To be honest I tend to think that crime has been trending in the late night news since the early 90s to an extent that it has become some sort of entertainment. It is mostly featured in the prime time news as a mass magnet for news corporations which are business entities and would therefore; capitalize on the expectant audience it has attracted. A large proportion of the crime reported is usually projected as individual subversions rather than socially motivated misdemeanors. It is from this perspective that criminals are feared beyond their capability without proper dissemination of the causes leaving an audience that is always pregnant with political, or sexual related crimes as a form of entertainment than a source of crime prevention issues that would go a long way in making their neighborhoods safer.
This paper will delve into the three main parts; the study of crime, Measuring of Crime and Its Costs.
The Study of Crime
The media has a played a major role in distorting crime in the manner they report it. They lay more emphasis on violent crime than they do on property crime. This has resulted in those who watch television most times to view the society as a violent and dangerous environment to venture in. I know that this has had a negative impact especially to the African-Americans who live in crime-prone zones than other racial groups (Catalano, 2006).
The Nature of Crime and Delinquency
There are several definitions of crime that describe what causes criminal behaviour thus giving criminologists specific domains to study. They range from the individual's intuitive nature of what crime is to the legalistic definition of what it is. This legalistic nature of crime is what has been widely known and used. Crime is defined in as a violation of criminal law and the state punishes anyone or group of people who violate the codified or formalized crimes. This is unlike the social definition which renders criminologists as human rights guardians. This definition was defined by Conklin (2010). He described crime as a violation of historical human or individual rights.
Characteristics of Crime
The main characteristic of crime is punishment (Presdee, 2000). Whatever the crime whether rape, fraud or environmental pollution, as long as I am found guilty or responsible for the commission of the crime then I can be punished. Criminal intent is another major trait of crimes. Though is a fairly recent concept now one has to have the criminal; intent to be charged with a violation against criminal law. Even when harm is caused, unless intent is proven then punishment has to be implemented. There are cases in which one is not capable of a criminal activity such as being mad, being a minor among others.
There are excuses and justifications in law. You are allowed to commit a crime and also denial of intent to a crime. This is when you drive under drug influence. Juveniles who commit crime are tried in a juvenile court and can not be convicted of a crime but rather adjudged delinquent. Those involved in the commission of status offences can also categorized under juvenile delinquent because they are still underage. Research also indicates that trying juveniles and incarcerating them along with adults can not curb juvenile crime (Kornhauser, 1978). Therefore, crime puts into consideration the age limit within which one can be perceived as having committed a crime.
The Social Construction of Crime
The manner in which various social groups can perceive and interpret crime keeps varying depending on a particular group's interests. Cultural criminology is an example of social construction of crime that is mainly focused on the manner in which various social groups view crime such as the media. Van Dijk (2008) asserts that the manner in which various social groups define assault is drawn from social interactions that reflect on a group's shared idea about the offender and the victim involved in the crime.
There exists different ways of measuring crime that range from official statics, police crime figures, court and prison statistics, offender surveys and general population surveys. Measuring crime is crucial in determining the extent to which a specific crime is rampant and coming up with appropriate security strategies to curb that crime. It also helps the security forces determine whether the measures put in place to curb specific crimes are working and help them fully implement those measures.
Police Crime Figures
The police are pivotal in measuring crime. It compiles the full report of criminal records of those crimes that are reported to them (Catalano, 2006). They divide these crimes into various categories such as robbery, robbery with violence, burglary, and violence against a person. The crime statistics provided by the police give a clear indication of whether some specific crimes are increasing or decreasing and in which particular demographic regions the crime rates are increasing. For the police to record a crime and put it in their statistics they must first realize and decide that a crime occurred; they will then look for possible ways of solving this crime which are within the law. After this the crime is recorded into their official statistics.
Court and Prison Statistics
Court records and prison statistics are also used in measuring crime. Court records indicate the offences for which one was convicted of while prison records show how many offenders have been imprisoned with the relevant crime that they were judged with (Westhuizen, 1981). Although these records are crucial in measuring crime, they are still subject to bias because there offenders who may be in prison awaiting trial. Also a specific offender might have performed more than one crime and is charged with a major crime. Therefore, the other crime is left unattended too. Criminal convictions can also fail to fully cover the extent to which commission of a specific is true. This affects the accuracy of statistics provided about measuring crime.
General Population Surveys and Offender Surveys
General population surveys is also another method of measuring crime that involves taking a part of a population and interviewing them on their various experiences with crime (Catalano, 2006). If the group of people interviewed is largely representative, then accurate statistics about a specific crime can be obtained. Offender surveys are also carried out by through interviewing the offenders about what they have done. This can involve members of a society being picked randomly and asked about the sort of crimes they have committed recently. This type of survey is likely to even detect some offences that were never reported to police forces hence providing up-to-date information about commission of some crimes.
Despite the fact that these measuring techniques can be an effective way of measuring crime, they also come along with some drawbacks such as the crime statics can be manipulated by some external forces such as politicians and other stakeholders who hold power. Also determining the exact crime committed in some instances can be difficult and such a crime misrepresented leading to inaccurate statistics. Those determining whether a certain action amounts to a crime such as the police can also manipulate the information hence those presenting wrong information to the public. Therefore when measuring crime usinfg these techniques, appropriate precautions ought to be taken to ensure that the statistics collected are accurate.
Crime and Its Costs
Commission of crime comes along with large costs which accumulate from accommodating large numbers of prisoners in the cells, employing more security forces to curb crime, destruction of property and costs incurred by government agencies in prosecuting offenders.
Direct Loss of Property
Some crimes result into direct loss of property that is more valuable. Crimes such as arson can result into damaging buildings and ruining property of great value which can take n individual a considerable amount of years to acquire (Van Dijk, 2008). Vandalism also ruins property hence minimizing the stock of important things that facilitate economic development in the world. Also some crimes such as murder and manslaughter result into direct loss which can not be valued. Such crimes have psychological effects on the relatives of the deceased and can also ruin the lives of important persons in the society such as leaders and professionals in various fields.
Transfer of Property
Crimes such as theft, robbery with violence and burglary can result into transfer of property from its rightful owner to the thief who then sells that property to a third innocent party. The victim of such crimes then suffers loss and this loss can have grave impacts on his economic status and general lifestyle. Although the society may view that such property has just been transferred from one individual to another other than being misused or left lying idle (Presdee, 2000).
Costs Associated with Criminal Violence
Some crimes can result into the victim being physically hurt and hence affecting its general health. Crimes such as robbery with violence can leave an individual incapacitated and this may result into the individual suffering…