Theory and strategy to avoid stereotyping individuals in the criminal justice system.
The Rational Choice theory can be used to avoid stereotyping people in that it deals with people as individuals and not groups. In this theory the people are considered to be able to study different situations and make their own decisions. The theory explains that the offenders commit the crime for their personal gain. This theory does not show why different people get involved in criminal activities but it rather explains why crime occurs. The theory concentrates more on the needs of a person as that might be a reason for one to get involved in criminal activities. It does not focus on separating criminals from crime as it does not believe that the criminals are uncomfortable with this activity because as for the theory there is a decision made with goals to be achieved for personal gains. According to this theory the offenders are aware of the outcome of the crime they commit and are ready to be punished in case they are caught. According to the theory the best way to reduce crime is by try to reduce the things that cause criminal activities and also by reducing crime opportunities. According to this theory the offenders are no different from other people as most of the time they abide to the law and thus they fit perfectly in a society. Thus this theory is best as it does not divide people in a society according to their poverty level or education background when determining criminals (Cornish & Clarke, 2014).
In the labeling theory the quality and standard of a person depends not on what they have but on what other people say about them. A person can also labeled from a criminal offence they commit when the offence is made public which can be in a school or a community. A person can also be labeled after receiving a punishment of the criminal offence they commit for example when they come from prison. In another case, a person might have not committed a criminal offence but people might end up labeling him a criminal. A person labeled as a criminal might find it hard to lead a normal life. This is due to discrimination and people not wanting or fearing to associate with them. Such a person might find it hard to secure a job as most will not be ready to work with them. Thus the person may start relating with criminals as there feel it is the only group that is ready to accept them. They can also end up being criminals as they struggle to survive and earn a living. This labeling might cause restriction to life opportunities as the person will be restricted from leading a normal life and trying new things in life. A person labeled is a criminal might find it hard to get out of crime due to being separated from other people. (Williams III & McShane, 2017)
The labeling theory is a legitimate crime causation theory because sometimes action taken to reduce crime can increase it at times. Labeling and treating people who have been in crime as criminals encourage them to continue committing the crime activities. Also when people are labeled as criminals they may find it hard to associate with other people but feel comfortable associating with criminals which will encourage them to get into criminal activities. Also when people labeled as criminals cannot get employment opportunities and thus they might decide to become criminals so as to earn a living (Williams III & McShane, 2017
Where gangs fit in the versions of cultural deviance theory
In my opinion most gangs fit in the first influential version of cultural deviance theory. According to this influential version, the lower class culture is responsible for encouraging crime in most urban areas. The causes of these urban gangs is not mostly from poverty but a culture among the low class that encourages criminal activities where most of the youth in these areas accept and follow this culture instead of going against it. As compared to the middle class, when the middle class has a culture of getting achievements and hard work the lower class on the other hard will have a culture of being trouble makers, smart and tough. From these, the middle class youths have goals of performing well in their studies and going to the university and later getting a good job while the lower class youths have no life goal and are happy to have physical strength and be free from any rules and laws. They feel happy being free from any authority and also feel happy on the streets doing nothing and that is why some are not even happy being in school. Those people who follow the culture of the lower class ends up being criminals. The lower class culture encourages the use of violence in solving issues and thus shaping people the wrong way such that they cannot solve issues peacefully. The lower class youths end up getting into crime as it is the only place that they can be violent and with no rules to adhere to. Thus most of the lower class youth end up forming crime gangs as it is the only place they feel like they belong (Robert Lilly, Cullen & Ball, 2007)
Labeling can cause an increase in crime in that it tends to make the labeled persons withdraw from other people due to fear of rejection. This labeling can be from parents, teachers or the community. The labeled person might look for place where they can fit which might be in crime. An official labeling in a school, at home or in the community can be as a result of a crime committed and made known to many people by being announced publicly. This will lead to the person who committed the crime being referred to as a criminal and this might spread throughout a community. The labeled youths will fear interacting with those who are not labeled and thus they become stigmatized. The normal and stigmatized tend to manage their lives in such a way that they do not meet because none of the group feel comfortable relating with the other. The labeled youths feel comfortable while associating with other people who are considered immoral or bad as they feel like they belong together. This will encourage the labeled youths to join crime gangs. The increase in crime gangs also increase the crime leaders who may be caught and taken to prison. In most of the criminals are taught how to better their lives when they get their freedom. These people are then released after good conduct. These people are given the chance to better their lives with skill gained while in prison. The problem comes in when they are not accepted back into the community as they are still viewed as criminals. They are then forced to go back to being criminals as they cannot get people to associate with in the normal world and these has led to increased gang criminal activities (Bernburg, Krohn & Rivera, 2006
Bernburg, J., Krohn, M., & Rivera, C. (2006). Criminal Embeddedness, and Subsequent Delinquency. Journal Of Research In Crime And Delinquency, 43(1). doi:10.1177/0022427805280068
Cornish, D. B., & Clarke, R. V. (Eds.). (2014). The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. Transaction Publishers.Robert Lilly, J., Cullen, F., & Ball, R. (2007). Criminological Theory (4th ed., p. 1). London: SAGE Amazon.
Williams III, F. & McShane, M. (2017). Criminology Theory: Selected Classic Reading (2nd ed., pp. 181 – 189). New York: Routradge 2 Park Square.
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