MD CCJS 100 – Theory to Policy

Attached are the article to read with the question to answer at the end Highlighted. Choose one of the theories and the answer has to be two paragraph long.From Theory to PolicyTheories are important because they inform policy. In other words, in order to preventor control crime, it is necessary to understand why crime occurs. Let’s go back to thetheory of broken windows to show how we can use the results of research toimplement policies.If the broken windows theory is true, crime will be lower in areas with low levels ofdisorder. Following the idea of broken windows, some cities—the most well-knownof which is New York—have implemented policies of “zero tolerance” policing. Thismeans that the police focus on low-level criminal activity, such as “squeegee men”(those who wash your car windshield for money), jumping turnstiles, and littering. Ifthe theory holds true, cleaning up these minor violations will lead to lower crimelevels. Looking at the New York example, crime is significantly lower now than it wasbefore the implementation of zero tolerance policing. Although there may be otherexplanations for the drastic reduction in crime in New York, this policy is likely tohave contributed at least a bit to the reduction.Think About This: Can you link classical, biological, psychological, andsociological theories to policies?Let’s look at other examples of how theory leads to policy for both classical andpositivist theories. Deterrence Theory (classical, rational choice theory): Based on theassumption that human beings are rational and will not commit acts if thepunishment outweighs the benefits, many police departments implementedmandatory arrests for the primary aggressor in domestic violence situations.Although studies testing the effectiveness of this policy have beencontradictory, the policy seems to be more effective at reducing repeat offensesthan simply separating the couples for a brief period of time or letting theofficer use discretion in the situation. Biological Theory: When biologists began studying the links between genesand crime at the turn of the century, a popular policy to reduce criminalitywas eugenics, which involves the sterilization of criminals so that they cannotreproduce. Although this was a common policy in the early twentieth century, itwas ruled unconstitutional in the case of Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942). Psychological Theory: One example of a policy based upon psychologicaltheories is risk assessment to determine if an offender may pose a danger to recidivate in the future. Sixteen states now have policies to assess sex offenders(who you will read more about in module 4) to determine whether they arelikely to be dangerous in the future. If they are deemed to be dangerous, theycan be incapacitated in a mental hospital until they are no longer dangerous.This policy is called Sexually Violent Predator legislation. Sociological Theory: Policies based upon sociological theories focus onreducing environmental problems that may lead to criminal behavior. Many ofthe early sociological theories attempted to understand why juveniles joinedgangs, and this topic continues to be important today. Some policies have beenimplemented to understand why juveniles join gangs and how we can get themto stop gang membership. One example is GREAT (gang resistance educationand training), which follows a model like DARE (drug abuse resistanceeducation). These programs aim to prevent future criminality by teachingchildren the problems associated with gang membership and drug use. In summary, theory is very important. It is unlikely that any one theory can explaincrime, but theories help us understand some factors that are correlated to crime. Bytesting these theories and determining if they are credible, we can implement policiesthat will help to control and prevent criminal activity. 2 ARTICLEMental Illness and CrimeCrime and disorder are often associated with deviation from the traditional norms and values ofsociety. To ensure that the norms and values are met and respected, laws are instituted thatgovern behaviors of individuals and prohibit deviant behaviors. These deviant behaviors areoften associated with crime. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the term mentalillness refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders: conditions that result in alterationsof thinking, mood, and behavior. These alterations often cause deviations from normal behaviorand thus are often classified as crime. Couple this with the estimated 5% of the U.S. populationthat have a mental illness, and the problem of mental illness and crime becomes apparent. Individuals with mental illness typically access the criminal justice system through lawenforcement, courts, and corrections (jail, prison, community corrections, and probation). At thetime of arrest, mentally ill offenders begin the journey through the criminal justice system. Thisflow through the system comprises the following five steps: (1) arrest; (2) booking (jail); (3)court; (4) prison, jail, or probation; and (5) release.During each of these phases, mentally ill offenders come into contact with different actors in thecriminal justice system, ranging from law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defenseattorneys, through judicial personnel to corrections personnel. As a result, according to theBazelon Center for Mental Health Law (http://www.bazelon….), these offenders repeatedly usea significant amount of law enforcement and judicial resources during their initial contact. Also,these offenders’ lack of conformity to correctional policy often leads to significantly more timespent in the institutions or on probation, further draining alreadyscarce resources. ARTICLE 3 Race and Imprisonment in the 21st CenturyIn the 50-plus years since the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that ordereddesegregation of public education, no American institution has changed more than the criminaljustice system, and in ways that have profound effects on the African American community.Mass imprisonment has produced record numbers of Americans in prison and jail (nowapproaching 2.5 million) and has had a disproportionate effect on African Americans. There arenow about 10 times as many African Americans in prison/jail as on the day ofthe Brown decision (98,000 in 1954; nearly 1,000,000 in 2007).Today, 1 out of every 21 black men is incarcerated on any given day. For black men in theirtwenties, the figure is 1 in 8. Given current trends, 1 of every 3 (32%) black males born todaycan expect to go to prison in his lifetime (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS] Web site). More than half of black men in their early 30s who are high school dropouts have a prison record. Withregard to black women, 1 of every 18 black females born today can expect to go to prison—6times the rate for white women. Moreover, black women born today are 5 times more likely togo to prison in their lifetimes than black women born 30 years ago.Factors contributing to the dramatic increase in the number of African Americans in prison/jailare complex, and involve dynamics both within and outside the criminal justice system.Incarceration rates are about 8 times higher for blacks overall than for whites, and high schooldropouts are more than twice as likely to end up in prison than are high school graduates.Consequently, much of the growth in imprisonment has been concentrated among minorityyoung men with little education. By the late 1990s, two thirds of all prison inmates were black orHispanic, and about half of all minority inmates had less than 12 years of schooling.Imprisonment has become so pervasive among young black men that it is now viewed as acommon stage in the life course by some researchers (Pettit & Western, 2004). Among all menborn between 1965 and 1969, an estimated 3% of whites and 20% of blacks had served time inprison by their early thirties. Among black men born during this period, 30% of those without acollege education and nearly 60% of high school dropouts went to prison by 1999. For blackmen in their mid-30s at the start of the 21st century, prison records were nearly twice as commonas bachelor’s degrees, and imprisonment was more than twice as common as military service.Imprisonment has become a common life event for black men that sharply distinguishes theirtransition to adulthood from that of white men.Black/white inequality is obscured by using employment and wage figures that fail to includeinmates. From a life course perspective, the earnings of ex-convicts diverge from the earnings ofnon-convicts as men get older. By their late 20s, non-convicts have usually settled into a stablepath of earnings growth, while ex-convicts follow an unstable trajectory of irregular/transitoryemployment and low earnings. Research notes that white offenders tend to age out of crimeearlier than do black offenders, suggesting that employment and wage earning deficits experienced by black ex-convicts may endure for a longer period of time than for white exconvicts.Changes in the criminal justice system over the past 25 years have been wide-ranging, affectingpolicing, sentencing, prison construction, postrelease supervision, and a variety of other policyareas at the state and federal levels. The sheer magnitude of the commitment of public resourcesis comparable to that expended in the social welfare efforts of the 1960s and 1970s. Unlikeantipoverty policy, however, the punitive trend in criminal justice policy serves to conceal anddeepen economic inequality between blacks and whites. Whereas it has often been consideredhow welfare, employment, and education policy affects inequality, it is now known that criminaljustice policy over the past 25 years has impacted racial economic inequality in a significant way,to the point where inequality can be seen as a product of the expansion of mass imprisonment. Choose one Theory1) These readings speak about biological, psychological, andsociological theories as to why people commit crime. Select one ofthese three, and defend why people commit crime, and how criminal actscould be explained by the theory you have chosen.2) Explain at least one drawback of the theory you have selected. Forexample, if you believe the theory has merit in explaining the causeof crime, discuss its limitations in being a necessary and sufficientexplanation for understanding why people commit crime.Post your response here in the “Discussions” area. Your responseshould be a minimum of two paragraphs long.

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