Chapter 1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and Criminology
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After reading this section, students will be able to:
- Understand the differences between deviance, rule violations, and criminality
- Explain the differences between the interactionist, consensus, and conflict views in the creation of laws
- Identify the three components of the criminal justice system
- Discuss the differences between crime control and due process model, and application examples to each
- Describe the wedding cake model theory and application examples to each tier
- Briefly explain the role of the media and how media may spread myth in society
- Briefly understand the unique role of victims in the criminal justice process
This section will broadly introduce crime, criminal justice, and criminology. This section is designed to be a broad overview of what the subsequent chapters will cover in detail. It also demonstrates how the United States create laws, policies enacted to enforce laws, and the role of the media.
Background Knowledge Probe
The goal here is to assess current knowledge about the criminal justice system at the start of the course. Each of these topics is covered throughout the course, and they will often be a controversial topic and topic for debate.
You will indicate whether you know each statement to be True or False, but there is no right or wrong answer since it is just to assess your background knowledge.
- Blacks commit more crime than any other racial group.
- The United States has the lowest recidivism rates in the world (return to prison).
- The death penalty is cheaper than life imprisonment.
- Politicians shape our thoughts on crime, even if they are inaccurate.
- Children are most likely to be killed by a stranger.
- A stranger is most likely to physically harm you.
- White-collar crime costs our country more every year than street-crime.
- Juveniles are more violent today than ever before.
- Immigrants commit more crime than native-born people.
- Violent crime has risen in the United States over the last 20 years.
- 1.1: Crime and the Criminal Justice System
- Most criminologists define crime as the violation of the laws of a society by a person or a group of people who are subject to the laws of that society (citizens). Thus, crime as defined by the State or Federal government. Essentially, crime is what the law states and a violation of the law, stated in the statue, would make actions criminal.
- 1.2: Deviance, Rule Violations, and Criminality
- Deviance is behavior that departs from the social norm. Goode argues that four things must happen in order for something deviant to take place or exist: 1) a rule or norm must be established; 2) someone has to violate that rule or norm; 3) there must be an audience or someone, that witnesses the act and judges it to be wrong; 4) and there is likely going to be a negative reaction from that audience that can come in many forms (i.e., criticism, disapproval, punishment, and more).
- 1.4: Interactionist View
- The interactionist view states that the definition of crime reflects the preferences and opinions of people who hold social power in a particular legal jurisdiction, such as the auto industry. The auto industry used their power and influence to impose what they felt was to be right and wrong and became moral entrepreneurs.
- 1.5: Consensus View and Decriminalizing Laws
- Another view of how laws become created is the consensus view, which as it states, implies consensus (agreement) among citizens on what should and should not be illegal. This idea implies that all groups come together, regardless of social class, race, age, gender, and more, to determine what should be illegal. This view also suggests that criminal law is a function of beliefs, morality, and rules that apply equally to all members of society.
- 1.6: Conflict View
- A third perspective of how we define crime or create laws is referred to as conflict view, commonly associated with Karl Marx in the 1800s. Conflict view sees society as a collection of diverse groups that can include owners, workers, wealthy, poor, students, professionals, younger older, and more. This view recognizes that the creation of laws is unequal and may not have consensus like in the example discussed previously.
- 1.15: Victim Rights and Assistance
- The CJ system refers to a victim as a person who has been directly harmed by a crime that was committed by another person. In some states, victims’ rights apply only to victims of felonies (more serious crimes) while other states also grant legal rights to victims of misdemeanors (less serious crimes). Some states allow a family member of a homicide victim or the parent or guardian of a minor, incompetent person, or person with a disability to exercise these rights on behalf of the victims.