The Perspective Of Three Criminal Theories Criminology Essay


Purpose: This study intends to use the perspective of three criminal theories: Social disorganization, Differential association and labeling theory to understand and eventually address the issues surrounding education, socioeconomic status and social dilemmas in respect to incarceration amongst juveniles. Specifically, the study intends to answer the following research questions: Does education, socioeconomic status and social dilemmas affect incarceration among Juveniles in America? How can education, socioeconomic status and social problems decrease the rate of incarceration among Juveniles in America? What are some environmental factors that predetermine criminal outcome amongst juveniles? Many questions, theories and researcher are generated in order to tackle an issue of this magnitude. The raw data that one uses to conceptualize may prevent a strong conviction when presenting this type of data amongst a broad spectrum. The intentions of ones study should solely focus on the prevention process rather than just presenting factual material to its audience. Stereotypes, pigeonholes and over-generalizations should be address. Misrepresentation amongst the minority group tends to produce a more compelling statistic. "Adult offenders often begin their criminal careers as children with little hope and little help" (Comey, 2005, p. 12).This research will try and find pre-indicators that will help solve the juvenile delinquency rate.

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Nature of the Problem:

Do education, economic status and social problems affect incarceration among Juveniles in America? Winters (1997) stated that, "Crime statistics indicate that levels of academic achievement, school attendance and graduation rates play an important role in the involvement of youth in the criminal justice system." Levitt (1998) and Mocan and Rees make available verification to show higher levels of confined unemployment and higher levels of local poverty associated with higher levels of crime. Family benefit status, a substitute for family deficiency, has a positive impact on juvenile offending. Finally, family construction and the education of the juveniles' parents also have an impact on delinquent behavior (1998). How can education, economic status and social problems decrease the rate of incarceration among Juveniles in America? Spence (1950 p.3) stated "that there is a wide agreement that delinquency is not to be thought of in terms of single factors or combination of factors but rather a relationship between a individual and his community" Spence goes on to say that intolerable but be found throughout all the interrelationships that exist between individuals and their communities. World Report (2003) says "In practice, many prevention approaches have proved ineffective. Studies show that shock incarceration (boot camp) does not reduce criminality. Short-term, "quick fix" job training has not lowered arrest rates. Studies using official recidivism measures may leave out important trends in individual offending (Williams and Gold 1973) and may provide a distorted picture of actual behavior Neither traditional psychotherapy nor behavior modification has shown great promise as a vehicle for redirecting delinquent and criminal youth. A few methods-especially scare-oriented approaches or programs that place groups of delinquent youth together for extended treatment-have actually worsened the behavior of participants. Therefore a question must be asked, "What is the resolution to leading, maintaining, and reforming juvenile delinquents.


Social disorganization theory pioneers Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay suggested that disorganized communities characterized by poverty, population heterogeneity, and residential mobility weakened the effectiveness of social controls (Kelly, 2000; Messner, Baumer, & Rosenfeld, 2004). Social disorganization theory and the evidence cited as support for this type of theory generated considerable criticism. One line of criticism came from theorists advocating alternative perspectives which addressed the sources of motivation for crime. Hasty growth and modification were viewed as "disorganizing" or "disintegrative" forces subsidizing to a breakdown in the schooling and learning of those preceding "social rules" which had introverted crime and delinquency in European crofter society (Thomas and Znanieki, 1918). Shaw and Mckay (1969) states, that some ethnicities may inspire criminal deeds. Where crimes would not be replicated as criminal ats or wrong inside the cultural or environment, may not be seen as such harsh activities are committed. Rigorous empirical examination of these assumptions began only recently, with Sampson and Groves (1989), who find that local friendship networks, participation in formal and voluntary organizations, and a community's ability to supervise and control teenage peer groups explain much of the effect of exogenous characteristics on crime and victimization (Kurbin and Weitzer 2003)

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Differential Association

Southerland (1939, 1947) originally specified differential association theory in 1939 in the third edition of his influential text, Principles of Criminology. Differential organization is a erudition theory which focuses on the processes by which persons approach to consign criminal acts illegal behavior is learned. Southerland (1942, 19730 concluded that a multiple factor approach by itself did not provide a scientific understanding of crime. He noted that race and sex are highly correlated with delinquency, as males and Blacks commit more delinquent acts than females and Whites. Matsueda (2000) inferred that at the level of the individual, the process of differential association provides a social psychological explanation of how normative conflict ion society translates into individual criminal acts. Their differential social control theory specifies that delinquent behavior occurs in problematic situations in which individuals take the role of significant others and considers the others reaction to alternative lines of action before selecting a delinquent or non delinquent solution to the problem. In providing an explanation on juveniles and crime, they must be grouped. Social disorganization is furthermore expanded upon by Southerland in respect to defining how crime relates to the grouping of expected crimes to be committed. Hirschi's (1969) social control theory states that delinquency stems not from a broad scope of influential ideas, environment and/or forces, but rather the individualization of ones thoughts that premeditates the controlled behavior displayed through ones actions. The lack of a social bonds, community based influence and broken homes, is the foundation for disaster that many children are involuntary to be a part of. The differential-association theory applies to many types of deviant behavior. For example, juvenile gangs make available an environment in which young people learn to develop into criminals. These gangs delineate themselves as countercultural and lionize violence, vengeance, and crime as worth to accomplishing social prestige. Gang affiliates learn to be deviant as they clinch and kowtow to their gang's norms. In the article States Get Tough on Juvenile Crime (Pipho, 1993), states that more courtrooms across America are tightening down on the juvenile penal system. In totality this means, heavier sentencing and less rehabilitation for juveniles. The developmental stage begins at a young age and therefore one's behavior is already set in stone when adulthood is reached. The lack of remodeling, rehabilitation and reform increases the chance of a juvenile to become delinquent. Tougher jail sentences causes to become defiant and are less likely to reform. The survival mode takes over the individuals' mind while working towards reforming from past crime(s) committed.


The word education in association with crime can be defined in many different instances. The role of education and school are interchangeable. The role of the school and prevention needs to have an insight to what is the causing of crime and delinquency, define tracking and demonstrate how it relates to delinquency. The relationship between IQ and delinquency may cause some unrest at the schools. Talk about the extent of victimization at school and responses to the problem. One should try and identify preschool programs and discuss their impact on crime and delinquency. Many theorists emphasize the importance of schools in developing behavior. Cohen (1995), Cloward and Ohlin (1960) and Merton (1968) point to blocked attainment and feelings of failure as a source of deviant behavior. Each of these theorist claims that an individual faced with little or no chance of success in legitimate endeavors will turn to deviant avenues for sources of success and support. These informal chains rest on the assumption that youth's value educational achievement. Negative evaluations in the education setting would then hold the potential for lowering the juveniles' self esteem. One of the more influential studies of the educational system in the United States found that parents of all social classes are very interested in their children's educational success (Coleman, 1966). Vinter and Sarri (1965) reported that this emphasis on educational success extends to the youths themselves. Two studies show that minority and poor students place a higher value on education than other student (Coleman, 1966; Reiss & Rhodes, 1959). Nevertheless, despite this near-universal desire to achieve in school, lower class and minority students invariably make up the group that most often fails. Those who fail in school typically exhibit misbehavior and delinquency both in and out of school.

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There are many studies that point to the failure-delinquency relationship. Polk and Hafferty (1966) noted that students who perform poorly in school and are not committed to educational achievement admit to higher levels of deviant behavior. Hirsachi (1969), studied about 4,000 young men and found that those youth with little are no commitment to school and education displayed higher levels of delinquency. There is a constant correlation between uneducated and criminal activity. "The most statistically [significant] fact of a cohort or persons in prison from approximately 18 to 27 years of age is that over 90 percent of them lack a high school diploma" ("'School-to-Prison Pipeline'; Poor Schools," 2009, p. A17) This is an excerpt from the Washington Post in which Young (2009) record the similarities and correlations that are inter twined with school and prison. However, a shocking addition, the schools have turned to law enforcement for handling what used to be student disciplinary action at the schools. So, a combination of the school-to-prison pipeline and over utilizing the criminal system to handle student disciplinary matters, as well as the high dropout for students, leads to a well-known statistic " ("'School-to-Prison Pipeline'; Poor Schools," 2009, p. A17). One question a researcher could rise, what factors or forces pushed the schools panel to decide to use law enforcement for governing the student disciplinary problems. Now furthermore as one research, finding a solution becomes evident to the ever-growing situation at hand. The Honorable Judge Juanita Kitsdell stated in 1989 that an ordered society is essential. A law related education could furthermore be included to compile and set the standard for those young adults who are expected to lead tomorrow's future. "Prison-education advocates say that some form of education reduces the likelihood of the convicted returning to prison once they are released." (Anyaso, 2005, p. 4) Generally, a crime prevention system will be effective only if (a) the contents and framework of prevention efforts are clearly defined and the functional opportunities of all agencies included in that system are appropriately utilized (World Report 2003). The education process should be the follow-up reinforcement for what is being taught at home. Many times the teachers end up roleplaying as parents and teachers. The main argument found in the midst of that situation are; the teacher is parenting more than they are teaching, next is, the teacher is not teaching but subliminally acting as an enforcer and armament. A famous saying is that "More battles are loss, than they are won"

Socioeconomic Status

Over the past thirty years, the average socioeconomic status of African-American males has deteriorated, absolutely and relative to men from other racial and ethnic groups Raphael (2004).The most popular belief associated with Socio-Economic Status and Delinquency is that the lower class adolescents will have a greater number of deviants versus the middle or lower class. Akers (1964) reported that Ivan Nye conducted a research in the Washington metro area, with questions were strongly raised to find a different outcome of the association of deviant adolescents with the combination of crime. Raphael (2004) states, that having served a prison sentence worsens one's labor market prospects for a variety of reasons, and thus aggravates stubborn racial differences in employment and pay. Moreover, if the phenomenon comprehensibly affects the adult population and more specific the Black male population, then it to must affect juveniles. Parental variables consistently predict delinquency more strongly than other variables, yet parenting tends to be ignored in most major theory that focuses on delinquency. Families with little socioeconomic status frequently lack the financial, social, and educational supports that exemplify families with far above the ground socioeconomic status. Poor families also may have insufficient or partial access to neighborhood resources that sustain and support children's expansion and school readiness. Parents may have insufficient skills for such actions as reading to and with their children, and they may be deficient in information about childhood immunizations and nourishment. Zill, Collins, West, and Hausken (1995) state that "low maternal education and minority-language status are most consistently associated with fewer signs of emerging literacy and a greater number of difficulties in preschoolers." Having insufficient capital and limited admission to accessible possessions can negatively affect families' pronouncements concerning their young children's growth and learning. As a result, children from families with near to the ground socioeconomic status are at higher risk of entering kindergarten unqualified than their peers from families with medium or high socioeconomic status. This same study (Louisiana Department of Education, 2001) revealed that the number of students retained more than tripled in fourth and eighth grades, reflecting the impact of high stakes testing on retention in the state of Louisiana. Many sociodemographic factors are relevant to parenting and child development, including ethnicity, race, and residence (Garcia Coll & Pachter, 2002; Hernandez, 1997; McLoyd, 1998). SES [1] contributes to the short- and long-term goals parents have for their children, the practices parents employ in attempting to meet their goals and, consequently, the everyday contexts of development experienced by children. (Bornstein, Hahn, Suwalsky & Haynes, 2003, p. 33) The lack of parent expatiation for their child(ren) can skew the socioeconomic realm for a child. The driving force that will factor in a child decisions to make a difference in affecting an outcome of the economic back ground will force him/her to seize deep self determination. Commonly speaking, blacks have a lower SES [2] than whites, and have a propensity to live in communities concentrated with low SES. On an individual level, there is still no association to crime based on white SES and black SES, but when you combine individual with community SES, that's when there emerges a higher probability of blacks committing crimes over whites. It seems that the wealthy are manipulating those who have less power than them. The influence of money is unprecedented and the will to accept some monetary gift in exchange with the absence of not serving any type of penalty for doing so. The poor sees it as a way of obtaining funds to get kickbacks or earmarks, that would best serve the famous with innately are the wealthy. The lower and middle classes have very little influence on the way society operates. They are the working class, so in turn; you work for an employer, not with an employer. All of these factors give way to many dilemmas that are exposed and prevalent in the juvenile culture in America. Systematically one thought process can be disentwined and the causes can become uncertain and unclear. There seems to be a never ending quest for knowledge on a subject. The constant change seems to through loop holes in research and theories, and information from individuals are becoming harder to come across because of the lack of competencies.

Figure 1.0 [3] 

Social Dilemmas

America has many social problems. There are few of them that affect incarceration, and there are many in which are born from incarceration. Harkreader and Weathersby (1998) found its influence much less than economic factors, whereas Bankston and Caldas (1998) concluded that minority status was more highly related to achievement than was socioeconomic status. Arrest estimates, therefore, may comprise a number of artificial or unjust arrests that would not accurately signify recidivism. Sincerity data, on the other hand, provides a more traditional estimate of recidivism because it does not consist of erroneously arrested offenders. At the same time, offenders who are in reality culpable may break away from conviction, which would preconceive notions this estimate in the contradictory direction - it could become too conservative. In addition, both measures fall diminutive of capturing a true approximation of recidivism because they are both certified measures. In addition, disruptions in parenting which are products from various family stressors have been associated with compromised child alteration (Downey & Coyne, 1990), child conduct problems (Webster-Stratton, 1990), and antisocial behavior (Patterson, 1986). "Psychologists often stress the fact that juvenile delinquents lack the social skills needed to solve interpersonal problems" (Ter Laak, De Goede, Aleva, Brugman, Van Leuven & Hussmann, 2003) In a concise spectrum, girls who find themselves sociable tend to resolve their problem in a more timely manner versus girls that did not (Gaffney and McFall 1981). Hirschi (1986) tried to do justice to both hypotheses, symptomatic of that coherent preference was connected with unlawful events and that management was connected with the person's criminal association. One has to approximate the likelihood of achievement for a fastidious illicit act in a unambiguous situation, but the effortlessness with which one is involved in such conduct is predisposed by one's self-control. Rosenbaum (1989) found that adolescents who have a strong bond with their parents are less likely to be delinquent. "The inmates were all felony offenders, most of whom had been previously arrested many times." (Eisenman, 1993) suggest that these youth had many problems before hand. The fact, circumstances and non performance of superior behavior can suggest a hand full of things. First, youthful males, who are incarcerated for a felony crime, tend to posses a high recidivism rate. Secondly, a proportion of those youthful males have no inclination of a violent or deviant background and the act of committing a violent crime had little or no trace. Lastly, the punishment, rehabilitation and form models are lacking in some areas and needs to be redefined. For instance, punishment; needs to be swift and fit the crime, but whereas should not exceed or go beyond acceptability. Rehabilitation programs should focus on the person as a whole and not a specific deterrent. The process of rehabilitation should be strung together in conjunction with a life changing path. Making those individuals redefine who they are and their purpose in society could ultimately prevent them recidivate. The youth had all developed anti-social orientations. They saw crime as the right thing to do, and people were basically objects to be manipulated for their own purposes. Although they might have a friend or companion, most of them did not have the same regard for others which the more typical member of society might possess. (Eisenman, 1993) This is an excellent example of a male population that needs to be targeted in totality. While incarcerated, juveniles and even to the extent of including adults, begin to develop personality formalities that can handicap and prevent a successful rehabilitation or reform. Instead of resolving chronic social problems of race, poverty, violence, child abuse, war, and other destructions, ours is an age of crisis, much of it invisible--neither publicly acknowledged nor privately examined. (Davis, 1999, p. 2) In America there are countless social problems that affect the whole country and each individualized community. While studies have suggested that the prevalence of firearms possession and homicide negatively affect the mental health and development of school-aged children and adolescents residing in chronically violent neighborhoods (Dekovic, 1999; Donaldson and Prinstein, 2000; Ellickson and McGuigan, 2000; Farrell and Bruce, 1997; Hill and Madhere, 1996; Sampson, 1998). Research findings continue to specify that many of the personal problems experienced by African-American youth, in particular, originate in the social and economic structures of society, causing a undeviating impairment of their abilities to adapt to or modify their environment (Brookins et al., 1997; Tobin and Gorman-Smith, 1997; Scarpa, 2001; Williams and Stiffman, 1998; Cooley-Quille et al., 2001; Berman et al., 2001; Wills et al., 1995). National research has shown that high quality, substitute community based diversionary programs for delinquent youth are both more effective at reducing recidivism and less expensive than incarceration (Fitzgerald 2009). Fitzgerald (2009) stated that in most states, the largest portion of the juvenile justice budget is spent on confining youth, most often in large correctional facilities, or in detention centers awaiting trial or pending placement. This places a huge burden on the state's budget and financial situation. The housing of a juvenile is expensive; versus the amount to rehabilitate a juvenile should raise some eyebrows. These are the kinds of entities that should be audited and reviewed by a state committee. Therefore budget cuts can be administered from this area and could be placed into an entity which is suitable for more funds.

This literature study used the perspective of three criminal theories: Social disorganization, Differential association and labeling theory to try to understand and address the issues surrounding education, socioeconomic status and social dilemmas in respect to incarceration amongst juveniles. Specifically, the study intended to answer the following research questions: Does education, socioeconomic status and social dilemmas affect incarceration among Juveniles in America? How can education, socioeconomic status and social problems decrease the rate of incarceration among Juveniles in America? What are some environmental factors that predetermine criminal outcome amongst juveniles? Many questions, theories and literature findings were generated in order to tackle an issue of this extent. The raw data that I used to conceptualize proved a strong conviction amongst a broad spectrum. The intentions of this literature study focused on the prevention process rather than just presenting factual material to its audience. Stereotypes, pigeonholes and over-generalizations address that there are common problems across the broad and models for rehabilitation are the best outcome of many delinquent juvenile situations . Misrepresentation amongst the minority group tends to produce a more compelling statistic. "Adult offenders often begin their criminal careers as children with little hope and little help" (Comey, 2005, p. 12).This research will try and find pre-indicators that will help solve the juvenile delinquency rate.