Crime and Deviance: Topic 7B

Right realist solutions to crime

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  • Created on: 16-05-15 15:08


  • Right realists emphasise the individual- they note that people choose to commit crime as the benefits outweigh the costs. Society therefore needs to look at ways of increasing the costs of crime.
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Situational crime prevention

  • Situational crime prevention refers to right realist measures aimed at reducing oportunities for crime it focusses on encouraging potentional victims to design out crime by making themsleves harder tagts by investing in more security and survelence and therefore increasing the risk of the criminal being caught and/ or deterring criminality by reducing the opportunities for crime.
  • Theres some evidence that car manufactorers nvestment in satelite technology computerised lokcing systems and disabelling devices has reduced the level of car theft in the U.K. its also argued that increased survellence in shops via CCTV or security guards and store detectives increaes the likelyhood of shoplifters being caught.
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Evaluation of situational crime prevention

  • Felson and Clarke- argue that the SCP strategies displace crime rather than reduce it. Criminals simply move to where targets are softer
  • Chaiken et al- found that a crackdown on subway robberies in newyork merely displaced them to the streets above
  • Marxists- note that the SCP often creates a new type of social inequlity the poor are disproportionately the main victims of crime as the middle class can afford to invest in making themselves harder targetts and therfore desgn crime out of their lives.
  • Marxists- note thet SCP ignore white collar, corporate and state crime which are more costly to society.
  • Some sociologists have questioned the right realist stress on the rational nature of street crime and have suggested instead that most violenct crimes are caused either by the need to feed a drug habit or by too much alcohol.
  • Marxists and left realsits- argue that the SCP ignores the root causes of crime such as poverty and inequality
  • The use of surveillance may be a problem as camera operaters may subscribe to similar steryotypes as police offices and concequently disproportionatly focus on young males. This labelling may mean that the behaviour of particular groups is more likely to come to the attention of the police and courts.
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Wilson- Broken windows

  • argues that crime is caused by incivilities such as vandalism, graffiti, drugs and littering. If these behaviours are allowed to continure areas deteriorate as a sense of "anything goes" develops ie if  a few broken windows are left unrepaired this encourages similar deviance. Failure to deal with thse problems sends out a clear signal to criminals and deviants that no one cares which encourages more of the same.
  • argues that such disorder is likely to occur if theres little sense of community or neiboourhood as this means that both formal ind informal social controls are usually weak. Members of the community may feel powerless and older members may be afraid to leave their homes. Respectable people may move away and more anti social elllements may replace them. The police may feel that anti social behaviour isn't their responsibility as they target more serieous types of crime.
  • Notes that eastates are more likely to experience social problems such as graffiti and ittering and are more likely to be found around tower blocks. Wilson argues that these problems arise as residents don't take responsibiliy for the common entrances, stairwells and lifts and concequently anti social ellements take over.
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Wilson broken windows 2

  • Proposes a number of enviromental solutions:
  • 1 any sign of enviromental decline such as grafiti must be tackled immediatly otherwise neibourhood deteriation will follow.
  • All public housing shouldn't exeed 3 floors and all residents should be encouraged to take responsibility for communal space in order to protect it from outsiders.
  • The police should aggressivelly tackle all types of crime and dissorder tather than reacting only to serious crime. This type of zero tollerance was famoursly adopted on new york to tackle graffiti on the subway, fare dodging and begging between 1993 and 1996 all types of crime declined dramatially although critics suggest this had more to do with the decline of the availability of crack than zero tollerance policing.
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Key study: Wilson

  • in this study he attacked many of what he took to be conventional veiws about crimes among social scientists by denying that trying to get rid of poverty will lead to major reductions in crime and arguing tht in th 1960's in the USA major anti poverty programes were accompanied by enouromus increases in the amount of crime and therefore beleives crime can neither be explained nor tackled by wellfair programmes or policies designed to redistrobute wealth and income. He points out that many poor people (i.e the elderly and sick) don't commit crime adn so poverty itself *** be considered a cause.
  • Concentrates on "predatory street crime" such as burglary, robbery, theft and murder arguing that the general public are far more concerned about such crime than they are about victimless crime or white collar crime. Furthermore street crimes are particularaly important because they undermine communities and successful comminities re the best protection against rising crime.
  • Veiws crime as the result of rational calculations- people will commit crime if the benefits exeed the costs. This suggests that harsher sentances and more police are the awnser to crime. This may lead you to beleive that if punishments were greater and there were more chance of getting caught then people would commit fewer crimes however wilson beleives that such an approach can have only a limited impact as in reality the chances of getting caught or the punishments take place long after the offence then even severe punishments wont deter people.
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Key study Wilson 2

  • Certain and swift penalties are likely to be effective but until they can be assuered by the criminnal justice system othere measures are needed. Theres other ways of balencing between the goals and losses of commiting crimes.
  • One example is methadrone for heroin adicts offering an alternative and less destructive alternative drug which helps limit the side effects of giving up heroin. Combined with a clampdown on the supply of heroin leading to an increase in price the heroin can be contained. The costs of taking the drug are increased while the costs of giving up reduced. At the same time former adicts have more chance to enjoy the benefits of a conventional lifestyle.
  • Another effective way of dealing with crime is to prevent the disintergration of communities- more effective than trying to rely upon deterrant sentancing. Where strong communities exist they can deter crime as people who are disgraced by being found to be involced in crime will lose their standing in the community. Where a community is strong the loss will be important to people and they will try and avoid it- the problem is that crime itself undermines communities.
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Broken windows

  • In later articles Kellling and Wilson spell out how to avoid the collaps of community as a concequence of criminality. They beleive that its crucial to try to maintain the character of neibourhoods and prevent them from deteriating as if one incivility is left unchalleneged then the proble is allowed to grow. Law abiding citizens will be afraid to go out and freed from clode observation by respectable members of the community those inclined to criminality will commit more and more street crimes.
  • On the otherhand if residents beleive attempts are being made to maintain the law and order they will be more likely to report crime and discourage incivilities and anti social behaviour in public places. Informal social controls will be maintained and street crime won't get out of hand. The crucial role of the police is to stop an area from deteriorating by clamping down on the first signs of undesirable behaviour. They should keep drunks and prostitutes off the streets and keep law abiding citizens safe. Their role is to maintain public law and order in areas where it has yet to break down and beleive its a waste of resources to put effort into the worst inner city areas as once law and order has broken down the police are unlikel to be able to restore it by arresting people. Their time is etter spent concentrating on areas where theres still hope.
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Wilson Broken windows: Evaluation

  • its an effective clampdown at the first signs that the area is deteriating however Mathews found - little evidence that tollerating broken windows and public incivilities led to an increase in crime he argued that the level of incivility was determined by the level of crime and not the other way round.
  • Jones- beleives lack of investment is more important in determining if a neibourhood declines arguing that wilsons aproach would lead to an unfiar criminal justice system as the police would concentrate their attention on minor offences and sometimes on people who havent broken the law at all bit are merely rude or unrully. More serious offenders would be given less police attention and therefor be more likely to get away with their offences. Furthermore even if particular neibourhoods could be made more orderly theres a danger that the uncivl disorederly and criminal members would simply more their activities to a neibouring area with a less strong sense of community.
  • Despite these criticisms it could well be argued that the anti social behaviour initiatives introduced by new labour are partly a result of right realist thinking. The argument put forward by wilson that clamping down on disorder will elad to stronger neibourhoods is exactly the poliy folliwed by new labour with the induction of asbo's. The beleif being that as people become more confident that the local authrity will back them when they challenge "troublemakres"
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Wilson Broken windows: Evaluation 2

the more likely they are to do so as a result community cohesion will improve.

  • He also aruges that wilson ignores the issues of class, ethnicity and gender and fails to conside the role of inequality and unemployemnt in causing crime and neglecting white collar crime and corporate crimes (many of which can be very harmful" pointing out that in the USA ellememnts of a right realist aproach have been adopted. For example repeat offenders have become subject to the "three strikes and your out rule" in some states. This stipulates that after three serious offences the offender should immdiatly get a life sentance. However despite such measures and a rapid increase in levels of imprisonment the crime rate has risen inexorably in the USA .
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Retrobutive justive and incarceration

  • Retributive justice refers to the punishment futting the crime. Right realists argue that criminals should be punished by being excluded from society ie jail. The emphasis is also of dettering people from commiting crime- right wing politicians ofen support the return of capital punishment too.
  • In the US the policy of "three strikes and your out" is a good example of retributive justice. Right realists are critical of the U.K justice system as they argue that the costs of crime in terms of prison sentances are low and the cost f crime in terms of the chances of getting caught need to be increased to outweigh the benefits of crime.
  • They suggst that prison works as it deters many potentional offenders away from crime while taking as many persistent and serious offenders as possible out of circulation. Goverments in the last 20 yars have generallly adopted a more punative approach to crime and this has resulted in the prison population rising from 60,000 in 1997 to 84,000 in 2010.
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Evaluation of retributive justice

  • Garland- although aproach is still popular its increasigly undermined by the fact 60% of those sent to prison reoffend.
  • Braithwaite (interactionalist)_ calls this disintergrative shaming as it involves stigmatising the individual and studies of ex prisoners doccument their difficultires in re intergrating themselves back into society because of the power of the criminal label. This master status steryotypes the convicted criminal as untrustworthy and evil therefore making it difficult for other law abiding members of society to accept them as normal members of society. Braithwaite aruges thats its the social rejection and negative labelling that cuases reoffending.
  • Community based punishment such as reintergrative shaming may be more effective in reducing criminal behaviour though the mass media and general public remain unconvinced about this.
  • Mathews- notes we do know that a large proportion of those who engage in crime think or beleive they won't get caught- perhaps the most effective way to reduce crime is not to increase the punishment for offences or imprison more criminaals but to increase the probibility that offenders will be caught.
  • Also doesn't conside the idea crime may be caused by poverty not evil also concepts such as ASBO'S may be worn as badges of honour. Finally it ignores corporate crime
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Evaluation of incarceration

  • The scale of imprsionment has little effect on crime rate (U.K has more life sentances than the whole of western europe combined)- act as a university for crime and the reasons for offending are rarely adressed nd a little attempt is made to reform, rehabilitate the offender. Prisons reinforce patterns of offending.
  • A sustainable section of the prison pop shouldn't be in prison as they are either mentally ill or have a severe drug adiction- they need treatment rather than punishment and the U.K prison system lacks the resources and expertise to adress these problems.
  • Many people are being imprisoned for minor offences for which community punishments may be more suitable- Soloman- compared to a decade ago offenders are more likely to be incarcerated than given a community sentance.Mathews- up to 50% of the prison pop have commited minor offenses for which prison is inapropriate and damaging.
  • Sentances are getting longer for those convicted of more serious offences due to media moral panics- Soloman notes due to most recent figues offeners are being sentanced more hashley than a decade ago.
  • Theres no relationship between deterrence in the form of prison and the crime rate-crime has been falling for a decade whilst the numbers appearing befor ethe courts have remained stable. Liberals argue that increases in imprisonment don't lead to increases in publicsafety
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Evaluation of incarceration 2

  • as 69% of violent criminals have killed family members rather than strangers. Right realists aruge that prison may have some effect on crime levles in terms of incapitation ie simply by taking criminals off the street however Taring notes that it would take a 25% increase in the prison popto make a 1% decrease in crime.
  • There are high rates of repeat offenders suggesting prison doesn't deter crime- 2 thirds of prisoners reooffend 71% of juvinile delinquents offend within two years of release. prison isn't changing the behaviour of repeat offeners.
  • Mathews- notes that imprisonment may reduce a particular offenders commitment to crime. Evidence suggests that most people "grow out" of crime and therefor ehte possibility of imprisonment. 40% of the prison pop are in their late teens only 15% are over 40.This supports Hirchis idea that as we get older we aquire controls such as attachment and commitment that turn us away from crime.
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