Crime and the Life Course

Developmental theory is a subfield of criminology and a subfield of psychology sometimes known as “child” or “adolescent” psychology. Developmental theory is about normal human development, or growing up. It looks for the causes of crime in the complex mix, or interaction, of various childhoods cognitive deficits (e. g. , low IQ, attention deficit disorder, conduct problems, cognitive “scripts”) with various situational, or contextual, handicaps (e. g. , school failure, peer rejection, parental abuse or neglect, and gender/ethnic discrimination).

The concept of critical criminology is that crime and the present day processes of criminalization are rooted in the core structures of society is of more relevance today than it has been at any other time. American feminism has its origins in the 1848 women’s rights convention held at Seneca Falls, New York where a “Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions” was passed. This first wave of feminism was anti-slavery oriented and wished for the emancipation of peoples everywhere who were being usurped and exploited.

It ended in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Second-wave feminism started in the late 1960s and was called the “women’s liberation movement”, devoted to greater social, political, and economic equality. It focused on the emancipation of women and liberal correctives to the role of women in society. The third wave of feminism started in the late 1980s, devoted to an analysis of patriarchy, or the pervasiveness of male dominance. It was basically a critical or radical movement that looked into how society could be transformed.

How might developmental theories explain the existence of habitual offenders? Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a biologist who originally studied mollusks (publishing twenty scientific papers on them by the time he was 21) but moved into the study of the development of children’s understanding, through observing them and talking and listening to them while they worked on exercises he set. His view of how children’s minds work and develop has been enormously influential, particularly in educational theory (Atherton, 2009).

His particular insight was the role of maturation (simply growing up) in children’s increasing capacity to understand their world: they cannot undertake certain tasks until they are psychologically mature enough to do so. His research has spawned a great deal more, much of which has undermined the detail of his own, but like many other original investigators, his importance comes from his overall vision (Cullen & Agnew, 2003). He proposed that children’s thinking does not develop entirely smoothly: instead, there are certain points at which it “takes off” and moves into completely new areas and capabilities.

He saw these transitions as taking place at about 18 months, 7 years and 11 or 12 years. This has been taken to mean that before these ages children are not capable (no matter how bright) of understanding things in certain ways, and has been used as the basis for scheduling the school curriculum (Blumstein, 2003). Whether or not should be the case is a different matter. Most offenders commit crimes during their teen and early adulthood years, and then desist as they approach or enter their 30s. Those who do not desist, the habitual offenders, frequently come under the psychological research microscope.

Developmental and biological factors (e. g. , conduct disorders or deficits in neurological hormones) often can predict habitual offending. Although psychologists should be alert to these factors, they must be careful not to assume that children who demonstrate them will become the criminals of tomorrow (Cullen & Agnew, 2003). According to Lombroso, 1972, the habitual criminal was best described

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as one who entered a lifestyle of crime by way of a number of circumstances. An example of a habitual criminal would be a member of organized crime.

Political criminals were distinguished by their violent nature. Most of these violent acts were based on anger, love, or honor. Although these characters displayed great intellect, altruism, religious ideals, and patriotism, they were also thought to be pathological due to their high rates of suicide (Lombroso, 1972). Lombroso generally used the same techniques to classify female offenders as he did males. Although the amount of crime committed by females was much lower than that of males, he believed that females were more ferocious in their acts.

Most of his ideas concerning female criminality were based on the idea that they were more like children than males. He believed that they were vengeful, jealous, morally deficient, and predisposed to cruelty (Einstadter & Henry, 1995). Within the field of criminology, developmental theory is closely related to an effort called “general” theory (Patterson & Yoerger, 1993), although the difference is that general theory implies a policy of selective incapacitation (wicked people exist, and all you can do is lock them away) while developmental theory looks for intervention opportunities (e.g. , tipping and turning points, desistence, life-course changes, pathways).

The appeal of criminal psychology, as it is presently dominated by the developmental perspective, has the same appeal as most psychodynamic psychology in that it seems to offer all the answers that any criminal, no matter how bad, can be rehabilitated or reformed and that any delinquent, no matter how bad, can be saved from a lifetime of crime (Cullen & Agnew, 2003). Developmental theories describe humans as evolving through certain stages from birth through adulthood.

In each of these stages humans are capable of mastering certain things, such as developing empathy or learning to predict the outcome of their actions. If a person stops development due to a trauma or simply fails to progress from one stage of development to the next, that person may remain in a certain stage of development (Dannefer, 1984). Also, developmental theories believe that during each stage of development people learn to act in the world and react to the world in different ways. Again, if a stage is missed or if development stops, a person may never make up the lost time and master the skills learned at a certain stage.

Developmental theories find that if a stage of development is missed then a person cannot return to it at a later point in time, it is gone forever (Patterson & Yoerger, 1993). Possible explanations for why people commit habitual offenses is that they may not learn from their mistakes, cannot predict the consequences of their actions, or do not feel empathy for their victims. This makes sense if one considers that under developmental theories a person who did not naturally progress through a certain stage would not develop empathy, self control, or be able to predict the outcome of their actions (Atherton, 2009).

These things are learned at a specific point in time in childhood. If a person leaves a stage of development without having mastered empathy, the ability to control behavior, or ability to predict consequences, then that person can be seen to easily fall into the trap of becoming a habitual offender. That person lacks the tools necessary to stop their behavior, just like a two year old cannot stop a tantrum. Habitual offenders, like two year olds, may have failed to progress through the self control or empathy stage (Patterson & Yoerger, 1993). Recent developmental theories strongly support typologies of offending.

Typological theories classify offenders into different groups (just as group-based modeling does) with each group having its own history of delinquent behavior (Dannefer, 1984). For example, some theories differentiate between life course persistent offenders who start offending early, offend at a high rate, and persist through the life course, and adolescent limited offenders who start offending late, offend at a low rate, and desist by the time they emerge into adulthood. Some theories further suggest that the causes of offending vary across groups (Cullen & Agnew, 2003).

Peer pressure, for example, may be more relevant for adolescent limited offenders than for life course persistent offenders. Group-based modeling now provides the opportunity to fully explore these ideas and their implications on theory and practice (Dannefer, 1984). Explain the implications that feminist criminology holds for our legal system In feminist theories, individuals attempt to give another dimension to criminology, in the form of gender. The supporters of these theories are for the most part trying to bring a new form of awareness to the way crime is viewed.

Instead of focusing on criminals who are male performing crimes against other males, it is argued that criminologists need to investigate more how the female affects this preconceived approach to crime (French, 2006). Many parties concerned with this type of critical approach to criminology also try to educate other female criminologists. This is important to this group of individuals because too many times, female criminologists will adopt the male perspective and perpetuate the same cycle of applying male concepts on females in the world of crime (Daly, 1997).

Developed in the late 1960s and 1970s, feminist criminology addresses the gender distortions and stereotyping of female violators. Politically, feminist criminology draws from Marxist, Liberal, and Socialist schools of thought… but the main point of feminist criminology is to discuss how women came to be in subservient roles to men and how the criminal justice system can address male-biased control theory as it relates to female violators, their punishment, and imprisonment French, 2006). Feminist criminology contains many branches.

Liberal, radical, Marxist, and socialist feminism are widely recognized, although other “strands” exist such as postmodernism and ecofeminism. Most feminist criminology involves critiques about how women offenders have been ignored, distorted, or stereotyped within traditional criminology, but there is no shortage of separate theories and modifications of existing theories. Almost all women criminologists or criminologists of women who examine gender and crime have addressed the “gender ratio” problem (why women are less likely, and men more likely, to commit crime).

Others study the generalizability problem (whether traditional male theories can modify to explain female offending). Most feminists are quick to point out where stereotypical thinking and theoretical dead ends exist, although the main problem complained about in most criminology is the simple fact that gender matters and should not be ignored (French, 2006). Feminist standpoint theory asserts that human materiality, the biological, physical activities, and possessions, shape the way knowledge is formed and delineates the inequalities of patriarchal thought (Gelsthorpe, 1997).

If crime is seen as an act of aggression, and men are biologically characterized for their aggressive nature than not only is criminal theory male centered, so is the criminal practice. If society accepts that men are predisposed to aggression, which leads to crime, then women are socialized as passive actors and consequently many times the victimized. The implications for women are their sense of powerlessness and far reaching dependency upon men (Daly, 1997). The masculinity of the victim as it is depicted through criminal theory and public observation has altered the ways in which particular crimes are addressed.

Rape crimes and domestic crimes are predominantly male perpetrated and female inflicted. The victim of assault is viewed by different standards when gender questions are involved. The realists define assault as strictly a coercive act committed in the street, in a public house or any other public venue (French, 2006)). Domestic violence, however, is not a form of assault despite the fact that it is the form of assault most likely to occur to a woman (Naffine, 1996).

Domestic violence is given a special class of victimization, “public assault (which a man is most likely to experience) is the standard case; domestic violence is the complication”. Women never appear as more than a special instance of victimization (Naffine, 1996). This sexist interpretation of crime and law is just one example of the discrimination played out against women assumed by fault of women’s designation to the private sphere and men’s role in the public sphere.

The definition of crime related to sexual acts is not consensually agreed on by men and women (Gelsthorpe, 1997). The legal definition of prostitution, pornography, domestic abuse, and rape is not proved by the harm inflicted to women, rather man’s understanding of those acts, “The place of women in realist criminology is deeply traditional. Women are there to receive special protection, because they are considered vulnerable to crime, but their experiences are never allowed to set the defining conditions of the realist project”(Naffine, 1996).

Liberal feminism operates within the existing social structures to draw attention to women’s issues, promote women’s rights, increase women’s opportunities, and transform women’s roles in society. Radical feminism looks at how women came to occupy subservient roles in the first place, what male power consists of, and how societies themselves can be transformed (French, 2006). Marxist feminism ties patriarchy or male privilege into the economic structure of capitalism, as when female offenders are sentenced for property or sexual crimes (by threatening male dominance of property relationships or male control of women’s bodies).

Socialist feminism offers ideas about more equitable roles for women as sex providers, child bearers, nursemaids, and homemakers, so that they can take their rightful place in society (Naffine, 1996). Postmodern feminism substitutes language production for economic production and studies how discourse and male-dominated thinking is used to set women apart (Gelsthorpe, 1997). What are the implications that critical criminology brings to society?

While criminology is the scientific study of the interactions that inherently occur between criminals and the public or the criminal elements and society, critical criminology is slightly different. This concept of criminology has a solid foundation in the belief that a singular crime is considered to be criminal due to the historical and social beliefs at the time (Hirschi, 1969). For example, one famous illustration of this is that homosexuality was considered to be illegal for individuals in the United Kingdom. This type of interaction between individuals was declared legal for men over 21, but this was not until 1967.

Since there is nothing within the act that changed over the years, the only thing that changed was the judicial government at the time and what they believed was morally right or wrong. Overall, there is nothing deemed inherently wrong about the act itself. One of the main questions that individuals interested in critical criminology need to ask themselves whether or not an act is a crime because it is wrong or whether it is merely a crime because someone with the elected power decided to make it so (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1973).

Critical criminology brings theories and paradigms of understanding about deviance and crime against our society at a particular time. These theories and paradigms are frameworks for understanding why people deviate from societal norms, how our society decides what is deviant and what is not at a particular time, and how individuals, groups, and society might prevent, deter, and/or punish violators based on past, present, and future societal controls (Cloward & Ohlin, 1960).

An example would be that prior to the turn of the 20th century, drugs like opium and cocaine were legal and unregulated in the United States. Critical criminology focuses on how societal norms change, as did attitudes about drugs and the behavior that their use may or may not have caused. Many theorists agree that making most drugs like marijuana and others, illegal in the 1960s, societal attitudes about their use had changed to a point where laws were ratified and enforced as a means of social control of those using the drugs, namely the sub-cultures and Hippies.

In this example, certain crimes are considered deviant behavior because certain groups in society say they are. “Critical criminologists tend to claim that conventional criminology theories fail to ‘lay bare the structural inequalities which underpin the processes through which laws are created and enforced’ (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1973) and that ‘deviancy and criminality’ is ‘shaped by society’s larger structure of power and institutions’ (Cloward & Ohlin, 1960)

Criminologists have long sought to establish causal links between the prevailing economic conditions and the level of criminality in existence in society at any given time and have rightly described how inequality the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ is probably a significant measure of how criminogenic a society is likely to become.

There has, however, been hardly any research conducted in recent years to examine the most obvious criminological reality: namely, that we should see the crime explosion of the past twenty years as the direct outcome of the neoliberal political economy with the reality that much of the crime we are currently experiencing has its origins in business deregulation. Thus, it is not simply a question of how crime might rise in such circumstances, but rather how it is that these circumstances have already created the crimes that have brought devastation to whole swathes of our towns and cities (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008).

Within critical criminology, there are a number of theories that have been formed. Conflict theories were never very popular within the United States, in part due to the fact that during the late 1970’s, when critical criminology was more popular, there were many criminology departments that were closed due to political reasons (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1973). Other critical criminologists were concerned that conflict theories did not properly address the different issues that faced society.

Critics of conflict theories that exist in criminology maintain that these individuals ignored some important differences in the level of criminal activities between socialist and capitalist societies. Japan and Switzerland are two countries that are socialist in nature, but they have extremely low rates of crime in their countries, as compared to capitalist societies like the United States of America (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008). Conclusion

Cognitive development typically refers to age-related changes in knowledge and acts of knowing, such as perceiving, remembering, problem solving, reasoning, and understanding. The development of cognition is studied most frequently in infants, children, and adolescents, where changes often are relatively rapid and striking. Many researchers also study cognitive development in aging adults, in children and adults during recovery of function following brain damage, and in a variety of species other than humans.

In feminist theories, individuals attempt to allow another dimension to criminology, in the shape of gender. The supporters of those theories are for the foremost half trying to bring a new kind of awareness to the method crime is viewed. Instead of focusing on criminals who are male performing crimes against different males, it is argued that criminologists want to research a lot of how the feminine affects this preconceived approach to crime.

Several parties involved with this sort of important approach to criminology conjointly strive to educate other female criminologists. This is necessary to the current group of individuals as a result of too many times, feminine criminologists can adopt the male perspective and perpetuate the same cycle of applying male ideas on females in the planet of crime. Critical criminology, also called radical criminology, shares with conflict criminology a debt to Marxism. It came into prominence in the early 1970s and attempted to explain contemporary social upheavals.

Critical criminology relies on economic explanations of behavior and argues that economic and social inequalities cause criminal behavior. It focuses less on the study of individual criminals, and advances the belief that existing crime cannot be eliminated within the capitalist system. It also asserts, like the conflict school, that law has an inherent bias in favor of the upper or ruling class, and that the state and its legal system exist to advance the interests of the ruling class.

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