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Criminal Event Theory wk2.docx

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CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

Tues. Sept. 11/12 Criminal Event Theory - Examines the precursors, transactions and aftermaths of criminal events - Examines the settings in which criminal events take place Is it new? - Criminal event theory is not “new” - Interwoven with routine activities theory, lifestyle exposure theory and environmental criminology - All focus on “routine activities,” “motivated offenders,” “criminal opportunities” / “suitable targets,” “guardianship” and “situational crime prevention.” Crimes as Social Events - Criminal event theory says crimes should be viewed as “social events” - Involve people interacting with each other-e.g., offenders, victims, bystanders, witnesses, criminal justice personnel. - Referred to as events (or episodes) because they “have a beginning and an end” The “Typical” Offender - Most offenders are young males (more than 75% in some offence categories), ages 15-24, lower socioeconomic status, unemployed/temporarily unemployed. - 15-24 age group represented only 14% of population in 2003, while accounting for 45% of violent crime reports and 32% of property crime Excuses, excuses - Excuse-based explanation (denial of responsibility). - Offender may agree the act was wrong, but say that he/she didn’t do it Justification - Offender accepts responsibility but claims the act was justified - Offender says the victim deserved it or “was asking for it,” or that “everyone else does it, so why shouldn’t I?” Feelings of Guilt - Known as “techniques of neutralization.” - Offenders DO experience feelings of guilt, and find it necessary to rationalize/justify their behavior. Tues. Sept. 11/12 Victim Characteristics - Individuals most likely to be victimized are young males, 15-24 years of age, who are poor, and/or from ethnic minorities - People over 65 years of age are least likely to be victimized - Relatively little difference between genders in terms of overall risk of personal victimization Victim Awareness - Victims often don’t realize or acknowledge they’ve been victimized - May not define what happened to them as a crime - Especially true if crime committed by a friend, acquaintance or family member Bystanders and Witnesses - Bystanders and witnesses may deter or prevent a crime by their presence - Offenders may be reluctant to commit a crime in front of witnesses or possible interveners - Bystanders and witnesses may prevent a crime from escalating, by breaking up a fight or by calling the police - Bystanders may also facilitate crime: - Encouraging a fight - Encouraging someone to vandalize a property - Participating in a group that witnesses and encourages a sexual assault The Police - Police often have direct influence on whether or not an act comes to be regarded as a crime - May let someone off with a warning if they come from a “good family,” yet arrest someone who does exactly the same thing because he/she is a “street kid.” - If police are engaged in proactive policing, (have more patrols and actively search out crimes), there is a higher likelihood of an act being defined as criminal - If engaged in reactive policing (only respond to crimes that are reported to them or that they happen to witness) then fewer acts are likely to be defined as crimes. Reporting Crimes - Many crimes do not even come to the attention of the police - Victims decide for one reason or another not to report them - Unreported/unknown amount of crime is estimated to be as high as 66% or more of all crimes that are committed - Victims are more likely to report serious crimes or crimes where perpetrator is a stranger. - Less likely to report less serious crimes or crimes where perpetrator is known to them (e.g., friend or family member) - Victims of crime sometimes involved in criminal activities themselves, and are reluctant to draw attention of police to their own activities Tues. Sept. 11/12 The Dark Figure of Recording - Once crime is reported to police, it goes through process of assessment, classification, and (perhaps) recording - Police decision-making influenced by a variety of factors, including relationship (if any) between offender and victim, policing style of the individual officers, characteristics of the suspect, and preferences of the complainant The Kansas City Experiment - 1972-1973 study in Kansas City - Tested proactive, reactive and control responses to police visibility - Surveyed 15 beats-5 proactive, 5 reactive, 5 control - 40% or more of police officers’ time is uncommitted - No statistically significant differences in crime rates over period of study - Lowest crime rate reported in reactive beats - No significant increase or decrease in arrest rates between three groups - No significant increase in citizens’ perceptions of crime risks Order Maintenance Crackdowns - Assumption that aggressive order maintenance will reduce serious crime - Associated
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