what cases crime?
background factors. poverty. lack of self control. cannot resist temptation. low parental attachment. poor paternal supervision. low grades. beliefs favourable to crime. association with delinquents
these factors are assumed to be stable over time. create predisposition towards crime
these propensity factors explain difference in levels of crime
many criminologists say individuals who possess these factors do not engage in crime all of the time. most of the time they conform’ they engage on crime seldom
crime is not only a function of background factor – due to situational factors
provocation by others – insults
absence of capable guardians, no neighbours police
presence of alluring targets – easily stealable valuables
criminals seldom mention background in saying why they commit crime and rarely mention situation
criminals usually retell a story. describe events and conditions
begin with an event. some even affects them that increase the likelihood
armed robbers – ”I think the primary factor is being without. Rent is due. I cannot get money no way else. I know I can get money by committing an armed robbery.”
John got involved into fights ”Audrey was being harassed by some boys and girls . For several days they had been bothering her. Upset she called John her boyfriend. He felt compelled as a man to defend her. He would come over and see about it. Young men there had fought with him before. He knew there was a good chance there would be trouble.”
Rapists – ”a precipitating event involving an upsetting event in every day living. over and over these men described themselves as being in an incident with a woman with whom they believed they were in love. He then abducted and raped”
They often focus on events before the crime.
these storylines frequently appear in qualitative accounts.
criminologists ask crims why they engage in crime. Administer surveys to many people – closed ended questions typically
these dominate criminology. Storylines are seldom considered
his central argument is that this is a major shortcoming
background factors and situations are important we need to pay more attention to what offenders says
additional set of factors
what are storylines?
there are several storyline
we can test storylines
central thesis – individuals who more commonly experience these are more likely to commit crime
ways in which storylines can enhance understanding of crime and aid in efforts to control crime
What is a storyline?
It is inter related sets of events and conditions. beginning, middle and end
begin with event. This is usually something extraordinary. deviation from routine.
this event temporarily affects the characteristics of the person and relations with others and settings encountered by the person which increase the chances of crime
leads in strain or stress temporarily
reduction in social control. increase in social learning for crime. leads to opportunity for learning for crime
middle period of storyline
more likely to commit crime. lasts minutes to weeks
some event returns levels to normal
return to prior level. individual loses all money gambling. increase in strain. person starts to steal. individual recovers money. things return to normal
this persons experience gambling losses. get a loan from a friend or get a second job. storylines can end in a non criminal manner
policy implications of storylines
how does this differ from background factors?
these refer to average or typical standing over a period of several weeks or longer
these might include individual traits
interactions with others like parental supervision
association with delinquent peers
average on range of individual and environmental factors
storylines with breaks from average or typical standing
individuals can be subject to a high level of parental superintendence
an event can temporarily reduce this
there can be a temporary loss of self control
level of self control of a person.
varying self control between people. someone’s level fluctuates. this is a function of events to which one is exposed to
a dispute can infuriate someone and this leads to a loss of self control
people keep an eye on them. can people gain more self control than usual for a while
almost crash – the person can be very cautious.
on bad days nothing goes right. You lose it. short fuse
storylines transcend situations. often far removed from the crime. consequences last from hours to weeks
they differ from background and situational factors
they constitute to a new set of factors that contribute to crime
classic study of gangs by short and strawbeck in chicago
they observed gangs
they described one major storyline contributing to crime
status threats. gang leader duke sent to gaol. the gang elected a new president. they diid that with the understanding that when duke got free he would be president again. he was celebrated when he was let go. but they did not acknowledge that he was president again. he then initiated fights for v little provocation. duke then adopted the cool image that distinguished him from the others.
Duke was upset that he was not seen as president on his release. he was compelled to demonstrate that he was the toughest. the gang then hailed him as president. He calmed down.
control theory. social learning theory.
when you ask crims why they commit crime they relate tales.
there are certain commonalities.
elements conducive to crime. reduction in control. opportunities to commit crimes
break with conventional institutions
desperate need for money. person’s business is about to go bust.
event. middle period – repercussions of the event.
three elements – something happens that creates a temporary but urgent need for cash
there are no good legitimate options to obtain this dosh
commonly cited events – unexpected expenses, poor budgeting, losing jobs, gambling, drug binges, pressure to pay fines, loss of financial support
self control is lowered. one acts impulsively.
”I was working long hours and not getting along with my wife. We had a lot of bills. next thing I know I am stealing things.”
research on street level drug use – associated with increase in crime.
prostitution to earn cash – t0 pay debts to state. pay attorney
defendant in cheque kiting – had to keep business open
four key elements – someone that the person hates
the person blames the other person for this treatment
person experiences negative emotions- anger, humiliation
crime is seen as best response
several types of negative events that cause this. abusive behaviour, theft, accusations, ridicule unreasonable demands, romantic disputes, status threats, infidelity, jilted, discrimination
these actions lead to fury . strain and stress
reduction in self control. reduce ties to others
boy is home made oblique threat to people who murdered their friend.. a deadly feud may start
gang member becomes victim. vengeance is exigent
someone had drugs stolen. the subject staked out before he caught the thief – made the thief take me to his home where I found the narcotics
woman said male female relations are a source of conflict. girls fight over a boy
a brief but close involvement with a criminal other
people develop close association with criminals. these are sometimes fleeting
someone models crime. prevents them with beliefs favourable to crime. become romantically involved with a crime.
hang out with non criminal friends
people drift in and out of the crime
increase the likelihood involved with crime
girl of 16 started busting cheques over several states
one person who had not committed armed robbery – strated to commit robbery he did so to help[ a friend who had helped him
street life is most attractive to female hustlers when involved with a man who was doing this and pulling off scams without being apprehened
brief but tempting opportunity
something happens and this increases the attractiveness of crime
one sees cost as low and benefoits as huge
a man delivers meat prodycs. he went ariund the place asking people if they knew something
his pal committed theft
in drugs – women are used when men are in prison or under suspicion
persistent thieves work as units in cycles
convert counterfeit money – forged travellers cheque – passing bad cheques
steal a car then commit stick ups using it before it is wanted
temporary break with conventional break with others or institutions
break with parents or school
parents go away
relationship break up
person leaves temporary institutons – skip school, spring break
5 major storylines
each begins with event with consequences.
something happens to end the story. could be a non criminal event to bring propensity to criminality back down to normal
central point –
desperate need for money
this is why a person is more likely to commit crime at certain times
periods of high criminality and periods when they commit no crime
background factors – low self control, low parental supervision
delinquent peers mistreat others and disputes arrive
low in self control – waste money, you cause rows, you do not plan, you are impulsive, if something comes along that you want you spend unwisely or you steal when the chance presents itself
people with the situational factors are more likely to experience crimogenic storylines
policy implications – focus on high risk individuals
monitor their behaviour
look at those points when they experience a storyline – we can intervene. emergency loan, ending dispute, reconnect person with convention,
someone commits a crime placed on probation , someone out of prison is on parole – parole officer checks in and ask if this person is experiencing things – do you have $
if the persons says he is in a dispute
persons really needs cash
we can teach these high risk people to identify these stories how to deal w ith this or seek help
in some cities gang workers help. they are trying to keep tabs on gangs to see if they are in storylines
if someone has a beef with someone else they mediate
we understand causes of crime better