A crime is an act or an omission which contravenes the laid down rules of a given country. (Jones, 2008) This then follows a punishment imposed by the same law which has been contravened. Crime can also be defined as a disruption of the normal social order in the society. (David, 2005)
Whichever definition one may opt to use, it is clear that a crime is a vice in the society and all measures must be taken to contain the same. Having defined what constitutes a crime, the next question that comes into our minds is, why do people engage in crime? Of what benefits is it to be involved in criminal activities? This paper takes an in-depth look as to the various reasons why people involve themselves in crime. Most importantly this paper shall focus on how exactly an individual gets into crime and basically the pathway to crime.
A random survey was taken in 1997 from the streets and separate criminals were asked why they opted to engage themselves in criminal activities. Some said they did it due to desperation and lack of money, others said they found it being an easy way of getting money without tiring.
To others criminal activities were a means by which they earned their living while to others they did it out of stress and depression. To some others they were pressured and influenced by their peers and before they realized it they were already in crime. To some people crime was a way of avenging themselves against people who have wronged them. (David, 2005)
As already mentioned individuals engage in crime for several reasons. Some individuals will therefore get out of crime if the factor that is catalyzing their involvement in criminal activities ceases to exist.
For instance if a person engages in crime due to stress and depression, if the depression is dealt with medically or otherwise it consequently mean that the particular individual will no longer continue in crime as the factor that was influencing his/her involvement in crime no longer exists.
It is surprising however to note that not every criminal will get out of criminal activities even when the factor that was influencing his criminal activities ceases to exist. This one therefore means that there are people who are life course offenders and will always be involved in crime regardless of their situation.
This in essence means that there are two categories of people. These are the desisters also known as adolescent-limited offenders and persisters also known as life course persistent offenders. It is important to differentiate these two groups so as to know how to deal with each. Adolescent limited offenders as the phrase suggests have their criminal activities limited to the adolescent age.
This is the age bracket after which they quite engagement in criminal activities. Adolescent limited offenders do not extend their criminal activities into adulthood. (Jones, 2008) Psychologists have confirmed that most youth engage in a lot of antisocial behavior during their adolescence. This however fades as they continue to mature.
On the other hand life course persistent offenders demonstrate antisocial behavior however mild from childhood all the way to adulthood. (Jones, 2008) These two groups must therefore be dealt with differently. In dealing with desisters it is important that they are made aware of the consequences of their actions and guided so that they may reform.
Psychologists also indicate that parents of desisters and the society at large should be cautious so as not to brand them as criminals as this may have a psychological impact on them. It is also important to keep warning them and eventually they will become law abiding citizens.
It is very vital to identify the life course offenders or the persisters early enough so as to be able to deal with them effectively. There are various ways of dealing with this group which include: institutional training, finding a job for them to do so that they may not be idle. Occasionally these offenders may go for counseling or be put on probation as a correctional method.
In conclusion therefore it is important to identify and differentiate the two types of criminals that there are in order to deal with them effectively.
Farrington David P (2005) Integrated Development and Life Course Theories of Offending London, Transaction Publishers
Jones David (2008) Understanding criminal behavior: Psychosocial approaches to criminality, New York, William Publishing