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22 Apr 2014

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Lecture One Dimensions of Crime
Felson’s fallacies about crime
Fallacies = misconceptions
There are seven but we will only discuss four
The Dramatic Fallacy
Media images of crime lead us to believe that crime and its impact is far more dramatic
than it really is
The murderer and the criminal justice professional both become dramatized (ie. The
‘Sherlock Holmes factor in detective stories)
In actuality, most crime is rather mundane, boring and/or pathetic (including, or
particularly murders)
The idea of the criminal mind there is no such thing
The Ingenuity Fallacy
Presumes that the criminal is far cleverer than they really are
Felson argues that much crime that comes to the attention of the criminal justice system
is not committed through daring or ingenuity but as a result of opportunity
In fact, crime is ordinary and is committed by ordinary people
oMost robbers are drug addicts
The Age Fallacy
Media portrayals of victims tend to leave consumers with the impression that that victims
and offenders are much older than they are, by focusing, for example, on violent crimes
committed against the young and elderly
The fact is, you are much more likely to be a victim of crime, particularly of violent
crime, if you are young and male
Also like to think of perpetrators as old
The Constabulary Fallacy
Assumes that the police know more about crime and can do more about crime than they
actually do
Most crimes go unreported and thus unsolved
Policing, indeed the whole of the criminal justice system, is ultimately reactive rather
than proactive they wait for a call about crime
oPrograms like tip-lines and community policing/reporting are based on this fact
Volume of crime is way greater than police know
oException drugs in large quantities
Sources of knowledge about crime
Official statistics charge rates; court volume stats; sentences, etc
Police provide info into the uniform crime reporting system (UCR) and send to Stats Can
(Juristat) detailed info on each criminal incident, including multiple offences; info on
location; victim and accused chars; victim/accused relationship; use of weapons
Under-reporting due to failure to report crime by victims; variations in reporting amongst
police services, etc
Murder is a pretty reliable statistic (hard to hide a dead body)
Victimization Surveys
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