SOC*1500 – Crime and Criminal Justice
1. What is crime & how much crime?
2. Crime and representation
3. Criminological theories
4. Selective Issues: violent crime, corporate crime
5. Criminal Justice system’s response to crime
THEME: crime control vs. individual rights
1. Courselink participation critical reflection – 20%
2. Media assignment – 20%
3. Quizzes (best 10) 30%
4. Community Engaged Learning Problem (CEL) – 5%
5. Final Exam – 25%
- William O’Grady. 2011 CRIME IN CANADIAN CONTEXT, 2 ed. Oxford
University Press: Canada
- D2L (Web Course Tools) is a web-based course management system, which
will provide access to online articles from the University of Guelph’s
database. Check the weekly site for updates.
- Newspapers (or online digests), as well as popular culture (i.e. music, movies,
videos, Internet) for sources of ‘media’, which provide information about
crime and the Canadian criminal justice system.
- Reflection is looking back on experiences; critical reflection is the intentional
process of analyzing, reconsidering and questioning experiences within a
broader context of issues
- Occurs when we analyze and challenge the validity of our presuppositions
and assess the appropriateness of our knowledge, understanding and beliefs
given our present context (Mezirow, 1990)
- Brookefield (1990) explains that critical reflection involves three phases:
o Identifying the assumptions (“those taken for granted ideas),
commonsense beliefs, and self-evident rules of thumb” (pg.177) that
underlie our thoughts and actions o Assessing and scrutinizing the validity of these assumptions in terms
of how they relate to our ‘real-life’ experiences and our present
o Transforming these assumptions to become more inclusive and
integrative, and use this newly formed knowledge to more
appropriately inform our future actions and practices
- The body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes
the processes of making laws, of breaking laws and reacting to the breaking
of laws….(Sutherland and Cressey, 1960)
It focuses on:
1. Sociology of law (social aspects/institutions)
2. Theories of crime causation
3. Study of social responses to crime (cjs such as police, courts and corrections)
(White & Haines, 2004)
1. Who are offenders?
2. What are the consequences for the victims and perpetrators of crime?
3. What explains offending/victimization/criminalization?
4. How can particular types of crime be prevented?
Divisions of Law
- Substantive: rights and obligations i.e. criminal law states what types of
conduct are prohibited
- Procedural: sets out the methods to enforce these rights and duties i.e.
contains rules for enforcing criminal law e.g. rules police must follow when
making an arrest
Public (Criminal/Constitutional) vs. Private (Civil – Family, Property, Labour)
2 systems of law: Common law – case driven and civil law – legislature made
2 ways to enforce the law – criminal and civil
Levels of legislation – fed/Prov
- Criminal law comes into existence when the state declares itself to be the
injured party for certain types of infractions (Linden, 2004:21)
What is a crime?
- Legally a crime is defined as: o “an intentional act or omission in violation of the criminal law,
committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the
state…” (Tappan 1966:10)
Basic Elements of a Crime
1. Actus Reus “Guilty act” or physical element (or omission)
2. Mens Rea “guilty mind” or intention
Mental element – intention, recklessness, gross negligence etc.
Some exceptions where the crown does not have to prove full mens and actus
reus of an offence. Eg. Posession offences, counterfeiting. Similar to crime of
attempt where crown has to prove if the accused had not been stopped they
would have completed the crime. E.g can you be convicted of attempted murder
if you shoot your enemy’s bed when they are not there although you thought
they were? YES. Can you be convicted of attempted pickpocketing if you are
caught with your hand in someone else’s pocket which happens to be empty?
Legal brief – facts, issue, decision and reasons
Fagan v. Commissioner or Metropolitan Police (1969) 1 QB, 438n
- Sociologist C. Wright Mills says the sociological imagination means
understanding society by having a grasp of the interplay of social structure
and individuals (1959:11)
- “Seeing the general in the particular” (Berger, 1963)
- American sociologists most important work published in the 1950s – The
Sociological Imagination 1959
- To best analyze the intersection of personal and social, Mills advocates
what he calls the sociological imagination.
- “Troubles occur within the character of the individual and within the range
of his immediate relations with others; they have to do with his self and
those limited areas of social life…” (Mills, 1959:8)
- ““Issues have to do with matters that transend these local environments of
the individual and the range of his individual life. They have to do with the
organization of many such mileux into the institutions of an historical society
of a whole ...” (Mills, 1959:8).Private Troubles vs. Public Issues
- Public issues are social problems
- A way of looking at the world that can see links between the apparently
private problems of the individual and important social issues
- Historical, contemporary global, and societal factors are responsible for the
presence of public issues (social problems) in societies like ours.
- The causes of social problems are social not individual.
- “a condition that harms a significant number of people or results in the
structural disadvantage of particular segments in any given society” (Dolgan,
- In the case of unemployment “if only one man is unemployed in a city of
100,000 we properly look to the character of the man, his skills and his
immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15
million men are unemployed, that is an issue … the very structure of
opportunity has collapsed”
Public Confidence in Criminal Justice in Canada
- Read the article (printed off in binder)
- How much crime in Canada?
- Are crime rates increasing or decreasing?
- Where and when is crime most likely to occur?
- What are the factors that influence trends in crime rates?
- Who commits crime?
- What causes people to commit crime?
o There are not any clear-cut answers for most of these questions.
What do crime stats measure?
- “Crime statistics do not measure criminal behaviour; they measure the
response of various agencies to their perception of crime” (Hackler,
- “… you are counting something about how the system itself operates; you
are counting official decisions about crime and criminals” (Linden, 2004:90).
o These two quotes suggest that we must think critically about what it is