Soc 212 - Intro to Criminology
12 yrs of age is the youngest to be charged
the peak is at adulthood
Males are dominant.
Higher chances if born into a family with criminal history, described as life style.
The media follows trends of crime to gain more attention.
Creating a false perception that will negatively impact the public. Ex: Natives are represented as
the majority of crimes.
the study of crime, criminals, and their behaviour.
Social factors come to play when defining crimes and criminals.
Historically includes issues of crime correlation, crime prevention and correctional
Contemporary criminology involves an integrated and interdisciplinary approach
- Concerned with elements of the laws
- Utilizes behavioural sciences disciplines.
What is a crime?
A crime is an act that violates criminal law and is punishable by law.
A criminal intention (men’s rea) without the action ( actus reus) is not a criminal
act by law.
Historically, crimes were considered private wrongs dealt with by retributions
and revenge by the victims. It varies by culture.
What do criminological sociologists do?
Criminal statistics- measuring trends of criminal activity- mostly quantitive research.
Sociology of law—policy and law changes
Criminal behavioural systems- crime types and patterns; if the crime is psychological or
sociological in nature, or socio-psychological.
Penology- correctional system.
Victimology- use of victim surveys, costs to victims, risk, victim culpability, services to
Theorizing/ research- crime correlation- why do people commit crime?
Why is theory and research important?
It serves to help us explain and understand things.
Theory and research provides an:
- An explanatory framework - Empirical testing- to test theory if it could be held as true.
- Findings that relate to outcomes- ie: policy recommendations.
- Bandura- if you can learn to be criminal you can learn to be social
- Research: involves concepts, variables, hypothesis, predictions, explanations and
- Theory is the foundation of the “why”- or can be tested to see if valid.
Theory as Explanation:
Theory as explanation:
- Sociological theories emphasize structure and process.
- Structural explanations= external social and economic factors. Conflict theory for
- Process explanations = emphasize process focus on the processes by which people
are labeled deviant. More about relationships than structure.
- Assumptions provide the framework of sociological theories of crime
- Basic assertions about human behaviour.
- About the degree of order in society
- Nature of the connect6ion between individual and society.
- Empirical assessment:
- All sociological theory should be testable for reliability and validity.
- Theory that cannot be evaluated by data is mere ideology.
- Social policy and sociological research provides advice for policy makers.
Four main sociological paradigms
Functionalism: macro/structural perspective
Elements in society are interconnected and interrelated
Crime and deviancy strengths social cohesion.
Crime renews commitment to social boundaries for mainstream
- Conflict and change are basic to social life.
- Crime is a response to conflict, change and inequality.
- Notions of crime and deviance created to impose and justify “control” exercised by
Symbolic Interactionist Approach
- Society engages in face to face interactions.
- Deviancy is a social accomplishment/rarely practiced solo.
- Why do people engage in criminal behaviour?
- Socialization/labeling shape identities of the deviant criminal/stigmatize their
- Focus on gender and gender inequality - Studies the history of “androcentric” sociological thinking
- Focus on genderized thinking on crime and study of crime.
Interdisciplinary Approaches and Criminology- What are they?
1. Sociology is the science of interaction between people in terms of culture
and social structure.
2. Psychology examines individual behaviour/ characteristics, personal traits
- Personality traits and mental characteristics of criminals
3. Biology the examination of certain human biological traits within criminal
4. Economics, ex: white collar crime
– economic recession
5. Geography/ Environment involves examination of geographical and
environmental factors related to crime patterns.
6. Political science- policy and law making within justice system.
Crime as individual/social problem?
- an integrated and interdisciplinary approach attempts to treat all disciplinary
perspectives as equal.
- Hot topic: criminal act is a product of free will/choice VS being a product of
external/internal factors (determinism)
- (Debate that continues— public interest)
Social problem Vs Social responsibility
- social problem perspective = crime is a manifestation of underlying social problems
ex: poverty, discrimination, family violence. Advocates of this program focus on the
funnel the problem/root of the problem.
- Social responsibility perspective= the belief that individuals are fundamentally
responsible for their own behaviour.
- Critical criminology- focuses on structures/systemic barriers inside the CJS (Criminal
- These may privilege certain groups while oppressing others.
- Generally, takes an oppositional position to mainstream conventional ideas.
- Is radical in nature and builds upon basic concepts and strategic concerns of Marxist
and Feminist Theory. - Critical criminology is rooted in a call for change—challenge of status quo.
- Justice= based on principles of fairness; the idea of moral equity.
- Social justice= a concept that embraces all aspects of civilized life- linked to fairness.
- Criminal justice= refers to those aspects of social justice that concern violation of
- Structuralism= refers to institutionalized power related to inequalities of race, class,
- Structural Critical Criminology (CC)—concerned with structural forms of oppression.
- Concerned with crimes of both powerful and less powerful.
- Suggest “causes” of crime are marginalization/racialization.
- Suggest social empowerment, re-distribute social resources, and participatory
- Emphasizes crime prevention.
- Emphasizes restorative justice, self determination at justice level and open
accountability of the system.
- CJS appears to follow ideology of social and criminal justice.
- Critical theorist suggest that criminalization is more complicated than following the
Social exclusion – Race, Class, Gender
- Social exclusion: refers to the structures and processes of inequality among groups
- It is a by product of uncontrolled processes of capitalist production and
- Social Exclusion (S.E) can transcend class and economic lines.
- Social exclusion is experiences by individuals and communities.
- Its characteristics occurs in multiple dimensions.
4 Aspects of social exclusion:
- Exclusion fro participating fully in society via legal sanctions and structural
- Denial of access to social services/goods.
- Denial of opportunity to be active fully in society
- Economic Exclusion
Swift,certain, severe—centered around the idea of punishment must be useful
History of Criminology- Bentham
- Bentham advanced Beccaria’s ideas by focusing on utilitarianism
- Bentham ideas were to promote that conformity was the best way to be happy
- Bentham best known for” Panopticon” prison More History- Classical Criminology
- Basic elements of classical criminology:
- people have free will.
- crimes require less work with greater payoff
- Criminal choice is controlled by the fear of punishment
- Determinant sentences
- Punishments must be swift, certain, and severe.
- Rules of evidence and testimony
- Deterrence via punishment
- No death penalty wont be able to undo It if a person is found innocent.
- Neo-classical theory revised the classical view
- Viewed too rigid and did not take into account circumstance of individual
- Incorporated three new concepts
- Extenuating circumstances.
- Past record
- Differences in free will.
- Good laws and harsh punishments will deter criminals.
- Plea bargain—linked to discretion
- Resulted in public response:
Failure of rehabilitative punishment
Increase in crime rates
Risk to public safety
Punishment should fit the crime
History of criminology- Positivist Criminology (Post- Classical)
- Positivism= based on scientific thinking- motivated by new discoveries in biology,
astronomy, and chemistry
- Auguste Comte (1798-1857- father of sociology)- first introduced the positivist concept
- C. applied the scientific method to the study of society
- People passed through the stages of social development
- Final stage is positivistic
- * Important to know he is the father of positivism*
- positivism tradition has two basic elements:
human behaviour is a result of external forces beyond individual’s control
criminologists use the scientific method to solve crime problems. Criminal Justice System
Police, Courts, and Corrections Overview
How do we understand the law/system?
- Is the law fair and impartial arbiter of social conflicts vs/or
- A tool for the reproduction of gender, race, and class inequalities
- Fair, impartial, neutral, due process, ethics codes of conduct….
- Intersection of race, class, and gender- individual/system action (s) between
professionals and system.
- Police= the “gatekeepers” who are frontline workers in the criminal justice system
- Use of discretion- police use od discretion very important and serious
- “arrest” viewed as a very serious step in the CJS because it involves the removal or
suspension of the individual’s rights and freedoms.
- 3 jurisdictional levels of policing:
municipal, provincial, and federal.
- Goal in the rise of municipal policing:
Maintain public order
Control and prevent crime
Provide services to the community
The organization of policing:
Representation of justice video:
New Zealand: tough or tender policy? 60% of prisoners who are released have
high recievdism rates. Should we be tougher on crime? or be creative and find
better ways to punish people for their crimes?
In California: Tougher laws for crimes. 3 strikes ideas became the law. 3 time
strike lands you in 25 years in jail.
it appears that the 3 strikes law affects prisoners. Most say they don’t wanna go
back to prison.
The chain game in Alabama- the concept is you’re not entitled to
No TV, no radio, nothing. Just making it tougher, with the focus on repeating
When the criminal refuse to communicate they leave him alone without food or
Make jail miserable enough—is the most education they’ll get about not
recommitting crimes. Assaults/burglaries/rapes were reduced by 25%
It will not lower recidivism, it will just increase offending if no help is offered.
Canada- Saskatchewan- judged by judge and community (Circle)
Family suggested several penalties other than jail time. The judge took the
FILM—TWO WORLDS COLLIDING
Darrell night left a party that seemed out of hand
Darrell giving his testimony
Darrell driven out of town and left abandoned
Rodney’s frozen body was found frozen in the same place Darrell was abandoned
by the police
Darrell and his uncle were at the police station for a driving ticket
Lawrence Wagner—found frozen to death in the same place
RCMP force were set to investigate
Lack of police trust from Aboriginals—Police’s racism against aboriginals
Aboriginals hired someone they trust from their side to investigate
The hired man set up a phone to receive calls about any info—received more than
Aboriginals don’t tend to come forward because of fear of mistreatment from
In Saskatchewan- a young aboriginal male is more likely to go to jail than finish
Highest province in north America with youth incardinated—aboriginals
Craig—peace keeping program bringing aboriginal youth with police
Aboriginal lesion officer for 9 years
2 Saskatoon police officers were charged after they abandoned Darrell in cold
January and their maltreatment of aboriginal people
the police officers claimed that Darrell asked them to be dropped off
the two police officers- they were found not guilty and they were sentenced to
correctional facility and they will be out in few months
the evidence of the socks—the suggestion that Lawrence walked from downtown
to where he found death without his socks being worn off was odd and fishy
Dave Scott is fired as chief police
Craig was hired as the new chief police Cultural awareness was prompted for better understanding of the aboriginal
An aboriginal teen was found frozen to death in the 1990’s- Niel Stonechild
His friend’s testimony Jason, said Niel sc