Law and Society
Defining crime is a difficult task due to the various theories on crime definitions and differences of opinions. In 1947, Paul Tappan gave the legal definition for crime, stating that crime could be defined as “an intentional violation of the criminal law committed without excuse and penalised by the state.” However each individual may have differing opinions on the definition of crime due to varying societal factors, such as religion and past experience with crime and the criminal justice system. So how useful is the legal definition of crime to Australian criminology then? Other criminologists have offered different definitions, allowing society to build upon the way it forms definitions of crime, rather than having a single universal definition, which may miss some important aspects. Criminologists must use a combination of these definitions to successfully research effective ways to lower crime and offer new policies to the Australian government for consideration. Legal definition
In the 1950’s, the British government, with the permission of the Australian government, detonated a number of atomic bombs in Maralinga, an area which was populated by Indigenous Australians. These indigenous Australians were not evacuated prior to the explosions and as a result of radiation exposure, many grew sick and died. “When a member of staff at Hedley Marston's division queried the British Scientist Scott Russell on the fate of the Aborigines at Maralinga, the response was that they were a dying race and therefore dispensable." (Wakefield Press, 2001, p.32). Under the legal definition of crime, this was not a criminal offence, as it was not penalised by the state. This incident highlights one of the flaws of this definition. An act can only be deemed to be criminal if the state decides to pass legislation making it so. Therefore, the criminalization of many controversial issues such as asylum seekers and pollution is completely in the...
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