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SOC313- MARCH 13TH 2013 HORNEY.docx

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SOC313: HORNEY AND MARSHALL READING March 13, 2013  This article examined relationships among perceived risk of arrest, arrest history, and frequency of committing crimes  Findings suggest that it is important to measure the ratio of arrests to crimes and that perceptions of risk are formed in a manner consistent with a rational choice perspective, even in a sample of serious offenders Introduction  Numerous studies have found that individuals with experience in committing an offense have lower estimates of the risk of punishment than those with no such experience.  (Viewed traditionally as evidence for a deterrent effect; people who have higher estimates of risk are less likely to commit crimes)  Claster’s (1967) study comparing the self-perceived likelihood of arrest between delinquents and nondelinquents concluded that the delinquents’ lower estimates of arrest probability were evidence for the “magical immunity” mechanism posited by psychoanalytic ego psychology.  The risk estimates were thus seen as a reflection of the delinquents’ distorted self-perception – a “delusion of arrest immunity”  Now instead of being described as delusional, the risk perceptions of active offenders are seen as fairly realistic reflections of actual arrest rates, and the higher estimates of non-offenders are viewed as exaggerated estimates of certainty of punishment.  By engaging in forbidden behavior without being sanctioned, they may empirically refute their earlier estimates of the risks involved, Tittle refer to such people as having “broken through the shell of illusion  Recent interpretations suggest that the development of risk perceptions reflects a rational process rather than a delusional or irrational one. (Viewing offenders as reasoning decision makers  rational choice theory)  If the formation of risk perception is indeed a rational process, it is reasonable to argue that a major determinant of risk perception would be an individual’s experience with crime and punishment  The interpretation of the negative correlation between perceived risk and self- reported criminality as a rational experiential effect rests on the implicit assumption that people are generally successful in committing crimes.  People whose deviant behavior results in negative sanctions would (realistically) perceive punishment as more certain than those who violate the law with impunity  Important to consider not only whether individuals have engaged in criminal behavior, but also whether they have experienced formal sanctions as a result of that behavior 1 SOC313: HORNEY AND MARSHALL READING March 13, 2013 Rational Choice Theory:  Major determinant of risk perception would be experience with crime and punishment  The lower risk estimates imply that people are generally successful in committing crimes  But those who are caught and sanctioned would have a higher risk estimate The Role of Formal Sanctions  Several studies have considered the influence of formal sanctions on perceptions of risk; the results have been mixed.  Cohen predicted that speeding violators who avoided detection would perceive punishment as less certain than would those who had received citations, but his data did not support that expectation.  Cohen suggested that since so many people violate speeding laws without being cited, violators who are cited may assume that their citation was the result of a random process and that they are no more likely than anyone else to be detected in the future.  Richards and Tittle found no significant relationship between arrest experience and estimates of chances of arrest for minor theft, major theft, marijuana use, illegal gambling, assault, and tax fraud  Lanza-Kaduce found no significant correlation between whether students had ever been stopped by police when driving while intoxicated and their perception of risk of arrest at two different times  Piliavin et al. found that the number of prior arrests affected risk perception (“formal risk”) significantly for the youth sample but not for the offender or addict samples  Risk perception was affected by prior convictions only for the addict sample  Changes in risk perceptions over the nine months between the waves of their study were not significantly affected by whether respondents had been arrested during that time.  Paternoster et al. found that students who were arrested between the waves of the study increased their estimates of risk of arrest for petty theft and writing bad checks, but not for marijuana use  Problems with previous research may have produced misleading results on the impact of sanctions on perceptions of arrest probability and prevented an effective test of rational choice theory. 1. The experience of formal sanctions is extremely limited 2. Some studies have used very general measures of formal sanctions 2 SOC313: HORNEY AND MARSHALL READING March 13, 2013  Predicted relationships may go undetected when measures of general sanctions rather than crime-specific sanctions are used. 3. **Studies of the influence of sanction experience on perceptions of risk have had to rely on measures of the absolute number of sanctions  Richards and Tittle noted, a better measure would be the number of times arrested relative to the number of offenses committed  Parker and Grasmick explored the notion of relative sanctions with their “experienced arrest rate” (EAR)  Suggested that people’s perceptions of arrest certainty should be based on personal and interpersonal sources of information about crime  EAR and burglary: found that among respondents who had experienced at lease one burglary, the correlation between EAR and their estimates of official arrest rates was positive and significant  None of the studies of perceived risk conducted to date has had data adequate to allow calculating the ratio of crime-specific sanctions to offenses for people actually engaging in the criminal behavior  Thus, t
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