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PSYC39H3 Chapter Notes -Institute For Operations Research And The Management Sciences, John Wayne Gacy, Specific Weight

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David Nussbaum

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Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada
Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 1
CHAPTER 1: Crime in Canada
1. Describe a typical offender, with a discussion of implications for understanding
criminal behaviour in general.
2. Provide an interdisciplinary context to understanding criminal behaviour.
3. Describe public perceptions of criminal justice agencies.
4. Describe crime trends throughout Canada.
5. Describe the empirically derived determinants of crime and discuss their implications
for assessment and treatment of offenders.
6. Introduce types of crime and their implications for understanding criminal
7. Describe variations in rates of crime according to different sources.
8. Describe the financial and social impact of crime on Canadians.
The goal of this introductory chapter was to highlight some key reasons why crime is
of concern to Canadians and to provide an empirical setting (Central Eight major risk
factors) to understanding criminal conduct upon which the rest of the chapters are based.
The book focuses on Canadian data and Canadian contributions. Key studies covered in
this chapter illustrate the role of media, Canadians’ perceptions of components of the
criminal justice system, and rates and types of crimes for youth and adults. Crime and
incarceration in Canada have been situated in an international context, showing that
relative to the United States we are in fairly good shape, although less so relative to
Western Europe. With respect to crime in Canada, there are differences in terms of age
and gender—topics that are addressed in Chapters 5 and 11, respectively.
Restricting the text to correctional psychology is intended to inform an explanation
and understanding of offending (i.e., criminal) behaviour in a manner that will be
of interest and assistance to staff involved in community corrections and prisons,
including parole and probation staff and psychologists. The purpose is to highlight key
literature regarding offenders such that an evidence-based practice is described and
supported, allowing its application to yield improved understanding and correctional
outcomes (i.e., reduced re-offending). While not a clinical “how to” book, this text is
clearly intended to underscore the contribution that correctional psychology can make
in addressing concerns about criminal behaviour in Canada.
The balance of the book reviews theory about criminal behaviour, specific chapters
on types of offenders, a discussion of how theory informs practice, and some descriptions
about different career paths in the field of corrections practice and research. Each chapter
is written with a focus on Canadian research, underscoring significant contributions
made by Canadian researchers and why Canadian corrections remain the envy of most
countries in the world.

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Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada
Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 2
1. The Influence of the Media:
the Ontario government raised its food allowance of meal per diem to
Ontario prisoners receive meals worth more than $10 per day.
2008 the Toronto Star published a special series highlighting the
complexity of crime and criminal justice issues in Canada
At times of political change, crime and public safety are typically high on
the agenda of issues to discuss.
During the federal election in 2008, all three major political parties
espoused views on getting tough on crime, especially in terms of
Canadian surveys indicate that crime is an important concern (Queen’s
University 2006)
research indicates that 44 percent of Canadians believe more money
should be spent on the criminal justice system (Queen’s University 2006)
a telephone survey of more than 4500 Canadians regarding their
perceptions of crime found that government information has a moderate
influence, and academic contributions has no influence
Clearly these data confirm the importance of media for Canadians.
2. Current Context:
Difference between sociology and psychology is the level or focus of
Forensic psychology: key activities of psychologists in court, intended to
guide legal decision making—than the understanding of criminal
In the United Kingdom (McGuire 2002), the specific psychological study
of criminal behaviour is referred to as criminological psychology; in the
United States and Canada, the area would often be described as
correctional psychology
this text focuses on understanding the assessment and management of
individuals who engage in criminal behaviour. The idea is to follow
dispositions by the court, not the actual issues
relating to the operation of justice the text’s preferred “model” is that of
correctional psychology as described by Magaletta and Boothby (2002).
Sociological explanations regarding such factors as age, gender, and social
class provide some insight into groups of individuals.
theoretical explanation varies with levels of analysis: at the macro level,
the objective is to understand crime as a large-scale social phenomenon;
at the micro level the importance of socialization and the influence of
community, family, and peer groups becomes of greater interest; the
narrower focus examines patterns of individual behaviour and the
influence of psychological factors such as thoughts, feelings, or attitudes

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Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada
Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 3
offenders comprise a particularly heterogeneous group
as many as 70 percent of offenders follow some approximation of the age-
crime curve, with only a small percentage maintaining criminal activity
well into adulthood
This phenomenon of decreased criminal activity is a process referred to as
crime desistance.
Psychology attempts to refine our understanding of criminal behaviour by
considering individual variation in order to account for heterogeneity and
provide differentiated assessment and intervention
A psychological understanding is derived from recognizing the variability
of criminal behaviour between individuals as well as within an individual
over time and across situations.
the Personal, Interpersonal and Community-Reinforcement model (PIC–
R; Andrews and Bonta 2006) an integrative and situational model of
criminal behaviour, suggests that criminal behaviour reflects the
“immediate situation” in that factors (e.g., temptations, facilitators,
inhibitors, and stressors) combine to influence a decision to engage in
criminal behaviour
The decision is further influenced by attitudes supportive of crime, a
history of criminal behaviour, a balance of the costs and rewards for
crime, and the presence of social supports for crime
PIC–R highlights the contributions of community (i.e., family of origin,
social economic factors), interpersonal (i.e., family/child relations,
childhood attachment, neglect, abuse, ties to criminal others), personal
(i.e., early conduct problems, biological factors such as temperament and
verbal intelligence, gender and age, and cognitions), and consequences
(i.e., whether criminal behaviour is rewarded).
The model recognizes the influence of both historical and immediate
factors in an individual arriving at the decision to engage in a criminal act
and to view such behaviour as appropriate.
the PIC–R reflects a learning theory of crime that attends to social and
cognitive factors as well as behaviour, underscoring it as a contemporary
cognitive social learning theory of crime.
3. Definition of Crime:
involves a variety of factors including individual’s motivation,
opportunity, politics, social convention, and context.
Types of definitions typically include legal (acts prohibited by the state
that are punishable under the law), moral (refers to the violation of norms
of religion and morality that are punishable by supreme beings), social
(the violation of certain norms and customs that are punishable by the
community), and psychological explanations (acts that are rewarding to
the perpetrator but harmful to others)
there is consistency across countries regarding what is viewed as criminal
e.g., robbery, theft, and incest were all viewed to be criminal.
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