Criminology Theories, and Story

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Criminal theories

Project 2

Excelsior College

Families, Delinquency, and Crime CJ 428

Ashraf Esmail


Project 2

The first theory to discuss is Population Heterogeneity, which was researched, by Daniel Nagin and Raymond Paternoster in 1991. The researchers believed that there were two theoretical explanations to explain antisocial behavior across the life course. The second theory, named State Dependent, which was also conducted in 1991 by Nagin and Paternoster. Their research continues to be studied by current criminologist to refine and develop new courses of actions in understanding deviant and criminal behaviors. Population Heterogeneity implies that past and future offending are related only as much as they are both related to an unmeasured criminal propensity that is stable over time within the individual. The theory also asserts that crime or violence is caused by an underlying propensity where one begins antisocial behaviors early in childhood and it continues throughout adulthood. It is this deviant trait, which is the connection between past and future deviant behavior. These theorists also contend that events external to the individual do little to influence criminal offending. The second theory is State Dependent theory, which argues that prior crime or violence can increase or decrease the likelihood of future crime. The state dependence component implies that committing a crime has a legitimate behavioral influence on the likelihood of committing future crimes. In other words, crime itself, whether directly or indirectly causally changes the future chance of one to engage in crime. Social bonds or lack of, to family, school, and peers all influence past and future deviant behavior. How one reacts to the justice system or incarceration could stigmatize those so marked and cause structural obstacles to establishing strong social ties to conventional lines of adult activity according to this theory. The next theory is Gottfredson and Hirschi’s Self-Control Theory, which was published in 1990. This theory states that unless self-control was instilled early in one's life, they are more likely to be involved in delinquent behavior. Some examples of risky related behaviors in those with low self-control are drug abuse, gambling, excessive drinking, irresponsible sex, and driving under the influence. These kinds of behaviors may be noticeable in deviant persons who seek thrills and enjoyment of living dangerously. One out of the six elements of self-control presented by Gottfredson and Hirschi states that most crimes require little skill or planning. This is undoubtedly open for criticism because many criminals do in fact plan their criminal acts and often are quite professional at these activities. The theory states that criminal tendencies are created very early in a child’s life and that the level of self-control depends on the quality of parenting in a child's early years. Parents need to apply appropriate positive and negative reinforcement methods and conduct proper supervision of their children. The theorist believed this would help their children to develop the self-control required to make the right decisions in life and resist the temptations offered by crime.

Sampson and Laub’s age-graded theory of informal social control developed in 1993 emphasizes that control processes for children exist not only in the framework of the family but also in their community. They also contend that informal social control is capable of mediating the effects of neighborhood and community structural characteristics on child behavior. What is important about this theory is that it brings together social influences on crime, such as family and employment, with psychological predispositions. There are three major themes in this theory. First, the fundamental structure to one's family and school social controls can influence delinquency in childhood and...
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