Crime and Deviance Theme 8 - Controlling Crime: The Role of the Community, Policing and Punishment

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The Role of the Community and Controlling Crime 1

  • Bond's of Attachment Theory, Underclass Theory and Broken Window's Theory all suggest that the role of the local community is very important in explaining crime.                                                                                                                                          
  • Bond's of Attachment: in order to prevent crime, people need to feel attached to society and feel like they belong and have a purpose. If their attachment to society (and on a micro-scale, their community) is weakened, then they are more likely to commit crime. 
  • Underclass Theory: the Underclass are on the edge of society and tend to be heavily reliant on the welfare state. It the community's duty to try and reintegrate the underclass into society, which would in turn reduce underclass crime. 
  • Broken Window's Theory: the community need to take more care and pride in the area that they live in, focusing on small crimes such as vandalism and joy-riding and making the area look presentable, which would prevent big scale crimes as well.                                                                                               
  • Right Realists argue that communities should work together to engage in Situational Crime Prevention and Target Hardening
  • Left Realists argue that tackling relative deprivation and marginalisation through community intervention projects (or social outreach projects) are the best way for the community to reduce crime. Social outreach projects involve things such as local councils working with members of the local communities to provide opportunties for young people. 
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The Role of the Police and Controlling Crime 1


  • Views the police as a neutral force who generally do a good job, having a close working relationship with law abiding citizens and responding effectively to the needs of the local communities and defending them against the anti-social and criminal behaviour of a minority people (criminals)
  • Failings of the police are due to the lack of funding and there not being enough police on the streets. Both Right and Left Realist approaches to policing can be described as consensus approaches but they believe different 'styles of policing should be employed                                                                                                                                                                  


  • More emphasis should be placed on zero-tolerance policing                                                                                                               


  • Believe that zero-tolerance policies are legitimate but that the police should spend more time getting to know the local communities, which involves a less militaristic approach to policing. This will also involve ore referrals to social outreach projects 
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The Role of the Police and Controlling Crime 2


  • The police engage in 'selective law enforcement'
  • David Gordon - the police mainly focus on policing the working class and underclass areas and the CJS mainly focuses on prosecuting criminals with a working class background. They ignore the crimes of the upper class even though they are just as likely to commit crimes as the working class
  • The government puts more police on the streets of working class areas and underfunds policing of corporations and businesses - evidence of this can be found in Tombs and Whyte's study which found that the Financial Services authority and the Health and Safety Executive have had their fundings cut in recent years                                                                                                                                      


  • Howard Becker - if a fight broke out in a middle class area, it would be labelled as 'high spirits' whereas in a working class area, it would be labelled as delinquent. The police have pre-conceived ideas of what a criminal is like and this is why the working class tend to be labelled as criminals
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The Role Prison and Controlling Crime


  • Deterrence - punishing the individual discourages them from future offending and others from making an example of them. This relates to Durkheim's Functionalist Theory that crime and punishment helps to reinforce social regulation, where a prison sentence for a crime committed reaffirms the boundaries of acceptable behaviour
  • Rehabilitation - to change the offenders behaviour through education so that they can earn and honest living upon release
  • Incapacitation - prison sentences, cutting off hands, chemical castration or the death penalty - removing the opportunites for crime
  • Retribution - the criminal is punished for harming another person and the victim gets a sense of satisfaction that the criminal is paying for their crime                                                                                                                                                   


  • They believe that prison alone is an ineffective method at reducing crime - it needs to be combined with restorative justice - involves the offender doing something to make up for the harm that their crime causes. This could be reparations, reintegrative shaming and bringing the offender and the victim together to talk
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The Role Prison and Controlling Crime 2


  • David Gordon argues that the prison system benefits capitalism in three ways:                                                                                           

1. The imprisonment of the working class neutralises opposition to the system

2. The imprisonment of the underclass keeps the 'worst of society' out of the public eye

3. By punishing individuals and making them responsible for their actions, defining them as social failures, it distracts people from the failings of the capitalist system

  • David Garland argues that we have entered into the era of mass incarceration - approximately 2.3 million people are in jail in the US and the prison population in the UK has doubled since 1993 from 40,000 to nearly 90,000 today                                                                                                                                                                   


  • Institutionalisation - a person entering the institution is programmed to accept and confrom to strict controls that enables the institution to manage a large number of people
  • Mortification of the Self - a process whereby a person’s own identity is replaced by one defined by the institution (Erving Goffman)
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The Role of the Prison and Controlling Crime 3


  • Foucault argues that punishment has changed from being very direct, immediate and physical (such as torture) to being more focused on incarceration and rehabilitation 
  • Although punishment is less severe, the state has expanded its control over its citizens in a more subtle way and invades our private lives much more
  • Technologies of surveillance - prisoners are kept under constant surveillance and are expected to reform their behaviour whereas those who avoid prison have to be tagged, visit a probation officer or have to turn up to rehabilitation classes
  • Foucault sees the shift from torture to prison as reflecting the move from sovereign power to disciplinary power 
  • Sovereign power involves direct physical coercion to get people to obey laws and punishment is harsh. Disciplinary power maintains political and economic systems through surveillance - people can change their behaviour because they know that they're being watched 
  • 7 million people are either in jail, on probation or on parole and Garland uses the concept of transcarceration to refer to the amount of people in prison - people move between various institutions (from care to young offenders to prison to a mental hospital etc.) throughout their whole lives 
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