Control, punishment and victims - crime and deviance

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  • Created by: maxward
  • Created on: 27-04-16 18:59

Crime prevention and control

1. Situational crime prevention

- SCP target specific crimes by managing or altering the environment and aim at increasing the risks of committing crime and reducing the rewards.

- 'Target hardening' measures include locking doors, security guards, re-shaping the environment to 'design crime out' of an area. 

- SCP (a rational choice theory) measures may simply displace crime, moving it to different places, times, victims, types of crime etc. 

- This approach may explain opportunistic petty street crime but not white-collar, corporate and state crime. The assumption that criminal make rational calculations may not be true of violent and drug-related crimes. 

2. Environmental crime prevention

Wilson and Kelling argue 'broken windows' (signs of disorder, e.e. gr affiti, begging, littering, vandalism) that are not dealt with send out a signal that no one cares, prompting a spiral of decline.

- An absence of both formal social control (police) and informal social control (community) means members of the community feel intimidated and powerless.

- The solution is to crack down on any disorder through an environmental improvement strategy (e.g. abandoned cars promptly towed away) and a zero tolerance policing strategy. This will halt neighbourhood decline and prevent serious crime talking root.

 3. Social and community crime prevention 

Rather than emphasising policing, these strategies emphasise dealing with the social conditions that predispose some individuals to future crime.

- Because poverty is a cause of crime, general social policies may have a crime prevention role; e.g. full employment policies are likely to reduce crime as a 'side effect'.

- The Perry pre-school project in Michigan gave an experimental group of disadvantaged 3-4 years olds a two-year intellectual enrichment programme. The longitudinal study following  their progress into adulthood showed far fewer arrests for violent crime, property crime and drugs compared with peers not in the project.


There are different justifications for punishment and they link to different penal policies.

- Deterrence Punishment may prevent future crime from fear of further punishemt.

- Rehabilitation Reforming/re-educating offenders so they no longer offrend. 

- Incapacitation Removing the offender's capacity to re-offend, e.g. by execution, imprisonment. 

- Retribution The idea that society is entitled to take revenge for the offender having breached its moral code.       

Durkheim: a functionalist perspective 

Durkheim argues that the function of punishment is to uphold social solidarity and reinfroce shared values by expressing society's moral outrage at the offence.

Durkheim identifies two types of justice, corresponding to two types of society.

1. Retributive justice Traditional society has a strong collective conscience, so punishment is severe and venegeful.

2. Restitutive justice in modern society, there is extensive interdependence between individuals. Crime damages this and the function of justice should be to repair the damage (e.g. through compensation). 

Marxism: capitalism and punishment

Punishment is part of the 'repressive state apparatus' that defends ruling-class property against the lower classes. 

- The form of punishment reflects the economic base of society.

- Under capitalism, imprisonment becomes the dominant punishment because…


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