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Why do people commit Crimes?

Why do people commit Crimes?. Theories of Criminology. Who are Victims of Crime?`. >25% of those 15 years or older Theft, assault, robbery = 50% of crimes Household crimes = 35% of crimes Equal b/w men and women (avg. 18.5%)

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Why do people commit Crimes?

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  1. Why do people commit Crimes? Theories of Criminology

  2. Who are Victims of Crime?` >25% of those 15 years or older Theft, assault, robbery = 50% of crimes Household crimes = 35% of crimes Equal b/w men and women (avg. 18.5%) Youth 15-24 report greatest victimization (21x more likely  violent crime over seniors) Those out at night Low household income (greater risk of violence, less of personal theft) Urban dwellers Those known to the perpetraitor (mostly lone males in violent crime) >60% crime goes unreported Men perceive safety to be more at risk then men

  3. Causation vs. Correlation • No one theory can explain what causes crime, however factors that exist in a great number (i.e. correlation) of criminals include:

  4. Age • Peaks between 15 to 18 • Serious offenders often start earlier and continuing past 18

  5. Gender • Males are far more likely to commit crimes • The male/female gap has been decreasing

  6. Poverty Social status and income have no direct effect on criminal behavior Evidence exists to suggest that poverty can indirectly contribute to deviance by the conditions related to it

  7. Substance Abuse & TV (?) • alcohol use (alcoholism among criminals is substantially higher than in the general population); • drug use (significantly higher incidence of drug addiction among criminals than in the general populace and it can also lead to more serious crimes related to the drug trade – e.g. drug trafficking, theft, assault, extortion, and murder) • Television viewing (some evidence suggests that TV violence leads to more aggressive behaviour)

  8. Other risk conditions that lead to child delinquency: Receive little affection/rejected by parents Inadequately supervised by parents who fail to teach them right from wrong Grow up in homes with conflict, marital discord and/or violence Social isolation

  9. Classical Theory Crime is caused by the individual free will. Human beings are rational, and make decisions freely and with understanding of consequences. Persons rationally choose actions that will bring them pleasure. Crime is an immoral form of behaviour.

  10. Positive Theory (Positivism) Criminals are born not made This is an example of nature, not nurture Focused on biological and psychological factors to explain criminal behaviour

  11. Positivist Theorists • Cesare Lombarso (1835 – 1909) • Italian physician and psychiatrist • What did he think/do? • Studied cadavers of executed criminals in an effort to determine scientifically whether criminals were physically any different from non-criminals • He believed that people were born criminals and facial features of criminals included things like enormous jaws and strong canine teeth.

  12. Pictures of murderers that Lambarso believed carried facial features tied to criminal activity.

  13. Murderer Sean Penn See any similarities!? Does this mean Sean Penn is a Criminal?

  14. Positivist Theorists cont… In the 1960s, positivist criminologists argued that criminal behaviour lies in abnormal chromosomes The XYY theory argued that violent male criminals have an abnormal XYY chromosome (XY is the normal pattern in males) However, researchers soon found out that this was not true and that criminals had normal chromosomes and that non-criminals also had abnormal chromosomes. The Positivist theory of criminals being born rather than madedied out. There were moral implications with this.

  15. Philippe Rushton • University of Western Ontario psychology professor • Rushton's book Race, Evolution, and Behavior (1995)tries to show that East Asians and their descendants average a larger brain size, greater intelligence, more sexual restraint, slower rates of maturation, and greater law abidingness and social organization than do Europeans and their descendants, who average higher scores on these dimensions than Africans and their descendants. Modern Day Example

  16. Psychoanalytical Theory Sigmund Freud believed that all humans have criminal tendencies. It is through socialization that these tendencies are controlled during childhood. If a child has an identity problem with his/her parent, this problem may cause the child to direct its antisocial tendencies outward and thus become a criminal. Psychological Human Development also comes into play here

  17. John Wayne Gacy Jr. – How did he grow up to be a murderer? • Theorists consider moral behaviour to be self-regulated through mechanisms of self-evaluation where one can approve or disapprove irresponsible or inhumane behaviour • It clear that Gacy showed a lack of moral behaviour and hence, in the act was not able to disapprove his behaviour adequately to avoid it completely. • Bandura (1977), states that most violent acts and inhumanities are perpetrated by people who, in other areas of their life are quite considerate in their behaviour. • This describes Gacy’s behaviour perfectly as he was very friendly, well liked by the neighbours and was largely involved in the community; no one would assume he was capable of such casualties. Moreover, Gacy illustrated moral disengagement by justifying his murderous acts

  18. Cont… • According to Sigelman and Rider (2009), children who are raised in abusive environments can grow up to become abusers and to learn that violence is an integral part of human relationships. • Hence, it can be argued that Gacy’s immoral, violent and murderous adulthood is rooted in the violence from his childhood. Furthermore, abusers are often insecure individuals with low self-esteem • Furthermore, abusers are often insecure individuals with low self-esteem. Abusers can form negative internal working models of themselves and others, which are most likely rooted in unhappy experiences in insecure relationships with parents and negative experiences in romantic relationships • although his father hurt him physically and emotionally, Gacy desperately sought his father’s approval but was never able to achieve it. This insecurity led him to failed marriages and more interestingly, to his attraction to hiding himself under clown costumes and make-up in order for the children in the community to like him.

  19. Sociological Perspectives: • Sociological Theorist: Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) • People who live in cities feel more anonymous and isolated (as compared to rural life). • No longer restrained by the strict norms of society (in rural life) and given the anonymity in a big city certain individuals turned to crime. • Durkheim is also a father of functionalism (i.e., everyone has a role/function in society and that is how society runs/functions. • Durkheim believes that criminals have a role and are needed for society to function • If there were no crime, it would mean that everyone in society was the same and agreed on everything. This is no ideal and society would be too comforting – people need a release.

  20. Sociology cont…Ecological School Believed that criminal behaviour was fostered and encouraged in certain environments. They studied a number of poor neighbourhoods and concluded that communities that suffered from high rates of poverty and social disintegration were more likely to condone criminal activity than more affluent neighbourhoods.

  21. Sociology cont…Social Conflict Theory Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argued that the capitalist society encouraged crime as people competed for resources and wealth. Our society protects those with power and property. As a result, people who are economically disadvantaged are more likely to be punished by our justice system. The only way to solve the crime problem is to eliminate the capitalist system.

  22. Social Psychological Perspective Social psychology is the study of the relations between individuals and people. They are interested in how ‘regular’ people can commit atrocious crimes. Stanley Milgram was specifically interested in how Nazi’s were able to commit horrible acts of genocide – he focused on how people could do this just by following orders. Milgram Experiment Torturing and killing innocent civilians

  23. …In relation to torturing article… Displacement of responsibility and dehumanizing the victim are two categories of moral disengagement Bandura (1999) states, “People behave in ways they would normally oppose if a legitimate authority accepts responsibility for the consequences of that behavior. Under these conditions, people view their actions as the dictates of authorities rather than their own actions.” According to reports in the article, the torture and abuse of the civilians was approved and facilitated by the White House According to Bandura, (1999) person can justify torture by loosing empathy for the victim while convincing himself that the victim lacks human qualities. Furthermore, once the victim is dehumanized, he is no longer viewed as a person with feelings, concerns or hopes but as a subhuman object that is easily tortured (Bandura, 1999).

  24. Contemporary Theories Of Crime

  25. Strain Theory (Sociology) • Current societies stress the goals of acquiring wealth, success, and power. • However, the means to achieve these goals require education and economic resources. • These means are frequently denied or unavailable to those who are economically disadvantaged or have little opportunity for formal education. • Example: The Wire, Season 4, Episode 8 • Young African American youth yearning for the chance to work on the streets to sell drugs because they know this is the only way they can make money.

  26. Consensus Theory • Consensus theorists assume there is a universal definition of right and wrong and that criminal law reflects this consensus • Argue that criminal laws prohibit behaviours that society agrees are harmful

  27. Socialization • Suggests the key influences leading to criminal behaviour are found in upbringing, peer groups, and role models

  28. Biological Trait Theory • Argues that some human traits such as intelligence, personality, chemical and genetic makeup may predispose people to engage in criminal behaviour • Research suggests that the following can cause a person to become a criminal • Poor diet (“Twinkie Defense”) • Influence of hormones (androgens) • Exposure to drugs/alcohol in the womb

  29. Neurophysiological Theory • Focus on the study of brain activity and how neurological dysfunctions are connected with criminal activity • Twin studies

  30. Types of Crime • Indictable Offences • Serious offences • Name recognizes that cases are prosecuted following an indictment (accusation) by a grand jury • Historically called felonies • Summary Conviction Offences • Petty crimes • Name recognizes the more summary (simplified) procedure for prosecution of cases • Historically called misdemeanors

  31. Types of Crimes Continued • All offences in the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) are either indictable or summary conviction offences – some can fall under both • Hybrid Offences • Punishable on either indictment or summary conviction • Discretion is left to the Crown Attorney as to how to prosecute the case

  32. CCC Examples of Types of Crimes • Indictable Offences • 235. (1) Every one who commits first degree murder or second degree murder is guilty of an indictable offence and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life. • Summary Conviction Offences • 175. (1) Every one who (a) not being in a dwelling-house, causes a disturbance in or near a public place, (i) by fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing or using insulting or obscene language, (ii) by being drunk, or (iii) by impeding or molesting other persons, … is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. • Hybrid Offences • 266. Every one who commits an assault is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

  33. 11 Classifications of Criminal Offences as Defined in the Criminal Code of Canada:

  34. Mitigating and Aggravating circumstances • Mitigating circumstances (is not a full defense) are factors that reduce the seriousness of the offence or serve as partial excuses. They generally reduce the sentence, sometimes even the charge. Example: You are charged with drinking and driving but you have a perfect driving record and you volunteer at a shelter. • Aggravating circumstances are factors that make the offence worse. They work against the accused. Example, you are caught shoplifting and it is the 7th time you have been caught in 3 years.

  35. Offences against the person (people) • (Approximately 10% of all crimes reported. • Homicide • Murder (1st degree, 2nd degree) • Manslaughter • Infanticide • Counseling or aiding suicide • Assault • Sexual Assault

  36. Assault • Intentionally using force against another person without consent, threatening someone, and displaying a weapon while interfering with their movements. • Shaking a fist may constitute assault! • Criminal negligence: a reckless individual.

  37. Assault • (Simple) Assault (max 5 yrs) – like a hit, slap, push, or punch etc. that does not result in lasting bodily harm. (not more than a bruise or scratch) • Assault causing bodily harm (max 10 yrs) – Assault resulting in harm such as broken limb. • Aggravated Assault (max 15 yrs) –Assault resulting in maiming or disfiguring permanently affecting victim.

  38. Assault: the Legal Perspective • The offence: an assault is an unwelcome interference with a person. It is a form of violence. • The offence of assault varies from Simple Assault to Aggravated Sexual Assault. This definition sets out the elements of the offence. • Assault causing bodily harm occurs when: • a person intentionally uses force of any sort against another person • this is done without the victim's consent or agreement • the victim is injured and the injury is something more serious and long-term than a scratch or small bruise. • Source: section 267 of the Criminal Code

  39. What does the word intentionally mean?…well, from case law, we know what it is not! This is what two courts have said about intention: • A reflex action lacks the necessary intent to constitute an assault. Case source: R. v. Wolfe (1974), 20 C.C.C. (2d) 382 (Ontario Court of Appeal) • An accused does not have to intend to cause bodily harm. What is necessary is that a reasonable person would be able to predict that his or her actions posed a risk of bodily harm. Case source: R. v. DeSousa (1992), 76 C.C.C. (3d) 124 (Supreme Court of Canada)

  40. How does the court decide if a victim has given consent? This is what two courts have said about consent. • A person cannot consent to being injured in a serious way.Case source: Jobidon v. The Queen (1991), 6 C.C.C. (3d) 454 (Supreme Court of Canada) • If the victim provokes the assault, the courts have said that the victim consented to the assault. Case source: R. v. Oppal (1984), 43 C.R. (3d) 365 (B.C. Provincial Court) • Of course the response to the provocation must be reasonable. Being slightly provoked does not give right to smashing a person’s head.

  41. All elements of the definition of the offence need to be proven by the Crown in order to convict a person of this offence. • Those elements that are in doubt become legal issues. • For example, whether or not the victim "consented" is often a legal issue in cases of assault.

  42. What does the law say about acting in self-defence? Here is how the defence is defined: • Self-defence occurs when: • a person attacks you when you have done nothing to provoke or cause the attackSource: section 34 of the Criminal Code • you defend yourself from a clear and present danger withonly with as much force as is necessary to resist and you do not intend to cause death or grievous bodily harmSource: section 34 of the Criminal Code

  43. How can a judge know how much force was necessary in the circumstances? • This is a difficult decision to make and it cannot be made without looking at all the facts. However the following interpretation by a court suggests the court does not demand a completely rational reaction: • A person under attack is not expected to stop to weigh or measure his or her reactions perfectly or precisely. Case source: R. v. Baxter (1975), 33 C.R.N.S. 22 R v. Martin (1985) 47 C.R. (3d) 342 (Que. C.A.)

  44. An accused person who is successful in arguing self-defence will be acquitted of the charge.

  45. Sexual Assault • Sexual Assault (max 10 yrs) – non-consensual sexual touch (does not have to be violent) including rape (which is not always violent). • Sexual Assault Causing bodily harm (max 14yrs) – Sexual assault, and causing some bodily harm but not grievous. • Aggravated sexual assault (max life) – sexual assault and wounding, maiming or disfiguring. • (if a firearm is involved, there is a mandatory minimum 4 yrs)

  46. Sexual Assault the Legal Perspective How does the law define a sexual assault? Sexual assault occurs when... • a person intentionally "applies force" to another person & • this is done without the victim's consent or voluntary agreement & • sexual activity is involved. Source: section 265 of the Criminal Code. See also s. 271, 272, 273. • Thus it is a criminal offence to engage in sexual activity with another person who does not consent.

  47. What does "apply force" mean in a sexual assault situation? • Think of "force" as "physical contact". There does not have to be a violent demonstration of force. Touching certain body parts, for example, also fits the definition of "applying force".

  48. What does "sexual activity" mean? • The part of the body touched, the nature of the contact, the surrounding circumstances including what was said - these are all relevant factors in determining if there was a sexual aspect to the "physical contact".

  49. The defence: in many cases the accused person argues that the victim consented, or agreed, to the sexual activity. Most victims will say they didn't consent, and most accused persons will say the victim did consent. Does the law help people interpret the meaning of "consent"? • The first source to consult for a definition of what is and isn't "consent" is the Criminal Code. • ...note that the Code uses the word "complainant" rather than "victim".

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