criminology 100 theory portfolio

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Theory Portfolio 20 points per entry (x5)

100 points of total grade

The second unit of this course will focus on various theories that have been proposed to explain crime and criminal behavior. We will cover many theories within five different categories: “classical, biological, psychological, mainstream sociological, and critical sociological.” To ensure that students understand the similarities and differences among these theoretical categories, students will be required to write an overview of each theory group (i.e., classical, biological, psychological, mainstream sociological, and critical sociological) and select ONE specific theory from each category to critically assess. Essentially, these short papers will be combined to create a criminological theory portfolio.

Theory Portfolio Entry [TEMPLATE]

Name of criminological theory:

Type of criminological theory:

Scholar(s) associated with this theory:

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

exampleCRIM 100: Criminology

Theory Portfolio Entry

Name of criminological theory: Classical Theory (Hedonism)

Type of criminological theory: Classical

Scholar(s) associated with this theory: Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Classical theory believes that the individuals that commit crimes are rational thinkers. These individuals are able to look at the consequences of their actions and weigh the good with the bad to determine whether or not they should take the risk. This idea became the foundation of criminal law that we see today in the Western world.

Hedonism says that people commit crime in order to maximize their pleasure and limit pain. This could be for the excitement or thrill of the crime or to gain something that will make their life more pleasant.

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Some arguments against Classical theory are as stated in the textbook (Hagan, 2017) are:

● It focuses on law rather than the behavior of criminals

● The importance of Classical theory and its impact may have been exaggerated. There were other reforms at the time that may have been more impactful.

● It is based primarily off of philosophy rather than theory that can undergo empirical testing.

● The idea that all crime is based off of the measurement of pain and pleasure is too simplistic and cannot describe all crime.

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

Rachel-Jay was a junior in high-school. Well respected in the community and a straight A student, she was president of almost every club on campus. She also did multiple volunteer hours. Everyone thought that she was superwoman and no one could comprehend how she had the energy and the focus to do everything. Rachel-Jay was even beginning to question how she was going to handle everything herself. With midterms and multiple club events occurring all around the same time she worried how she was going to be able to maintain her grades while also organizing successful events. Refusing to let go of any of her positions and not willing to let her grades fall through the cracks, Rachel-Jay turned to drugs. She knew that if she got caught taking them it would completely ruin her respected image within the community. However, the thought of being seen as a failure or giving up to a challenged bothered her even more.

CRIM 100: Criminology

Theory Portfolio Entry

Name of criminological theory: The Criminal Personality (Chapter 6)

Type of criminological theory: Psychological Theory

Scholar(s) associated with this theory: Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow (1976)

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Yochelson and Samenow through their studies of “hard- core criminal and delinquent subjects at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane” (Hagan, 2017), they believed that there was a criminal personality that all criminals possessed. It appears at birth and is not affected by one’s surroundings. One who possess this personality would commit crime for the excitement. They would be very self-centered and exploit others when in relationships. They have little tolerance for others and are untrustworthy. Empathy is a skill that they lack and they are in a continuous state of anger. All the while refusing to be dependent upon someone else.

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Common critics on the criminal personality as stated in the textbook (Hagan, 2017) are:

❖ The population from which they studied is questionable. The fact that all of the subjects they studied were in a hospital for the criminally insane is concerning. Their sample is not representative of the population and thus neither are their findings.

❖ It disregards any environmental or social influences. If you possess this personality you will be criminal and that is the only way. Living conditions, delinquent friendships, or family relations have absolutely nothing to do with criminality in this theory.

❖ It is difficult to say that all criminals have only one personality. There are many types of criminals and it is impossible to clump them all together as having the same personality. It is very unreasonable and highly unlikely.

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

Born to two hard core criminals serving time, Little Jim-Bob was put up for adoption. His new adopted family, the Joneses, were a kind, young, well off, middle class husband and wife. From the start Little Jim-Bob got himself into trouble. Stealing from stores, picking fights, and constantly lying. Little Jim-Bob’s favorite pass time activity was to visit the neighbors’ homes. He would ask if he could come inside while he waited for his mother who was late to pick him up. While inside he would pretend to be interested in the conversation while he scoped the home for a prize to take home. He currently has five hundred dollars’ worth of stolen items in his room. Little Jim-Bob possess the criminal personality.

CRIM 100: Criminology

Theory Portfolio Entry

Name of criminological theory: Atavism

Type of criminological theory: Biological

Scholar(s) associated with this theory: Cesare Lombroso

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Atavism is the belief that individuals were born criminal due to a biological defect. This biological defect not only made an individual more susceptible to commit crime but also produced certain physical traits. Thus those with such defect could be recognized by a few defining characteristics such as big lips, eye defects, pointed nose, cheekbones, big or small ears, and a heavy jaw. If one possessed such traits that would mean that that person was likely to commit crime.

Lombroso said that these genetic traits were “throwbacks to the ape” (Hagan, 2017).

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Common critics of Atavism as in the textbook (Hagan, 2017) are:

● It uses stereotypes of criminals that are inherently racist and sexist. The characteristics that are given predominantly relate to certain ethnicities. Thus alienating them as the only individuals who commit crime, which is not true.

● The impacts of an individual’s social relations are also not considered. It is only focused on the biological influences.

● The blame is solely on the individual and the liability of society is not considered at all. The cause of criminality is due to the biological defect and the biological defect only. Living situations and status in society is not considered.

● There is also little to no research to prove that individuals that possess these characteristics commit crime. There may be a correlation between these characteristics and crime but correlation does not mean causation.

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

Justin-Bobby’s parents knew from day one that their son was doomed for a life of crime. As soon as they saw his heavy jaw line, high cheekbones, and oddly shaped nose, they worried for his future. Sure enough, as Justin-Bobby grew up he began to commit crime. At first it was just stealing candy from the local liquor store but as he grew older he began to commit more violent crimes. His twin brother, Jake-Ryan, who did not possess such traits was quite the opposite. A star student, Jake-Ryan was well respected in the neighborhood and known for all of his community service.

CRIM 100: Criminology

Theory Portfolio Entry

Name of criminological theory: Differential Association Theory

Type of criminological theory: Mainstream Sociological

Scholar(s) associated with this theory: Edwin Sutherland (1883-1950)

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Differential Association Theory states that who one associates with or spends a lot of time with can have an effect on whether or not they become criminal. If one frequently spends time with individuals who participate or support criminal activity it is likely that they will influence the individual to engage in criminal activity. There are four factors regarding the relationship that has an effect on how much influence a person will have on another. As stated by Sutherland (Hagan, 2017) they are as followed:

● Frequency: The amount of times they come into contact

● Duration: How long this interaction last for

● Priority: The value this person/relationship is given

● Intensity: The meaningfulness of the relationship

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Some common arguments against Differential Association Theory as in the textbook (Hagan, 2017) are:

● The theory is very general which makes it hard to prove or disprove. It is very difficult to empirically test this theory because not many people would be willing to allow someone to examine all of their interpersonal relationships.

● It does not explain how these relationships begin. Why or what may have caused the two individuals to make a connection.

● It is only focused on the relationship and nothing more. To Sutherland, the relationship is the only thing that leads to criminality. No other factors are considered.

● The impact of social media and online connections are not considered. It is not too uncommon for most people to have associations with individuals online that they have never met in person.

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

Fred-Marcus was an all-around good kid. He got good grades, helped out in the community, and never got into trouble. However, when he’s father’s job forced the family to move to a new state, things began to change. Fred-Marcus knowing no one, quickly befriended the first person that was nice to him. Other parents within the community warned Fred-Marcus’s father that Ron-John was a bad influence and to keep his son away from him. Ron-John was known to be involved in the local gang called the Alley Cats. They were known to do and sell drugs as well as prostitute young girls. Fred-Marcus was initially not interested in Ron-Johns crowd but as time went on he began to befriend them. Soon Ron-John and the Alley Cats become like brothers to Fred-Marcus. They accepted him and made him feel at home. As time went on, Fred-Marcus starting accepting the gang culture and later became a Cat himself. Falling into a life of crime.

CRIM 100: Criminology

Theory Portfolio Entry

Name of criminological theory: Radical Marxist

Type of criminological theory: Critical Sociological

Scholar(s) associated with this theory: Richard Quinney

A brief definition of this criminological theory (in your own words):

Radical Marxist theory states that all crime could be linked to Capitalism. It was the effects and results of Capitalism that people committed crime. The State and criminal law are designed in such a way that benefit the elite economic class. Forcing the lower class into situations where crime is likely to occur and allowing the elite class to keep their power. Criminal law and government agencies were controlled by the elite. Crime was a response to these provisions. The way in which crime could be stopped is only through a radical change in the entire governmental system. Quinney proposed that only when Capitalism is replaced by a socialist system will crime be lowered. This reduction of crime would take place because there would no longer be any class struggles.

Argument(s) for and/or against this criminological theory (as outlined in your textbook):

Some arguments against Radical Marxist as in the textbook (Hagan, 2017) are:

● It only focuses on one cause of crime. No other possibility besides the effect of Capitalism is considered. You cannot say that there is only one reason as to why different people commit the same or different crimes.

● It looks at Socialism to be the miracle cure to all crime. It is seen as being a perfect system. However, no system is perfect and this theory fails to look at its flaws.

● It also fails to look at the positive aspects of Capitalism. It paints Capitalism as an absolute evil.

● There is little to no empirical data on existing Socialist states to confirm or deny their statements.

● All crime is due to economic and social class struggles only.

Propose a “mock crime” scenario in which this theory could be used to explain one’s criminal behavior:

Sarah-Lee grew up in her parent’s bakery. They were the local shop that everyone in town loved. People would come every morning to get their fresh baked goods. Business was booming until a chain bakery popped up across the street. The chain was able to produce products faster and at an extremely lower cost. Due to the recent dip in the economy, residents were not willing to pay the higher prices even though they loved Sarah-Lee and her family. Unable to compete, Sarah-Lee’s parents were forced to shut down. With both parents out of work, they eventually lost their home because the payments were too high. Seeing her family’s need, Sarah-Lee began selling drugs in order to help support her family.

References

Hagan, F. E. (2017). Introduction to criminology: theories, methods, and criminal behavior. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

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