Criminology Journal

Excerpt from Journal :

Why Due Process Matters in the US Constitution

The Importance of the 6th Amendment and the Right to Effective Counsel

Unit 1-5 Journals Criminology: The Core

Unit 1

This unit looks at biological and psychological trait theories, social structures and how standards influence criminal outcomes. Conflict theory was the most interesting theory for crime because it looked at the persona conflict issue and that people are inherently in conflict with one another at some point, and that crime occurs because of that conflict. It is interesting that it grew out of Marx’s approach to capitalism, but what I find most compelling about it is that it explains crime basically perfectly: crime is committed because one person wants what someone else has. There is a conflict because person B is not willing to do what person A wants. This is especially relevant because of the role confusion that resulted after the division of labor became a norm, as Durkheim pointed out.

The Chicago School’s approach was that the basic family structures were under attack in the US, as poverty, education and the ability to have stable communities were all feeling the strain. This led to higher crime rates in their opinion. I find the social structure theory to be more convincing than trait theory. I think there are internal forces that can impact a person’s decision making process, but that socialization forces and economic and political forces are just as pertinent if not more so. The complete view is likely that there are multiple forces at work in any approach to criminology. However, the idea of becoming deviant is one that needs to be explored more as labeling theory posits that deviance is a label that gets applied to prevent some groups from having power over others. That idea is explored more in Unit 2 where social process theories are discussed.

Unit 2

This Unit looks at social process theories, including social learning theory, social control theory, and labeling theory. For me this is one of the most interesting subjects because it is very telling how people look at reality, and whether they focus on universal principles or subjective experiences and how this frames their interaction with facts. Peers are obviously going to be a big influence on how people act and think. Peers, groups and media all play a part in informing people, especially ones who are growing up.

Hirschi’s social bond or social control theory helps to explain what goes wrong. When the bonds that people need to develop are not developed, it makes them more susceptible to a life of crime. There is nothing in the way of social controls to prevent them from committing crime, from robbing one’s neighbor, from starting a fire, from rioting, or from killing. While I believe that this theory brings a lot of insight into the issue, I do not believe it is the end-all-be-all explanation. Even people who do not have a lot of social bonds can know right from wrong and can still set about trying to respect the law. So I think there is more going on in a lot of cases that just the fact that there are no social controls in place.

The labeling theory, however, is something I find fascinating, primarily because it does seem that people who want to marginalize and oppress others will often paint them in negative terms and make it seem like they are deviant. In today’s cancel culture it definitely feels that certain groups are always being denounced in the media for being extreme or radical while others are painted in acceptable terms. I think that is a clear example of how labeling is used to promote a concept of deviance.

Unit 3

This Unit raises the issue of justice system inequality, and that is something I have come across before in the writings of Angela Davis and others. The prison industrial complex appears to be a major problem in the US, not least because the US has the highest prison population in the world. How does that work out for a free society? It appears that minorities are disproportionately imprisoned, and what’s worse is that it has become a new kind of style ='position: relative;color:#000;text-decoration: underline!important;' target='_blank' href=''>slavery with inmates working for pennies on the day for US corporations. This is exploitation, plain and simple, and I feel that there is a major conflict of interest.

However, the idea that economic factors and the exploitation of minimum wage workers is to blame is a bit of a stretch for me. I think it is offloading some of the blame that the person should shoulder. If you do not want to work at McDonald’s then get an education and get a better paying job, or learn a trade and work for yourself. The idea that people are going to blame corporations for paying low wages as an excuse for crime is scapegoating in my eyes.

Yes, the state is certainly exploiting people and oppressing them in different ways, as the chapter shows, but people need to realize that they are never going to be able to rise above the pressures that the state puts on them if they do not step up and take ownership of their lives for themselves. And that does not mean protesting for a higher minimum wage. That means developing skills that are above the level of the unskilled worker’s pay grade. Hustling in the streets has been glamorized by media and families need to teach better values to their kids. That is how to prevent crime.

Unit 4

This Unit touches on life course theory and explains how people can fall into a life of crime because the life of adhering to social norms and standards is derailed for them through various experiences and traumas. The main idea here is that people change over the course of their lives, due to family, friends, groups, and other influences. Past experiences weigh on them and all of that makes a difference in terms of how they see each other.

It then goes on to explain propensity theory (people veer into crime because of latent traits) and trajectory theory, which combines life course and propensity theories. The age at which one commits his first crime may play a part in determining the trajectory of one’s life. Essentially, it shows that people who get started in crime or delinquency at a younger age are at a higher risk for becoming lifelong criminals or spending their lives in jail as unproductive members of society.

All of these theories serve as the main aspects of developmental theory and the policy implications of these theories are that to prevent crime, more focus has to be on preventing at-risk youths and delinquency at an early age. But what is a satisfactory policy? What is needed is culture—not just more policing. The culture of communities has been eviscerated and that needs to be restored. People need stability, commitment, families that are whole rather than broken up. They need two parents, they need churches, they need schools, and they need jobs. They cannot thrive if these variables and needs are not met. One is playing a losing game by attempting to address this issue of development theory without addressing the issue of culture. The promotion of thug culture in the media needs to come to an end first and foremost.

Unit 5

This chapter talks about the sociology of law and developing theories of crime causation. Coming back to this chapter after looking at the other chapters gives one a better sense of what is being talked about here. I could really begin to see the value that sociology brings to the issues of crime and how to understand it. One of the important ideas in this chapter that I wanted to focus on was the issue of punishment, sanctions and corrections. Should the criminal justice system be interested in punishing offenders, rehabilitating them, or preventing recidivism? How should it go about handling offenses. I would have liked to see more background on where the current system came from and why there are so many Americans currently in jail.

The relationship between criminology and criminal justice is likely a complex one and the chapter does not go into a great deal of detail in fleshing that relationship out. I am inclined to think that there are many variables impacting that relationship, not the least being the impact of for-profit prisons on the criminal justice system and the lobbying of the prison industrial complex to prevent research into this relationship by criminologists. Criminologists may like to look into how culture is instrumental in this relationship as well. The idea that deviance and crime are linked is also worth investigating, but in a totalitarian state where thought-crimes are outlawed because they go against the officially sanctioned and approved thoughts of…

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