CRIME AND DEVIANCE - right realism

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  • Right Realism
    • Causes of crime
      • Biological difference
        • Herrnstein and Murray (1994) - low intelligence, biologically determined.
        • Personality traits - aggressiveness, extroversion, risk taking and low impulse control.
      • Rational choice theory
        • Individuals have free will and the power to reason.
        • Ron Clark - decision to commit crime is a choice based on rational calculation of likely consequences.
        • Perceived cost of crime are low - why crime rate has increased - little risk of getting caught and punishementsare lenient.
        • Felson - routine activity theory - for crime to occur there must be motivated offender, suitable target and absence of 'capable guardian' (policeman, neighbour).
      • Criticisms
        • ignores wider structural causes e.g. poverty
        • overstates offenders rationality and how far they make cost-benefit analysis - may not explain impulsive, violent crime.
        • view of criminals as rational actors freely choosing crime conflicts claim  that their behaviour is determined by biology and socialisation.
        • over-emphasises biological factors - Lilly et al - IQ differences account for less than 3% of differences in offending.
    • Tackling crime
      • main focus is on control, containment and punishment rather than eliminating the underlying causes of offending or rehabilitation.
      • crime prevention policies should reduce rewards and increase cost of crime e.g. target hardening
        • target hardening - greater use of prison and ensuring punishments follow soon after the offence to maximise their deterrent effect.
      • Zero tolerance
        • Wilson and Kelling (1982) - Broken Windows - essential to maintain orderly character of neighbourhoods to prevent crime
          • Any sign of deterioration must be dealt with immediately.
        • An urban myth?
          • Jock Young - success was a myth peddled by politicians and police keen to take credit for falling crime.
          • Crime rate in NY - already falling since 1985 - 9 years before zero tolerance.
          • Success of zero tolerance was product of police's way of coping with decline that had already occurred.
        • other criticisms.
          • preoccupied with petty street crime and ignores corporate crime.
          • Give police free rein to discriminate against minorities, youth, homeless etc.
          • over-emphasises control of disorder, rather then tackling causes of neighbourhood decline such as lack of investment.
          • Zero tolerance and target hardening lead to displacment.


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