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Canada (158,391)
Psychology (9,573)
PSYC39H3 (201)


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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Nussbaum

Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada CHAPTER 1: Crime in Canada LEARNING OBJECTIVES 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 behaviour. 7. Describe variations in rates of crime according to different sources. 8. Describe the financial and social impact of crime on Canadians . CHAPTER SUMMARY 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. Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 1 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada LECTURE OUTLINE 1. The Influence of the Media:  the Ontario government raised its food allowance of meal per diem to $5.46  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 sentencing.  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 comparisons  Forensic psychology: key activities of psychologists in court, intended to guide legal decision making—than the understanding of criminal behaviour .  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 Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 2 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada  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. Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 3 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada  A definition of crime is critical in that the specific description will influence prevalence - more conservative or restrictive definition will decrease the rate of crime  there are inter-cultural variations regarding normative and acceptable behaviour, and acceptable norms can change over time within a culture  immigrants may behave in a manner consistent with the cultural norms of their native country, but such behaviour may be illegal in their new home  sensitivity to both legal and cultural issues must be reflected in psychological responses to criminal behaviour. 4. Determinants of Crime:  distal (i.e., historical) and proximal (i.e., immediate, situational).  psychology’s perspective identifies factors that are most strongly associated with criminality in order that assessments are developed to reflect these domains and that interventions are derived to address (i.e., change, modify, diminish) them and reduce future re-offending.  meta-analysis empirically identifies determinants of crime.  Meta-analytic reviews are less biased in that they provide a quantitative estimate of the importance of the results rather than a narrative interpretation by the author.  considered the standard for reviewing the literature 5. First and Second Order Correlates of Criminal Conduct:  the Central Eight risk/need factors in understanding criminal behaviour  within this group are the Big Four or the major causal variables in the analysis of the criminal behaviour of individuals.  a series of meta-analyses have confirmed that certain variables previously considered important correlates of crime in sociological theory have proved to be relatively unimportant - are referred to as minor risk factors.  Major risk factors are considered first order correlates  the most compelling demonstration of the relative importance of major (first order) and minor (second order) risk factors comes from an ongoing research project and collaboration between the University of New Brunswick and Carleton University (Andrews and Bonta, 2006).  Moderate risk factors are those that are part of the Central Eight but are not major correlates.  some risk factors (antisocial history, seriousness of current offence) are static, meaning they cannot change, whereas others (antisocial cognition, substance use) can change and are dynamic risk factors.  In general, the Central Eight, as reflected in PIC–R, yielded more robust correlations than other factors in 372 studies  if the goal is to understand and reduce criminal behaviour, then assessments and treatment must attend to those factors that are most highly correlated with criminal conduct. Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 4 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada  Specifically, antisocial attitudes and associates are much more important than such factors as social class or mental health symptoms.  These major risk factors are often termed criminogenic in that they are empirically related to criminal conduct and, when reduced, lead to reductions in future re-offending.  For this reason, criminogenic needs typically inform treatment referrals. 6. Impact of Risk and Need Model of Criminal Conduct:  for young offender services, all provinces except Quebec utilize some form of a risk and need assessment modelled after the major risk factors  Most use variants of either the Wisconsin model or the Level of Service Inventory  adult assessments in provincial corrections also reflect the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) or variations.  there is no centralized survey as there was in the case of youth services  The federal correctional system, Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), uses an Offender Intake Assessment based on the Wisconsin model.  This automated assessment was recently refined and renamed as a Dynamic Factor Identification Analysis  The LSI-R has also been adopted for use internationally, most notably in the United States.  All these assessments are intended to assist in the identification of levels of criminal risk for decision purposes (i.e., security placement, release), specific treatment targets (i.e., criminogenic needs), and treatment planning. 7. Role of Substance Use:  Substance abuse is described as a moderate risk factor  meta-analyses show modest effect sizes through intervention  an inordinate number of offenders report substance abuse as an important precursor to their commission of crimes  52.1 percent report regular drug use and 62.7 percent report regular alcohol use  approximately 50 percent of federal offenders report using drugs and/ or alcohol prior to or during the commission of their crimes.  68 percent of federal offenders have substance abuse problems warranting intervention.  Understanding substance abuse is germane to increasing our understanding of criminal behaviour.  The use of alcohol or drugs is related to different types of violent crime, with alcohol being more related to interpersonal conflict (i.e., assaults, homicides) and drugs being related to more acquisitive violence (i.e., robbery)  despite the clear link between alcohol and crime, the nature of its influence is unclear - does alcohol cause crime directly through Copyright © 2011 Pearson Canada Inc. 5 Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: A Canadian Perspective Chapter 1: Crime in Canada diminished inhibitory control or increased cognitive impairment and thus is an important treatment target.  if alcohol is mediated by another factor such as personality - such an influence may not be remedied by a program that simply addresses an addiction problem  substance abuse has also been uniquely implicated for sexual offenders, where rapists and child molesters report higher levels of alcohol consumption than non-sexually violent offenders.  the challenge is to reconsider the role of substance abuse in domestic violence when determining intervention models  integrated substance abuse programs are now popular in addressing both the nature of addiction and its impact on offending 8. Linking the Research to Case Studies:  a clearer understanding of typical criminal behaviour comes from a review of primary or first-order risk factors.  in examining prevalence rates for different types of crimes, the majority of crimes reflect ordinary individuals committing less serious offences.  most individuals involved in criminal behaviour are ordinary individuals with ordinary problems (i.e., poor self-regulation, substance abuse, lack of employment, or poor choice in friends) whose decision to engage in criminal conduct reflects disinhibition, a failure to consider short- and long-term consequences, support from criminal peers, and attitudes about such behaviour.  As support for prosocial behaviour increases, offenders’ decisions and behaviours, especially when supported by intervention, become less criminal. 9. Federal and Provincial Corrections:  more data pertaining to federal corrections is available than provincial corrections because of the existence of a national electronic dataset.  Correctional services are operated by both federal and provincial governments.  sentences of less than two years, community sentences such as fines, community service work, or probation are under provincial jurisdiction.  prison sentences of two years or more are the responsibility of the federal government.  young offender services, including pre-trial supervision, community and custody sentences, and extrajudicial sanctions programs, are the responsibility of provincial governments  a sentence of two years or greater are incarcerated in federal prisons  in the United States, state and federal prisons have marke
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