Criminology Today Chapters 3 and 4
Chapter 3: Where Do Theories Come From? • Overview • Criminological research • Criminological theory – study of crime • Role of research and experimentation • Quantitative and qualitative methods • Study ethical considerations in research • Impact of research on social policy
Introduction • Story of Mayor of Inglis, Florida • Official proclamation banning Satan from Inglis – used official stationery • Police Chief says crime did not decrease • ACLU threatened suit • Town rescinded proclamation, Mayor reimbursed for use of stationery • Mayor was reelected – still Mayor today • Concept that “the devil made them do it”
This Chapter • Describes how criminologists make use of contemporary social scientific research methods in the development of criminological theories and evidence-based policies and practices. • Evidence based – that which is built on scientific findings; and especially practices and policies founded upon the results of randomized controlled experiments • Experimental criminology – a form of contemporary criminology that makes use of rigorous social scientific techniques, especially randomized controlled experiments and the systematic review of research results.
For any of this to have meaning… • The realize its ultimate promise, criminology must become accepted as a policy-making tool, consulted by lawmakers and social planners alike, and respected for what it can tell us about both crime and its prevention.
Laub’s history of criminological thought… • 1900 – 1930 Golden Age of Research • 1930 – 1960 Golden Age of Theory • 1960 – 2000 Characterized by extensive theory testing of the dominant theories, using largely empirical methods. • Laub: criminologists over the past century have undertaken the task of building a scientific or evidence based criminology vs. an armchair criminology of earlier times • The emphasis on measurement and objectivity gives contemporary criminology its scientific flavor
Theory Building • Hypothesis – an explanation that accounts for a set of facts and that can be tested by further investigation • Theory – a series of interrelated propositions that attempt to describe, explain, predict, and ultimately control some class of events • Lust murderers – men who sexually abuse and kill women, often sadistically – theory doesn’t help us understand their motives
The Role of Research and Experimentation • Theories, once proposed, need to be tested against the real world via a variety of research strategies, including experimentation and case studies. • Knowledge is inevitable built on experience and observation. Hence the crux of scientific research is data collection.
Research • Research – the use of standardized, systematic procedures in the search for knowledge • Applied research – scientific inquiry that is designed and carried out with practical applications in mind. • Pure research – research undertaken simply for the sake of advancing scientific knowledge • Primary research - research characterized by original and direct investigation • Secondary research – new evaluations of existing information that had been collected by other researchers
Scientific research proceeds in stages… • Problem identification • The development of research design • A choice of data-collection techniques • A review of findings, which often includes statistical analysis
Problem Identification • Choosing an issue to study • Availability of government grant monies frequently determines the focus of much contemporary research in the area of crime • The bulk of research in criminology is intended to explore issues of causality, especially the claims made by theories purporting to explain criminal behavior
Testing Hypothesis • Two definitions: • An explanation that accounts for a set of facts and that can be tested by further investigation • Something that is taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation • Variable – concept that can undergo measurable changes • Operationalization – the process by which concepts are made measurable • Once the concepts within our hypothesis are measurable, we can test the hypothesis itself. • Once a hypothesis has be operationalized, it is assumed to be true for purposes of testing. It is accepted for study purposes until proven untrue – or rejected.
Research Designs • The logic and structure inherent in an approach to data gathering • Confounding effects – a rival explanation, or competing hypothesis, that is a threat to the internal or external validity of a research design (other reasons why things may have occurred – Ex. Taking sugar out of diet) – 2 different types: • Internal validity – the certainty that experimental interventions did indeed cause the changes observed in the study group • External validity – the ability to generalize research findings to other settings • Examples of these on page 97 and 98
Experimental and Quasi- Experimental Research Designs • To have confidence that the changes intentionally introduced into a situation are the real cause of observed variations, it is necessary to achieve some degree of control over factors that threaten internal validity. • Controlled experiment: an experiment that attempts to hold conditions constant
Quasi-experimental • An approach to research that, although less powerful than experimental designs, is deemed worthy of use when better designs are not feasible • The crucial defining feature of quasi-experimental designs is that they give researchers control over the “when and whom” of measurement, even though others decide the “when and to whom” of exposure to the experimental intervention.
Definitions • Control group – a group of experimental subjects that, although the subject of measurement and observation, is not exposed to the experimental intervention • Randomization – the process whereby individuals are assigned to study groups without biases or differences resulting from selection
Techniques of Data Collection • The most important question to consider when beginning to gather information is whether the data-gathering strategy selected will produce information in a usable form. • Surveys – a social science data-gathering technique that involves the use of questionnaires • Case studies – built around in-depth investigations into individual cases – studying one offender – or group like street gang – find similarities for others
Collecting Data • Participant observation – a strategy in data gathering in which the researcher observes a group by participating, to varying degrees, in the activities of the group. Gang example – how far do you go • Self-reporting – simply another form of survey research • Secondary analysis – purposefully culls preexisting information from data that have already been gathered and examines it in new ways. (saves time and expense)
Problems in Data Collection • Intersubjectivity – a scientific principle that requires that independent observers see the same thing under the same circumstances for observations to be regarded as valid. • Replicability – a scientific principle that holds that valid observations made at one time can be made again later if all other conditions are the same. • Science rests its claim to authority upon its firm basis in observable evidence
Data Analysis • Two types of statistical methods: • Descriptive statistics – statistics that describe, summarize or highlight the relationships within data that have been gathered • Inferential statistics – statistics that specify how likely findings are to be true for other populations or in other locales
Test of Significance • A statistical technique intended to provide researchers with confidence that their results are, in fact, true and not the result of sampling error. • The larger the sample size, the greater the confidence we can have in our findings.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative • Quantitative methods – a research technique that produces measurable results that can be analyzed statistically • Mystique of quantity – is an exaggerated regard for the significance of measurement, just because it is quantitative, without regard either to what has been measured or to what can subsequently be done with the measure. The mystique of quantity treats numbers as having intrinsic scientific value.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative • The qualitative method in contrast to those that are quantitative, produce subjective results, or results that are difficult to quantify. • Qualitative methods are important for the insight they provide into the subjective workings of the criminal mind and the processes by which meaning is accorded to human experience. • Introspection, life histories, case studies, and participant observation all contain the potential to yield highly qualitative data.
Verstehen • The kind of subjective understanding that can be achieved by criminologists who immerse themselves in the everyday world of the criminals they study. • A researcher’s subjective understandings of crime’s situational meanings and emotions – its moments of pleasure and pain, its emergent logic and excitement – within the larger process of research. • It further implies that a researcher, through attentiveness and participation, at least can begin to apprehend and appreciate the specific roles and experiences of criminals, crime victims, crime control agents, and others caught up in the day-to-day reality of crime.
P. 106 – Crime in the News • Idaho Town Arming Itself • Town Council of Greenleaf, Idaho, is considering a recommendation that all households keep and maintain guns because of the crime that might come with the encroaching growth from nearby Boise. • Does gun ownership help to reduce criminal opportunity?
Values and Ethics in Research • Research, especially research conducted within the social sciences, does not occur in a vacuum. Values enter into all stages of the research process, from the selection of the problem to be studied to the choice of strategies to address it. In short, research is never entirely free from preconceptions and biases, although much can be done to limit the impact such biases have on the results of research. • The most effective way of controlling the effects of biases is to be aware of them at the outset of the research.
Data Confidentiality • The ethical requirement of social scientific research to protect the confidentiality of individual research participants, while simultaneously preserving justified research access to the information participants provide. • Informed consent – the ethical requirement of social scientific research that research subjects be informed as to the nature of the research about to be conducted, their anticipated role in it, and the uses to which the data they provide will be put. • NIJ – not publishing the findings of the DARE program • 12 step method of AA • Pressure of expenditure of pubic funds on research
Social Policy and Criminological Research • The results of scientific studies in the field of criminology should have practical implications that can guide practice in relevant areas. • Ex. Arrests instead of warnings in DV cases - departments adopted policy of arrests – some states made it law • However, publicly elected officials are often either ignorant of current criminological research or do not heed the advice of professional criminologists, seeking instead to create politically expedient policies. • One such study and laws enacted dealt with 3 strike laws …
Three Strike Laws • Became popular with legislatures across the country near the end of the last century, provide an example of the kind of dilemma facing criminologists who would influence social policy on the basis of statistical evidence. • Three strike laws require that felons receive lengthy prison sentences following their third felony conviction. • Such laws are built on the commonsense notion that “getting tough” on repeat offenders by putting them in prison for long periods should reduce the crime rate. Logic seems to say that lengthy prison sentences for recidivists will reduce crime by removing the most dangerous offenders from society. • A study in 22 states, however, concluded that such legislation typically results in clogged court systems and crowded correctional facilities and encourages three-time felons to take dramatic risks to avoid capture.
Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offenders • § 13A-5-9. Habitual felony offenders -- Additional penalties. • (a) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of a felony and after the conviction has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows: • (1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished for a Class B felony. • (2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished for a Class A felony. • (3) On conviction of a Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years. • (b) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of any two felonies and after such convictions has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows: • (1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished for a Class A felony. • (2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years. • (3) On conviction of a Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not less than 99 years. • (c) In all cases when it is shown that a criminal defendant has been previously convicted of any three felonies and after such convictions has committed another felony, he or she must be punished as follows: • (1) On conviction of a Class C felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of not more than 99 years but not less than 15 years. • (2) On conviction of a Class B felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or any term of not less than 20 years. • (3) On conviction of a Class A felony, where the defendant has no prior convictions for any Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life or life without the possibility of parole, in the discretion of the trial court. • (4) On conviction of a Class A felony, where the defendant has one or more prior convictions for any Class A felony, he or she must be punished by imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.
Part 2 – Crime CausationChapter 4 – Classical and Neoclassical Thought • The belief that at least some illegal activity is the result of rational choices made by individuals seeking various kinds of illicit rewards forms the basis for the perspectives on crime causation that are discussed in this chapter. • Example – planning that goes in Sex-tourism – page 124
Major Principles of the Classical School • Most classical theories of crime causation make the following basic assumptions: • Human beings are fundamentally rational, and most human behavior is the result of free will coupled with rational choice • Pain and pleasure are the two central determinants of human behavior • Punishment, a necessary evil, is sometimes required to deter law violators and to serve as an example to others who would also violate the law • Root principles of right and wrong are inherent in the nature of things and cannot be denied • Society exists to provide benefits to individuals that they would not receive in isolation • When men and women band together for the protection offered by society, they forfeit some of the benefits that accrue from living in isolation • Certain key rights of individuals are inherent in the nature of things, and governments that contravene those rights should be disbanded • Crime disparages the quality of the bond that exists between individuals and society and is therefore an immoral for of behavior
Forerunners of Classical Thought • Mores – behavioral proscriptions covering potentially serious violations of a group’s values. Examples – murder, rape and robbery • Folkways – time honored customs. Although folkways carry the force of tradition, their violation is unlikely to threaten the survival of the group – Ex. Body piercing – jewelry on men
Definitions • Mala in se – acts that are thought to be wrong in and of themselves – example – forcing someone to have sex against his or her will and the intentional killing of children • Mala prohibita – acts that are wrong only because they are prohibited – examples –prostitution, gambling, drug use – may not be illegal in different jurisdictions
The Demonic Era • Since time began, humankind has been preoccupied with what appears to be an ongoing war between good and evil. • Cosmically based – plague, holocaust • Individual behavior – victimization • Trephinaiton – a form of surgery typically involving bone, especially the skull. Evil spirits residing in the heads of offenders.
Early Sources of the Criminal Law • Code of Hammurabi – an early set of laws established by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, who ruled the ancient city from 1792 to 1750 B.C. – first body of law to survive and be available for study. • Intended to establish property and other rights crucial to the continued growth of Babylon as a significant commercial center. • Emphasis on retribution – penal philosophy – attempt to keep cruelty within bounds – before code: revenge seeking victims punished
Early Roman Law • Early Roman Law derived from the Twelve Tables – written circa 450 B.C. which regulated family, religious, and economic life • Emperor Justinian I (A.D. 527-565) – The Justinian Code – contained elements of our modern civil and criminal law and influenced Western legal thought through the Middle Ages
Common Law • Common law forms the basis for much of our modern statutory and case law. It has often been called the major source of modern criminal law. • Common law refers to a traditional body of unwritten legal precedents created through everyday practice of English society and supported by court decisions during the Middle Ages. • Common law is so-called because it was based on shared traditions and standards rather than on those that varied from one locale to another. • Today, common law forms the basis of many of the laws on the books in English-speaking countries around the world.
The Magna Carta • “Great Charter” important source of modern laws • The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215 by King John of England at Runnymede under pressure from British barons who took advantage of John’s military defeats at the hands of Pope Innocent III and King Philip Augustus of France. • Forced the King to be bound by law.
The Magna Carta, con’t • Original purpose was to ensure feudal rights and to guarantee that the king could not encroach on the privileges claimed by landowning barons. • Later, it guaranteed basic liberties for all British citizens and ruled that any acts of Parliament that contravened common law would be void. • This formed the basis for Supreme Courts power to nullify laws of Congress • Provision concerning not prosecuting barons without just cause served as basis of our concept of due process of law • It has been called, “The foundation stone of our present liberties.”
Enlightenment • A social movement that arose during the eighteenth century and that built upon ideas like empiricism, rationally, free will, humanism, and natural law.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) • English philosopher Thomas Hobbes – work Leviathan (1651) – • Social contract – the Enlightenment-era concept that human beings abandon their natural state of individual freedom to join together and form society. In process of forming – individuals surrender some freedoms to society as a whole and government, once formed is obligated to assume responsibilities toward its citizens and to provide for their protection and welfare.
John Locke (1632-1704) • English philosopher – published Essay Concerning Human Understanding – put forth the idea that the natural human condition at birth is akin to that of a blank slate upon which interpersonal encounters and other experiences indelibly inscribe the traits of personality. He ascribed the bulk of human qualities to life experiences. • Locke contended that human beings, through a social contract, abandon their natural state of individual freedom and lack of interpersonal responsibility to join together and for society.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) • Swiss-French philosopher and political theorist • Human beings are basically good and fair in their natural state but historically were corrupted by the introduction of shared concepts that joint activities like property, agriculture, science and commerce. • Contributed to concept of natural law
Natural Law • The philosophical perspective that certain immutable laws are fundamental to human nature and can be readily ascertained through reason. Human-made laws (positive law), in contrast, are said to derive from human experience and history – both of which are subject to continual change.
Natural Law and Natural Rights • Natural rights – thoughts that individuals retain in the face of government action and interests • Thomas Jefferson – wrote of inalienable rights to “life, liberty, property,” – such rights were naturally due all men and women because they were inherent in the social contract between citizens and their government
Natural Law today • Many people today still hold that the basis for various existing criminal laws can be found in immutable moral principles or in some other identifiable aspect fo the natural order. • The Ten Commandments, “inborn tendencies,” the idea of sin, and perceptions of various forms of order in the universe and in the social world have all provided a basis for the assertion that natural law exists. • Example – debate over abortion
The Classical School • A criminological perspective of the late 1700s and early 1800s that had its roots in the Enlightenment and that held that humans are rational beings, that crime is the result of the exercise of free will, and that punishment can be effective in reducing the incidence of crime, as it negates the pleasure to be derived from crime commission.
Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) • Italian – in 1764 published – Essay on Crimes and Punishments • Distilled the notion of the social contract into the idea that “laws are the conditions under which independent and isolated men untied to form a society.” • Writings mainly consisted of a philosophy of punishment • Purpose of punishment is deterrence rather than retribution – punishment should be imposed to prevent offenders from committing additional crimes • Adjudication and punishment should both be swift and certain
Beccaria continued • Punishment should fit the crime, declaring that theft should be punished by fines, personal injury through corporal punishment, and serious crimes against the state (revolution) via application of the death penalty • He wrote that oaths were useless in a court of law because accused individuals will naturally deny their guilt even if they know themselves to be fully culpable • Is responsible for the contemporary belief that criminals have control over their behavior, that they choose to commit crimes, and that they can be deterred by the threat of punishment