Criminology 1650 2013-2014: SEMESTER 1
1. There has been a decrease in crime since 1991
• since 1973 crime is now at its lowest rate
• vast majority of decrease is property crime
• in about 30 years, crime is at its lowest rate
• violent crime rate peak in 1995
• 4% decrease in violent crime in Canada since 2001, due to property offences (non-
• homicides 598 in 2011 (peak: 1975), 2012 fewer by 55 than 2011
2. Levels of youth crime in Canada have never been higher
• youth violence crime peak in 1995 + small peak in 2003
• roughly 3% decline since 2001
• (generally minor assaults)
3. Most crimes of violence are perpetrated by individuals known to the victim
4. The city with highest violent crime rate in Canada is Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay,
Regina, Toronto is #12 (Google statistics Canada crime rate 2011)
5. Research studies have demonstrated a causal link between media violence & future criminal
• false, no study has been able to show the causal link, have in correlation relationship
6. Based on economic costs, street crime is less serious than corporate and white-collar crime
• True: W-C crime = more expensive
7. There are documented cases of children being harmed by foreign objects (razor blades)
placed in Halloween candy by strangers
• False, no documented cases of foreign objects in Halloween Candy
• one case: James Joseph Smith -> put needles in snicker bars
• 1970s kids actually died:
• uncle's heroin stache
• poisoned (cyanide) candy bar by father, Timothy O’Brien
8. “Get Tough” approaches such as the Ontario Boot Camp program have been effective in
reducing rates of future offending for Your Offenders
9. Canada has 1 of Strictest Youth Justice Systems in the world
10. Similarities exist between the pharmacological properties of some prescription drugs +
street drugs such as cocaine. • True, both drugs have neurotransmitters, therefore can have similar effects
11. Do courts deal too harshly/not harshly enough with criminals?
Definition of crime
• criminology is not just 1 thing, but a combo of diff. approaches (no such thing as
criminology if by criminology you mean a discipline with its own strict tools, theories)
• criminology has unique ways of looking at crime
• criminologists usually come fr. different disciplines
• criminology is interdisciplinary where people work together with common interest
• criminologists are fundamentally different
1. Complexity of the questions. What is crime? Who are the criminals?
a. crime is incredibly common
• 10% Canadians have criminal records (people who get caught)
• US 90% of Americans have committed a crime
b. crime is diverse (broad range of crimes)
c. Crimes + criminals are normal
• no clear line can be drawn between criminals and non-criminals
• we must question distinction between criminality
2. Continuum of crime and deviance (where to draw the line?)
3. Approaches to the definition of crime (Legal, consensus, constructionist, conflict)*
4. Crime as a social phenomenon (The social context of crime)
Views of Crime
• no specific reference point of the definition of crime (no single view)
• some argue that there has to be some kind of harm for something to be considered a
crime. ex: if you are passing by a window and you just came out of the shower, it is a
crime (public nudity) yet some argue how can this be a crime when there is no harm?
What is Crime and who are the "Criminals?"
• Disorderly Conduct – Causing Vehicles, Vessels, and Aircraft
Disturbance, Indecent Exhibition, (Section 249)
Loitering (Section 175) • Operation of a motor vehicle in a
• Disorder outside a dwelling-house manner dangerous to the public.
caused: (1) by fighting, screaming, • Uttering Threats (Section 264)
shouting, swearing, singing or using • Death or bodily harm; destruction of
insulting or obscene language; (2) property.
by being drunk; or (3) by impeding or
• Assault (Section 265)
molesting other persons. • Theft (Section 322)
• Dangerous Operation of Motor • Forgery (Section 366) • Mischief (Section 430) • Destruction of property.
Continuum of Crime and Deviance
It is important to understand what is criminal and deviant
• prostitution= grey area
• Michael Jackson is another gray zone example
• We always think of extremes first; murderers, rapists, other untypical crimes.
• Small things such as disorderly conduct, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle,
uttering threats, assault, theft, forgery and mischief are all crimes.
• Crime is diverse
• No way to differentiate criminals from people because people are criminals.
• Difference between deviance and crime
• Ambiguous if something is a crime or deviant
Definition: belief that crime is an act/failure to act, which violates the criminal law.
• Crime is an intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law, committed without
defense or justification and sanctioned by the state.
• An act or a failure to act which violates the criminal law
1) Actus Reus and Mens Rea
• guilty act and guilty mind
• evidence of action
• voluntary action or failure to act (failure to act-criminal negligence)
• guilty mind
• particular state of mind
• Subjective: it happened with a mindset to do it.
• you must prove intent
• Objective: a reasonable person would have realized its dangers.
• based on valid argument that there was a ‘reasonable person’ who
understood the outcome
2) Legal Defenses: Insanity, self-defense, etc.
• self-defense: need to prove you were acting out of self defense
• Insanity: must prove you're not in the right state of mind Limitations:
• Overlooks peoples understandings of what is criminal, what isn’t; ie- Honor killing.
• (1)Neglects harmful behavior which is not sanctioned by criminal law
• false advertising (competition bureau), corporate, white collar crime such as
health and safety violations, adultery, smoking, violence against women, abortion
(these examples depend on perspective)
• (2)Ignore the social, cultural and historical relativity of law. Ie- copyright violations.
• law varies across society, culture, over time
• no prohibitions against drugs until 1908 when opium was criminalized
• no evidence to prove marijuana was harmful when it was criminalized 1937
• Mexicans: discrimination against them during depression
• homelessness: has been criminalized (panhandling)
• new laws emerge, something occurs that changes the way we view certain
• activites that are still considered crimes (ex: s365 - pretending to practice
s49 - acts that alarm your
• law that effected public morality before but has no effect now
• (3)Overlooks the process of law formation and social, political and economic interests at
stake in the process.
Nivea "My Silhouette" (false advertizing)
Definition: A crime is an act which violates commonly held standards of public morality.
• "A lack of a public outrage, stigma and official punishment, attached of society’s rules,
independent of whether it is legally punishable"- Burgess 1950.
1) Society is characterized by a social and moral consensus
2) Definitions of criminal behavior reflect common social values, norms and beliefs.
1) Neglect of contextual variations.
• Capital punishment, assault. Spanking can be classified as assault.
• where homicide is not crime such as war, euthanasia, self-defense, police
officers, assault is honored in hockey, executions, state sanctions, spanking.
2) Whose morality?
• Honour killing, gender difficulties.
• sexual harassment should be a crime as it violates women's morality
• depends on gender, culture, religion etc.
3) Absence of agreement as to what constitutes criminal behavior.
• should pornography, sexting, prostitution be considered criminal behavior?
Definition: crime is a label that is applied by a public audience. • Interactions and perceptions
• Activities that people derive as social problems that need immediate attention
• Becker (1967): “Deviance 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 behavior is
behavior people so label.”
1) Behavior is not inherently criminal.
• Crime is a label applied to a form of conduct by a large group.
2) Whether a specific activity or behavior is defined as a crime depends on a complex
social process involving "claims-makers (making) more general" and "moral
entrepreneurs" morality specifically(deemed immoral).
-respected authority, politicians, media
• Relates not just to defining classes of criminal, but how specific individuals are
defined as criminals.
• Media, government, activists, police agencies, surveillance companies
1) Overly relativistic.
• Everything could be criminal, but it's all under question of independent opinion.
• no independent standards by which activities can be judged
2) Neglect of variables such as class, race, and gender and their influence on the ability to
impose and resist criminal labels.
• corporate offenders/executers have been successful in neglecting negative
attention, that is not just a product of power but also the greater economical
Definition: A crime is an act prohibited by those in positions of social power as a means of
protecting their own values and interests.
Quinney (1970): “Crime describes behaviors that conflict with the interests of the
segments of society that have the power to shape public policy”
1) Society is characterized by conflict rather than consensus
• conflict theorists argue that defining crime is not just a social exercise but a political
exercise and there are huge debates on what should and should not be criminalized
2) defining crime is a political exercise
• In the 40’s and 50’s a lot of legislation was passed for the benefit of the lower class and
• people in power, and specific views of law
• there is an element of power and the idea of interests and law can serve to produce a
certain social element of interest
3) Definitions of criminal behavior reflect the interests of the powerful. • ex: alcohol was subject to prohibitions in 1919 (based on variety of bargains
1 there was the whole issue of people consuming a lot of alcohol even in workplaces,
therefore lack of productivity. What was left out is that the working conditions were
horrible, therefore alcohol was most likely a response to these conditions.
2 if consumers were spending money on alcohol it would increase the economy.
3 if people stopped consuming alcohol there would be lower taxes, less police officers
4 alcohol consumption was mainly consumed in saloons, thus political connection of
working class Catholics. In 1933 alcohol was legalized again, because
1 if alc. Was legalized it would be an important source of tax revenue.
2 alc. Trade was seen as a source of employment + economic growth
( in the
great depression days there was a desperate need of economic
3 legitimacy of law. Although alc. Was prohibited, people were still
therefore questioning the law itself (its legitimacy)
this is why alcohol is a good example of the conflict definition of
-For example, alcohol was banned in 1920 in America
1) There was a need for a sober workforce.
2) They’d spend their alcohol money on other things
3) Reduction in crime; reduction in taxes.
4) Saloon; place where lower class went to drink
-In 1933 alcohol was legalized again
-If sold legally, alcohol could be taxed
-Source of employment, economic growth
-Prohibition undermined the legitimacy of law; people still drank
-it may be true that law may be used in favour of interests of the higher classes, but there are
many times that laws were passed to benefit the working class
ex: there have been laws passed to shorten the work days to give the workers some benefits/
Quote by Steven Box:
-criminalization of certain kinds of activities associated with certain types of groups and
decriminalization of certain kinds of activities associated with other types of grps.
1) Instrumental view of law and over reliance on class as explanatory variable
• over-emphasis on class
• should consider other social differences that impact criminalization ( age, race, culture
2) Neglect of process through which legal behaviour is criminalized
• this is looking at the bigger picture
• law is really a site of struggle and a source of contingency
• looking at the law process Lessons learned: Crime as a social phenomenon:
1) Definitions of criminal behaviour are the outcome of a social process in which definitions are
created, imposed and resisted. (Crime is fundamentally socially defined, subjective, reflects
claims and conflicts rather than objectively given)
2) This social process is informed by social, political and economic conflicts, power relations
and forms of inequality
(Forms of inequality relating to class, gender, race, sexuality, disability which drive to process of
3) Definitions vary across societies and cultures and time periods
(Alcohol is a good example of this contingency and contextuality)
4) Constructions of crime and criminal behavior are informed by a variety of crime myths and
(Here you can see a clear connection to Kappeler reading, where they are concerned with the
myth-making process where they want to make a clear distinction b/w criminals & non-crimes.)
The Social Context of “Crime”
1) Definition of criminal acts, the actual law.
2) Definitions of individual crimes; Whether or not an action is described as a crime is based on
if a specific behavior is reported or recorded as a crime. Police should be called, witness must
September 24 , 2013
Measurement of Crime
Links between Definition and Measurement:
How crime is defined will invariably influence how it is measured.
1) Activities that are not defined as crimes will not be measured
-Many white collar crimes aren’t in the criminal code and as such aren't measured as
-Death from cosmetic surgeries
-(ex: one individual died as a result of complication of a liposuction in 2007; the cosmetic
surgeon was not charged with crime but did lose her licence.)
2) The broader the definitions, the greater the amount of crime
-The more you classify as a crime the more is viewed as criminal
3) The narrower the definition, the smaller the amount of crime
Uniform Crime report (UCR)
1) Most commonly and widely reported crime statistic.
2) Compiled by Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics based on monthly reports from police
forces across Canada.
3) Includes both crimes reported to the police, and the outcomes of police patrols and
-Drugs are not in the criminal code, they have their own act and thus not included in
these statistics. Youth crime is included in UCR 4) Crime Rate = 100,000/Population x Number of Incidents.
5) CRIME Severity Index (2009)
• developed in 1960s, which is why usually all crime rate changes are recorded starting
• each individual police force collects up their crime incidents and forwards them to the
stats centers (compile them)
• police must determine that an incident that is reported to them is indeed defined as a
crime (this is distinct fr. Charges) ex: something can be reported as crime but no charges
will be laid (an example of a case where no charges are laid is homicide)
• not included in UCR : youth crime, traffic offences, military offences, crime committed by
police officers (although debate exists if it would be considered a crime or just police
axn), drug offences.
• crime severity index: captures more serious forms of crime and therefore develops
alternative measures. It is a weighting system so that more srs. Crimes carry higher rate.
Includes: federal statutes (Incarceration Rate x Average Weight of Prison Sentence )
(he showed a crime severity index vs. Traditional crime rate graph)
1) Reporting Practices (UMO)
-Estimated that 4 /10 crimes will be reported to police
-Highly reported crimes include: homicide, abduction, theft over $5000
• this raises the question whether individuals have been victimized but simply did not
report it to the police for reasons such as: it is not urgent, it could have been a small
crime that is not worth reporting, it could be pride (you don’t want ppl to know you were
victimized) or you are hesitant to report individuals to the police, not important enough,
police couldn’t do anything, crimes have been perceived as a personal matter that don’t
need to be reported.
• Under-reporting is actually a severe issue and sexual assault (75-80%), domestic
violence and fraud are the most under-reported.
• Most reported: motor vehicle theft, household property, breaking & entering (ppl want to
report for insurance purposes) (insurance claims)
• crimes like homicide and suicide tend to be under-reported. (misclassified)
• issues with over reporting (best ex: crimes involving younger ppl and crimes happening
in school; teachers report a lot of incidents ( like school-yard fights, weapons being
brought in school)
2) Law Enforcement Practices (DFODPEP)
• Discretion; Whether its qualified for a crime
• 911 -> huge amount of discretion (discussions on whether calls are legitimate; only
25% of 911
calls are legit)
• Belief that conviction is unlikely, not reported by officer
• Filtering before officers are even involved
• there are a number of diff. ways how police employ their resources that could
increase crime rates • Organizational Objectives; police are sensitive to crime statistics.
• Downgrading crimes
• In New York, they tried to manipulate crime rate by downgrading crimes. (Assault
only counted if it resulted in broken bones.)
• Police may simply not report an incident
• discussion on how police respond to calls
• police may decide incident is not a crime and is too trivial and unimportant , this
becomes a huge problem with things like sexual assault.
• There are also incidents involving the question of whether conviction would be
given, in other words why bother with the crime?
• Enforcement and deployment of personality
• crimes that are most sensitive to deployment practices are : drugs (even though drugs
are not in the UCR), gang operations, violence against women, prostitution-related
offences (who’s gonna call the police, theres no victim involved)
• Pressures brought upon police deppts. To demonstrate police is doing a good job and
can be manipulating through downgrading. To lower crime statistics
• US and NYC – COMSTAT (designed to give popo a management tool to produce rates
on diff. types of offences) Re-classifying a crime
3) Sensitivity to changes in legal definitions.
-Mischief fires began to count as Arson, higher arson rates. (1991-1992)
- sexual assault was given a new definition to make it more specific and as a result
4) Patterns of “Offender” behaviour.
-Offenders change their tactics
-Theft, robbery (change in types of crimes committed)
1) Social construction of crime statistics
-”Statistical facts are not merely the result of science and proper methodology. They are
also a human, bureaucratic, organizational, and political achievement” (Haggerty. 2001:37)
2) Considerable “dark figure” of crime.
-Total number of criminal offences that are unknown or unreported to the police & do not
appear as part of the official crime rate.
- It is significant b/c it suggests that UCR is limited in measuring crime
3) Use of alternative methods to better capture these dark figures of crime
- criminologists have developed many ways such that they could capture the incidents that are
not reported by the police
1) Phone surveys seeking info on victimization experiences of individuals over
specific time periods
2) Questions relate to the incidence and characteristics of victimization
experiences, as well as reason for reporting / not reporting the incident, fear of
crime, and attitudes towards the police.
3) Alternate data source independent of police and citizen reporting practices 4) Surveys typically yield levels of crime higher than those reported in official
-the time period is usually over the past 12 months (typically you have to be 15+
yrs old), you would get a call by phone and be asked if you were victimized by
the following crimes : sexual assault, breaking and entering yadda yadda ...
-they would also ask why they didn’t report it to police
-this is valuable information because they provide an alternative data source that
the police department exercises.
-typically survey higher levels of crimes
-higher reporting rate started to occur
-UCR is useful as a trend over time
• there are incidents that crime will be defined as a crime but is actually not (example,
reporting a wallet stolen when it isn’t actually)
• Telescoping; reporting an incident from years ago as in the last 12 months (a person
may have been victimized 18 months ago but they estimated that they were victimized
12 months ago)
• there is still impact of this
• Sometimes people forget that the crime has occurred, or were too lazy to deal with it/
found it unnecessary to deal with.
• huge problem with underreporting sexual assaults and domestic violence.
• fear of reporting if the offender is in close proximity and victims can’t call popo cause the
criminal will hear.
• Violence against women, specific type of survey
• Only includes home owners
3) Excludes “victimless” crimes
• ex: prostitution or homicide as it is difficult to report a victim in homicide.
1) Phone surveys or written questionnaires asking individuals about their past involvement in
various forms of criminal behaviour.
2) Valuable source of information for victimless crimes such as drug use.
• this is also focusing on specific time periods
• valuable info especially for victimless crimes (drug use crime reports comes fr. Self
• (3) independent of police and citizen reporting practices (ex: in 2006 they examined
delinquent behaviour of students gr. 7-9 and 1 of 5 students reported at least one
delinquent act within 12 mnths. And only about half have been actually caught by popo)
1. Inaccurate or Incomplete reporting
• a person may be hesitant about what it is they’re reporting
2. Reporting bias • ex: males are generally more likely to under report relatively to females
3. No independent measure of validity
• we don’t actually know if these ppl are telling the truth of whether they are engaging the
crime and there is no way to check what it is that they are actually reporting
Profile of Crime in Canada
The Use and Abuse of Crime Statistics
Conclusion: The Politics of Crime Statistics
Patterns of Crime in Canada:
• while UCR in general focuses on incidents of crime, youth crime rates are based on the
number of youths charged with an offence (only charges are reported).
• reporting bias: boys tend to under-report compared to females. You can compare w/
peers and you can compare what the person has reported to what is on the database
• Homicide accounts for .002% of violent crimes in Canada and .0003% of ALL crimes in
• Gender : equal risk of crime
• Age: decreases quite significantly when ppl get older (15-24 age grp is the highest rate)
• Marital status: single, separated or divorced = higher rate of personal victimizations
• Retired ppl: low
• Unemployment: high and students
• Staying out at night late: increases the crime rate victimizations
• Low household income: high
• People least fearful of crimes are most likely to be victimized.
• Majority of crime are rather minor and involving little injury or economic loss
1) Crime rate comparable to what it was in 1978
2) Majority of crimes are non-violent
3) Majority of violent crimes are perpetrated by non-strangers 4) Most crimes do not involve the use of a weapon or involve serious injury.
5) What are my chances of becoming a victim of crime?
The Use and Abuse of Crime Statistics:
1) Role of Statistics in Claims-Making
a. Claims-Making: Process through which people define social problems that
require urgent intervention in the form of new laws
b. Claims-making grps play important role in criminalization of certain grps
(also important when talking about statistics and how they are manipulated)
c. for claims-makers to bring up an issue, statistics are critical b/c numbers carry
much more weight, credibility, legitimacy than words do, to the point where ppl
won’t even listen to words unless there are numbers to support those words.
2) Forms of Abuse
a. Use of Aggregate Measures (Use of general categories of criminal activity in
order to present the crime problem) eg; category of violent youth crime involves a
wide variety of crimes (homicide, common assault) -misleading
b. Manipulation of Time Frame. (Using past to make present seem worse, holy
molly crime is on the rise)
c. Neglect of Changes in Definition of Crime and/or Data collection Methods
• journalists often fail to acknowledge changes to the definitions of crime or
• 1985: 16 and 17yrolds were added to the young ppl to what was then the
young offenders act. Your number is going to increase if you add a large
number of 16 and 17 yrolds, so everything has to do with the changes in
definition not the actual numbers ... but bcoz the definition has changed
d. Employment of False/Deceptive Formats (IE- Crime clock, murder every 32
• ex: crime clock; what's most deceptive about it is that it suggests that these
crimes are randomly distributed, thus any one of us has the potential to commit a
crime. • Crime doesn’t only depend on the characteristics of the individual but also the
“hot spots” that show higher rates of crime.
• Risks aren’t evenly distrubuted
3) Case Study 1: The Missing Child Problem
a. 86% of children run away from home
b. 10% of missing children are abducted by family member
c. Attempted kidnappings were counted
d. 1/5 of kidnappings aren’t successful
e. 20% were missing for less than 24 hours
f. Family friends weren’t counted
g. 115 kids abducted by strangers a year
h. 60% of the cases were reported as sex-offences rather than abductions
i. based on this he proposed a definition which would involve children being killed
or missing over night and based on this new definition, numbers significantly
dropped. If only strangers, not acquaintances , are counted numbers drop even
4) Case Study II: Measuring Serial Murder
a. 4000 serial murder victims every yr in US
b. Philip Jenkins found this number suspicious and reduced it to 300 or 400 (which
he found were the actual numbers)
-this is bcoz unsolved incidents of homicide are counted, thus helping produce a
much larger number of homicide
c. Law Enforcement blamed unsolved murders with serial killers
Conclusion: The Politics of Crime Statistics
When you see stats, what is the source of the numbers? Does the source have anything to gain
from the way the crime is presented to the public?
1) Production and Collection of Statistics (How they are produced and collected) a. Hacker (2000), “crime statistics do not measure criminal behaviour; they
measure the response of various agencies to their perception of crime.”
2) Use of Statistics
Best (1998) “Activists use statistics to persuade; but these numbers must be understood
for what they are--- part of the rhetoric of social problems promotion. Statistics are
products of social processes, and they have social consequences. When trying to
understand social problems, we need figures we can count on, but we especially need to
know what it is we’re counting.”
1. What is the source of numbers?
2. What are the interests of the organization reporting these statistics?
Biological and Psychological Theories
•They are rooted in a highly individualized nature of crime
•They are ... something (missed this)
•The evidence in each case is weak (In the case of Robert Hare its much weaker than what
the authors actually intended it to be)
1) Middle Ages (1400-1600) (Demonic Perspective) by evil or devil
a. Demons and Witchcraft
b. dates back to middle age during which crime was a viewed as a sin
c. for violent crime it was viewed as a satanic possession; resulted in severe forms
of punishment such as being burned; ½ million of ppl were convicted of witchcraft
and sentenced to death;
d. Salem witchcraft trials resulted in deaths of 14 women and 9 men, many of the
women did not fulfill the traditional description of a woman who is expected to
commit a crime.
2) Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment (1700s-1900s)
a. Crime moved away from witches and demons to focus on the body; signs that an
individual is a criminal
b. Phrenologists (1800-1850) (Checking skull for bumps, etc) c. Lombroso and the Theory of Atavism (1876): born criminal
d. Sheldon and the Criminal Physique (1949)
i. Stated that humans were made in 3 body types (endomorph(soft round,
sociable and relaxed), mesomorph(strong), ectomorph(brainy artistic);
stated Alpha male physique were criminals (mesomorph most likely to
• shift seen fr. Spiritual to natural and trying to understand through science,
measurement, and empirical methods.
• at this time Crim. Emerged as a science.
• key developments: much of this work rested on a belief that crime can be
read off the body, there are born criminals. (this was all examined, body, skull,
faces comparing of bodies and faces of criminals)
• criminality revealed through physical makeup of body
• Phrenologists (1800-1850): studied structure of the skulls, certain
structures would be related to mental capacity and certain behavioural traits
• Lombroso (father of crim). Criminals are born not made. He was a doctor
w/ prison position and was doing an autopsy where he noticed that many of
characteristics of his skull were similar to animals. Late 1876 wrote a book w/
theory that there is an evolutionary throwback. He went to 18 physical
abnormalities including enormous jaws + strong teeth, asymmetry of skull, large
ears, large lips, excessive cheekbones and skin wrinkles, extra fingers and toes
etc.... Concluded that if you possess 5/18 you have the irresistible craving for
crime. It was then determined that he was picking up stereotypes of southern
• Sheldon and the Criminal Physique (1949) : argued that criminals
possess distinct physiques. Focused on the overall body type. Argued that each
body type corresponds to their personalities.
• despite the fact that these theories were discredited, they still support the
idea that the underlying assumptions of the crime being displayed through the
body itself still exists.
• Failed to produce evidence of a distinct type of criminal, people he used
in his examples were not actual criminals (Italians, inferior and savage people)
Positivism – Assumptions: 1) Human beings have unique biological characteristics and psychological traits that
predispose them towards crime
2) Using established methods of scientific observation we can distinguish between
criminals and non-criminals based on their physical, biological and psychological
attributes, i.e. those who have a propensity or predisposition to commit crime.
3) Can be studied scientifically using methods from natural sciences. We can distinguish
from criminals and non-criminals solely from this study.
contemporary example- forensic psychology
a. Brain damage
b. focus on physical structure of the brain
a. So far just based on speculation
b. focusing on the genes (effect of inheritance on criminal behaviour)
c. popular theory in the 80s about XYY, the belief that males had an extra Y
chromosome were more likely to commit crime
d. eugenetics- Francis Galton : argued that use of marriage laws, segregation of
mentally defective and sterilization of those with undesirable characteristics
would improve qualities of future generations.
a. Supposed chemical imbalances
b. hormones, high lvls of testosterone or adrenalin. Neurotransmitter imbalances
(such as serotonin) which were associated with depression and aggression.
Case Study: “The Psychopath” (Ted Talk)
understood exclusively in one’s biological makeup
1) Historical Context
a. 1960s, used to describe criminals b. term psychopath has been used since 1900 up to late 1970’s that was applied to
violent and unstable criminals, really a label w/o instruments that determines who
is and who isn’t a criminal.
2) Robert Hare and the Psychopathy Checklist
a. Came up with a list of 20 traits to identify psychopath (psychopath checklist)
b. Canadian psychologist developed a diagnostic tool called the Psychopathy
Checklist (consisting of 20 traits)
c. according to checklist: 1% Canadians are psychopaths.
d. a part of your brain that is responsible for emotion is missing, this theory
emerged from the MRI scan where violent images were flashed in front of ppl.
Psychopaths had less activities in the amygdule in the brain.
3) Biological Origins: The Amygdule and Broca’s Area
a. this is the theory saying that psychopaths produce emotion in that area
• Video ted talk – psychopath checklist 1/100 regular ppl=psychopath, semi-psychopath,
grey areas (where you find the complexity, truth)
Validity – The checklist does not measure a psychopathic condition, it just describes a
i. Criminal record reflects on the checklist scores
ii. is the PCLR measuring what its supposed to? Is it providing an indication
of a psychological condition or is it providing an indication of something
iii. the list also describes personality traits of people who are violent/ppl w/
mental issues. Is this list just a label?
iv. evil, bad, scumbag = are not scientific terms rather than moralistic terms,
thus is this a scientific way of looking at psychopathy? b. Breath and Reliability of Diagnostic Categories
i. Same result is produced by different ancestor’s
ii. checklist is far too broad, not precise enough
iii. reliability, has to do with how many psychiatrists were involved in the
establishment of this checklist and is there variation?
C) Correlations as cause
i. this is important given the underlying theory
ii. there have been studies demonstrating link b/w psychopaths and individuals that just
deem to lack some of these measures and the amygdule.
iii. this is correlation not causation ...
iv. the connections could be reversed ... ex: violence may be the cause of lack of
activity in brain
1) Policy Implications
Death penalty – remorse(psychopath secures death penalty)
Incapacitation and incarceration
a. False Positives; Someone might not actually be a psychopath
b. predicted tool, determining whether a human will engage in a crime and what
their punishment will be.
c. problems of cases where individuals may come out w/ high score and are
classified as psychopaths when they’re actually not.
d. socio economic status, individuals of particular cultural background may have an
effect of PCLR more than the actual personality traits of the individual
e. conclusion that dr J Williams draws fr. This: psychopath is a social construction,
a diagnostic category thats used to describe individuals who have violent
histories rather than describe a natural abnormality/disorder, yet because its
presented in the scientific language it is perceived as legit , beyond the extent of
-A psychopath PLR test is a way to describe individuals with violent histories rather than
determining personality disorders brought on biologically Checklist: A Measure of Evil
1) What exactly is being measured by the list?
2) What are the implications and limitations of this particular technique?
-A type of personality disorder
3) What is being measured and what are the limitations and implications of this assessment
• question of psychopaths and how they’re identified
• some ppl get locked up in prison not because what they do but because of the
fear of what they might do ?
• being involved w/ a psychopath is difficult (emotionally, financially, physically,
• a complete absence of remorse – defines a psychopath
• psychopath – personality disorder
• psychopaths use the part of the brain that normal individuals use for knowledge
• Dr. Hare estimates that 1% of a POP is a psychopath
• in prison 20% of inmates are psychopaths ( thus 6’500 psychopaths in Canada)
• Dr. Hare = PCLR (created the psychopathy checklist, which measures 20
qualities on a 3pt scale ... over 30 points = psychopath) It was originally
developed as a research tool but eventually became a predictor of future
behaviour (future violent behaviour)
• PCLR doesn’t ask for consent or participation of inmates
• factor 1: personality (lack or remorse)
• factor2: history (case history)
• its sometimes a factor of being caught!
• Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD) in UK
• PCLR has been used by prosecution experts to determine whether a psychopath
= danger to society, thus PCLR has been a matter of life & death. Psychological Theories
a. Inability of the superego to control the ID (unable to control unconscious crime)
2) Trait Based Personality Theories:
a. Anti-social personality disorder, conduct disorder – close to psychopathy
b. Idea that crim. Activity is rooted in personality traits. Psychologists are good at
3) Social Learning Theories
a. the belief that crime is the product of modeling (watching and imitating others),
b. no long term effects, only short term (music, video games)
c. precursors, thoughts and feelings
Case Study: Violent Music. Video Games, and Criminal Behaviour
1) Violent Video Games – Modeling and Reinforcing Violence
a. Case Studies: Individuals accused sometime in their life participated in violent
i. In Tennessee a few kids thought it’d be funny to shoot shotguns at cars
ii. reveal conxn b/w individuals who have committed violent acts and the fact
that they played violent video games prior to
b. Experimental Research: 200 college kids played video games some violent some
not. They were then measured on how much they pissed off other kids in a
different room by pushing a loud button.
researchers develop an experimental activity (ex: divide ppl in grps and see
responses to violent and non violent games ) c. Cross-Sectional Research: typically questionnaires, asking gaming habits and
lvls of aggression and seeing the conxn b/w the two.
a) Correlations as Causes
a. It’s not necessarily violent video games that cause these attacks, but rather
people who are violent just happen to play them.
i. causes (ex: vast majority play violent games yet vast majority actually
doesn’t go out there and commit crimes... this may be related to PCLR
since its debatable whether it is a cause or a correlation)
ii. parenting often plays a role, or lack or parental involvement or parents
acting violent at home.
iii. individual may have aggressive tendencies and thus be attracted to video
b. Short-Term versus Long Term Effects
i. Short-Term effects don’t usually go on to be long term effects
ii. typically the aggression after playing a game is short-term
iii. bozo doll experiment revealed short term violent behaviour yet the only
‘real’ funxn of the toy is to be hit...
c. “Aggression” versus “crime”
i. Most forms of aggression aren’t seen as crimes
ii. aggression –behavioural assessment
iii. crime-legal assessment
iv. aggression is not necessarily a legal crime
Limitations of Biological and Psychological Theories:
1) Acceptance of correlations as causes
2) Vague and Ambiguous Diagnostic Categories
a. Ie; conduct disorder, false positives
b. broad categories of PCLR c. criteria may be applicable to many types of individuals
d. reliability – also a problem
e. differences in assessment of diff individuals
3) Lack of conclusive empirical support
a. studies that tend to reveal strongest links b/w psychological and biological
studies are those that include a region, socio economic status, various aspects of
one’s social background, thus working with that framework you must keep in
mind the political, social and economic factors.
4) Inability to account for social distribution of crime
b. cultural differences
c. conxns b/w crime and race, class, age and gender (much higher rates of male
offenders than women)
5) Troubling Policy Implications
a. Identification; find those who will commit crime like psychopaths
c. the only way of perceiving and moving forward using these approaches (Fr, crim
justice perspective) is through :
a) identification: screening and profiling criminal techniques
b) incapacitation: policy that tries to prevent offenders from reoffending by taking
away their ability to commit crimes
Lambroso: indefinite sentencing. Only 40% of criminals are born criminals, rest
are influenced by environmental factors
Cultural and Political Significance:
1) Cultural Resonance
a. Reinforce broader representations
b. Nature of Criminality : fundamentally different than normal people (Joker video)
c. Techniques of detection and Investigation
d. Nature of criminality and belief that crime is a result of deficiency rather than
external influence e. Identification, detection and investigation of crime and the belief that we can
identify offenders based of physical, psychological and biological characteristics.
-psychological profiling (shows)
-limited investigative value by profilers
2) Political Expediency: speed and ease with which policies may be developed and
a. Translation of Social disadvantages in a natural deficit
i. social disadvantages that individual may experience, (ex: poverty seen as
natural deficit, so we don’t think of the social disadvantages ) According to
this reason of thinking, society is removed fr. Equation
b. Simplistic Policy Implications
i. ex: we use brain scans as a way of fighting terrorism
Rational Choice Theories
1) Rational Choice Theories Preceded Biological and Psychological approaches
a. Chronologically rational theories came first and are much closer to criminology
than bio and psych theories which are ‘kind of out there on their own’ b. Developed in late 1700’s and early 1800’s
c. The classical school of criminology
d. More sociological than biological/psychological theories. Rational Choice
Theories vivid in work of criminologists
• Cesare Baccarea and Jeremy Benham
• Baccarea wrote a pamphlet (1754) that really came to shape the views of
punishment that we still have today
• 1789 Principles of
2) Reaction against unjust, arbitrary and severe forms of punishment associated with
absolute monarchies and religious rule.
a. Death penalty for small offences such as theft
b. Punishments by dunking, thumb screws
c. These were forms of punishment that were related to monarchies and diff types
of religious rule (there was political organization that went along with these
extreme in their nature punishments)
3) Foundation in two core Enlightenment philosophies:
a. Rights and Freedoms. Fairness, equality and predictability
i. Innocent until proven guilty
ii. Due process (In arresting and court)
iii. belief in individual rights and freedoms and importance of fairness and
importance of fairness, equality, and predictability in responses to crime
iv. principles of proportionality are also taken for granted today. The principle
of being innocent until proven guilty emerged fr. these philosophies.
b. Human behaviour is a product of rational choice and calculation, rather than
biological, psychological or spiritual predispositions. Humans are rational and
reasoning beings who strive to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. i. Utilitarianism*
4) Philosophy of Punishment – Deterrence
1) Criminal behaviour is a product of a rational decision-making process through which
offenders evaluate the risks and rewards of committing a criminal offence.
2) Laws and punishments must be responsive to this decision-making process
3) The effect of punishment on criminal behaviour depends on three variables: (1) Severity,
(2) certainty, and (3) swiftness
a. Severity: Punishment (Ie life imprisonment); increasing severity and sentence
b. Certainty: Chances of being caught convicted and punished for the crime; you
can have the most severe punishment (death penalty)
c. Swiftness: Reinforcing the wrongfulness of the act; how fast until they are
punished; to have greatest effect you must come after crime quickly
4) There are two forms of deterrence:
a. Specific: Geared towards the individual with the intention of preventing the from
b. General: Punishments designed to prevent crimes within the general population
1. Increase the severity, certainty and swiftness of punishment
a. Summer of the gun: City-TV Poll – Are tougher sentences the answer to stopping
gun crimes? RESULTS: Yes- 10.047%. No- 18%
1) Failure of offenders to consider or care about future punishments
a. If offenders aren’t aware of punishments or don’t care the deterrence theory falls
2) Weak empirical support a. No credible evidence that focussing on the death penalty deters homicide
i. States or countries with the death penalty do not necessarily have lower
ii. Very low recidivism rates of murderers
iii. When Canada abolished death penalty in 1976, homicide rates steadily
went down until today
Rational Choice Theory:
1) Crimes are purposive and deliberate acts committed with the intention of benefiting
a. benefits can also include things like excitement, fun, sexual gratification,
defiance, expression of pwr.
2) Key variable is opportunity (CRAVED)
i. Concealable: If an object can be concealed it is more attractive to thief
ii. Removable: Portable, easily removed
iii. Available: Easily accessible
iv. Valuable: Significant dollar value
v. Enjoyable: Degree of value
vi. Disposable: Quickly and easily disposable
-these theories emphasize role of opportunity in crime causation.
Such that if an opportunity exists to steal something and the value is high
and risk is low , you will most likely steal.
b. iPod theft
3) Offender decision making varies with the nature of the crime
a. Motivations for robbery are different than motivations for sexual assault
b. Even for same objects there can be different reasons; Like a car stolen for either
joy riding or selling of parts
c. motivations for same offence may be different (where as some see it as purely
economical, some people are motivated to (for example) steal a car for joyriding) 4) Rational choice applies to both the decision to become involved in crime (involvement)
and the decision to commit specific offences (event)
1) Choice versus determinism
a. Not biological or anything but rather by choice to commit crimes
2) Dynamic Nature of Crime
a. May commit a lot of crimes in certain point of life, but might not ever commit any
b. Offending is very much oriented to the present situation
3) Crime as Normal
a. Can’t drive clear biological or psychological distinctions between criminals
because everybody commits crime
1) Situational Crime Prevention
a. An assortment of different techniques designed to reduce the opportunity of
b. Reducing opportunities in specific situations
c. For example: Police presence, security cameras, alarms; Architecture (designing
areas without dark alleys, etc) Lighting
d. hot spot: idea that crime tends to be higher within certain areas of the
city/particular parts of neighbourhoods
e. crime prevention through environmental design (a subset of interventional
crime prevention, to design neighbourhoods (the set up) ex: minimizing
entrances on the block which makes it easier to see which individuals enter the
-4 rational choice objectives (Pg 23 boundaries)
1) Increasing the perceived required by crime
2) Increasing the perceived risk
3) Reducing the anticipated reward
4) Removing excuses for crime
Limitations: 1) Presumption of Rationality
a. “I have no idea why I did this. I don’t really know why I did it”
b. we cannot limit human behaviour to rational thinking, which would be overly
2) Crime Displacement
a. If the crime is stopped in one area it will just move to another
b. crime is not actually prevented but just displaced into another neighbourhood .
Offenders move fr. one area to another.
3) Neglect of the Underlying Causes of Crime
a. there is little discussion and interest in social background factors such as poverty,
that may influence criminal activity
b. comes back to the question of scope
4) Over-Emphasis on Policy Relevance and Practical Utility
a. Criminological Theory must lead to a practical inexpensive solution
b. tendency to engage in victim fighting
Cultural and Political Significance:
1) Widespread endorsement of rational choice theories as a foundation for crime control
2) Popular appeal and political expedience; Simple, straight forward, easy to implement
Sociological Theories 1: Social Process Theories:
1. Limitations of Individual Theories and the Shift to Sociological Theories 2.Overview of Social Process Theories
a) Social Control
b) Differential Association
3. Strengths and Limitations of Social Process Theories
Limitation of Individual Theories and the Shift to Sociological Theories
1) Society rather than the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis, society plays critical
role in human behaviour, society causing, contributing to behaviour*
a. Emile Durkheim; how society contributes to suicide, to crime
2) Sociological Theories of crime focus on two keys sets of variables: (1) Social processes:
micro how people shape our behaviour (2) social structures: macro larger societal
forces, pressures(class, gender, race)
3) According to social process theories crime is a product of social processes (Bonding,
learning and labelling) rather than individual traits
4) These processes may discourage criminal behaviour through the development of social
bonds, or encourage criminal behaviour through social learning and the imposition of
5) Explaining how individuals become involved in crime is more important than accounting
for their motivations
-motivations are not dependent on a societal predisposition.
-how and whether these motivations, incentives are translated into practise
Social Control Theory (Social Bond Theory)
(Travis Hirschi 1989)
Causes of Delinquency book where he outlined social control theory
One of the most studied
1) Everyone has the potential for criminal behaviour
- we all have it with us to engage in crime
2) Why don’t more people commit crimes? Conformity is the problem than crime. Why do
we conform? 3) Most people have attachments and commitments, which bond them to conventional
society. Crime is an outcome of either the failure to develop these social bonds or their
weakening over time.
a. Relationship with parents; school, work, friends - bonds
b. Hirschi is interested in socialization, learning the appropriate social norms etc.
c. Groups that play critical role in socializations are parents, school, peers
d. The process of socialization, all play role in teaching us appropriate social norms,
values, skills, habits
4) Elements of the Social Bond: between individual and society IMPORTANT
a. Attachment: The degree to which individuals are emotional invested with
affective ties to other; Friends, parents, relatives; caring about others, respecting
them (value, care, treat people well)
b. Commitment: Degree to which individual sets conventional goals; school, work,
etc. The more time we engage with something (education, career) – informs
bond conventional pursuit
c. Involvement: The degree to which an individual is active in conventional
activities; What they do in their free time ie; after school activities. More time
spent here, less time to commit crime.
d. Belief: Belief in conventional norms; an attitude of respect to authority, society,
police, morals, religion. The degree to which the individual identifies with
conventional values, norms and legitimacy of law (we believe in law, we believe it
is right, we have stronger bond with society, if not then otherwis