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Lecture 1.docx

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Carleton University
PSYC 3402
Julie Blais

Lecture 1 Final essay question - “DonaldAndrews has made a significant contribution to the psychological understanding of criminal behavior. Highlight his contributions in terms of theory, assessment (risk and criminogenic needs), correctional programming (RNR), core correctional practice, and corrections policy in Canada and internationally.” Criminal behavior - Defining crime - Looking at the theoretical underpinnings to the empirical research - Risk factors for crime; assessing someone’s risk for criminal behavior - Treatment for offenders - Special populations - Desistence and applications - Primary focus on the individual Offender profiles - What does the typical offender look like? • Age 28; serving 36 months for armed robbery • Previous record for property and drug crime • Dropped out of high school before grade 10  Hard time problem solving • Fairly chaotic childhood and family situation • Long history of drug and alcohol abuse • Multiple brief relationships • Infrequent jobs • Poor problem solving • Hangs out with others who commit crime • Hangs out in bars a lot • Recently met a woman and hopes his relationship will help him go straight Offender profiles - Sensational crime: • Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka • Tried for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of both Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French • Homolka plea bargained for a lighter sentence in exchange for testimony against Bernardo • Bernardo was convicted of 3 murders in Sept 1995. • He claimed to be a fan of serial killer stories • Reports indicate his parents were not close, but that he was a “perfect” child Typical vs. sensational - Which true scenario better helps us understand criminal behavior? - Looking only to sensational stories for understanding crime • Does not inform regarding most prevalent crimes • Does not inform regarding motivations for “ordinary” crimes  Sensational offenders are outliers (far beyond general motivation) • Increases fear of victimization for rare crimes • Limits the thoroughness of our understanding • Fails to integrate empirical & theoretical understanding from law, sociology & psychology Critical thinking - What influences how we consider criminal behavior? • Media  Intense scrutiny  Sensational crimes get front page  Tidal waves of opinions about crime • Politics  Getting tougher on crime prominent for all major political parties • Costs  Taxpayer concerns  Should funds be increased or decreased?  Many think we should increase $ going to criminal justice system, but don’t know where to allocate the funds  Allocated to police, courts, prisons, other? • Stakeholders  Concern for general public vs. victims vs. inmates • Personal experience  Victimization experiences  Accounts from friends, family, acquaintances • Research? - TV is where most people get their information WHAT DO YOU BELIEVEABOUT CRIMINALBEHAVIOR?? - There is no one single criminal personality, but there are shared characteristics - Not all offenders are mentally ill - Punishment is NOT effective in reducing crime (because most crimes are impulsive) - Intimacy problems don’t help explain spousal assault - The best predictor of crime is past criminal behavior - Most offenders DO NOT reoffend - Social class and gender are NOT the most important predictors of crime • Most predictive is: history, antisocial attitude, history of antisocial personality disorder, and antisocial friends - Majority of sex offenders do NOT have deviant sexual interests Which of these are crimes? - One person forcefully takes money from another, who requires hospitalization as a result. - Afather has sexual relations with his grown-up daughter. - Aman steals food for his hungry family. - Awoman sells sex to pay for food, clothing, housing. - Someone uses illegal drugs. - Amanager permits toxic gases to be released from a factory into the atmosphere. - Amanager takes money from the company and then returns it when detected. Variation in definitions - Is there an objective definition of crime? - Crime is a socially constructed phenomenon • Subject to variations in:  Context  Social convention and culture (how tolerant?)  Ex: incest not as taboo in some cultures  Politics  Opportunity  Motivation - Example, age of criminal responsibility • 7 years old (Ireland) • 8 years old (Scotland) • 10 years old (England and Wales) • 12 years old (Canada) • 13 years old (France) • 14 years old (Germany) • 15 years old (Sweden) • 16 years old (Spain) - Definitions can vary between communities, society, over time Defining crime - Cross cultural consistency (Newman, 1976, 1977) • Samples from 6 countries • Variation in terms of abortion, homosexuality, public protest • Consistency about certain behaviors being criminal  Robbery  Theft  Incest  Factory pollution  Drug use Defining crime - Types of definitions • Legal prohibited by the state and punishable under the law (ex: Criminal Code) • Moral violates norms of religion and morality and punishable by supreme beings • Social violates norms and customs and punishable by the community • Psychological rewarding to actor but harmful to others (ex: antisocial) Defining crime - Criminal behavior refers to intentional behavior that violates a criminal code; intentional in that it did not occur accidentally or within justification or excuse (Bartol and Bartol, 2008) - Some defenses: self-defense, automatism, Battered Woman Syndrome Defining crime - Why should we care about definitions of criminal behavior? • Definition relates to prevalence; prevalence relates to cost  Amore conservative definition will decrease the rate of crime • Definition must reflect cultural sensitivity  Intercultural variations regarding normative and acceptable behaviour, and that acceptable norms can change over time within a culture  Ex: age of consent laws in other countries are not the same as those in Canada • How can we study something is we don’t first define it? - Since treatment is often provided by correctional agencies to address the underlying reasons for criminality and to reduce the likelihood of repeating a crime, sensitivity to both legal and cultural issues must be reflected in psychological responses to criminal behavior Measuring crime - Most common measures are aggregated crime rates (at the level of large areas consisting of populations of people) - Prevalence: (refers to people) - Incident: (refers to crime) Measuring crime - Per capita crime rates - Prevalence rate multiplied by incidence rate in a given area during a given time period - Example: • 3000 burglars per 100,000 committing 2 crimes per
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