Collecting Federal Retirement Checks in Prison

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					Chapter 2

            The Nature and Extent of Crime
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Survey Research
      Self-report surveys and interviews
      Victimization surveys
      Sampling (selection process)
      Population (sharing of similar characteristics)
      Cross-sectional research (representative of all society)
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Cohort Research: Longitudinal and retrospective
      Cohort involves observing a group of people who share similar
      Following cohorts is expensive and time consuming
      Examination of school, police, and courts records
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Official Record Research
      Criminologists use the records of government agencies to study
      The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data is collected by local law
        enforcement agencies and published yearly by the FBI
      Census Bureau data used for information about income
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Weblink:
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Experimental Research
      Manipulation and intervention techniques
      Three elements: (1) random selection, (2) control group, and (3)
       experimental condition
      Criminological experiments are rare due to expense and ethical
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Observational and Interview Research
      Commonly focuses on a few subjects for study
      In-depth interviews to gain insight into a behavior
      Field participation (Whyte’s Street Corner Society)
How Criminologists Study Crime

•   Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review
      Meta-analysis involves gathering data from previous studies
      Grouped data provides powerful indication of relationships
       between variables
      Systematic review involves collecting and synthesizing evidence
       to address a particular scientific question (street lighting and
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Official Data: The Uniform Crime Report (UCR)
      More than 17,000 police agencies contribute records
      Index Crimes (Part I)
         • Murder
         • Non-negligent manslaughter
         • Forcible rape
         • Robbery
         • Aggravated assault
         • Burglary
         • Larceny
         • Arson
         • Motor vehicle theft
      Non-Index Crime (Part II)
         • All other crimes
         • Does not include traffic offenses
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Compiling the Uniform Crime Report
      Each month law enforcement agencies report index crimes
      Unfounded or false reports are to be eliminated from the actual
      Each month law enforcement agencies report the number of
       crimes cleared (by arrest or exceptional means)
      Slightly more than 20 percent of all reported index crimes are
       cleared by arrest each year
      Victim crimes are more likely to be solved than property
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Uniform Crime Reports Validity
      Reporting practices:
         • Some victims do not report serious crimes
         • Some victims do not trust police
         • Some thinks it is useless to report crime
         • Victims may fear reprisals
      Less than 40 percent of all crime is reported to police
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

       •   Law enforcement practices:
                • Departments may loosely define crimes (trespass and
                • Arrests may only be counted after formal booking
                • Deliberate alterations due to image concerns
                • Better record keeping processes can artificially inflate
                  crime rates
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

       •   Methodological Issues:
                • No federal crimes are reported
                • Reports are voluntary
                • Not all departments submit reports
                • The FBI uses estimates in its total projections
                • Multiple crime offenders are frequently counted as one
                • Each act is listed as a single offense (robbing of six
                  people in one incident)
                • Incomplete acts are lumped together will completed
                • Differences in definitions of crime between FBI and
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
      Result of a five-year redesign effort
      Collects data on each reported incident
      Expands the categories of UCR to 46 specific offenses
      Currently, 22 states have implemented NIBRS
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Victim Surveys: National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
      Attempts to measure crime unreported to police by surveying
      Utilizes at large nationally representative sample
      People are asked to report their victimization experiences
      In 2002, the NCVS estimates about 247,000 rapes or attempted
       rapes occurred compared to about 90,000 per UCR estimates
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Validity of the NCVS
      Overreporting due to victim’s misinterpretations
      Underreporting due to embarrassment
      Inability to record the criminal activity of those interviewed
      Sampling errors
      Inadequate question formats
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Self Report Surveys
      Attempts to measure the “dark figures” of crime
      Most focus on youth crime due to school setting
      Self-reports suggest the number of people who break the law is
       greater than projected by official statistics
      Self-reports dispute the notion that people specialize in one type
       of crime
      Most common offenses are truancy, alcohol abuse, shoplifting,
       larceny under $50, fighting, marijuana use, and property damage
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Validity of Self-Reports
      People may exaggerate or forget their criminal acts
      Some surveys may contain an overabundance of trivial offenses
      Missing cases is also a concern when students refuse to
       participate in the survey
      Institutionalized youth are generally not included in self-report
      Reporting differences may exist between racial, ethnic, and
       gender groups
Measuring Crime Trends and Rates

•   Evaluating Crime Data Sources
      Each source has its strengths and weaknesses
      The FBI survey contains number and characteristics of people
      The NCVS includes unreported crimes and personal
       characteristics of victims
      Self-report surveys provide information about offenders
      The crime patterns of each are often quite similar in their tallies of
Crime Trends

•   Overall crime rates have been declining since 1991
      In 2003 about 11.8 million crimes were reported to police
      Teenage criminality has also been in decline during this period
Crime Trends

•   Trends in Violent Crime
      Violent crime rates have decreased about 11 percent between
       1997 and 2002
      Preliminary data indicates another 3 percent decline between
       2002 and 2003
      Homicide rates peaked around 1930, then held steady at about 5
       per 100,000 population from 1950 through the mid-1960s, then
       rose to 10.2 per 100,000 population in 1991
      Between 1991 and 2000 homicide rates dropped to about 5.5 per
       100,000 population
      New York reported a decline of more than 50 percent in their
       murder rates
Crime Trends

•   Trends in Property Crime
      In 2002, about 10.4 million property crimes were reported at a
       rate of 3,650 per 100,000 population
      Property crime rates have decreased, though not as dramatic as
       violent crime rates
      Between 1992 and 2002 the property crime rate declined about
       26 percent
Crime Trends

•   Trends in Victimization Data (NCVS Findings)
      According to the NCVS, in 2002 about 23 million U.S. residents
       experienced violent and property victimizations
      The downward trend represents the lowest number of criminal
       victimizations since 1973
      Between 1993 and 2002 the violent crime rate has decreased 54
       percent and the property crime rate decreased 50 percent
Crime Trends

•   Self-Report Findings
      The use drugs and alcohol increased markedly in the 1970s,
       leveled off in the 1980s, began to increase in the mid-1990s and
       began to decline after 1997
      Self report surveys suggest the crime problem with teenagers
       could be greater than the FBI data reveals
      Crimes of theft and violence may be more stable than the trends
       reported in the UCR arrest data Slide-30
Crime Trends

•   What the Future Holds
     James A. Fox predicts a significant increase in teen violence due
      to the age makeup of the population
     Steven Levitt argues that keeping large numbers of people in
      prison and adding more police will reduce crime rates
     Darrell Steffensmeier and Miles Harper suggest a more moderate
      increase in crime due to “baby boomers”
Crime Patterns

•   The Ecology of Crime
      Day, season, and climate:
        • Most crime occurs during warm months since people spend
          more time outdoors and teenagers are out of school
        • Murder and robbery tend to occur more during December and
        • Crime rates are higher on the first day of the month due to
          arrival of subsidy and retirement checks
      Temperature:
        • Rising temperatures increase crime rates to a point (about 85
      Regional differences:
        • Large urban areas experience more violence than rural areas
        • The West and South consistently have higher crime rates than
          the Midwest or Northeast
Crime Patterns

•   Use of Firearms
      Involved in about 20 percent of robberies. 10 percent of assaults,
       and 5 percent of rapes, according to the NCVS
      In 2002, UCRs report about two-thirds of all murder involved
      Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins contend the use of
       handguns is the single most factor that separates the crime
       problem from the rest of the developed world
      By contrast, Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz suggest handguns may
       be a deterrent to crime
Crime Patterns

•   Social Class and Crime
      Crime is thought to be a lower-class phenomenon
      Instrumental crimes refer to those designed to improve the
       financial or social position of the criminal
      Expressive crimes refer to criminal acts committed due to anger,
       frustration, or rage
      Victimization rates are higher for those in inner-city, high-poverty
       areas than those in suburban and wealthier areas
Crime Patterns

•   Class and Self-Reports
      Early self-report studies did not find a direct relationship between
       social class and crime
      Official processing was determined by socioeconomic class
      Some criminologists challenge the contention that crime in
       primarily a lower-class phenomenon
Crime Patterns

•   The Crime-Class Controversy
      The associate between class and crime is complex
      Class may affect some groups more than others (women and
       African Americans)
      The true crime-class relationship may be obscured because its
       impact varies within and between groups
Crime Patterns

•   Does Class Matter?
      Recent evidence suggest crime is more prevalent among the
       lower classes
      Income inequality, poverty, and resource deprivation are all
       associated with the most serious violent crimes
      Deprived residents may turn to criminal behavior to relieve their
Crime Patterns

•   Age and Crime
      Age is inversely related to crime
      Younger people commit more crime than older people
      Youth ages 13 to 17 account for about 25 percent of all index
       crime arrests and about 17 percent of arrests for all crimes
      Generally, 16 is the peak age for property crimes and 18 is the
       peak age for violent crimes
Crime Patterns

•   Aging Out of Crime
      People commit less crime as they age
        • Peak in adolescent criminal activity can be linked to:
        • Reduction in supervision
        • An increase in social and academic demands
        • Participation in a larger, more diverse social world
        • An increased desire for adult privileges
        • A reduced ability of cope in a legitimate manner and increased
          incentives to solve problems in a criminal manner
      Younger people tend to discount the future
      Marriage may be a desisting factor in criminality
Crime Patterns

•   Gender and Crime
      Males commit more crime than females
      Overall, 3.5 males to 1 female
      For serious offenses; 5 males to 1 female
      For murder; 8 males to 1 female
Crime Patterns

•   Traits and Temperament
      Lombroso explained gender differences through the masculinity
       hypothesis suggesting a few females commit the majority of
       crimes by women
      Chivalry hypothesis suggests the culture is protective of women
       and masks the true criminality of women
      Some criminologists have linked differences in crime rates to
       hormonal changes between men and women
Crime Patterns

•   Socialization and Development
      Some suggest females are socialized into criminality through
       alienation at home
      Females are more closely guarded than boys
      Some contend girls have cognitive traits that shield them from
       criminal behaviors
Crime Patterns

•   Feminist View
      Feminist argue that women experience lower crime rates
       reflected in a “second class” position controlled largely by males
      Some suggested crime rates of males and females would
      Is convergence likely?
         • Some argue the emancipation of women has little effect on
           female crime rates
         • Many females come from a socioeconomic class least
           affected by the women’s movement
         • Offense patterns of women are still quite different than those
           of men
Crime Patterns

•   Race and Crime
      Minority group members are involved in a disproportionate
       amount of crime
      African Americans account for about 38 percent of violent crime
       arrests and 30 percent of property crime arrests, while making up
       about 12 percent of the population
      Self-reports contend minorities are more likely to be arrested and
       not necessarily more prone to crime than Whites
Crime Patterns

•   Racism and Discrimination
      Criminologists suggest Black crime is a function of socialization
      Institutional racism results in African American males being
       treated more harshly by the criminal justice system (social
      African Americans experience higher unemployment rates and
       lower incomes than Whites
      Blacks are exposed to more violence than Whites
      Family dissolution his higher among African Americans than
Crime Patterns

•   Criminal Careers
      A small group of criminal offenders account for a majority of all
       criminal offenses
      Delinquency in a Birth Cohort by Wolfgang, Figlio, and Sellin,
      The cohort data indicated that 54 percent were repeat offenders
      6 percent of the repeat offenders were chronic and responsible
       for over 51 percent of all the crime committed by the cohort group
      Children exposed to a variety of personal and social problems at
       an early age are the most at risk to repeat offending
Crime Patterns

•   Persistence: The Continuity of Crime
      Those who start a delinquent career early are more likely to
       persist as adults
      Youthful offenders are more likely to abuse alcohol, have lower
       aspirations, get divorced, and have a weak employment record
      Apprehension and punishment have little effect on chronic youth
      Implications of chronic offending suggest individuals may possess
       a trait which is responsible for their behavior
      Chronic offenders have become a central focus of crime policy
       (three-strikes and mandatory sentences)

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