Criminal Justice Theories and Criminological Ideologies

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For many years, people have studied the patterns and lives of serial killers in the effort to establish how they're created. In the 1980's, the mythology of serial killers became to be known to the public through the F.B.I. and the media (Lecture, 9/8/2005). As a society, we often wonder if the idea behind serial killers is just a myth, or if in fact reality. The purpose of this argument is to analyze the "serial killer" myth in America and explain it through four imperative criminological theories. Through our class lectures, we have learned that, "serial killers have set a particular image that is a myth." And also, "serial killers are outside strangers and we need to do everything within our power to stay away from them" (Lecture, 9/8/2005). As a society, we need to take into account that "serial killers provide the most graphic illustration of dangerous outsiders" (K&P, 91). This would lead us to the question of whether or not serial killers do in fact commit random murders. For example, could it be one who would wait in a park and kill a random person or do we actually know the murderer? Thus being someone who we associate with on a daily basis, such as the person we talk to each morning at the bus stop or gas station on our way to work. The myth of serial killers also states that "serial killers are peculiar individuals, they are out to ‘get' everybody" (Lecture, 9/8/2005). In past history, the media didn't focus their perceptions of information on serial murders. When they did shift their focus on serial killers, the rates of murders of serial killers became public around 1984 and 1985. Were the citizens of America concerned with this information? Were they afraid, or even know about such a thing as a "serial killer" or "serial murder"? In 1984, Life Magazine printed an article stating that "serial murder as an almost uniquely American problem" (K&P, 79). Were the American people not simply afraid, because of the fact that they didn't want to believe that there was such a thing known to them as a "serial killer" myth, or because they in fact did believe in such a thing as a "serial murder" and didn't know how to face the reality of the fact? Maybe in fact serial murders were a bigger problem than what it was first portrayed to be from the media. Newsweek magazine printed an article during this time period that stated "as many as two-thirds of the estimated 5,000 unsolved homicides in the nation each year may be committed by serial murderers" (K&P, 79). This put a twist on the serial killer myth because in fact the rates really weren't all that low after all. As the question of, "what is considered low for rates of serial murders", I can only assume that now the people (American citizens) did in fact have a reason to believe in the serial killer myth, or in the very least take some time to really think about what it meant to them. From classroom lecture, we have also studied learned that approximately 2%-3% of homicides in the U.S. are due to serial killings; essentially one in 10,000 homicides are the result of a serial killer (Lecture 9/8/2005). Kappeler and Potter's statement can justify the fact that the news media can be very biased, therefore making people believe in the fact that either there is such a thing as serial killers, or in fact it's just a myth. They (Kappeler and Potter), state that "the nature and quality of reporting is likely to change over the years, while newspapers concentrate on what is likely to interest a local readership" (K&P, 81). Whether it's just newspapers or the media in general, all forms of mass media do in fact have the ability to interest its local readership. The whole idea of serial murders has only been well known for about 20 years now, however, there are theories of crime that have been well known for over 150 years that we can use to analyze such a myth as serial killers. One such theory that would help us better understand the concept of whether or not that the idea of...
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