Victims and Criminal Justice Victimization Victims and Essay

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Victims and Criminal Justice

Victimization, Victims and Criminal Justice

Based on your understanding of routine activity theory, discuss (1) why or why not this theory can be used to guide our research on the victim-offender overlap and (2) what theory (or theories), beyond the routine activity theory, will be useful for advancing our understanding of the victim-offender overlap based on your assessment of what we do not know about the victim-offender overlap.

Routine activity theory requires that there be thee conditions present at the same time and in the same space. As one author puts it "Crime is a complex phenomenon that occurs when an offender, a victim and a law intersect in time and space" (Andresen, 2006). Another interpretation is that it is the offender, a target (this does not have to be a person but has to be something that offers itself to the opportunity) and the absence of a "suitable guardian" (which can be anything from a responsible friend to law enforcement officials) (Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2001). The intersection of these three create the perfect opportunity for a crime to occur provided there is enough time to complete the action and the location remains viable.

The first part of the above question asks about the victim-offender overlap in relation to this theory and if that particular theory is useful in crime research efforts. First it is necessary to understand what this overlap is. Regoeczi (2000) defines it as "those adolescents who are at greatest risk of being victimized are individuals who engage in delinquent activities themselves, and, consequently, that adolescent victims and offenders cannot be classified solely in terms of membership in one group or the other." It can be simply stated as people who commit crimes are more likely to have crimes committed against them. It supposes that there is no honor among thieves. In a doctoral thesis, Shaffer (2003) points out that "Offenders are 1.5 to 7 times more likely than non-offenders to be victims, and victims are 2 to 7 times more likely than non-victims to be offenders" depending on the study that is used to determine an actual number. This overlap suggests several elements that could be useful when using routine activity theory as a guide to further research the issue.

Criminals generally occupy the same space. Of course this is not literally true, but criminals do tend to act together rather than alone, which means that they are around other people who are committing criminal acts. Of course, the three have to come together for the theory to work, and it is obvious that in the space where a group of criminals are there most likely will not be any authority around who can deter the activity. This means that they have the opportunity, victims and there are many different offenders who are available. They also are probably committing the crimes at the same time.

A perfect example of this is drive by shootings planned and executed by gang members. Although, stray bullets will often also involve non-criminal casualties, the drive by is usually meant for a person who has been targeted by the gang because they are a member of a rival gang. The offenders choose a specific time when they know that their fellow criminals will be occupying a specific space. They then use the vehicle to reduce the chances that they will be immediately accosted by any guardian who can thwart the enterprise. All of the elements explained in routine activity theory are in place in this example, and it is offender-victim overlap because the intended victim of the crime is also, generally, an offender.

However, the question has another part. It asks how this knowledge can help guide further research into crime and criminal activity. Because it is known that criminals are the most likely victims of a crime, it should be possible to research both criminal activity and victimization in the same space. Routing activity theory can be used to predict how criminals are going to act toward one another given a specific time and space. This can be members of the same group or one criminal organization (or individual) targeting another organization given the right time and space components. The theory can predict what is going to happen given the correct circumstances. So, the guide would be to search for the circumstances that exist for a crime according to routine activity theory, then search for those specific circumstances to determine how accurate the victim-offender overlap is given the people involved in the crime both as victims and perpetrators.

The second part of the question asks about other theories that could help discover what is not known about the overlap. It is difficult to say what is not known about the connection between victims and offenders, but it is possible to examine the phenomenon using different theories to try and make new discoveries about the problem. It would seem that people who are lawless themselves would have more respect for other people who try to thwart the law. However, they may also believe that the lawless individual has something that can be taken because they are also a criminal. It can also be said that there is more opportunity to commit crimes against other perpetrators because the lawless will often occupy the same space. Given this information it should be possible to determine further theories that could help in researching the issue.

One of the possible choices is that of Crime Opportunity Theory. This model suggests that criminals do not want to expend very much effort to commit their crimes (Bouchard, Wang & Beauregard, 2012). They are looking for the easiest target that will provide them with the greatest reward possible. Like routine activity theory, the perfect conditions do have to exist, but these are not difficult to find. The criminal must find an opportunity to commit a crime that provides enough reward that the person is willing to take the risks associated with that activity. That is why one criminal may commit a difficult, high-profile bank robbery and another robs old ladies who have just gotten their social security checks. Different people are able to handle different levels of risk. Opportunity theory also includes the fact that more risk is possible when there is more than one perpetrator (Bouchard, Wang & Beauregard, 2012). This theory could provide for the research of the overlap by looking at how often the opportunity and the reward come together when it is another criminal who is targeted. Again, it would seem that fellow criminals are more likely targets because they may have some stolen material, but they may also provide a difficult target because they want to keep what they have acquired through thievery.

Other theories that are helpful in the examination of the victim-offender overlap look more at a group of people and how they interact rather than criminal activity specifically as in crime opportunity theory or routine activity theory. One of these paradigms is Social Capital Theory. This theory underscores the needs of people and how the act in a group (Bouchard, Wang & Beauregard, 2012). Social capital theory is especially useful when examining criminal enterprises and how the individuals in them act; also, why the people remain a part of the group despite the difficulties that exist for them. It seems from this theory that people are willing to become both criminals and victims because they are part of a group. This theory would be very useful when looking at gang organization and organized crime families. It would provide a glimpse of the structure necessary to convince someone that they should be a part of a criminal organization. This is also a risk/reward type of scenario because it shows that people are willing to be a part of any type of group despite the fact that they may be victimized as a part of this group.

Part II

1. Based on your understanding of victims' rights, discuss (1) the concept of victims' rights, (2) why some scholars argue that victims are likely to be subjected to secondary victimization by the criminal justice system, and (3) use empirical work to discuss whether the use of victim impact statements helps increase victim satisfaction with the criminal justice system.

Victims' rights speaks to the special rights that are afforded to victims of crimes due to the trauma that has occurred. These rights include such elements as the right to regain what was lost (in some form) due to the criminal activity, freedom from prosecution due to any effort the person made to protect themselves or family, and the right to confront the perpetrator in a court of law (Stanbridge & Kenney, 2009). These rights are afforded as a partial restitution for what occurred during the commission of the crime.

These types of laws were passed because it seemed that many times the victim was treated the same as or, in some cases, worse than the person who committed the crime.…

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