, your mind, and other social pressures.