Exam 1 Criminology

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Walsh & Ellis, 2007 Criminology Definitions

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Walsh & Ellis, 2007 Criminology Definitions

An interdisciplinary science that gathers and analyzes data on crime and criminal behavior

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Siegel, 2013

Scientific approach to studying criminal behavior

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Tibbetts, 2012

The scientific study of crime, especially why people commit

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Study of explanation of crime (theory)

making sense of observations and offering explanations

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Scientific or empirical approach (methodology)

attempt to avoid subjectivity and focus on objectivity

attempt to qualify explanatory ability

allows for explanation to be tested

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You need both ____ and ______ to be what Criminology is

theory and methodology

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Theory of Criminology

efforts to explain and make sense of the world

explains the “why” of crime

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Methodology in Criminology

techniques used to explain the “whys” of crime

used to test theories and determine which theories are better at explaining crime

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Scientific Method within Criminology

step-by-step process used to acquire knowledge about a phenomenon

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Both theory and methods are equally important

theories are developed to explain observed facts

methods are used to test theories

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theory and methodology should be complementary

in some instances, one is more values than others

criminology is a highly quantitative field

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scientific method is flawed in criminological research:

some hypotheses are not even considered

methodological rigor can be selective, findings suppressed

some relevant findings are systematically excluded

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Is Criminology a Science?

yes and no

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Interdisciplinary research

contributions from a series of fields;

dominated by sociology;

reluctance of many criminologists to integrate;

scientific process is made through integration;

allows for better theory;

allows for better methodology;

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Contributions from a series of fields:

Sociology, economics, psychology, anthropology, biology

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Dominated by sociology

both theory and methodology

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reluctance of many criminologists to integrate

many focus on sociological explanations

openly reject/ignore other explanations

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scientific process is made through integration

different perspectives offer different solutions

combination allows for fuller understanding

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allows for better theory

more precisely identify the “whys” of crime

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allows for better methodology

perform better tests

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ideology is one barrier preventing further integration

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ideology refers to…

the set of beliefs or values that everyone develops about the way the world is or ought to be

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an intentional act in violation of the criminal law, committed without defense or excused, and penalized by the state as a felony or mideamenor

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What does crime definition exclude?

excludes behavior that is not criminalized, detected, reported to law enforcement, or successfully prosecuted

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Edwin Sutherland crime definition

unlawful act defined by the fact that it is punishable

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Broader definition of Crime

identifies all antisocial behaviors as subject matter

identifies criminology as the study of violation of conduct norms or deviance

more leeway for scientists to study a greater variety of behaviors

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critical definition of crime

political and economic forces play the key role in generating crime and deviance

what behaviors are criminalized are contingent on the power structure of society

must take equalities of wealth and power into account

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Criminal Behavior

defined by socially enacted contracts describing appropriate and inappropriate behaviors

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underlying traits that are ultimately responsible for bringing about criminal behavior

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social universals

something that is constant across all social groups

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Frans de Waal’s Fairness study

inequality is not tolerated across not just social groups, but also SPECIES

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what does the future hold for criminology?

“If criminology continues in the current direction, and focuses on the environmental underpinnings to human behavior, then it is setting itself up to be an inconsequential and disposable discipline”

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Official Crime Statistics

development of official statistics began in the 1920s

data collection instrument finalized in 2019

eventually developed into the UCR

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what has the best known and most cited statistics

Uniform Crime Report

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Where is the data collected from in the UCR

police departments and are initially submitted voluntarily

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how many agencies report to the UCR

More than 18,000 report data

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Why does the UCR have undercount?

because no one actually knows how many crimes are being committed due to crimes occur without being brought to the police’s attention

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What does the UCR take into account?

takes into account crime that has been brought to the attention of the police

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Part I offenses:

illegal acts consider particularly serious with 8 crimes included

in overall count if reported to police, no arrests needed

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Part II offenses

counted only if the case is closed, typically if an arrest is made

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Primary Strengths in UCR

Nationwide statistics

collected and stored since 1930

easily accessible

include homicide measures

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Primary Limitations in UCR

Emphasis on street crime

subject to political manipulation

lack of detail

inaccurate counts (indirect measures of crime)

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Dark Figure of crime

refers to unreported crime (up to 90%) due to the reliance of citizen reports

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3-step process of Dark Figure of crime

decide crime has been committed

decide whether to report the crime to police

officer must decide whether crime occurred, whether to report it, and how to classify it

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Hierarchy Rule

refers to situations where the type I offense has been committed

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What does the hierarchy rule do?

identifies the offense highest on the hierarchy list and counts only that offense

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What are exceptions within the hierarchy rule?

justifiable homicide, motor-vehicle theft, and arson

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What is the problem of hierarchy rule?

it decreases overall counts of serious crimes

kidnapping, simple assaults, and rape

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Difference between NIBRS and UCR

To address the limitations of the UCR, the FBI introduced the NIBRS

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Primary aims of NIBRS

Enhance the quantity, quality, and timeliness of crime data

Improve the methodology used for compiling, auditing, and publishing crime data

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How many group A crimes within NIBRS


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How many Group B crimes in NIBRS


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Primary strengths within NIBRS

eliminates the hierarchy rule

includes much more information for each recorded crime incident

includes a greater number of crime categories

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Primary Limitations within NIBRS

Still relies on public reporting of offenses

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Historical Development of NCVS

originally called NCS and was supervised by Law Enforcement Assistance Administration

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Who is NCVS supervised by now

US Census Bureau and shifted their focus to victims and victimization

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Who is the NCVS data gathered from

gathered from victims rather than offenders

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Sampling Procedures within NCVS

Multistage cluster sample of households and businesses

select household/businesses within tracts

interview all eligible respondents (approx. 40,000)

interview every 6 months

remain in the sample up to 3 years

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What is the age range for sampling procedures

12 and older

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Interview questions within NCVS

  1. Respondents are asked a wide range of questions

  2. Asked about victimizations in the past 6 months:

    Asking about a wide range of crimes

    Additional information of the crime is gathered

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Primary Strengths within NCVS

not subject to the “Dark Figure”

comparable with the UCR/NIBRS

Collects more incident information than the UCR

Collects information about crime victims

Not subject to political maniuplation

Publicly available data

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Primary Limitations within NCVS

only includes victims that are 12 years and older

cannot collect information on homicide

difficult to collect data on white collar crime

specific geographer locations cannot be examined

presence of an interview affects responses

series incidents are an issue

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Self-report data mode of delivery


paper and pencil

on the phone

very versatile

we can give the survey anyway

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Who provides oversight within Self-report data

typically consists of surverys

ask respondents about their attitudes and experiencs

almost always involves sampling

often carried out by independent researchers

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sampling within self-report data

traditionally used samples of juveniles (Travis Hirschi)

adult samples became popular over time

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Primary strengths of Self-report data

direct source of crime data

not subject to political manipulation

highly versatile

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Primary Limitations within Self-report data

costly to carry out


secondary data concerns

typically, not collected on a regular basis

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Volume of crime-- how much crime is there in US?

depends on who you ask

depends on when you ask

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Crime rates calculations

  • City A has 1,000 crimes and a population of 20,000

    • Rate: 5,000/100,000 people

  • City B has 2,000 crimes and a population of 100,000

    • Rate: 2,000/100,000 people

    • City A had fewer overall crimes, but a higher rate due to population differences

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What is the importance of the use of “rates”

“standardizes” the statistic

allows us to compare across different populations

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What are you supposed to look at within crime rates?

look at the rates of crime, not the raw number of offenses or crime

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How to calculate crime rate?

  • (C/P) * 100,000

    • C = a raw number of crimes

      • P = population

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Where is highest crime rates?

west and south

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what tends to be the safest?


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distributions differ by community size

rural areas tend to be safer than urban areas

suburban areas tend to fall in-between

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Two primary factors of the geographical distributions



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What tends to be a good indication of overall crimes?

homicide rates

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crime rates are likely very high throughout the 1700s and 1800s

due to lack of formal criminal justice agencies

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sharp increases between 1910 and 1920 due

to the industrialization in the US, which resulted in population increases and rapid urbanization

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another large increase between 1920 and 1930 is

prohibition - constitutional amendment banning alcohol sales and consumption

the great depression

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sharp decrease beginning in the early 1940s due to

new economic policies (roosevelt’s new deal)

prohibition was repealed

US entered WWII

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between 1965 and 1975 overall crime more than doubled due to

baby boomers entering adolescence/early childhood

drug use

social unrest during the time period

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reasons for the crime drop

no clear consensus on why crime rates dropped

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wide range of explanations for why crime dropped is

incarceration practices

policing practices

demographic changes


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Mala in se (evil in itself)

the act is inherently and essentially evil, that is immoral in its nature and injurious in its consequence, without any regard to the fact of its being noticed or punished by the law of the state

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Mala Prohibita

a wrongful prohibited; an act which not inherently immoral, but becomes so because its commission is expressly forbidden by positive law

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acts that are considered crime primarily because they have been outlawed by the legal codes in that jurisdiction

Mala Prohibita

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Deviant Acts

not necessarily against the law, but are considered atypical and may be deemed immoral

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behaviors that are not normal; includes many illegal acts, as well as activities that are not necessarily criminal but are unusual and often violate social norms

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Who was the criminology term coined by?

Italian law professor Raffaele Garofalo

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A consensus perspective of crime

theories that assume that virtually everyone is in agreement on the laws and therefore assume no conflict in attitudes regarding the laws and rules of society

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Conflict Perspective

theories of criminal behavior that assume that most people disagree on what the law should be and that law is a means by which those in power maintain their advantage

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When is the conflict resolved in perspectives of crime?

when the group in power achieves control

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Began challenging the consensus approach by

maintaining that there is conflict between various societal groups with different interests

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The general purpose of the criminal justice system can be further simplified into three goals:

  • To control crime

  • To prevent crime

    • To provide and maintain justice

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There are three typically recognized components:

law enforcement, courts, and corrections

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One of the key features distinguishing federal law enforcement agencies from state or local agencies is that

they have often been established to enforce specific statutes

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The first model can be designed as state police

agencies with general police powers to enforce state laws as well as investigate major crimes; they may have intelligence units, drug-trafficking units, juvenile units, and crime laboratories

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The second model can be designated as highway patrols

The primary focus is to enforce the laws that govern the operation of motor vehicles on public roads and highways

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How many judicial systems are there?

52 different systems

one for each state, district of Columbia, and for the federal government

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