There are different views on the differentiation between the concept of crime and deviance. As learnt from the lectures, deviance is a violation of social norms and standards, whereas crime is the abuse of criminal law. Deviance is not always a crime, but crime is surely a deviance at all times. I agree with this differentiation, though, I recognize that people do not always view crime in terms of legality or illegality. For example, in-state abortions are legal, though some people may categorize such action as a crime. Thus, crime raises the severity of consequences when compared to deviance. Michalowski represents the etymology of the word ‘crime’: it means the offence of law that may be prosecuted and punished by the state as well as evil, shameful or wrong activity, although not illegal (2015, p. 4). However, the definition of crime involves a considerable methodological problem of understanding criminology. In case crime is viewed as a violation against law, criminology should limit itself to studying offences against the criminal law. If criminology accepts a broader definition of crime, it should analyze all the events and phenomena that perform considerable sources of social injury, either illegal or legal. Therefore, I think such action should be classified as crime taking into account the harm.

What Are the Two Major Types of Crimes?

It is worth outlining two major types of crimes: property and personal crimes. Personal crimes cause physical or mental harm to other people and may be divided into homicides that are divided into categories and other violent crimes. The former includes the following: kidnapping, domestic abuse, rape, statutory rape, assault, arson and child abuse. Property crimes are wrongdoings, in which the interference into property of another person is found. Such actions are frequently accompanied by harm being done to another person; however, here, the focus of attention is deprivation of use and enjoyment of one’s property. Such type of crimes is divided in the following groups: a robbery, a theft, a burglary, a shoplifting, an auto theft, and a larceny.

Specific Type of Criminal Behavior

Crime itself is never committed inside a “vacuum”, which is why the variety of social issues should be considered within the process of analyzing criminality. Special attention should be paid to the impact of the social environment on the criminal activity as well as to poverty in which a criminal lives. The underlying two factors play a major role in developing and awakening the criminal instinct, which is very difficult to be changed or eliminated. Taking into account the social context of crime, it is necessary to regard the following aspects as well: the inequality of both personal and career opportunities, discrimination levels, inferior formal education, family violence and inadequate socialization practices. As an individual, who commits a crime, is being impacted by these factors for a sufficient period time, his or her criminal activity is unlikely to be controlled for or stopped completely.

Definition of Criminology

Criminology is an interdisciplinary scientific study of crimes and criminal behaviors, including rationales behind it, its consequences, manifestations, legal aspects, as well as the methods of controlling for and preventing such a vicious activity. However, the definition and subject of criminology remains a debatable issue, as it was demonstrated earlier on in the paper with respect to the definition of crime. The interpretation of criminology, hence, logically depends on what the concept of crime is. The above-mentioned definition describes the Orthodox approach to criminology, which is not adequate nowadays.

I agree with Michalowski, who claims that it is necessary to leave the crime problem for the problem of crime. The former may be considered to be the study of methods, using which the laws and justice systems address human behaviors and organizational arrangements, as they injure the well-being of people, other living creatures as well as the biosphere in general (Michalowski, 2015, p. 4). Criminology is an interdisciplinary concept, because it encompasses a variety of academic disciplines and research techniques. For instance, there are three academic areas that are tightly related to criminology, namely: sociology, anthropology and psychology. I concede with the viewpoint that criminology should develop its interdisciplinary perspective, especially keeping in mind that it is not mature yet, as noticed by Eskridge (2005, p. 296).

The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment movie is based on a prison experiment, conducted by Phillip Zimbardo in 1971 in the Stanford Country Prison. The author has made an advertisement in a newspaper to request help from college students, who would agree to participate in “a psychological study of a prison life”. The volunteers were taken to the Stanford Country Prison and were given the roles of prisoners and guards. The aim of the experiment was to simulate a real prison environment to study how ‘regular’ middle-class men would behave in such conditions. The guards were given the authority and little or no instruction, while the prisoners had to listen to the guards. Though the experiment was designed to last for two weeks, it ended on the sixth day due to the excessive violence of guards and misbehavior of prisoners. As Zimbardo stated, the test demonstrated that people have atavistic instincts, which make them demonstrate tyranny and sadism if they are given power.

According to the practical study, as described by the author, humans tend to become aggressive and sadistic once they are given power, like it is described in the Mann’s The Lord of Flies. However, this opinion met bitter criticism, which demonstrates ambiguities in the experiment and methodological inconsistencies. The volunteers of the research reacted on a request, which programmed particular behaviors. Therefore, they did not participate in this experiment in a ‘clean’ way – they rather took the request, which made them have certain expectations from the observer. The analysis of the above-described test and similar experiments demonstrates that the people engage in criminal behaviors not because of their animal instincts which appear when they are granted some authority, but when they are challenged with expectations from the outside. In addition to that, the further research of criminal behaviors among prisoners and guards proves that human beings engage in criminal doings because institutions have a negative tendency of pushing them towards pathological pathways. Moreover, as stated by Konnikova (2015), certain environments and establishments demand sadistic and tyrannical behaviors by definition. Such findings, in my opinion, fit Sutherland’s differential association theory.

Criminal Theories

The main theories of crime include the social control theory and the differential association theory. According to the first framework, the society itself is responsible for richness and poverty. That is why poverty is ‘constructed’ in the same way as richness, so that the society could regulate its life via discursive practices and criminality. The above-mentioned differential association theory views criminal behavior as a learnt one. It states that people engage in criminal behavior because they have no behavioral patterns, which could be strong enough to oppose such wrongdoing. According to this approach, people’s criminal conduct is driven by their association with those, who are also connected to the vile world.

Convict criminology emerged in the 1990s in an attempt to rethink the contemporary criminal system from an insider’s perspective. Logically then, the convict criminologists are the professors, who have been prisoners themselves and who create institutions and events that challenge traditional interpretations and definitions of incarceration environments and their problems. The above-described researchers organize conferences and meetings, where ethnological and inside perspectives are paid much attention to. Such people also use their experiences in researches, which are frequently published in criminology journals. The theoretical perspective allows being both inside and outside the system, which makes it possible to reach adequate investigation of what prison life is and how it can be improved. The emergence of this phenomena may be regarded as cooperation between former criminals and the state, aimed to reach constructively and to avoid marginalization, which frequently comes after prisoners serve their sentences.

Death Penalty: Pro et Contra

The purpose of the penitentiary system is believed to consist of the following: change of criminals behaviors and prevention, compensation of harm and prevention of further crimes. However, I agree that society itself and power institutions shape the conditions that determine criminal and socially encouraged behaviors. Thus, prisons exist to maintain the dominance of power and, in turn, support or increase a certain quantity of criminals. That is why, in my opinion, the role of prison as a punishment mechanism is quite arguable. A death penalty is considered to be the most severe punishment, while one of its functions is believed to prevent crimes and to change criminals’ ways. However, the death penalty as well as imprisonment do not solve crucial economic, social, political and cultural issues that provoke criminal conduct (Bohm, 2008). Therefore, such an instrument is nothing but a machine of death, which takes not only human freedom, but also life. I think a death warrant supports authoritative discourse within a particular state and strengthens the position of criminal justice and law. As it remains to be a moral dilemma, it is extremely difficult to decide if the capital punishment is really worthwhile in certain case. That is why it may be concluded that execution removes or destroys the problem instead of searching for the ways of solving it.

Mary’s Talk in Class

Mary has witnessed the horrible conditions of an old Detroit prison herself, where even the convicted’ basic needs are not satisfied. For example, she recalled bad food, which could lead to health problems. The prisoners were not provided with sufficient medical service, so life in prison conditions was dangerous for them both physically and emotionally. She said that incarcerated have no opportunity to survive and that the process of confinement is a business itself. I think that not every prison has such awful conditions, but it is still necessary to discuss why these low standards are maintained or even encouraged. There are several factors, which make one agree with this statement. First of all, the quantity of prisons demonstrates that they are highly supported financially, despite the fact that their harm is obvious for both the average citizens and policy makers for a long time. Privatization of prisons means that companies, who invest in prisons, may use the labor of prisoners for minimum wage. Thus, the confined individuals are forced to work for a poor pay in inadequate conditions. The term ‘Prison Industrial Complex’ invented by activists and lawyers demonstrates that the current penitentiary system is not only a complex of institutions and organizations, but also a state of mind.

Motivations for Crime

I think that not poverty itself, but social and labor inequality, combined with the educational opportunities has a great impact on crime levels. When people are divided into the rich (the dominant group) and the poor (the subordinate group) – crime is likely to emerge. In this case its function is to restore the order and eliminate subordination. It may be explained by the social disorganization theory, according to which, a neighborhood with frying social structures is more likely to experience unemployment, higher than usual crime rates, and poor schools. In such a situation, people’s motivation is driven from the social environment, which is unfavorable and pushes them towards pathological behaviors, though it is not necessary. Another motivation to commit crimes is a set of benefits an individual gets if he or she commits it. Such a behavior is based on a rational and a conscious choice, though it does not mean that other factors, such as the poverty or presence of the family violence, have not resulted in the promotion of a rational criminal conduct.

Nevertheless, I do not believe that poverty necessarily leads to criminal behaviors. People of the same neighborhood may be raised in poverty, however one boy becomes a business man or a scientist, which, obviously, does not violate the law, whereas the other kid learns to solve his/her problems by becoming a thief or a killer. Another factor that should be considered when poverty as a source of criminality is analyzed, including genetics, health conditions of an individual and his or her child experiences related to family violence. They are more personalized factors that determine if a child, who lives in poverty, becomes a criminal or not.

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