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Introduction to Criminology Lecture.doc

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Sociology 2266A/B
Paul- Philippe Pare

09/12/2013 Early societies: Before the middle age While crime as a violation of official laws sometimes did not exist in early societies, basic ideas of what is "right" and "wrong" did exist (i.e., basic morality) Differences between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours were also learned in traditions, mores and folkways Evidence of laws in some early societies, however, including overlap with religious scriptures: The 10 commandments (root of Judaism and Christianity) The Code of Hammurabi (King in ancient Babylon): 282 laws and punishments officially displayed on a monument for public knowledge Also common beliefs in "good" and "evil" as supernatural forces: varieties of gods, angels, demons and spirits etc. Evil behaviour was sometimes seen as the result of supernatural influences, demonic possession, etc. Many people believed that supernatural forces played a role in the lives of humans Example: Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, is referenced in the Bible as "the Third Beast" and in the Koran as "The Two-Horned One" who will ravage the earth with Satan in the last days Example: Attilia the Hun, King of the Huns, was simply known as the "Scourge of God" Importance of retribution: morally and socially acceptable to take revenge against perpetrators of evil/crime in an "eye for an eye" manner Deters future harm This is what has to happen when there are no laws. It sends a message. Stratification of rules/laws People were far from equal in early societies, and rules applied differently based on social class Many people were slaves, and had no right. For example, forcing a slave to have sex was not a rape, it was a right of the owner Social class could change radically as a result of losing a war. Slavery for defeated groups was common. So if you lost the war then you are put to slavery by the winning group The Middle Age Continuation of beliefs regarding supernatural evil (e.g., witch hunting) and the importance of retribution. Crime, however, was often considered a form of sin: the conscious decision to sin against God and to live an immoral life Laws were used in part to protect the interests of the aristocracy (i.e., the land owners) against the interests of the peasants (i.e., the workers) Example: the carrying of weapons such as swords was allowed for nobles but forbidden to peasants Because crime was seen both as a sin against God and a threat to aristocracy. punishment was very severe and brutal There was also an entertainment value: medieval folks enjoyed watching public torture and execution of criminals Appearance of Common Law in English society: a tradition of unwritten legal precedents created through everyday practice and used as guidelines in the administration of justice An important ancestor of modern criminal law Precedent created a standard that people abided to. The courts could not just make up their own rules. Example: if one judge sentenced someone who stole a horse to death, but 4 of his colleagues say they would send him to jail, then it would be better to send the guy to jail instead of killing him Appearance of Habeas Corpus: a rule of law that guaranties that an individual who is being detained has the right to stand court, and a reason must be given for the detention. If no sufficient reason is offered, the individual must be set free (protection against unlawful or abusive arrest and detention) Cannot be arrested for no reason. You have a right to ask why you are being arrested, and if there is no answer to that question then the person must be let free The Enlightenment The Enlightenment (i.e., the age of reason) is a social movement that arose during the 18th century, and promoted ideas such as empiricism, rationality, free will, humanism, and natural laws Empiricism: something is true because you can detect it with your senses Important thinkers: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Paine Reject ideas of crime resulting from supernatural evil. Crime is seen as an ordinary rational behaviour, but a behaviour that is harmful to individuals and society Social Contract Necessity for society to make some behaviours illegal to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals Everybody must sacrifice a small portion of their freedom so that they can live together in society Without laws, life is "solitary, nasty, brutish, and short" In order for the laws to be effective, a society needs a government that will be responsible for enforcing the laws with the use of force Laws are useless unless they are enforced by something powerful (i.e., government) People retain certain rights that the government must respect Progressive thinking regarding human rights and freedoms: the unrestrained torture and execution of criminals is questioned. Death sentence was still there but it was done swiftly and fast instead of the person being tortured The Classical View The classical view of crime is direct product of the Enlightenment. Often considered the first formal theory in criminology. Basic principles: Humans are rational (evaluate rewards and costs), and human behaviour (including crime) is the result of free will and rational choice Increasing pleasure and decreasing pain are two central motivations of human behaviour Humans have basic inherent rights Some behaviours are inherently "wrong" Punishment, a necessary evil, is required to deter criminals and to serve as an example to others who would consider committing crimes Punishment should fit the crime: over-punishing is a violation of basic human rights of the offender, while under punishing will have no deterrent effect Society provides benefits to individuals that they would not receive in isolation, but also requires individuals to forfeit some freedoms Crime is a harmful and immoral behaviour because it reduces social bonds between members of society Principle of due process: an accused should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, and should not be punished prior to guilt being lawfully established Important scholars Cesare Beccaria: Essay on Crimes and Punishments Jeremy Bentham: Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation The Neo-Classical View Neoclassical criminology is based on similar principles as the classical view, but with greater emphasis on sentencing issues: how and why punish lawbreakers? Criminals should be sanctioned for many reasons but mainly: Specific deterrence: the costs of crime overweight the rewards for criminals General deterrence: the general population is scared away from crime Justice/retribution: criminals violate the values of their society, and therefore deserve the punishment they receive Moral education: the general population knows that the values of society are important and "alive" The birth of crime statistics The first half of the 19th century saw the emergence of a new approach to the understanding of crime: comparative statistics Main idea: crime is not simply the result of free will and rational choice, but is caused by a variety of social and economic factors. By comparing statistics on crime, these factors can be identified Possible causes: population density, lack of education, poverty Technique: Use city maps divided in sections Calculate the rates of rime and other variables across the sections Look for patterns of relationships Main conclusion: people in unfavourable social/economic circumstances are more likely to commit crime Problem: crude analysis and poor data Important scholars: Adolphe Quetelet Andre-Michel Guerry Henry Mayhew Early Positivism Positivism refers to the application of scientific techniques to study crime and criminals According to early positivist scholars, crime has biological/evolutionary roots, and criminals are physically different from non-criminals Example: body types, skull shape and size, facial features etc. Because of the emphasis on biological factors, the notion of "born criminal" was popular at the time Important scholars: Cesare Lombroso (1876); Franz Joseph Gall (1800s), Charles Darwin (indirectly) Lombroso's theory of Atavism The theory posits that criminals are physiological throwbacks from earlier stages of human evolution (basically an animal) Where to atavism come from? Not clear; seen as an evolutionary disease How atavism predisposes to crime? Ferocious animal instinct Low intelligence Inability to fit properly in a modern society Because of evidence that many criminals did not fit the theory of atavism, Lombroso proposed other types of criminal: insane criminals, criminals “of passions”, occasional criminals (a.k.a. opportunistic) Overall, while Atavism was a revolutionary idea for some time, it did not stand the test of time. Many flaws in the methods and the theory itself. "Cherry-picking" the evidence, pre-selected samples, discounting alternative evidence Modern biological theories of crime focus on more specific factors, testable hypotheses, and probabilistic causal effects Modern Criminology Modern criminology is based on theories and research from many fields, including sociology, psychology, economics, biology, and others. 09/19/2013 What is a criminologist? Criminologists seek to understand crime, criminals and the criminal justice system based on multidisciplinary approaches Multidisciplinary approaches differentiate criminologists from other professionals interested in the study of crime: Psychologists, sociologists, economists, psychiatrists, etc. Definitions of crime Legal definition: a crime is a behaviour forbidden by the law and subjected to a sanction Strengths: definition is simple and technically accurate Weakness: not informative about the historical/philosophical/sociological justifications of labelling of some behaviours as crimes No crime when an illegal behaviour is justified by law Right to defend ourself and others against moral dangers If you are not in mortal danger (death), then you are supposed to run away and let the police deal with it. If you fight back then you can get into just as much trouble Vigilantism is not justified by law, however No crime without criminal intention Accidental wrongdoing Negligence can be criminal, however No crime without capacity Being forced to commit a crime Being too young to be considered responsible Insanity defence Ignorance of the Law is NOT accepted as a defence Consensus definition: a crime is a behaviour that violates the basic values, beliefs, and social needs of a society Strengths: the definition seems adequate for many crimes, particularly the serious crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, theft. Most people find that these behaviours are unacceptable and harmful. Very different societies tend to criminalize the same behaviours Limitations: there is a significant disagreement across individuals and groups regarding values, beliefs, and social needs. Some beavhiours are seen as crime by some people but not others (ex. defensive violence, the criminalization of drugs) Libertarian definition: a crime is an act of force or fraud against the will of someone else Force is when you make someone do something, fraud is when you trick someone by lying to them Strength: the definition includes most behaviours that are seen unacceptable and harmful by most people Limitations: does not explain why so many behaviours not related to the definition are criminal: drugs, gambling, weapon carrying etc. Also, some forms of "force or fraud against the will of someone else" are not criminal: spanking by parents, cheating on your partner…. Conflict definition: a crime is the label given to some behaviour by people in position of power in order to enforce their interests over the interests of people with less power Strengths: useful to understand the arbitrary nature of certain criminal laws (or absence of criminal laws). Many historical evidence of changes in the law to support the conflict perspective Limitations: many behaviours labeled crimes have nothing to do with the interests of the powerful. Many people across more privileged and less privileged groups agree with the labelling of some behaviours as crime (e.g., homicide, sexual assault) If you are powerful the law will be easy on you, if you are powerless then it will be tough on you There is no right definition We should keep these definitions in mind when we study criminology, and be able to understand crime from multiple viewpoints Victimless crimes and vices Should behaviours be criminalized when: There are no direct victims? Those involved are willing to be involved? The law is in a grey zone, because most people think that as long as someone is willing to be involved then it should be okay Victimless crimes and vices: Drug use and trafficking Sex trade Some women are forced into it, but there are also women who want to be stripped or escorts etc. because they make a lot of money Violent entertainment Bare hand boxing is illegal, but most of these people are willing to and are actually professionals who fight Gambling Black jack nights in a home Arguments for legalization Right to freedom Criminal justice resources could be better used Money should be used to target violent crimes such as murderers, theft etc. In the USA, 1 out of 3 inmates are in jail for a minor drug offence Arbitrary nature of the law: many harmful and annoying behaviours are not criminal A lot of things are bad for you, but are not illegal therefore other things that are bad for you could be legal as well Opportunity for legitimate business and government taxation If the government legalizes drugs, the government will receive tax from these products These drugs would be safer if it went through the government Better protection for customers and service providers Won't have to go through sketchy drug dealers Arguments for criminalization Not truly victimless: participants may hurt themselves, their dependents, their community Could lead to increasing participation Vulnerable people are more at risk of negative consequences Bring extra costs to society in terms of lost productivity and healthcare expenses Moral education Freedom vs Social Order Freedom and social order are two fundamental values of Canadian society and most modern democracies in the world: we want to live a free life in a safe and secure environment We want to live a free life but with security Problem: these two values are competing We cannot have a 100% of both at the same time because if others are totally free, then they can do whatever they want to you so there has to be some rules More freedom means less social order, and more social order means less freedom By labelling some behaviours as crime, we promote social order at the expense of less freedom The more laws we pass the less freedom we have When there is total freedom, everyone would start turning on each other When there is total social order, people would basically become a slave to social order As educated citizens, and probably even more as criminologists/sociologists, we need to be well aware of the delicate balance between freedom and social order Both values are important to society, but more of one means less of the other, and it is very difficult to find the right equilibrium Perhaps the best we can hope for is minor disequilibrium from one to the other Methods in criminology Quantitative approaches Quantitative methods in criminology rely on measuring information about the social world with numbers. Statistics are the main tool of quantitative methods Experiment Treatment effect (variable of interest) is control by the researcher Inclusion in experimental vs control groups is random, ensuring comparability Causal effects can be inferred Quasi experiment Treatment effect (variable of interest) is controlled by the researcher Control groups similar to experimental groups are determined Not a random selection, however Example: if the prof took both of his classes, used one as control and one experimental group, then they are very similar Causal effects could be inferred, with reservations Statistical modelling of non-experimental data Multivariate statistical analyses are used to isolate the relationships between the explanatory variables of interest and the outcome variables This approach is very dependent on our ability to control adequately for alternative explanations in the model, and not to violate the assumptions of our statistical analysis Typically, causal effects can not be inferred, only relationships Advantages of quantitative methods Useful for hypotheses testing Useful to make sense/make generalizations about large quantities of data Our friends in the fields of statistics and computer software continually provide us with new techniques and new software to improve the use of quantitative methods in the social sciences Limitations of quantitative methods The process by which information about the social world is transformed into numbers (i.e. operationalization) is often limited and sometime quite inaccurate Quantitative methods are not very useful to understand more profound experiences and perceptions of individuals, the rich history of a community, the emotions associated with an important event, etc. Babies with Bazookas: some users of complex quantitative methods don’t really understand the powerful tools they are using, violate statistical assumptions, and report biased results Easier than ever to do bad research Qualitative approaches Qualitative methods in criminology rely on understanding the social world through language. Human senses (listening, observing) are the main tools of qualitative methods Qualitative interviews Open interview Ask very general questions Let the subjects choose the path of the interview The goal is to lead the subnets to open up Directed interview Ask specific questions The goal is to collect the subjects answers to the specific questions Qualitative observation Outsider observation (researcher status is known) Observe the behaviours and interactions of subjects in their natural setting Observe other relevant details: physical environment, changes in time, etc. The observers own perceptions and feelings can also be part of the analysis: ex. Fear, stress, personal interactions with the subjects There is a bias to this approach because people change there behaviour when they know someone is watching Insider observation (researcher status is secret) Similar to outsider observation, but more deceptive, because the subjects have no idea they are taking part in a study Going native is when you fit in too well and you think yourself of the subjects you are followi
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