Write a 3–5-page paper answering the following questions:
What would be another theory and strategy to avoid stereotyping individuals in the criminal justice system?
Is labeling theory a legitimate crime causation theory? Why?
In your opinion, where do gangs fit within the 3 influential versions of cultural deviance theory? Why?
Decide whether labeling theory or cultural deviance theory best explains the following problem, and why:
The number of youths joining gangs in the inner city has doubled, while the number of gang leaders serving time in prison and being released after good conduct has increased. The crime rate for gang violence has risen 20% from last year.
Your opinion statements must be justified by theory or real-life strategies and practices of law enforcement activity.
The explanation of cause of criminality must use the case provided.
You must use the labeling theory or cultural deviance theory in answering questions.
You must use APA style in citing and creating your reference page.
CRJS410-U1DB Assignment Overview Unit 1 Submission Assignment
Today, several theories have been developed to explain the causes of criminal behavior in society, including cultural deviance and labeling theory. Labeling theorists believe that labels given to offenders foster criminal practices among individuals, while the cultural deviance theory relates crime to the lower-class culture that promotes deviance rather than norms in societies. Based on these theories, scholars believe that stereotyping is among the factors that encourage deviant behavior, as the practice incites people to start or continue their involvement with crimes; thus, halting stereotyping can significantly help reduce criminal activities among offenders. Other than the labeling and cultural deviance theory, challenging judicial stereotyping through the help of human rights advocates may also be an ideal strategy to avoid stereotyping in the criminal justice system.
Challenging judicial stereotyping may be an effective strategy to avoid stereotyping individuals in the criminal justice system. As observed by Cusack (2014), judicial stereotyping is a barrier to justice, which translates to the revictimization of complainants. Notably, when judges’ decisions are distorted by stereotyping a certain race, religion, or ethnicity, the stereotyped category of individuals may be incited to indulge in the practice, which in turn, may lead to revictimization of complainants. Human rights advocates may intervene in the criminal justice system to ensure that such occurrences are avoided and that judges uphold impartiality and equality. By challenging judicial stereotyping, human rights advocates can significantly prevent further stereotyping in the system.
From a sociological perspective, labeling theory is a legitimate crime causation theory because it relates deviant behavior with the reality of the social structure. As observed by Besemer et al. (2017), the labeling theory suggests that “people’s behavior is influenced by the label attached to them by society” (p.2). For example, when an individual is labeled an ex-convict, they may develop the self-conception of being criminals, which may, in turn, steer them to indulge in further crimes in the future. Based on this information, it is evident that labels have the potential to deepen rather than halt deviant behavior among individuals, which implies that the labeling theory is a legitimate crime causation theory.
Apart from the individual perspective, the legitimacy of the labeling theory can also be viewed from a societal perspective. As opined by Besemer et al. (2017), the use of labels in the criminal justice system creates a potential blockage of conventional and non-criminal pathways to individuals, which leads to their further involvement with illegal activities. For example, if a person is labeled an ex-felon, they may experience challenges in getting stable jobs due to stigmatization by society. Consequently, the stigmatization and blockage of conventional pathways may drive the individual to indulge in criminal activities to make a living. Also, labeling blocks association of offenders with the rest of society, which in turn encourages the former to interact with people that are more receptive of their acts, such as other gang members. Synthesis of this information reveals that the labeling theory is legitimate, as it establishes a correlation between the rejection of offenders from society and the high probability of such individuals participating in further criminal activities.
Apart from the labeling theory, the cultural deviance theory also attempts to establish the causes of deviant behavior in society. The theory suggests that values, beliefs, rituals, and practices of societies foster illegal actions among individuals (Inderbitzin et al., 2012; Lombardo 2012). In other words, proponents of the theory believe that criminal acts among individuals can be traced back to the social group in which the offender belongs.
The cultural deviance theory has three influential versions; the lower-class culture, urban lower-class areas, and subcultures. According to theorists, criminal behavior is the product of a lower-class culture, which promotes deviant behavior over acceptable norms in society. Also, the theory suggests that urban lower-class areas are the causes of the rise of crime due to generation of subcultures that boost the deviant behavior. Also, the subcultures of crime trigger organized crimes that people indulge in for personal gains. The three influential versions of the cultural deviance theory are believed to be the facilitators of criminal behavior in urban areas.
Based on an analysis of information about the cultural deviance theory, I opine that gangs fit in the subculture’s influential version of the theory. Notably, as the word suggests, a gang is an organized group of offenders who indulge in deviant behavior for personal gain and satisfaction. For example, some gangs indulge in carjacking for money and human trafficking to make profits. The fact that gangs are organized criminal groups and their aims are mainly to make personal gains qualifies them as subcultures in the cultural deviance theory.
Information from the identified problem reveals distinct features of criminality in the inner city. On the one hand, data shows that the rate of youths joining gangs in the inner city has doubled. Also, the statistics reveal that the rate of release of incarcerated gang leaders has increased significantly following a change of behavior by the offenders. However, despite a considerable positive reform of behavior among gang leaders, data from the case scenario shows that gang violence in the city has risen drastically by 20% from the previous years. Based on the synthesis of this information, I opine that the cultural deviance theory best explains the problem in the case scenario because the features of the crime appear to be rooted in lower-class and urban lower-class culture.
The issue presented can best be explained using cultural deviance theory because crime in the case scenario appears to be rooted in the lower-class culture and urban lower-class areas. As noted, the influential versions of the cultural deviance theory suggest that focus on deviance over norms of society is among the primary factors that trigger criminal behavior in urban areas. This phenomenon is depicted in the case scenario, whereby the rate of youths joining gangs in the inner city has doubled. The nature of the problem suggests that factors other than poverty are the primary causes of criminal behavior. Arguably, if poverty were a potential factor, people of different ages would be involved in crime. As such, the information in the case implies that there exists a distinct lower-class culture among youths in the inner city, which encourages deviance over norms. From the identified perspective, it can be argued that the cultural deviance theory best explains criminal behavior in the inner city.
The case scenario can also be analyzed from the subculture version of the cultural deviance theory. As noted, this influential version suggests that subcultures are responsible for bringing together individuals and creating crimes that aim at boosting personal gains and satisfaction. This phenomenon is exhibited in the case scenario, whereby the rate of gang violence is said to have risen by 20% in the inner city. This information shows that subcultures in the inner city are responsible for banding individuals together and creating gangs in the area.
Besemer, S., Farrington, D., & Bijleveld, C. (2017). Labeling and intergenerational transmission of crime: The interaction between criminal justice intervention and a convicted parent. PLoS ONE, 12(3), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172419
Cusack, S. (2014, June 9). Eliminating judicial stereotyping: Equal access to justice for women in gender-based violence cases. COE. https://rm.coe.int/1680597b20
Inderbitzin, M., Bates, K., & Gainey, R. (2012). Deviance and social control: A sociological perspective. Sage, ISBN: 1412973775, 9781412973779.
Lombardo, R.M. (2012). Organized crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia. University of Illinois, ISBN: 0252094484, 9780252094484.