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Midterm

CRIM 1650 Midterm: Answers for Crim Review

8 Pages
67 Views
Fall 2016

Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRIM 1650
Professor
James Williams
Study Guide
Midterm

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Definitions of Crime
1. What is the relationship between crime and deviance? Is this relationship best understood
in terms of distinct categories or a continuum of behaviour?
Continuum of behavior
Deviance is an act that violates social norms
Criminal law is divided into deviance and crime
Cannot put them in two diff boxes, we have to recognize that they are related
Crime is behavior that breaks the law, and deviance is behavior that differs from the
socially accepted norm. When a deviance breaks a law, it becomes a crime. Acts of crime
are punishable by law, while acts of deviance can only be punished by law when those
acts break laws
2. What are the four main approaches to the definition of crime? What are the respective
strengths and weaknesses of these approaches?
Consensus: a crime that is an act which violates commonly held standards of public morality.
Elements of Consensus: society is characterized by a moral and social consensus and
definitions of criminal behaviour reflect common social values, norms, and beliefs
Limitations: neglect of contextual variations(even though homicide=bad, self-defence,
military and doctor-assisted suicide= exceptions, whose morality?(a sense of what is
moral and immoral can be shaped by gender, religious and other values) , absence of
morality as to what constitutes criminal behaviour (some people would say that homeless
people asking for money on the street is considered an offence and others would say it is
for poverty sake)
Legal: a crime is an act or a failure to act which violates the criminal law, in order for an
individual to be convicted of a crime
Elements: ‘Actus Reus’ and ‘Mens Rea’ there must be an actus reus which is the action
that was caused by the person being convicted, also a mens rea which must be
accompanied by a certain state of mind (can be subjective: person intended to commit the
crime or objective: reasonable person should know that they shouldn’t commit the crime)
& Defences are used for the person who is being convicted so they don’t get the penalty
Limitations:
1. neglects harmful behaviour not sanctioned by criminal law (unsafe consumer
products, false advertising) Nivea cream was sued for false advertising of their
slimming cream (this was fraud but was still not defined by crime)
2. ignores the social, cultural and historical relativity of law Criminal code may not
be a good reference as to what is good and what is not because some laws change
overtime (in 1923, marijuana= legal but now it isn’t)
3. overlooks the process of law formation and the social, political and economic
interests at stake in the process one of the reasons why marijuana is now illegal is
because it was economically and socially beneficial for Canada
Constructionist: A crime is a label that is applied by a public audience
Elements: Behaviour is not inherently criminal (one’s behaviour does not constitute a
criminal) & whether a specific activity or behaviour is defined as a ‘crime’ depends on a
complex social process involving ‘claims-makers’(individuals who engage in the claims-
making are the media, politicians, police or private security companies)
Limitations:
1. Overly Realistic: meaning that any behaviour can be defined as a crime and that there
is no independent objective standing or criteria that criminal 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 (society and politics make a significant impact on
labels of crime)
Conflict: a crime is an act prohibited by those in positions of social power as a means of
protecting their own values and interests
Elements: society is characterized by conflict rather than consensus, defining crime is a
political exercise (suggests that crime is political because they listen to what the society
wants so laws and regulations are made upon society), definitions of criminal behaviour
reflect the interests of the powerful (E.g. Alcohol in 1919 became illegal which happened
because workplace thought when alcohol was consumed it was not right in because it had
caused many accidents, there was a reasonable consumption of alcohol and crime but was
legalized in 1993 because it was seen as a source of tax revenue, it was believed that the
alcohol industry could provide employment and there was a concern that people still
continued to consumer so it was seen that alcohol consumption made sense)
Limitations:
instrumental view of law and overreliance on class as an explanatory variable
(Law and definitions of crime is much more complicated than we suggest b/c
some classes don’t get a say)
neglect of processes through which behaviour is criminalized (how certain
variables, e.g. gender, age, etc. will incorporate with law making)
3. What do criminologists mean when they say that crime is a “social phenomenon”?
Why is this significant? What does it tell us about the nature of crime and criminal
behaviour?
Crime is a social phenomenon b/c society is in charge of what is considered a crime
Definitions of criminal behavior are the outcome of a social process in which definitions
are created, imposed and resisted
Significancedefinitions vary across societies and cultures and time periods
Constructions of crime and criminal behavior are informed by a variety of crime myths
and mythmakers
The social process is informed by social, political, and economic conflicts, power
relations, and forms of equality
Significance There is a social process that has a particular set of norms which reflects
tension and conflicts b/w different groups. Thus, we cannot understand how crime is
defined without thinking of the social process
Measurement of Crime
1. What are the links between the issues of definition and measurement? What are the effects of
changes in definition on the measurement of crime?
Expanding the definition results in the rate of whichever crime increasing (for instance, if
expanding the definition of sexual assault to include threats and verbal intimidation then
rates of sexual assault would increase)
Contracting the definition results in the rate of whichever crime to decrease (for instance,
contracting the definition of sexual assault to not include weapons anymore would result
in the rates of sexual assault decreasing)
2. What are the three core methods used to measure crime and delinquency? What are their
relative strengths and weaknesses? Is it true that particular methods are best suited to
measuring specific types of crime? Why would this be the case? What are some examples of
this?
3. What are some of the key patterns of crime in Canada? Which groups are at the greatest risk
of personal victimization?
Majority of crimes are non-violent.
Majority of violent crimes are perpetrated by non-strangers.
Most crimes do not involve the use of a weapon or involve serious injury.
What are my chances of becoming a victim of violent crime? Sex is not an important role
in violent crime. 15-24 is the highest risk of violent victimization, same as if you are
single. If you are a student or unemployed you will have the highest risk. Spending time
out late, in bars, for work, the number of actives you engage in during the nights puts you
higher at risk. Place of residence, live in city you have a higher risk than if you live in
rural areas.
Majority of crimes are not violent or aggressive, they are mostly minor incidents. Crime
is common, crime is normal.
4. How and why are crime statistics manipulated (i.e. used and abused)? What are the benefits
of this manipulation? Whose interests does it serve?
Role of Statics in Claims-Making. Claims-making refers to the process through which
activates and people are criminal which lead to tougher penalties. Interested in gaming
support in their claims. Interested in attracting the media and politicians. Numbers and
statics are perceived as being objective. Presidential Debates.
Forms of Abuse. 1) Use of aggregate measures. Reference to general categories of
criminal behavior that combine very different types of activity. Grouping all youth crimes
together, from shop lifting to homicide. 2) Manipulation of Time Frames. Selective focus
on a specific time theory, usually to make the claim that crime is on the rise. Just
focusing on specific time line even though, look at the whole picture would suggest
otherwise. 3) Neglect of changes in definition of crime and/or data collection methods.
The change in crime is not reported but simply the increase or decrease. 4) Employment
of fake or deceptive formats. Crime popular culture tends to be misrepresented. Crime is
invasive and effects everybody, but there are certain factors that play apart in higher risk
people.
Individual Theories I Biological and Psychological
1. What types of assumptions underlie “positivism” and how have these assumptions informed
biological and psychological theories of crime?
Assumptions of positivism:
1. Human beings have unique biological characteristics and psychological traits that
predispose them towards crime

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Description
Definitions of Crime 1. What is the relationship between crime and deviance? Is this relationship best understood in terms of distinct categories or a continuum of behaviour? Continuum of behavior Deviance is an act that violates social norms Criminal law is divided into deviance and crime Cannot put them in two diff boxes, we have to recognize that they are related Crime is behavior that breaks the law, and deviance is behavior that differs from the socially accepted norm. When a deviance breaks a law, it becomes a crime. Acts of crime are punishable by law, while acts of deviance can only be punished by law when those acts break laws 2. What are the four main approaches to the definition of crime? What are the respective strengths and weaknesses of these approaches? Consensus: a crime that is an act which violates commonly held standards of public morality. Elements of Consensus: society is characterized by a moral and social consensus and definitions of criminal behaviour reflect common social values, norms, and beliefs Limitations: neglect of contextual variations(even though homicide=bad, selfdefence, military and doctorassisted suicide= exceptions, whose morality?(a sense of what is moral and immoral can be shaped by gender, religious and other values) , absence of morality as to what constitutes criminal behaviour (some people would say that homeless people asking for money on the street is considered an offence and others would say it is for poverty sake) Legal: a crime is an act or a failure to act which violates the criminal law, in order for an individual to be convicted of a crime Elements: Actus Reus and Mens Rea there must be an actus reus which is the action that was caused by the person being convicted, also a mens rea which must be accompanied by a certain state of mind (can be subjective: person intended to commit the crime or objective: reasonable person should know that they shouldnt commit the crime) Defences are used for the person who is being convicted so they dont get the penalty Limitations: 1. neglects harmful behaviour not sanctioned by criminal law (unsafe consumer products, false advertising) Nivea cream was sued for false advertising of their slimming cream (this was fraud but was still not defined by crime) 2. ignores the social, cultural and historical relativity of law Criminal code may not be a good reference as to what is good and what is not because some laws change overtime (in 1923, marijuana= legal but now it isnt) 3. overlooks the process of law formation and the social, political and economic interests at stake in the process one of the reasons why marijuana is now illegal is because it was economically and socially beneficial for Canada Constructionist: A crime is a label that is applied by a public audience Elements: Behaviour is not inherently criminal (ones behaviour does not constitute a criminal) whether a specific activity or behaviour is defined as a crime depends on a complex social process involving claimsmakers(individuals who engage in the claims making are the media, politicians, police or private security companies)
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