Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports


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Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports

In the case of young people who have been maltreated and not received the care they need when growing up, one might indeed wonder about what is being re stored. Has this young person ever had empathy displayed towards them when they have been wronged and are distressed? Have they learnt the language of empathy and remorse and how to use this under pressure? If they are unable to access words that express these sentiments, how can they appear genuine in their remorse?

How will it be perceived if the young person shrugs his shoulders and gives mono-syllabic responses? Like most social scientists, I am well aware of the evidence that shows us that simply punishing young people for their wrong-doing does not lead to reduced recidivism or the adoption of socially acceptable values and behaviour. But we need to take great care, and apply high standards of critical thinking, when seeking approaches that are a good philosophical fit with our desire to promote better outcomes for young offenders.

RJC is no doubt an appropriate and helpful approach for some young offenders and their victims, but may not be so for all. Further research is needed to elucidate ways of identifying which young people, in which circumstances, will benefit most from this approach. Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Pamela Snow , Monash University. Young offenders may not be equipped with the skills to help them deal with restorative justice.

Restorative justice conferencing In the last 10 to 15 years in Australia, there has also been a strong shift away from traditional adversarial approaches to justice administration with young offenders, towards amongst other approaches the use of Restorative Justice Conferencing RJC. Lack of understanding Research in the last decade in Australia, the USA and the UK has also shown that young offenders represent a group at high-risk of unidentified oral language impairments. What good is it doing?

One size does not fit all RJC is no doubt an appropriate and helpful approach for some young offenders and their victims, but may not be so for all.

FactCheck: do black Americans commit more crime? – Channel 4 News

Law Crime Youth crime Restorative justice. You might also like Many children in Indonesia do not know that having sexual relations may lead to them being pregnant and forced to marry their partners. Government refers to the strategies by which one seeks to direct or guide the conduct of another or others. These treatises described the burgeoning arts of government, which defined the different ways in which the conduct of individuals or groups might be directed.

The common theme in the various arts of governing proposed in early modernity was the extension of Christian monastic practices involving the detailed and continuous government and salvation of souls. The principles of monastic government were applied to a variety of non-monastic areas. People needed to be governed in all aspects of their lives. Foucault argues that the ideal of discipline as a means of social control is to render individuals docile.

The chief components of disciplinary social control in modern institutions like the prison and the school are surveillance, normalization, and examination Foucault, Surveillance refers to the various means used to make the lives and activities of individuals visible to authorities.

In this way, Bentham proposed, social control could become automatic because prisoners would be induced to monitor and control their own behaviour. Similarly, in a school classroom, students sit in rows of desks immediately visible to the teacher at the front of the room. In a store, shoppers can be observed through one-way glass or video monitors.

Contemporary surveillance expands the capacity for observation using video or electronic forms of surveillance to render the activities of a population visible. London, England holds the dubious honour of being the most surveilled city in the world. The practice of normalization refers to the way in which norms, such as the level of math ability expected from a grade 2 student, are first established and then used to assess, differentiate, and rank individuals according to their abilities e.

Minor sanctions are used to continuously modify behaviour that does not comply with correct conduct: Rewards are applied for good behaviour and penalties for bad. Periodic examinations through the use of tests in schools, medical examinations in hospitals, inspections in prisons, year-end reviews in the workplace, etc.

On the basis of examinations, individuals can be subjected to different disciplinary procedures more suited to them. Gifted children might receive an enriched educational program, whereas poorer students might receive remedial lessons.


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Foucault describes disciplinary social control as a key mechanism in creating a normalizing society. Whereas the use of formal laws, courts , and the police come into play only when laws are broken, disciplinary techniques enable the continuous and ongoing social control of an expanding range of activities in our lives through surveillance, normalization, and examination.

While we may never encounter the police for breaking a law, if we work, go to school, or end up in hospital, we are routinely subject to disciplinary control through most of the day. Recent types of social control have adopted a model of risk management in a variety of areas of problematic behaviour. Risk management refers to interventions designed to reduce the likelihood of undesirable events occurring based on an assessment of probabilities of risk.

Unlike the crime and punishment model of penal social sanctions, or the rehabilitation, training, or therapeutic models of disciplinary social control, risk management strategies do not seize hold of individual deviants but attempt to restructure the environment or context of problematic behaviour in order to minimize the risks to the general population. It recognizes that fines or imprisonment do not curtail drug users propensity to continue to use drugs, and that therapeutic rehabilitation of drug use is not only expensive but unlikely to succeed unless drug users are willing to quit.

Instead, it calculates the risk of deaths from drug overdoses and the danger to the general population from the transmission of disease like HIV and hepatitis C and attempts to modify the riskiest behaviours through targeted interventions. Programs like needle exchanges designed to prevent the sharing of needles or safe-injection-sites designed to provide sanitary conditions for drug injection and immediate medical services for overdoses do not prevent addicts from using drugs but minimize the harms resulting from drug use by modifying the environment in which drugs are injected. Reducing risks to public health is the priority of the public health model.

Rather, they are concerned with techniques to identify, classify, and manage groupings of offenders sorted by the degree of dangerousness they represent to the general public. In this way, imprisonment is used to incapacitate those who represent a significant risk, whereas probation and various levels of surveillance are used for those who represent a lower risk.

Examples include sex offender tracking and monitoring, or the use of electronic monitoring ankle bracelets for low-risk offenders. New penology strategies seek to regulate levels of deviance, not intervene or respond to individual deviants or the social determinants of crime.

Why does deviance occur? How does it affect a society? Since the early days of sociology, scholars have developed theories attempting to explain what deviance and crime mean to society. These theories can be grouped according to the three major sociological paradigms: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory. Sociologists who follow the functionalist approach are concerned with how the different elements of a society contribute to the whole. They view deviance as a key component of a functioning society.

Moreover, Durkheim noted, when deviance is punished, it reaffirms currently held social norms, which also contributes to society Developed by researchers at the University of Chicago in the s and s, social disorganization theory asserts that crime is most likely to occur in communities with weak social ties and the absence of social control. Rather than deviance being a force that reinforces moral and social solidarity, it is the absence of moral and social solidarity that provides the conditions for social deviance to emerge.

Early Chicago School sociologists used an ecological model to map the zones in Chicago where high levels of social problem were concentrated. During this period, Chicago was experiencing a long period of economic growth, urban expansion, and foreign immigration. They were particularly interested in the zones of transition between established working class neighbourhoods and the manufacturing district. They proposed that these zones were particularly prone to social disorder because the residents had not yet assimilated to the American way of life.

When they did assimilate they moved out, making it difficult for a stable social ecology to become established there. Social disorganization theory points to broad social factors as the cause of deviance. A person is not born a criminal but becomes one over time, often based on factors in his or her social environment. Many people would be willing to break laws or act in deviant ways to reap the rewards of pleasure, excitement, and profit, etc. Those who do have the opportunity are those who are only weakly controlled by social restrictions.

Individuals who believe they are a part of society are less likely to commit crimes against it. An individual who grows up in a poor neighbourhood with high rates of drug use, violence, teenage delinquency, and deprived parenting is more likely to become a criminal than an individual from a wealthy neighbourhood with a good school system and families who are involved positively in the community.

Research into social disorganization theory can greatly influence public policy. For instance, studies have found that children from disadvantaged communities who attend preschool programs that teach basic social skills are significantly less likely to engage in criminal activity. In the same way, the Chicago School sociologists focused their efforts on community programs designed to help assimilate new immigrants into North American culture.

However, in proposing that social disorganization is essentially a moral problem — that it is shared moral values that hold communities together and prevent crime and social disorder — questions about economic inequality, racism, and power dynamics do not get asked. From birth, we are encouraged to achieve the goal of financial success. A woman who attends business school, receives her MBA, and goes on to make a million-dollar income as CEO of a company is said to be a success.

However, not everyone in our society stands on equal footing. A person may have the socially acceptable goal of financial success but lack a socially acceptable way to reach that goal. The discrepancy between the reality of structural inequality and the high cultural value of economic success creates a strain that has to be resolved by some means.

Merton defined five ways that people adapt to this gap between having a socially accepted goal but no socially accepted way to pursue it. Many youth from poor backgrounds are exposed to the high value placed on material success in capitalist society but face insurmountable odds to achieving it, so turning to illegal means to achieve success is a rational, if deviant, solution.

Critical sociology looks to social and economic factors as the causes of crime and deviance. As a result of inequality, many crimes can be understood as crimes of accommodation , or ways in which individuals cope with conditions of oppression Quinney, Predatory crimes like break and enter, robbery, and drug dealing are often simply economic survival strategies. Personal crimes like murder, assault, and sexual assault are products of the stresses and strains of living under stressful conditions of scarcity and deprivation.

Defensive crimes like economic sabotage, illegal strikes, civil disobedience, and eco-terrorism are direct challenges to social injustice. The analysis of critical sociologists is not meant to excuse or rationalize crime, but to locate its underlying sources at the appropriate level so they can be addressed effectively. Institutions of normalization and the criminal justice system have to be seen in context as mechanisms that actively maintain the power structure of the political-economic order.

The rich, the powerful, and the privileged have unequal influence on who and what gets labelled deviant or criminal, particularly in instances when their privilege is being challenged. As capitalist society is based on the institution of private property, for example, it is not surprising that theft is a major category of crime.

By the same token, when street people, addicts, or hippies drop out of society, they are labelled deviant and are subject to police harassment because they have refused to participate in productive labour. On the other hand, the ruthless and sometimes sociopathic behaviour of many business people and politicians, otherwise regarded as deviant according to the normative codes of society, is often rewarded or regarded with respect.

In his book The Power Elite , sociologist C. Wright Mills described the existence of what he dubbed the power elite , a small group of wealthy and influential people at the top of society who hold the power and resources. Wealthy executives, politicians, celebrities, and military leaders often have access to national and international power, and in some cases, their decisions affect everyone in society.

Because of this, the rules of society are stacked in favour of a privileged few who manipulate them to stay on top.

Language and Crime

It is these people who decide what is criminal and what is not, and the effects are often felt most by those who have little power. While functionalist theories often emphasize crime and deviance associated with the underprivileged, there is in fact no clear evidence that crimes are committed disproportionately by the poor or lower classes. On the other hand, crimes committed by the wealthy and powerful remain an underpunished and costly problem within society.

White-collar or corporate crime refers to crimes committed by corporate employees or owners in the pursuit of profit or other organization goals. They are more difficult to detect because the transactions take place in private and are more difficult to prosecute because the criminals can secure expert legal advice on how to bend the rules. PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that 36 percent of Canadian companies were subject to white-collar crime in theft, fraud, embezzlement, cybercrime.

These were highly publicized cases in which jail time was demanded by the public although as nonviolent offenders the perpetrators are eligible for parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence. However, in — prison sentences were nearly twice as likely for the typically lower-class perpetrators of break and enters 59 percent as they were for typically middle- and upper-class perpetrators of fraud 35 percent Boyce, This imbalance based on class power can also be put into perspective with respect to homicide rates Samuelson, In , there were homicides in Canada recorded by police, an average of 1.

This is an extremely serious crime, which merits the attention given to it by the criminal justice system. However, in there were also 1, workplace deaths that were, in principle, preventable. Estimates from the United States suggest that only one-third of on-the-job deaths and injuries can be attributed to worker carelessness Samuelson, The Ocean Ranger oil rig collapse that killed 84 workers off Newfoundland in and the Westray Mine explosion that killed 26 workers in Nova Scotia in were due to design flaws and unsafe working conditions that were known to the owners.

However, whereas corporations are prosecuted for regulatory violations governing health and safety, it is rare for corporations or corporate officials to be prosecuted for the consequences of those violations. Corporate crime is arguably a more serious type of crime than street crime, and yet white-collar criminals are treated relatively leniently. Fines, when they are imposed, are typically absorbed as a cost of doing business and passed on to consumers, and many crimes, from investment fraud to insider trading and price fixing, are simply not prosecuted. From a critical sociology point of view, this is because white-collar crime is committed by elites who are able to use their power and financial resources to evade punishment.

Here are some examples:. For example, in the late 19th century, kleptomania was a diagnosis used in legal defences that linked an extreme desire for department store commodities with various forms of female physiological or psychiatric illness. Feminist analysis focuses on the way gender inequality influences the opportunities to commit crime and the definition, detection, and prosecution of crime. In part the gender difference revolves around patriarchal attitudes toward women and the disregard for matters considered to be of a private or domestic nature.

It was not until the Supreme Court ruling in that struck down the law that it was acknowledged that women are capable of making their own choice, in consultation with a doctor, about the procedure. Similarly, until the s two major types of criminal deviance were largely ignored or were difficult to prosecute as crimes: sexual assault and spousal assault. In the Criminal Code was amended to replace the crimes of rape and indecent assault with a three-tier structure of sexual assault ranging from unwanted sexual touching that violates the integrity of the victim to sexual assault with a weapon or threats or causing bodily harm to aggravated sexual assault that results in wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of the victim Kong et al.

The goal of the amendments was to emphasize that sexual assault is an act of violence, not a sexual act. Previously, rape had been defined as an act that involved penetration and was perpetrated against a woman who was not the wife of the accused. This had excluded spousal sexual assault as a crime and had also exposed women to secondary victimization by the criminal justice system when they tried to bring charges. In particular, feminists challenged the twin myths of rape that were often the subtext of criminal justice proceedings presided over largely by men Kramar, The first myth is that women are untrustworthy and tend to lie about assault out of malice toward men, as a way of getting back at them for personal grievances.

The second myth, is that women will say no to sexual relations when they really mean yes. Consent to sexual discourse was redefined as what a woman actually says or does, not what the man believes to be consent. Feminists also argued that spousal assault was a key component of patriarchal power. Typically it was hidden in the household and largely regarded as a private, domestic matter in which police were reluctant to get involved. Interestingly women and men report similar rates of spousal violence — in , 6 percent had experienced spousal violence in the previous five years — but women are more likely to experience more severe forms of violence including multiple victimizations and violence leading to physical injury Sinha, In order to empower women, feminists pressed lawmakers to develop zero-tolerance policies that would support aggressive policing and prosecution of offenders.

These policies oblige police to lay charges in cases of domestic violence when a complaint is made, whether or not the victim wished to proceed with charges Kramar, In , 84 percent of violent spousal incidents reported by women to police resulted in charges being laid. However, according to victimization surveys only 30 percent of actual incidents were reported to police. The majority of women who did not report incidents to the police stated that they dealt with them in another way, felt they were a private matter, or did not think the incidents were important enough to report.

A significant proportion, however, did not want anyone to find out 44 percent , did not want their spouse to be arrested 40 percent , or were too afraid of their spouse 19 percent Sinha, Social groups and authorities create deviance by first making the rules and then applying them to people who are thereby labelled as outsiders Becker, Deviance is not an intrinsic quality of individuals but is created through the social interactions of individuals and various authorities.

Deviance is something that, in essence, is learned. In the early s, sociologist Edwin Sutherland sought to understand how deviant behaviour developed among people. Since criminology was a young field, he drew on other aspects of sociology including social interactions and group learning Laub, His conclusions established differential association theory , stating that individuals learn deviant behaviour from those close to them who provide models of and opportunities for deviance.

According to Sutherland, deviance is less a personal choice and more a result of differential socialization processes. A tween whose friends are sexually active is more likely to view sexual activity as acceptable. Becker paid his way through graduate studies by performing as a jazz pianist and took the opportunity to study his fellow musicians. He conducted 50 interviews and noted that becoming a marijuana user involved a social process of initiation into a deviant role that could not be accounted for by either the physiological properties of marijuana or the psychological needs for escape, fantasy, etc.

Regular marijuana use was a social achievement that required the individual to pass through three distinct stages. Failure to do so meant that the individual would not assume the deviant role as a regular user of marijuana. Firstly, individuals had to learn to smoke marijuana in a way that would produce real effects. Many first-time users do not feel the effects. If they are not shown how to inhale the smoke or how much to smoke, they might not feel the drug had any effect on them.

Although people might display different symptoms of intoxication — feeling hungry, elated, rubbery, etc. Through listening to experienced users talk about their experiences, novices are able to locate the same type of sensations in their own experience and notice something qualitatively different going on. Thirdly, they had to learn how to enjoy the sensations: They had to learn how to define the situation of getting high as pleasurable.

Smoking marijuana is not necessarily pleasurable and often involves uncomfortable experiences like loss of control, impaired judgement, distorted perception, and paranoia. Unless the experiences can be redefined as pleasurable, the individual will not become a regular user. Often experienced users are able to coach novices through difficulties and encourage them by telling them they will learn to like it. It is through differential association with a specific set of individuals that a person learns and assumes a deviant role. The role needs to be learned and its value recognized before it can become routine or normal for the individual.

Although all of us violate norms from time to time, few people would consider themselves deviant. Labelling theory examines the ascribing of a deviant behaviour to another person by members of society. Thus, what is considered deviant is determined not so much by the behaviours themselves or the people who commit them, but by the reactions of others to these behaviours.

As a result, what is considered deviant changes over time and can vary significantly across cultures. It is important to note that labelling theory does not address the initial motives or reasons for the rule-breaking behaviour, which might be unknowable, but the importance of its social consequences. It does not attempt to answer the questions of why people break the rules or why they are deviant so much as why particular acts or particular individuals are labelled deviant while others are not. How do certain acts get labelled deviant and what are the consequences? Sociologist Edwin Lemert expanded on the concepts of labelling theory, identifying two types of deviance that affect identity formation.

Speeding is a deviant act, but receiving a speeding ticket generally does not make others view you as a bad person, nor does it alter your own self-concept. Individuals who engage in primary deviance still maintain a feeling of belonging in society and are likely to continue to conform to norms in the future. Sometimes, in more extreme cases, primary deviance can morph into secondary deviance.

For example, consider a high school student who often cuts class and gets into fights. Secondary deviance can be so strong that it bestows a master status on an individual. A master status is a label that describes the chief characteristic of an individual. Some people see themselves primarily as doctors, artists, or grandfathers. Others see themselves as beggars, convicts, or addicts. In the second case, being labelled a juvenile delinquent sets up a set of responses to the teenager by police and authorities that lead to criminal charges, more severe penalties, and a process of socialization into the criminal identity.

In detention in particular, individuals learn how to assume the identity of serious offenders as they interact with hardened, long-term inmates within the prison culture Wheeler, Judges were also found to be more likely to impose harsher penalties on teenagers from divorced families. Unsurprisingly, Cicourel noted that subsequent research conducted on the social characteristics of teenagers who were charged and processed as juvenile delinquents found that children from divorced families were more likely to be charged and processed.

Divorced families were seen as a cause of youth crime. This set up a vicious circle in which the research confirmed the prejudices of police and judges who continued to label, arrest, and convict the children of divorced families disproportionately. The labelling process acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy in which police found what they expected to see.

The sociological study of crime, deviance, and social control is especially important with respect to public policy debates. The legislation imposes a mandatory six-month sentence for cultivating six marijuana plants, for example. This followed the Tackling Violent Crime Act passed in , which among other provisions, imposed a mandatory three-year sentence for first-time gun-related offences. This government policy represented a shift toward a punitive approach to crime control and away from preventive strategies such as drug rehabilitation, prison diversion, and social reintegration programs.

Despite the evidence that rates of serious and violent crime have been falling in Canada, and while even some of the most conservative politicians in the United States have begun to reject the punitive approach as an expensive failure, the government pushed the legislation through Parliament. One reason is that violent crime is a form of deviance that lends itself to spectacular media coverage that distorts its actual threat to the public.

However, the image of crime presented in the headlines does not accurately represent the types of crime that actually occur. Whereas the news typically reports on the worst sorts of violent crime, violent crime made up only 21 percent of all police-reported crime in down 17 percent from , and homicides made up only one-tenth of 1 percent of all violent crimes in down 16 percent from In , the homicide rate fell to its lowest level since Perreault, This distortion creates the conditions for moral panics around crime.

As we noted earlier, a moral panic occurs when a relatively minor or atypical situation of deviance arises that is amplified and distorted by the media, police, or members of the public. It thereby comes to be defined as a general threat to the civility or moral fibre of society Cohen, For example, the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences for the cultivation of marijuana is framed in the Safe Streets and Communities legislation as a response to the infiltration of organized crime into Canada.

For years newspapers have uncritically published police messaging on grow-ops and the marijuana trade that characterizes the activities as widespread, gang-related, and linked to the cross-border trade in guns and more serious drugs like heroin and cocaine. Television news coverage often shows police in white, disposable hazardous-waste outfits removing marijuana plants from suburban houses, and presents exaggerated estimates of the street value of the drugs.

However a Justice Department study in revealed that out of a random sample of grow-ops, only 5 percent had connections to organized crime. While 76 percent of Canadians believe that marijuana should be legally available Stockwell et al. Although deviance is a violation of social norms, it is not always punishable, and it is not necessarily bad. Crime, on the other hand, is a behaviour that violates official law and is punishable through formal sanctions.

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Walking to class backwards is a deviant behaviour. For example, in Viola Desmond refused to sit in the balcony designated for blacks at a cinema in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, where she was unable to see the screen. She was dragged from the cinema by two men who injured her knee, and she was then arrested, obliged to stay overnight in the male cell block, tried without counsel, and fined. The courts ignored the issue of racial segregation in Canada. Instead her crime was determined to be tax evasion because she had not paid the 1 cent difference in tax between a balcony ticket and a main floor ticket.

She took her case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia where she lost. In hindsight, and long after her death, she was posthumously pardoned, because the application of the law was clearly in violation of norms of social equality. As you learned previously, all societies have informal and formal ways of maintaining social control. Within these systems of norms, societies have legal codes that maintain formal social control through laws, which are rules adopted and enforced by a political authority.

Those who violate these rules incur negative formal sanctions. Normally, punishments are relative to the degree of the crime and the importance to society of the value underlying the law. As we will see, however, there are other factors that influence criminal sentencing.

Not all crimes are given equal weight. Society generally socializes its members to view certain crimes as more severe than others. For example, most people would consider murdering someone to be far worse than stealing a wallet and would expect a murderer to be punished more severely than a thief. In modern North American society, crimes are classified as one of two types based on their severity.

Rape, murder, and armed robbery fall under this category. Nonviolent crimes involve the destruction or theft of property, but do not use force or the threat of force. If you use a crowbar to break into a car, you are committing a nonviolent crime; if you mug someone with the crowbar, you are committing a violent crime. As we noted earlier in the section on critical sociological approaches, when we think of crime, we often picture street crime , or offences committed by ordinary people against other people or organizations, usually in public spaces.

Embezzlement, insider trading, and identity theft are all types of corporate crime. Although these types of offences rarely receive the same amount of media coverage as street crimes, they can be far more damaging. An often-debated third type of crime is victimless crime. These are called victimless because the perpetrator is not explicitly harming another person. As opposed to battery or theft, which clearly have a victim, a crime like drinking a beer at age 17 or selling a sexual act do not result in injury to anyone other than the individual who engages in them, although they are illegal.

While some claim acts like these are victimless, others argue that they actually do harm society. Prostitution may foster abuse toward women by clients or pimps. Drug use may increase the likelihood of employee absences. Such debates highlight how the deviant and criminal nature of actions develops through ongoing public discussion. In the early morning of January 4, , a year-old Sikh caretaker in Surrey, B. The skinheads were part of a group that called itself White Power.

They had been to an all-night drinking party when they decided they were going to vandalize some cars in the temple parking lot. They encountered the caretaker Nirmal Singh Gill and took turns attacking him. In trial it came out that the eldest of the skinheads had recently been released from the military because of his racist beliefs.

Another had a large Nazi flag pinned to the wall of his apartment. The category of hate crimes grew out of the provisions in the Criminal Code that prohibit hate propaganda sections and including advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, or the willful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group. In , section However, police reported hate crimes totalled only 1, incidents in About one-third of the General Social Survey respondents said they reported the hate-motivated incidents to the police.

In police-reported hate crimes had dropped to 1, incidents. The majority of these were racially or ethnically motivated, but many were based on religious prejudice especially anti-Semitic or sexual orientation. A significant portion of the hate-motivated crimes 50 percent involved mischief vandalism, graffiti, and other destruction of property. This figure increased to 75 percent for religious-motivated hate crimes. Violent hate crimes constituted 39 percent of all hate crimes 22 percent accounted for by violent assault specifically. Crime Statistics What crimes are people in Canada most likely to commit, and who is most likely to commit them?

To understand criminal statistics, you must first understand how these statistics are collected. These annual publications contain data from all the police agencies in Canada. The accuracy of the data collected by the UCR also varies greatly. Because police and other authorities decide which criminal acts they are going to focus on, the data reflects the priorities of the police rather than actual levels of crime per se.

For example, if police decide to focus on gun-related crimes, chances are that more gun-related crimes will be discovered and counted.

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Similarly, changes in legislation that introduce new crimes or change the categories under which crimes are recorded will also alter the statistics. A self-report study is a collection of data acquired using voluntary response methods, based on telephone interviews. In , for example, survey data were gathered from 79, households across Canada on the frequency and type of crime they experience in their daily lives.

The surveys are thorough, providing a wider scope of information than was previously available. This allows researchers to examine crime from more detailed perspectives and to analyze the data based on factors such as the relationship between victims and offenders, the consequences of the crimes, and substance abuse involved in the crimes.

Demographics are also analyzed, such as age, ethnicity, gender, location, and income level. Though the GSS is a critical source of statistical information, disadvantages exist. Inability to contact important demographics, such as those who do not have access to phones or who frequently relocate, also skews the data. For those who participate, memory issues can be problematic for the data sets. While neither of these publications can take into account all of the crimes committed in the country, some general trends may be noted.

Crime rates were on the rise after , but following an all-time high in the s and s, rates of violent and nonviolent crimes started to decline. In they reached their lowest level since Perreault, In , approximately 2 million crimes occurred in Canada. The rate of violent crime reached its lowest level since , led by decreases in sexual assault, common assault, and robbery. The homicide rate fell to its lowest level since An estimated 1. The major contribution to the declining crime rate has been decreases in nonviolent crime, especially decreases in mischief, break-ins, disturbing the peace, theft of a motor vehicle, and possession of stolen property.

As noted above, however, only 31 percent of violent and nonviolent crimes were reported to the police. What accounts for the decreases in the crime rate? Opinion polls continue to show that a majority of Canadians believe that crime rates, especially violent crime rates, are rising Edmiston, , even though the statistics show a steady decline since Where is the disconnect?

There are three primary reasons for the decline in the crime rate. Firstly, it reflects the demographic changes to the Canadian population. Most crime is committed by people aged 15 to This age cohort has declined in size since Secondly, male unemployment is highly correlated with the crime rate. Following the recession of —, better economic conditions improved male unemployment.

Thirdly, police methods have arguably improved since , including having a more targeted approach to particular sites and types of crime. Whereas reporting on spectacular crime has not diminished, the underlying social and policing conditions have. It is very difficult to get a feel for statistical realities when you are sitting in front of a TV screen that shows a daily litany of violent and frightening crime.

At the end of , approximately 38, adults were in prison in Canada, while another , were under community supervision or probation Dauvergne, By way of contrast, seven million Americans were behind bars in Bureau of Justice Statistics, In the United States in , the incarceration rate was approximately 1, per , population. More than 1 in U. While Aboriginal people accounted for about 4 percent of the Canadian population, in , they made up Aboriginal women made up Gladue that the social history of Aboriginal offenders should be considered in sentencing.

Section Nevertheless, between and , the Aboriginal population in prison grew by 44 percent Correctional Investigator Canada, Hartnagel summarised the literature on why Aboriginal people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system Firstly, Aboriginal people are disproportionately poor and poverty is associated with higher arrest and incarceration rates. Unemployment in particular is correlated with higher crime rates. Thirdly, the criminal justice system disproportionately profiles and discriminates against Aboriginal people.

It is more likely for Aboriginal people to be apprehended, processed, prosecuted, and sentenced than non-Aboriginal people. Fourthly, the legacy of colonization has disrupted and weakened traditional sources of social control in Aboriginal communities. The informal social controls that effectively control criminal and deviant behaviour in intact communities have been compromised in Aboriginal communities due to the effects of forced assimilation, the residential school system, and migration to poor inner city neighbourhoods.

Although black Canadians are a smaller minority of the Canadian population than Aboriginal people, they experience a similar problem of overrepresentation in the prison system.

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Blacks represent approximately 2. A survey revealed that blacks in Toronto are subject to racial profiling by the police, which might partially explain their higher incarceration rate Wortley, Racial profiling occurs when police single out a particular racial group for extra policing, including a disproportionate use of stop-and-search practices i.

Moreover, in a reverse of the situation for whites, older and more affluent black males were more likely to be stopped and searched than younger, lower-income blacks. It seems intuitive that harsher penalties will deter offenders from committing more crimes after their release from prison.

Criminals Gone Wild 2: Menace II Humanity (Full Documentary)

However research shows that serving prison time does not reduce the propensity to re-offend after the sentence has been completed. Some researchers have spoken about a penal-welfare complex to describe the creation of inter-generational criminalized populations who are excluded from participating in society or holding regular jobs on a semi-permanent basis Garland, The painful irony for these groups is that the petty crimes like theft, public consumption of alcohol, drug use, etc.

There are a number of alternatives to prison sentences used as criminal sanctions in Canada including fines, electronic monitoring, probation, and community service. These alternatives divert offenders from forms of penal social control, largely on the basis of principles drawn from labelling theory.

Many non-custodial sentences involve community-based sentencing , in which offenders serve a conditional sentence in the community, usually by performing some sort of community service. The argument for these types of programs is that rehabilitation is more effective if the offender is in the community rather than prison. In special cases where the parties agree, Aboriginal sentencing circles involve victims, the Aboriginal community, and Aboriginal elders in a process of deliberation with Aboriginal offenders to determine the best way to find healing for the harm done to victims and communities.


  • Human Rights in International Relations (Themes in International Relations);
  • Language and Crime Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports 1st ed. 2016;
  • Chapter 7. Deviance, Crime, and Social Control – Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition.
  • 1. Introduction;
  • Women In Family Business: What Keeps You Up At Night?.
  • Gait Disorders: Evaluation and Management (Neurological Disease and Therapy);
  • Principles of Restorative Justice.

The emphasis is on forms of traditional Aboriginal justice , which centre on healing and building community rather than retribution. It is difficult to find data in Canada on the effectiveness of these types of programs. However, a large meta-analysis study that examined ten studies from Europe, North America, and Australia was able to determine that restorative justice conferencing was effective in reducing rates of recidivism and in reducing costs to the criminal justice system Strang et al.

The authors suggest that recidivism was reduced between 7 and 45 percent from traditional penal sentences by using restorative justice conferencing. Rehabilitation and recidivism are of course not the only goals of the corrections systems. Many people are skeptical about the capacity of offenders to be rehabilitated and see criminal sanctions more importantly as a means of a deterrence to prevent crimes, b retribution or revenge to address harms to victims and communities, or c incapacitation to remove dangerous individuals from society.

The political controversies that surround the question of how best to respond to crime are difficult to resolve at the level of political rhetoric. Tough and soft are moral categories that reflect a moral characterization of the issue. A question framed by these types of moral categories cannot be resolved by using evidence-based procedures. The story of the isolated individual whose specific crime becomes the basis for the belief that the criminal justice system as a whole has failed illustrates several qualities of unscientific thinking: knowledge based on casual observation, knowledge based on overgeneralization, and knowledge based on selective evidence.

Moral categories of judgement pose the problem in terms that are unfalsifiable and non-scientific. The sociological approach is essentially different. It focuses on the effectiveness of different social control strategies for addressing different types of criminal behaviour and the different types of risk to public safety. Thus, from a sociological point of view, it is crucial to think systematically about who commits crimes and why. Also, it is crucial to look at the big picture to see why certain acts are considered normal and others deviant, or why certain acts are criminal and others are not.

In a society characterized by large inequalities of power and wealth, as well as large inequalities in arrest and incarceration, an important social justice question needs to be examined regarding who gets to define whom as criminal. In this regard, sociology is able to advocate policy options that are neither hard nor soft, but evidence-based and systematic. Aboriginal sentencing circles : The involvement of Aboriginal communities in the sentencing of Aboriginal offenders.

Deviance and Control Deviance is a violation of norms. Society seeks to limit deviance through the use of sanctions that help maintain a system of social control. In modern normalizing societies, disciplinary social control is a primary governmental strategy of social control. Theoretical Perspectives on Deviance The three major sociological paradigms offer different explanations for the motivation behind deviance and crime. Functionalists point out that deviance is a social necessity since it reinforces norms by reminding people of the consequences of violating them.

Critical sociologists argue that crime stems from a system of inequality that keeps those with power at the top and those without power at the bottom. Feminist sociologists emphasize that gender inequalities play an important role in determining what types of acts are actually regarded as criminal. Symbolic interactionists focus attention on the socially constructed nature of the labels related to deviance. Crime and deviance are learned from the environment and enforced or discouraged by those around us. Crime and the Law Crime is established by legal codes and upheld by the criminal justice system.

The corrections system is the dominant system of criminal punishment but a number of community-based sentencing models offer alternatives that promise more effective outcomes in terms of recidivism.

Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports
Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports Language and Crime: Constructing Offenders and Victims in Newspaper Reports

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