Criminal Decision Making: The Elements Of The Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Criminal Justice Type: Essay Paper: #10127680 Related Topics: Criminal Investigation, Criminal Justice Management, Decision Making Process, Robbery
Excerpt from Essay :

Criminal Decision Making: The Elements of the Culture of the Street and Party Life and Their Relation to Criminal Decision-Making

Understanding offenders' lifestyles and the process by which they choose to commit criminal acts is critical particularly because it has important implications for crime control. Very often, certain elements of the street and party life influence the offender's assessment of the risks and rewards of crime. According to Shover and Honaker (1992), commitment to drugs and partying, as well as street culture, leads to alienation of offenders from mainstream society and pushes them away from a conventional life. Over time, they adopt a socially bounded rationality and become accustomed to a criminal lifestyle to a point where they break the law as a result of addiction, rather that free will. It is, therefore, imperative to understand the role played by these lifestyles in shaping the motivation for crime because it will help determine effective methods that should be taken to reduce property crime such as auto theft and burglary, homicides, murders, and many other forms of violent crimes. Hotchstetler (2001) also states that it is essential to focus on mental processes, interactions and actions that link offenders backgrounds to criminal choices and immediate environments, because it will provide insight on preventive measures that may help reduce crime. This text evaluates the elements of street culture and a party lifestyle and how they relate to criminal decisions making. It also takes a detailed look at the implications these elements might have on crime control.

Party life

Some offenders become accustomed to a 'party' lifestyle, where they attend parties daily, consume numerous forms of drugs, and thrive in the company of like-minded carefree acquaintances. Party pursuits are characterized by values of spontaneity, independence, and autonomy, where they live in the moment and allow pleasures to develop in an unconstrained fashion. More specifically, their social world puts great emphasis on living on the fast lane and the need to support this lifestyle makes criminal behavior seem more rewarding.

Shover and Honaker (1992) explain that this lifestyle makes offenders become increasingly dependent on chemical substances and drug using routines common in these parties, which impairs their judgment and makes them commit crimes without the fear of repercussions. One of the subject interviewed attributed his ability to ignore thoughts of arrest or death after committing a crime to a state of drug altered consciousness and intoxication. Addiction to these substances also helps them maintain a sense of normality as they commit crimes to avoid drawing attention, which may lead to arrests.

Party pursuits erode financial resources because individuals cannot be sustained by legitimate awareness, and they are often unwilling to balance work schedules and party attendance. In fact, the hours they should be at work are those they consider the best times of day for committing property crime (Shover and Honaker, 1992). As demonstrated in the video on Alex Cheesequay's descent into homicide, the lifestyle requires a continuous supply of money with no method of generating an income. One subject claimed that they would make as much as $3,000, all of which would go to cocaine or would be spent in one or two days. The lack of non-criminal sources of income, therefore, reinforces the need to commit crimes to sustain their party lifestyles. Alternatives such as support from family members eventually fail to work as most of the money borrowed is never paid back, and it is used for drugs and other unhelpful commitments. Furthermore, they become accustomed to luxury and ostentatious enjoyment that would not be attainable with the earnings of regular employment, and they turn to violent crime to maintain this status.

Party pursuits attract offenders because the peer influences enhance the pleasure and permit a display of independence that makes them feel accepted (Shover and Honaker, 1992). The peer influence and desire to fit in facilitates criminal acts because they feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment once they succeed without getting caught. Moreover, when party pursuits fail to go as planned, offenders are plagued with feelings of drug abuse, and acts of crime increase because they cannot be held accountable.

The street culture

According to Hochstetler (2001), street offenders in the United States commit acts of crime when in the presence of co-offenders. What this implies is that participation of the street culture will eventually interfere with an individual's subjective view of the risks and rewards of crime. Some common patterns of interpersonal dynamics prevalent in street activities also contribute to the creation of criminal opportunities.

Offenders usually make criminal decisions according to the norms and beliefs associated with street life activities. Just like the party lifestyle, the main element in street life is the pursuit of status and pleasure through conspicuous consumption and leisure without any concern for commitments and obligations. Offenders share this lifestyle with others that live similarly, which makes them resort to criminal acts to sustain their lifestyles. As one offender explained, continuous and mobile partying enabled him to maintain drug habits through sharing and the lifestyle made locating criminal opportunities effortless (Hochstetler, 2001). Enjoyment becomes defined by effective management of criminal events.

Street life offers solace from economic crises, family problems, and personal problems that offenders might be facing. In fact, many offenders explained to investigators that it reached a point where they gave up on conventional lives and committed themselves to street living. Overindulgence in drugs once on the street makes them paranoid and edgy and from their point-of-view, it becomes more sensible to commit crimes to have something to worry about instead of constantly watching out for the police. Hochstetler (2001) also explains that during street activities, offenders also encounter many admirers of their fearlessness and risk taking particularly because it provides much needed resources to the groups. Thus, criminal activities become the perfect opportunity to display this courage and at the same time provide money and drugs.

As offenders meet new people, the composition of street gangs change and they reorganize themselves to commit more daring crimes. Car theft, for example, is a common street crime that requires more specialized knowledge than other crimes and it relies on social networks on the streets to acquire and disseminate criminal information (Mullins and Charbonneau, 2010). Hochstetler (2001) states that they often build each other's confidence by using optimistic conversations to encourage each other before committing a criminal act. As offenders adapt to the street culture, they become accustomed to what the author refers to as 'target convenience', where street groups make criminal decisions when the offenders mutually and instantaneously spot an appealing target. In such instances, communication is limited to nods and gestures, and robberies and burglaries are committed in the form of dares and games (Hochstetler, 2001; Wright and Decker, 2009).

Implications for crime control

The elements of street culture and party life provide useful insight on the thought processes of offenders who abandon their normal lives for these lifestyles. Investigators get to understand the types of criminal activities these groups are likely to engage in and what their motivations are. Interviews with offenders who are caught may help law enforcement officers track potential crime members and avert planned crimes before they are committed. Hostetler (2001) states that geographical and social proximity to crime and situations that lead to crime can also be identified to point out risky areas that need constant monitoring.

Reducing accessibility to targets may reduce target convenience and increase awareness among citizens, in general, of certain activities they engage in that encourage crime. These include flashing money, provoking offenders, leaving property unattended or shouting confidential information while on phone (Wright and Decker, 2009). Understanding that groups that have successfully committed minor crimes have the potential of committing even bigger crimes may also help improve private security and defense in dangerous neighborhoods.

Quantitative and qualitative studies of the influence of street and party lifestyles will support theories applied by the criminal justice department and it will also improve the specifications of the established models to facilitate more effective decision making in relation to crime. For example, it will be easier to determine the most efficient methods of rehabilitation to avoid peer pressure and recidivism once offenders get back to the community. Overall, a thorough comprehension of elements of street culture and party lifestyles allow for a better understanding of criminal behavior and will lead to more effective crime control policies.


The decision making process of an offender is influenced by their lifestyle and the social context that leads to that lifestyle. Party lifestyles make offenders increasingly dependent on drug and substance abuse, which interferes with their sense of right and wrong - leading to criminal activities. It also depletes financial resources while at the same time making them adopt an expensive lifestyle, promotes autonomy and independence, and reduces personal…

Sources Used in Documents:


Brookman, S. F (2001). Accounting for Homicide and Sublerthal Violence. In P. Cromwell & M.L. Birzer (Eds), In Their Own Words: Criminals on Crime (pp. 175-191). Madison Avenue, NY: Oxford University press.

Hochstetler, A. (2001). Opportunities and decisions: Interactional Dynamics in Robbery and Burglary Groups. In P. Cromwell & M.L. Birzer (Eds), In Their Own Words: Criminals on Crime (pp. 70-91). Madison Avenue, NY: Oxford University press.

Mullins, W.C., & Charbonneau, G.M. (2010). Establishing Connections: Gender, Motor Vehicle Theft and Disposal Networks . In P. Cromwell & M.L. Birzer (Eds), In Their Own Words: Criminals on Crime (pp. 87-112). Madison Avenue, NY: Oxford University press.

Shover, N., & Honaker, D.(1992). The Socially Bounded Decision Making of Persistent Property Offenders. In P. Cromwell & M.L. Birzer (Eds.), In Their Own Words: Criminals on Crime (pp. 35-51). Madison Avenue, NY: Oxford University press.

Cite this Document:

"Criminal Decision Making The Elements Of The" (2015, June 05) Retrieved January 17, 2022, from

"Criminal Decision Making The Elements Of The" 05 June 2015. Web.17 January. 2022. <>

"Criminal Decision Making The Elements Of The", 05 June 2015, Accessed.17 January. 2022,

Related Documents
Ethical Decision Making in Law
Words: 1171 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Criminal Justice Paper #: 7641965

For example, virtually every element of heightened security measures necessitates a corresponding reduction in certain kinds of liberties that American citizens have come to expect in a free society. Both concerns represent rights: it is right to implement measures intended to protect the general public by thwarting potential terrorists; likewise, it is equally right to seek to preserve individual liberties in a society that has been built on valuing

Methods of Legal and Ethical Decision-Making for Public Safety
Words: 1654 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Criminal Justice Paper #: 16162011

law enforcement agencies to train employees in ethical decision making. This includes training their employees to include public safety in terms of any legal decisions at a time of crisis. The paper also includes the field investigation of a police agency regarding the training of their employees for their ethical decision making. Failures in public management are directly dependent on security shortfalls. The financial and social costs that include costs

Ethical Decision Making Media Are
Words: 1904 Length: 6 Pages Topic: Business - Ethics Paper #: 46568584

Fidelity is also an obligation, to the journalist's ethics in particular truthtelling. Beneficence could be applied to helping law enforcement. As the decision at hand consists of two mutually exclusive options, one of these obligations would need to be overriding. It is most likely that for the journalist this would be to communicate all of the information in keeping with the journalistic code of ethics. This approach, however, does

Factors Influencing the Use of Performance Information for Decision...
Words: 944 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Business Paper #: 67786588

Performance measurement is an increasingly important process in today's organisations. This is true for not only business or private sector organisations, but also public sector organisations. Against the backdrop of budgetary constraints and the need for guaranteeing the effectiveness of public programs, performance data is crucial for decision making in the public sector. From the health and education sectors to criminal justice agencies, government agencies and organisations are ever keener

Problem Analysis and Decision-Making
Words: 1343 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Accounting Paper #: 21766659

Creative accounting" may be considered a very old technique which has conserved its appeal over the ages. However, using such methods could prove costly. The motivation behind techniques of this type varies: sometimes, executive and financial officers, accountants or auditors have a lot to gain by presenting false data to the interested parties. The victim may be the state, which collects less income taxes, creditors, who are not aware

Living and Decision Making Poverty
Words: 622 Length: 2 Pages Topic: Sociology Paper #: 1119719

Though welfare abuse does, of course, occur, it can not be as prevalent as the misunderstandings about it are. The problem comes from most people's lack of understanding about welfare, the amount of money it provides, who is eligible, etc. A lot of people will write off any poor person as a welfare recipient, which is not the case. In addition, people in poor communities with access to top