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CRIM 101 (459)

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CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

CRIMINOLOGY – “a social science studying crim and related phenomenon, such as law making, criminal behavior, victimization, and punishment.” - Discipline of crim is a recent development - Most ideas and concepts we now have about crime and criminals emerged over last 2 or 3 centuries - Modern criminology is multi-disciplinary (inter-disciplinary) - Influenced by sociology, psychology, and biology Media’s crime fascinations: There is little relationship between crime news and actual amount of crime Media focus primarily on violent crimes, even though such crimes form only small part of all criminal activity Appears as though police solve more crimes and arrest more criminals than they do in reality Appeal of crime stories and crime news: Crime-related stories are often dramatic and lurid Deal with moral questions of good vs. evil Criminals appear in stories as insane, or dangerous Stories happen in short time span- between newscasts or newspaper editions Easy for public to understand Felson’s 10 fallacies about crime: 1. Dramatic fallacy - to keep ratings high, media seek strange/violent incidents to report/create dramas around - Murder makes up less than 1% of all crime, yet from watching TV or reading the papers, it seems like a commonplace event - Seems that most murders are well-planned, grisly affairs, or they happen solely by random chance - Most murders start as arguments that escalate into violence - Most crimes are relatively minor property crimes 2. Cops-and-courts fallacy - Police work made to look more dangerous and challenging that it really is - Increased policing found to be of limited value - Most crimes are not reported, most of crimes that are reported are not solved by police - Very few elaborate court trials (charges dropped, plea bargaining, guilty plea) 3. “Not-me” fallacy - Most people think they could/would never commit crime - However, many people have shoplifted, smoked marijuana, driven when they’re impaired, or gone joy-riding in a car - Most people violate at least some laws sometimes, even though they may not get caught or end up with criminal records 4. Innocent youth fallacy - Tendency to view younger people as being “pure/innocent” - In reality, teen years are most active years for criminal activity - Majority of crimes committed by younger offenders - Younger offenders often more dangerous than older offenders 5. Ingenuity fallacy - Tendency to think criminals are more clever than they really are - In reality, lightweight, high value items have made crime even more simple - Most crimes take little planning, little skull, and almost no time to commit 6. The organized crime fallacy - Tendency to view crime as more organized and conspiratorial that it really is - Most criminals act quickly, avoid contact, with co-offenders, and don’t do a lot of work or planning - Dealing with “organized” criminals makes what law enforcement officials are doing seem more important and sophisticated that it really is 7. Juvenile gang fallacy - These are now
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