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					The Social Dimensions of
Crime

 1.   Age and Crime
 2.   Class and Crime
 3.   Gender and Crime
 4.   Race and Crime
National Volume, Trends, and Rates

 In 2004, the UCR Program estimated the number of
    arrests in the United States for all criminal offenses
    (except traffic
   violations) at approximately 14 million
   1.6 million arrests (11.8 percent of all
   arrests) for property crimes
   586,558 arrests (4.2 percent of all arrests) for
   violent crimes
   Law officers made more arrests for drug abuse
    violations (1.7 million arrests) than for any other
    offense
Uniform Crime Report
 UCR Program reports information on the age,
  sex, and race of the persons arrested
 By gender, 76.2 percent of arrests in 2004
  were of males
 Males accounted for 82.1 percent of the total
  number of arrestees for violent crimes and
  68.1 percent of the total for property crimes
2004 arrest data by Race
 Indicated that 70.8 percent of arrestees were
  white, 26.8 percent were black, and 2.4
  percent were of other races (American Indian
  or Alaskan Native and Asian or Pacific
  Islander)
 Whites were most commonly arrested for
  driving under the influence (893,212 arrests)
  and drug abuse violations (821,047 arrests)
 Blacks were most frequently arrested for drug
  abuse violations (406,890 arrests) and simple
  assaults (288,286 arrests)
Age and Crime
 Age is inversely related to criminality
 Younger people (regardless class, race, sex)
  commit crime more often than their older peers
Teens experience the highest rates of
violent crime
What do we know from criminological research
about Age and Crime? (Farringdon, 2003)
 Prevalence of offending peaks in the late
  teenage years (between 15 and 19)
 The peak age of onset of offending is
  between 8 and 14
 The peak of desistance from offending is
  between 20 and 29
What do we know from criminological research
about Age and Crime? (Farringdon, 2003)
 Early onset predicts a long career and many offences
 Small fraction of the population, “chronic offenders”
  commit a large fraction of all crimes
 Most offences up to the late teenage years are
  committed with others, whereas most offences from
  age 20 onwards are committed alone
 Reasons given for offending up to late teenage years:
  utilitarian, excitement/joy, relive boredom, anger
 Reasons for later offending are mostly utilitarian
Age-graded Theory




 8-9 years   15-19 years   45-55 years
Several competing explanations
 Maturation reform (hormones, burning out, aging
    causes desistance)
   Life-course view (Sampson, Laub, 1993) – based on
    social bond theory, turning points in life
   M. Warr “Number of friends and age”
   Moffitt’s typology (Adolescents-limited, life-course
    persistent, risk factors: neuropsychological deficit,
    hyperactivity, impulsivity, low self-control)
   Latent Trait theory (Gottfredson and Hirschi) - a
    person’s level of self-control) Opportunity might
    change but self-control is stable
Link between age and crime
 Young people have less status in our society which
  may lead the police to police their behavior more
  closely/heavily
 If police stereotype young people as “potential
  criminals” they will police them more closely because
  they are more socially visible (an older person
  committing a tax fraud, on the other hand, may be
  socially invisible
 Working class men stereotyped as “real criminals”
  whereas older middle class women may escape such
  stereotyping
Life Style
 The lifestyles of young people (the young are
  the most-frequent users of pubs and clubs for
  example) may expose them to situations
  where criminal behavior is possible / likely
  (especially violent crimes, joyriding and
  various forms of petty crime – minor thefts)
Age and Crime
 As people get older they take-on more
  personal responsibilities (work / career for
  example) and social responsibilities (children
  or a partner for example) which makes them
  consider the effect their behavior might have
  on people they love
Age and Crime
 More young people (aged 14 – 25 – the peak
  ages for criminal activity) live in urban areas
  which provides more opportunities for crime:
  more shops, offices, businesses, cars,
  houses etc.
Social Class and Crime
 Official statistics indicate that crime rates in
  inner-city, high-poverty areas are higher than
  those in suburban areas
 Self-reports of prison inmates show that
  prisoners are members of the lower class
 Self reports of adolescents found little or no
  relationship between social class and crime
Possible Explanations
 W. Chambliss’s study of “Saints and
  Roughnecks”
 Less visible, public bias, better demeanor
 Who you are is more important than what you
  do
 Middle and upper class youth have fewer
  opportunities for crime because they are
  more-likely to be in full-time education up to
  age of 21 / 22 than working class youth.
Explanations
 Working class youth more-likely to be in low-
  paid, low skill work (or unemployed). Criminal
  behavior may be used as a source of
  excitement as well as money
 Cultural explanations-culture of deviance
System of Values
 MIDDLE CLASS                 LOWER CLASS VALUES
  VALUES                       Instant gratification
 Deferred gratification        Motor skills
  Verbal skills                 Spontaneity-
  Rationality                   Expressiveness
  Asceticism                    Sociability
  Ambition                      Generosity
  Individual Responsibility     Childhood-like approach to
  & Talent                      Responsibility
  Courtesy & Chivalry           Sensuality & Sexuality
Gender and Crime
 Women commit a small share of all crimes
 Their crimes are fewer, less serious, more
  rarely professional and less likely to be
  repeated
 Females are less likely to be arrested if they
  cry, express concern for their children, or
  claim to be “led” by men (DeFleur, 1990)
 In consequence, women formed a small
  proportion of prison populations
Gender and Crime
 Most victims and perpetrators in
 homicides are male:
 Male offender/Male victim   65.1%
 Male offender/Female victim 22.6%
 Female offender/Male victim 9.9%
 Female offender/Female victim 2.4%
 The gender distribution of homicide victims and
 offenders differs by type of homicide

Women are particularly at risk for intimate killings, sex-related
homicides, and murder by arson or poison.
Women are more likely to commit murder as a result of an
argument or murder by poison.
Background Information is important
 A few facts about the lives of adult women in U.S.
  prisons in 2000
 60% of women under correctional authority reported
  that they have been sexually and physically
  assaulted at some time in their lives
 69% of these women reported the assault happened
  before they were 18 years old
National Study
 In 1990, the American Correctional
  Association published the results from a
  survey it conducted on female offenders
  Based on the responses of female offenders
  in 400 state and local correctional facilities, a
  very detailed profile of the female offender
  was produced
Female offender - Profile
 Most are young (25-29)
 The majority are economically disadvantage
  minorities with children
 About half ran away from home as youths
 About a quarter had attempted suicide/had serious
  drug problems
 More than half were victims of physical abuse/sexual
  abuse
Female Offender - Profile
 About a third had never completed high
  school
 Over a quarter had been unemployed in the
  three years before going to prison
 Most of the women were first imprisoned for
  larceny, theft, or drug offenses, and, at the
  time of the survey, they were serving time for
  drug offenses, murder, larceny, theft, or
  robbery
 Many of the women convicted of
  manslaughter or murder had killed a
  boyfriend or husband who abused them
Weapon use in Murder
 A firearm (handgun) is used in about two-thirds of all
    homicides (predominantly males)
   Knives or other cutting instruments (predominantly females)
   Personal weapons (hands, fists, and feet)
   Blunt objects
   Strangulation
   Contrary to media images, poison and explosives are rarely
    used as murder weapons
Method of killing
 Women usually kill their partner with a knife
  or sharp instrument (78%)
 Poisoning (6.2%)
 Blunt instrument (2.6%)
 Arson (2.2%)
 Shooting (2.0%)
Homicides committed
by women
 Female-perpetrated homicides account for 10-12% of
  the overall homicides
 Who do women kill?
 The answer is those closest to them, with whom they
  live (intimate partners, or ex-partners and family
  members)
 Over the period 1995-2001, intimate partners
  accounted for 32% of female-perpetrated homicides
Explanations of Intimate Partner
Homicide
 “Battered Woman Syndrome” (Walker, 1989)
  (women who have been physically,
  psychologically, or sexually abused over an
  extended period of time)
 Financial gain (financial benefit from the
  death of partner)
 Sexual Motivation (establish legal relationship
  with another party)
Invisible women
 Every year, girls account for over a quarter of all
  arrests of young people in America (FBI, 2002,
  p.239)
 Despite this, the young women who find themselves
  in the juvenile justice system either by formal arrest
  or referral are almost completely invisible
 Explanations for their delinquency explicitly or
  implicitly avoid addressing girls
Liberal feminism
 “Liberation perspective”
 Greater equality in education, politics,
  economy, and military
 An unintended consequence of this
  availability to women of a wider range of
  social roles is their greater involvement in
  crime (arena dominated by men)
Power-Control Theory of Gender and
Delinquency
 John Hagan, 1987
 The theory explains the difference between male
  and female rates of delinquency
 Two types of family structures (“Patriarchal”
  families vs “egalitarian” families)
Patriarchal family
 Fathers occupy the traditional role of sole
  breadwinner and mothers have only menial jobs or
  remain at home to handle domestic affairs
 Father’s focus is directed outward towards his
  instrumental responsibilities, while the mother is left
  in charge of the children, especially their daughters
 Sons are granted greater freedom as they are
  prepared for the traditional male role symbolized by
  their fathers
 Daughters are socialized into the cult of domesticity
  under the close supervision of their mothers,
  preparing them for lives oriented towards domestic
  labor and consumption
Patriarchal family
 Sons are encouraged and allowed to
  "experiment" and take risks
 Daughters in this scenario are closely
  monitored so that participation in deviant or
  delinquent activity is unlikely.
Egalitarian family
 Is characterized by little difference between the
  mother's and father's work roles, so that responsibility
  for child rearing is shared
 Neither child receives the close supervision present
  over females in the paternalistic family
 Middle class aspirations and values dominate:
  mobility, success, autonomy, and risk taking
 Daughter's deviance now mirrors their brother's
Middle-class girls
 ...middle-class girls are the most likely to violate the
  law because they are less closely controlled than
  their lower-class counterparts
 And in homes where both parents hold positions of
  power, girls are more likely to have the same
  expectations of career success as their brothers
 Power-control theory, then, implies that middle-class
  youth of both sexes will have higher crime rates than
  their lower-class peers
Assessing power-control theory
 Hagan's theory has been criticized as being basically
  a fairly straightforward adaptation of the "liberation
  hypothesis," as females experience upward mobility
  and status change, their access to deviant and illicit
  behaviors expand
 Female deviance becomes a product of the "sexual
  scripts" within patriarchal families that make it more
  likely for them to become the victims of both sexual
  and physical abuse
 If they run away, the juvenile court supports parental
  rights and returns them to the home, persistent
  violations lead to incarceration and future trouble as
  official delinquents/deviants or life on the street
  where survival depends on involvement in crime
Racial differences exist, with blacks
disproportionately represented among homicide
victims and offenders
Most murders are intraracial
Homicide victimization rates by age,
gender, and race, 1976-2002

				
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