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CRIM 1650 (223)
Lecture

CRIM 1650 Fall notes.docx

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Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 1650
Professor
James Williams
Semester
Fall

Description
CRIM 1650thSeptember 11 2012thSeptember 18 2012 Crime has been on a decrease since 1991About a 6 decrease on Canadian crime ratelowest level since 19721973Passed 10 years crime has dropped by about 26 and since peak roughly 40Vast majority of decrease is based on property offences breakins motor vehicle theftProperty crime is at its lowest level in about 30 yearsGradual decline of about 4 in violent crimes since 2001Homicide rate has increasedroughly 600 homicides across Canada in 2011General downward trend in youth violent crime about 3vast majority of incidents are generally minor in nature level 1common assaultsfights pushing pullingVast majority of crimes of violence are by individuals we knowgreatest threat are usually people who are known to usWinnepeg had highest rate of violent crime followed by Saskatoon thunder bay regina th Toronto was 11 behind Halifax montreal colona BCCausal research evidence has proven the statementFALSE weak correlation with being exposed to media violence and subsequent aggressive or criminal behaviourParental involvement could account for time spent watching tv and committing crime just a possible factor Corporate white collar crime is more expensive than street crimeeconomic crime costs US roughly 4 biollion dollars each yearcrisis from 2008 caused about 300 billion dollars with estimates of a trillion dollars in economic costs No documented case where kids have been harmed by foreign objects put in their candy by strangers on HalloweenEG James Joseph Smithput needles in snicker bars and gave them to children on Halloweengenerally an urban legendGet Tough programs have not been proven to reduce rates of future offenders EG Project Turnaround in Ontarioissues around funding and limited evidence of effectivenessCanada has one of the strictest youth justice systems in the worldhigher incarceration rate for young offendersup until 2003 there was no provision for parole2003 Youth Criminal Justice ActSearch for alternatives to prisonnumber of juveniles has declined by 42Similarities between pharmacological properties of some prescription drugs and street drugsDefinition of CrimeWhat is criminologyinterdisciplinary united simply by common interest in crime What is Crime and who are the CriminalsCrime is incredibly common widespread in our society and is not confined to small number of repeat offendersAbout 10 of Canadians have criminal records In US about 90 of Americans have committed a crime for which they could be incarceratedCrime is diverse Crime in Criminals are normalcriminals are predisposed to crime by biological psychological reasons while others are perfectly law abiding citizensFALSEno line drawn between criminal and noncriminal Continuum of Crime and DevianceWhere the line is drawn between crime and deviance is arbitrarydepends on societal valuesHow do we establish what should be included in the criminal code as a crime EXAMPLE Prostitutionshould it be criminalized Or is it not nearly as harmful as its shownFour Approaches Criminologists use to Think about Crime and Approach it LegalBelief assertion that a crime is an act or a failure to act which violates the criminal lawExample Tapan 1947Crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the state Elements1 Actus Reus evidence of an action or failure to actnegligence and Mens Rea proof that conduct stndwas accompanied by particular state of mindsubjective standard applied to 1 degree murder 2 degree murder prove that was their intent and objective standard based on legal argument that reasonable person would appreciate activity that was engaged inmanslaughter dangerous drive assault causing bodily harm2 Defensesself defense as long as it can be proved insanity defense Limitations1 Neglects harmful behaviour not sanctioned by criminal law if it is not defined as a crime in criminal code then it is not a crime EXAMPLE Corporate White Collar Crimea safety guard must be at place if a dangerous machine is being usedtreated as regulatory violations but NOT CRIMEEXAMPLE False AdvertisementNiveaMy SilhouetteHuman Rights Cases EG in brazil destroying pavellas to make room for Olympics 2 Legal Approaches ignore the social cultural and historical relativity of lawEXAMPLE Drug Legislation there were no prohibition against drug use early times opium was first criminalized in 1908 marijuana in 1923 virtually no research just a decision of parliament US criminalized in 1937 bureau of narcotics wanted to maintain its jurisdiction and funding level by adding marijuana to list of drugs being criminalizedEXAMPLE Homelessnesscriminalized aspects of homelessness sleeping on public benchesviews of homeless people has changed less about social welfare and more about injusticeNumerous laws in the criminal code but do not exist or would not be taken upon in present time EG Practicing witchcraftview of acts can change without change being reflected In criminal code3 Legal definitions overlook the process of law formation and the social political and economic interests at stake in this processConsensusA crime is an act which violates commonly held standards of public morality EXAMPLE Burgess 1950A lack of public outrage stigma and official punishment attached to social action indicates that such action is not a violation of societys rules independent of whether it is legally punishable Elements1 Society is characterized by a social and moral consensus2 Definitions of criminal behaviour reflect common social values norms and beliefs agreement regarding seriousness of different crimes Limitations1 neglect of contextual variationseven for the most severe acts that we would all agree should be considered crime eg homicide there are special situations in which killing another person would not be considered a crime eg Police officers self defense2 Whose MoralityIsnt it possible that society isnt characterized by same set of moral valuesEXAMPLE Sexual harassment is not considered a crime but women may feel as if it should be 3 Absence of agreement as to what constitutes criminal behaviourshould prostitution drug use pornography sexting be considered criminal behaviour ConstructionistA crime is a label that is applied by a public audienceEXAMPLE Becker 1967Deviance is not a quality of the act a person commits but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender The deviant is one to whom that label has been successfully applied deviant behaviour is behaviour people so labelElements1 Assuming that there is no behaviour that is inherently criminalcriminality is not inherent to an act2 Whether a specific activity or behaviour is defined as a crime depends on a complex social process involving claimsmakers and moral entrepreneursactivities people define as social problems requiring immediate attentionEXAMPLE Victim rights groups that argue stalking is a significant social problems and there should be tougher laws for that offenseWhat is considered criminal depends entirely on peoples subjective views opinions and ability to impose those views and opinions on individuals LABEL activities as crimes Limitations1 Overly Relativisticany behaviour could potentially be defined as a crimeno independent standards or criteria by which criminality of social activities could be judged
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