measuring crime and deviance

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10 Mar 2011

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Sociology Lecture
October 5, 2010
Measuring Crime and Deviance
We get out information from statistics, police reports, literary sources,
internet, popular culture, interviews with everyday people, self-report
surveys, institutions such as mental or hospitals, historical records,
historical criminal justice records, official data
Problems with Acquiring Crime and Deviance Data
Subject of inquiry is deliberately hidden– people are rarely public about
their crime or criminal behavior; average drug dealer makes minimum
wage or lower but we can never be certain because it is hard to acquire
such information;
Deviants have little insight into the broader nature and extent of their
oMany forms of crime are committed in groups but some are not
such as murder -> what does one murderer know about another
one? Not much, not a lot of insight
Access to deviants is costly, time consuming and often only partial
oHard to get access to deviant group because their not gonna let
you in, gotta establish trust first and that takes time; most of the
information is anonymous
Much deviance lies beyond the scope of research; a lot of crimes we dont
do research on
Sociologists are not able to pass effortlessly into every alien situation
oNot everyone is accessible; how can a white middle class
sociologist get into a black gang in Detriot?
Barriers exist within social worlds, even if access is gained
Social worlds are not representative
oJust because you have information about one group, doesnt mean
others are alike- Gang A isnt Gang B
Sources of Data
Uniform Crime reports (UCR)
oStandardized ounts of crims known to the police
oNational statistics about crime rates that we keep through statistics
oEvent/population size x 100,000; ex. Murder rate in Toronto- 60
murders is the event , population is 2 mil and multiply that by
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100,00 is 3
oAlso includes stats from other official sources- competition bureau,
hospitals, insitutions, CJS, pre-trial custody
Crime rates in Canada
o1984-2006, notice violent crime pretty steady
ototal crime rates are driven by property crime
oat the same time, youth violent crime is not very severe but mild
The Crime Funnel
Actual level of crime dark figure of crime we know crimes are out
there but hardly detected or reported
Detected crime very often crimes dont get reported because theyre not
noticed or detected; crime is rarely reported by the police but by people of
the community and are retroactive (reported after they happen)
Reported crime- what impacts how or why you report crime such as
attitude (as attitudes about certain behavior’s shift, it is more/likely to be
reported) Another thing you has to consider is when you see more reports
about crime you have to question if its crime or attitude
oSome people dont report crime because its trivial
oSome elements of crime have fear or shame such as sexual
assault and private kinds of crime; spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.
oStreet youth one of the most vulnerable populations in the world;
highly victimized but they dont go to the police when their
victimized because they dont trust the police because they feel
they're victimized by the police
oMaybe they go unreported because you do the same thing- such as
hiring a prostitute and getting robbed, because you yourself are
engaging in illicit behavior
Recorded crime: if the police dont report it was a crime, it doesnt get
oPolice officers might view the offence as minor and not do all the
paperwork for it- might not give you that ticket
oPolice discretion impacted by age, race, gender and their
background, criminal history, attitude, etc
oPolice activity: money, funding, if you put more money into a gang
unit, in more years youre gonna have an increase in gang activity
because youre finding more gangs
Arrests: police clearance rate the rate at which they are able to identify
a suspect for that particular crime
oSexual assault has a lot of statistics 6/100 clearance rate
oBreak and enter has a fairly low clearance rate
oIf they identify a suspect, they lay a charge
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