Free example essay on Crime:
Crime has become part of most peoples’ life in one form or another. This essay will define crime from many perspectives, as the many and varied theories of delinquency create much of the confusion concerning the causes of crime (Shoemaker 2000). The idea that criminal behaviour is determined, or caused, by something, leads to the legal, social, and cultural factors that influence the decision to label some behaviour’s as criminal while others or not. Rights, choices and responsibility of individuals and society will also be covered as they may lead to the discissions people make concerning their behaviours. (Shoemaker 2000). Drugs will be used as an example of criminal behaviours throughout the essay. Further, this essay will look at how criminal statistics are used to establish laws. Finally, this essay will conclude by suggesting that Health Services and interventions have been planned with little reference to the needs of those most concerned, and this obscures the real needs. Although official data and other sources were commonly used by journalists, criminologists and social scientists to comment on crime trends and the cause of crime. Beattie (1941) noted that police statistics were manipulated for political purposes and questionable in their validity. Sutherland (1940) claimed that the statistics of crime and criminals are known as the most unreliable and difficult of all statistics. This was because the laws that define crime change, the number of crimes actually committed cannot possibly be enumerated, and crime statistics needed to be calculated in proportion to the population. (Sutherland 1947). Further, explanations of crime were invalid because the official statistics did not include “white collar criminals”(p4), and claimed that individuals in all social classes also committed crime.
Crime is part of most people’s life today in one form or another, but it is the legal, social, and cultural factors that influence law thus labelling which are criminal and which or not. Individuals may appear to have rights, choices and responsibilities but only when it does not affect the segment of society that holds all the power. Criminal data and statistics should include all crime that is “white collar crime”, and not just the crimes considered deviant by those with power. Drugs may be considered a criminal behaviour, but health services and interventions have been planned with little reference to the needs of those most concerned, and this obscures the real needs. Interventions have to attack the meanings invested in such activities, instead of just labelling the outcomes as criminal behaviours. (Coleman and Hendry).
Working definitions of crime are context and historically specific. Drug use may be differentially evaluated as ‘serious’ crime depending on the geographic location and historical period, the political circumstances, and the prevailing legal structures. For example substances such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine were not illegal in the United States prior to the 20th century, but today they attract some of the most severe penalties in the criminal code. Therefore, crime is what the law says is criminal and is defined by the laws of a particular state. (Mosher el at 2002, Shoemaker 2000).
Strain theories (Bernard 1987, Durkheim 1933, Merton 1938, Miller 1975, Cohen & Short 1958, Cloward & Onlin 1960, Cohen 1955, Kluegel & smith 1986) regard antisocial behaviours as the frustrations of the lower class when they find themselves unable to achieve the material success expected of middle-class. This frustration and inability to meet such expectations makes some participate in acts of delinquency, and crime as another means of acquiring money, material items and prestige socially. (Flowers 1986, Hawkins 1996, Rowe 1996, Merton 1957, Quinney 1980). For example, Renton (Welsh – Trainspotting 1996) came from a nuclear family that appeared to be a supportive towards him. But Renton felt powerless to change his circumstances (for work, money, material possessions), he blamed England for this problem, as them had control over Scotland. So, Renton turned his back on conventional goals and the structured means for achieving them, drifting instead into as escapist lifestyle of drug addiction. Therefore greater emphasis should be placed on identifying the needs of those concerned, rather than the crime. (Marriot Report1971).
Legal, social, and cultural factors that influence the decision to criminalize or not criminalize unwanted behaviours.
Legal definition from the ‘social harm’ concept, defines a crime as and action (or for that matter, inaction) that causes some type of harm. (Shoemaker 2000). But the ‘criminal labelling approach is crime is defined by society, and crime exists when a social response to an act or activity brands that activity as criminal. (Shoemaker 2000). Also from the ‘human right perspective’ defines crime as any act that violates human rights, regardless of whether a particular state authority or jurisdiction deems the act a crime. Yet another approach ‘human diversity approach’, defines crime as deviance, but also defines deviance as a normal response to oppressive or inherently unequal circumstances. That is, the dominant group in a society attempts to restrict human diversity of language, experience, or culture in order to retain its dominance. This restriction is achieved by classifying certain manifestations of diversity as deviance and further deeming deviance as criminal. (Shoemaker 2000).
Some behaviour’s are labelled as criminal while others are not.
For the Marxist (1848), the most serious crimes are often those least recognized by capitalist criminal codes, known as the secret deviant (Becker 1973, Hirschi 1980). These are the crimes of the powerful, the owners of the means of production, and are driven by economic motives. Economic crimes include exploitation of labour, destruction of the natural environment for profit, fraud perpetration on consumers, price gouging, price fixing, unfair competition and so on. All are motivated by some form of individual (or corporate) greed, a desire to augment one’s wealth. Therefore, criminal laws primarily serve the interests of the ruling class who use the laws to exploit, control, the lower and working classes.
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