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Crime and Justice in America

3 Major Themes
1. crime and justice are public policy issues
2. criminal justice can best be seen as a social system
3. the criminal justice system embodies society’s efforts to fulfill American values such as liberty, privacy, and individuals’ rights
Crime
a specific act of commission or omission in violation of the law, for which a punishment is prescribed
Public Policy
priorities and actions developed by government to use public resources as a means to deal with issues affecting society
Jeffrey Reiman
urges policies that:
-end crime producing poverty
-criminalize the harmful acts of affluent and white collar offenders
-create a corrections system that promotes human dignity
-make the exercise of police, prosecution, and judicial power more just
-establish economic and social justice
Evidence-Based Practices
policies developed through guidance from research studies that demonstrate which approaches are most useful and cost effective or advancing desired goals
Conservatives
-believe solutions will come from stricter enforcement of the law through the expansion of police forces an the enactment of laws that require swift and certain punishment of criminals
-justice
Liberals
-argue that stronger crime control measures endanger the values of due process and justice
-advocate programs to reduce poverty, increase educational opportunities for poor youths, and provide counseling and drug rehabilitation
Crime Control Model
-a model of the criminal justice system that assumes freedom is so important that every effort must be made to repress crime
-emphasizes efficiency, speed, finality, and the capacity to apprehend, try, convict, and dispose of a high proportion of offenders
-assembly line
-public order
Due Process Model
-a model of the criminal justice system that assumes freedom is so important that every effort must be made to ensure that criminal justice decisions are based on reliable information
-emphasizes the adversarial process, the right of defendants, and formal decision making procedures
-obstacle course
-individual rights
Mala in se
-offenses that are wrong by their very nature
-examples: rape, assault, murder
Mala Prohibita
-offenses prohibited by law but not wrong in themselves
-examples: gambling, prostitution
Felonies
serious crimes usually carrying a penalty of incarceration for more than one year or the death penalty
Misdemeanors
offenses less serious than felonies and usually punishable by incarceration of no more than 1 year, probation, or intermediate sanctions
Types of Crime
1. visible crime
2. victimless crime
3. political crime
4. occupational crime
5. organized crime
6. transnational crime
7. cybercrime
Visible Crime
-an offense against persons or property that is committed primarily by members of the lower social classes
-often referred to as “street crime” or “ordinary crime”
-this type of offense is the most upsetting to the public
-least profitable and least protected
-acts that the public regards as “criminal” and receive majority of law enforcement resources
-3 categories: Violent crimes, property crimes, public order crimes
-those charged with visible crimes are disproportionately young, male, poor, and members of minority groups
Violent Crimes
-crimes against people in which force is employed to rob, produce physical injury, or cause death
-examples: criminal homicide, assault, rape, robbery
-criminal justice system treats these as the most serious offenses and punishes them accordingly
-many of these offenses are committed by people who know their victim
Property Crimes
-crimes in which property is damaged or stolen
-examples: theft, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, and burglary
-some offenders do it because of situational factors such as financial need or peer pressure
-professional criminals make a significant portion of their livelihood from committing property offenses
Public Order Crimes
-acts, such as public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, that threatens society’s well being and make citizens fearful
-examples: aggressive panhandling, vandalism
-police tend to treat these behaviors as minor offenses
Victimless Crimes
-offenses involving a willing and private exchange of illegal goods or services that are in strong demand
-participants don’t feel they are being harmed but these crimes are prosecuted on the ground that society as a whole is being harmed
-Examples: gambling, illegal drug sales and use, prostitution
-using law to enforce moral standards is costly
Political Crime
-an act, usually done for ideological purposes, that constitutes a threat against the state (such as treason, sedition, or espionage) or a criminal act by a state
-political criminals believe they are following a morality that is above the law
Occupational Crime
-a criminal offense committed through opportunities created in a legal business or occupation
-if done right they are never discovered
-most don’t come to public attention
-regulatory agencies don’t enforce the law effectively
-many business and professional organizations “police” themselves, dropping employees or members who commit offenses
-usually don’t involve violence or threats to public safety, although some may involve selling unsafe food or defective products
Edwin Sutherland
-developed concept of white collar crime
-crimes are committed by respectable offenders taking advantage of opportunities arising from their business dealings
-criminal behavior is not confined to lower class people (blue collar crime)
4 Types of Occupational Crimes
1. Occupational crimes for the benefit of the employing organizations
2. occupational crimes through the exercise of government authority
3. occupational crimes committed by professionals in their capacity as professionals
4. occupational crimes committed by individuals as individuals, where opportunities are not based on government power or professional position
Occupational Crimes for the Benefit of the Employing Organizations
-employers rather than offenders benefit directly from these crimes
-examples: price flexing, theft of trade secretes, falsification of product tests
Occupational Crimes Through the Exercise of Government Authority
-the offender has the legal power to enforce laws or command others to do so
-examples: removal of drugs from the evidence room by a police officer, acceptance of a bribe by a public official, falsification of a document by a notary public
Occupational Crimes Committed by Professionals in their Capacity as Professionals
-doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers may take advantage of clients by illegally dispensing drugs, using funds placed in escrow, or using “insider” stock trading information for personal profit or to keep their businesses going
-Congress has examined new public policy choices that will reduce corporate executives’ freedom to make decisions without supervision and accountability
Occupational Crimes Committed by Individuals as Individuals, Where Opportunities are not Based on Government Power or Professional Position
-examples: thefts by employees from employers, filing of false expense claims, embezzlement
-accounts for about 1%of the gross national product and causes consumer prices to be 10-15% higher
Organized Crime
-a framework for the perpetration of criminal acts (usually in fields such as gambling, drugs, and prostitution) providing illegal services that are in great demand
-members of organized crime groups provide goods and services to millions of people
-these criminals will engage in any activity that provides minimum risk and maximum profit
-involves network of activities, usually cutting across state and national borders, that range from legitimate businesses to shady deals with labor unions providing “goods” (such as drugs, sex, and porn) that can’t be obtained legally
-involved in new services such as commercial arson, illegal disposal of toxic wastes, and money laundering
-few individuals are arrested and prosecuted
-law enforcement efforts have greatly weakened the long standing organized crime groups
-associated with different ethnic groups which is not always the case
-example: Motorcycle gangs
Money Laundering
moving the proceeds of criminal activities through a maze of businesses, banks, and brokerage accounts in order to disguise their origin
Transnational Crime
-profit seeking criminal activities that involve planning, execution, or victimization that crosses national borders
-examples: involve theft, fraud, counterfeiting, smuggling, and other violations of individual countries’ criminal laws that involve transborder activities
-3 categories: provision of illicit goods, provision of illegal services, infiltration of business or government
-organized crime groups are involved in all of the foregoing transnational crimes
International Crimes
-acts of terrorism, genocide, human rights abuses, or other crimes against humanity
Provision of Illicit Goods
-drug trafficking and moving stolen property (such as automobiles and artwork) from one country to another for sales that are difficult to trace back to the original theft
-transportation and sale of counterfeit goods (such as prescription medications and designer clothes)
Provision of Illegal Services
-human trafficking (such as transporting sex workers or undocumented immigrants illegally into a country
-includes various cybercrimes that involve fraudulent financial instruments as well as child pornography
Infiltration of Business or Government
-Bribery, extortion, and money laundering activities
Cybercrime
-offenses that involve the use of one or more computers and the internet to commit acts against people, property, public order, or morality
-steal information, resources, or funds
-release internet viruses and “worms” to harm computer systems
-illegally downloading software, music, videos, and other copyrighted materials
-cyberbullying
-disseminate child pornography, to advertise sexual services, or stalk the unsuspecting
-extremely difficult to know how many cybercrimes occur and how much money is lost through identity theft, auction fraud, investment fraud, and other forms of financial computer crime
-law enforcement agencies can’t prevent cybercrimes from occurring
Identity Theft
-the theft of social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other information in order to secure loans, withdraw bank funds, and purchase merchandise while posing as someone else
-the unsuspecting victim will eventually lose money in these transactions
FBI’s National Computer Crime Squad
cover the following:
-intrusions of the Public Switched Network (the telephone company)
-Major Computer network intrusions
-Network Integrity Violations
-Privacy Violations
-Industrial Espionage
-Pirated Computer Software
-Other crimes where the computer is a major factor in committing the criminal offense
Dark Figure of Crime
-a metaphor referring to the significant yet undefined extent of crime that is never reported to the police
-most homicides and auto thefts are reported to the police
-many people feel the costs and risks of reporting crimes outweigh the gains
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
-annually published statistical summary of crimes reported to the police, based on voluntary reports to the FBI by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies
-inaccurate when police agencies under report crime in order to advance the organizational self interest of their city government and agency
-provide a useful but incomplete picture of crime levels
-only count crimes reported to police
-count and classify crimes but don’t provide complete details about offenses
-rely on voluntary reports from local police departments
-local police may adjust the classification of crimes in order to protect the image of a police department or community
-definitions of specific crime categories can be interpreted inconsistently
-only count a specific set of crimes and don’t focus on corporate, occupational, or computer crime
-7% of americans live in jurisdictions where police agencies don’t make reports to the UCR
-FBI made changes in response to criticisms
-part I and part II offenses
-hierarchy rule
National Incident-Based Reporting Sytem (NIBRS)
-a reporting system in which the police describe each offense in a crime incident, together with data describing the offender, victim, and property
-distinguishes between attempted and completed crimes
Part I Offenses
1. Criminal homicide
2. Forcible rape
3. Robbery
4. Aggravated Assault
5. Burglary
6. Larceny-theft (except motor vehicle theft)
7. Motor vehicle theft
8. Arson
National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS)
-interviews of samples of the US population conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to determine the number and types of criminal victimization, and thus, the extent of unreported as well as reported crime
-provide a more complete picture of the nature and extent of crime than do the UCR
-imperfect because they depend on the victim’s perception of an event
-surveys only cover a limited range of crimes
-surveys are based on a relatively small sample of people
-there are risks that they will not be representative of the national population or that errors in data analysis will lead to erroneous conclusions about the nation as a whole
-the identification of victimization can depend on how the survey questions are phrased
-homicide and arson not really included

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