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Lecture 3

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CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

Crim 101 Lecture 3 January 24 2013 1 RESEARCHING CRIMINAL EVENTS SEVERAL APPROACHES  Direct observation in natural settings(ethnographic research)  Experimental observations  Police reports  Victimization surveys  Self report surveys DIRECT OBSERVATION  Also known as ethnographic research  Not necessarily the most efficient manner to research crime  Criminal events occur with relative infrequency  Criminals spend a lot of their time doing same thing as non-criminals. THE SECRET LIVES OF CRIMINALS  Criminal behavior tends to be secretive in nature  Criminals go out of their way to avoid observation or detection  If done successfully ethnographic researchers may learn in-depth information about criminal survey-cultures that are not usually amenable to investigation EXPERIMENTING ON HUMANS  Issues of “informed consent” (if you tell the subjects what you are going to do they might refuse or alter their behavior)  If you encourage subjects to break the law, you may be breaking the law yourself EXPERIMENTS IN ELECTRICITY “The milgram experiment” THE UCR AND THE GSS  Official crime rates usually based on the uniform crime report (UCR)  Criminologists also look at the general social survey (GSS) SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE UCR 2 Crim 101 Lecture 3 January 24 2013  Many incidents of crime go undetected, or unreported, or unreported and consequently do not make it into the UCR  Some incidents that are reported may not show up in the UCR because police conclude they are unfounded THE DARK FIGURE OF RECORDING, ACT II, Scene 33  Wide variations in reporting practices across the country  Professionalism and degree of organization of particular police department may be a factor OTHER COMPLICATING FACTORS  The crime funnel  The central city phenomenon  Canada’s policy on collection of race-crime information THE CRIME FUNNEL  Describes attrition rate as reported crimes make their way through the criminal justice system  For most crimes known to the police, nobody gets arrested  Arrest usually does not lead to a trail or a guilty plea **********but mostly probation -actual level of crime -detected crime -reported crime -arrests -convictions -non-custodial -custodial THE CENTRAL CITY PHENOMENON  Crime rates reported in city centers may not accurately reflect the number of criminally-minded people who actually live there  Census Metropolitan Areas or CMAs often have a number of suburbs that are contiguous to – or connected with the city itself.  People from suburbs travel to city center in search of excitement, entertainment, or the opportunity to commit crimes ETHNICITY AND CRIME  Canada does not collect statistics on the relationship (if any)  To the extent that we have reliable information, it is usually collected by correctional institutions, rather than by the police of the courts Crim 101 Lecture 3 January 24 2013 3 FEDERAL INCARCERATION RATES PER 100,000 Aboriginal -185 Blacks-146 Whites-42 Asians-16 THE GREAT DEBATE NO!(Julian Roberts):  Difficult to classify people in a multi-racial society  Police officers (the ones most likely to be making decisions about the race of a suspect) have no training or expertise in these matters  Information might result in discrimination against ethnic groups that appear to be over-represented in the stats. YES!(Thomas Gabor)  Why should academics, criminal justice personnel and political leaders determine what the public can and cannot know?  We live in a free society, where censorship is unacceptable  If some ethnic minorities are more involved in crime, shouldn’t the public have a right to know? THE GLADUE DECISION  1999 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, referred to as R. v. Gladue  Section 718.2 of Criminal Code makes it mandatory for sentencing judges to take into consideration unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.  Supreme Court confirmed this is remedial in nature and is designed to ameliorate the serious problem of overrepresentation of aboriginal peoples in prisons.”  Decision encourages judges to take “a restorative approach” when sentencing Aboriginals  Court acknowledges that the jail term for an Aboriginal offender may in some circumstances be less than the term imposed on a non-aboriginal offender for the same offence.” THE GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY  Victimization survey that interviews people by telephone (random digit dialing)  In 2009, sampled 19,500 individuals over the age of 15, in households across Canada  Respondents asked about their victimization experiences, and their perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system 4 Crim 101 Lecture 3 January 24 2013 THE DARK FIGURE OF CRIME  GSS instrumental in revealing the “dark figure of crime” (around 69% of all crimes)  In distinct contrast to the UCR, which only includes cases where people actually report crime to police and /or police feel the complaint justifies writing up a report WHY CRIMES GO UNREPORTED  Not important enough  Didn’t think the police can do anything  Dealt with it in another manner  Felt that is was a personal matter  Didn’t want the police involved SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE GSS  Interviews only those respondents who have a telephone  Marginalized people with no phone being excluded from the survey(maybe the most highly victimized  GSS (household survey) misses crimes committed against business e.g. robberies, shoplifting, credit card fraud  Doesn't sample children under age 15; may fail to uncover substantial amount of youth victimization  Problem of "telescoping“; respondents may unintentionally include incidents that happened to them more than 12 months ago SELF-REPORT SURVEYS  Like the GSS, self-report surveys usually conducted over the phone  Ask members of the public whether they have committed a crime act  Again confirm the large amount of undetected or unreported crime PROBLEMS WITH SELF-REPORT SURVEYS  Offenders who have most to hide
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