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Chapter 1-3

SOCC30H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-3: Uniform Crime Reports, Real Crime, Jury Trial

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Julian Tanner

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Chapter One: 8 Fallacies about crime
Instead of a grand theory, this book focuses on middle range theory
oThe routine activity approach is a good middle range theory that assists in
studying crime w/o emotions interfering  it treats criminal act as a tangible
event occurring within the physical world
oIt focuses on the how, when, and where of crime
When studying crime, you have to overcome these 8 fallacies:
1. Dramatic fallacy
2. Cops-and courts fallacy
3. Not-me fallacy
4. Innocent-youth fallacy
5. Ingenuity fallacy
6. Organized-crime fallacy
7. Big gang fallacy
8. Agenda fallacy
These fallacies often appear in media and misrepresent what normally happens  e.g.
after a burglary you would expect a big investigation, as seen on TV, but in reality this
doesn’t happen
“routine activity approach”  avoid being distracted by dramatic crimes
oDramatic crimes get more attention b/c they make a better story, this is common
among media outlets that usually depict nonrepresentative crime
Media is interested in romantic or clever murders (e.g. jealous lover, well thought out
murder plot) to keep ratings high
Dramatic fallacy states that the most publicized offences are very distant from real life
oMedia is carried away by horror-distortion sequence  find a horror story and
entertain the public with it
oMedia creates a myth in public mind  build on this myth for next horror story 
leads to public misinformation and acceptance of past misconceptions  lead to
distortions about crime that cause “moral panics” and cause people to get
scared. In reality these types of crimes are rare
Murder is the most distorted crime in the public eye  only most elaborate or
interesting murders are even covered by the media.
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oPublic thinks murder is most frequent crime
Uniform Crime Report by FBI states this is not true  major violent crimes outnumber
murder 80 to 1, property crimes outnumber 625 to 1, other crimes 10,000 to 1 
emphasis on murder is misplaced
Coverage of murder circumstances is not accurate either
oMurder is less a crime than it is an outcome
oIt’s similar to a normal fight, but someone ends up dead
2 central features of a murder: gun too near, hospital too far
Some murderers intend to kill from outset, but usually it is just someone harming
another person, you don’t know where the harm will lead
However, harm is usually limited in the vast majority of incidents  usually harm does
not lead to threats or hospitalization
National Crime Victim Survey found there are 4 times as many simple assaults as
aggravated assaults
Disturbances and disputes exceed in # the actual disputes of assaults needing an arrest
People think homicide statistics are the most accurate representation of crime but stats
show that minor problems exceed them by far
oMost common crimes include thefts, burglaries, illegal drug consumption (i.e.
weed), and alcohol abuse among young ppl
oMinor drugs exceed major drugs
oProperty crimes exceed violent crimes
Real crime not usually worthy of a story
Police, courts, and prisons are important after crime have entered the public sphere, but
they’re not key actors in crime production or prevention
oCrime comes first and justice system sometimes finds and acts on it
Cops-and-courts fallacy warns us against overrating the power of criminal justice
agencies, including police, prosecutors, & courts
Police Work:
Real police work is mundane, crime analysts quickly realize that:
oMany calls for service never lead to a real crime report
oMany complaints (e.g. dog barking) bother a few ppl, but do not threaten the
whole community
oMany problems are resolved informally, as they should be
Old saying “Police work consists of hour upon hour of boredom, occasionally
interrupted by moments of sheer terror.”
o92% of law enforcement officers in U.S. never experienced assault in 2012, of
the assaulted only 1 in 4 were injured, with only 48 deaths
oAnnual risk of dying on duty is only .0000685 or 7 in 100,000 officers
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Only few hundred civilians are even shot in real life and cops rarely take their guns
out of their holsters
Police are society’s agents of daily confrontation  police see a lot of rude behaviour
and some of it is directed at them, sometimes this escalates
oPolice use of force is usually just a shove or putting hands behind back of
someone when arresting them, usually they don’t involve guns or knives
Most crimes not reported to cops in the first place  they don’t really handle major
felonies and handle events
2013 National Crime Victim Survey  only 46% of those who said they were
victimized by violence said they reported it to the police
Self-report studies cite the most evidence for illegal acts never reported to the
police, mainly marijuana consumption, underage drinking, shoplifting, and fraud
Some ppl believe there should be more “police presence” in their neighbourhood,
idea that police can reduce crime by patrolling or stopping wrongdoing
oE.g. Kansas City Patrol Experiment  found that intensified police patrols are
scarcely noticed by offenders or citizens, doesn’t impact crime rates
oOther studies  crime can only be reduced if police work intelligently
Mass police protection is simply not possible
oLess than 1% of offenses end with the offender apprehended in the act by
police on patrol
Courts & Punishment:
Most crimes known to police, no one gets arrested  when there’s an arrest most cases
never sent to prosecutor  of selected cases, most lead to plea bargaining b/w attorney
and prosecutor, not trial  of those that go to trials, bench trial in local police courts are
more common than full-blown jury trial  convicted ppl usually avoid incarceration
oE.g. 2013, in U.S. about 3 million burglaries  only half of these reported to cops
 1 in 10 resulted in arrests, 1% in convictions.
oChance of being punished for a drug offense is much smaller
In court, few convictions are based on trials, most are plea-bargained in meeting b/w
prosecutor and defense attorney, only 1 in 50 cases go before jury
Criminal justice system has long delays when they issue punishment, usually 6-8 months
oDelay is important for crime policy  too much deterrence expected from the
justice system
While psychologists say the best way to get someone to do something is reward more
than punish, U.S. criminal justice system does opposite
oPunishes bad rather than good
oPenalizes ppl rarely and sporadically
oDelivers decisions and penalties after long delays
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