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9 Control & Punishment BOOKLET
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9 Control & Punishment BOOKLET


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  • 1. Control, punishment and victims
  • 2. Crime prevention and control What makes people conform? Situational crime prevention Ron Clarke describes situational crime prevention as ‘ a pre-emptive approach that relies, not on improving societies or its institutions, but simply on reducing opportunities for crime’. He sees three features of measures aimed at crime prevention: They are directed at specific crimes. They involve managing or altering the immediate environment of the crime. They aim at increasing the effort and risks of committing a crime. For example ‘target hardening’ = improving household security and increasing surveillance via CCTV cameras, security guards. Underlying Ron Clarke’s approach is a ‘rational’ theory of crime. This is the view that criminals act rationally, weighing up the costs of committing a crime before deciding whether to commit it. Clarke argues that most theories offer no realistic solutions to crime (subcultural theory, functionalism, Marxism etc). He says that we should focus on the immediate crime situation since this is where the chance of prevention is greatest. Most crime is opportunistic, so we need to reduce the opportunities.
  • 3. Marcus Felson Give an example of crime situational crime prevention strategy. The Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City was poorly designed and provided opportunity for deviant conduct. Luggage theft, drug dealing etc. Re-shaping the physical environment greatly reduced such activity. For example, large sinks in which the homeless were bathing were replaced by small hand basins. Question What prevention measures do you take personally, are taken in your home do you see in college? Displacement A criticism of situational crime prevention measures is that they do not reduce crime; they simply displace it. Chaiken found that a crackdown on subway robberies in New York merely displaced them to the streets above. Displacement takes several forms:      Spatial – moving elsewhere to commit the crime Temporal – committing it at a different time Target – choose a different victim Tactical – using a different method Functional – committing a different type of crime The most striking example of the success of situational measures is not about crime, but about suicide. In the 60’s half of all suicides in Britain were the result of gassing. At the time the gas supply came from the highly toxic. From the 60’s onwards coal gas was gradually replaced by less toxic natural gas and by 1997 suicides by gassing had fallen to near zero. Also overall suicides had also declined. There didn’t appear to be any displacement.
  • 4. Evaluation Situational crime prevention seems to work, but there is also evidence of displacement. It tend to focus on opportunistic, petty street crime and ignores white collar and state crime. It assumes criminals make rational calculations. This is not always the case, especially with murder. Environmental crime prevention This approach is based on James Q Wilson and George Kelling’s article Broken Windows. They use the term Broken Windows to stand for all the various signs of disorder and lack of concern for others that are found in some neighbourhoods: noise, graffiti vandalism etc. They believe that leaving broken windows etc unrepaired gives out the signal the no one cares. In such areas there is an absence of both formal and informal control. Without action the situation deteriorates and the area can tip into a spiral of decline. Zero tolerance policing They suggest that any broken window/graffiti should be sorted out immediately and also that police should adopt a zero tolerance approach which means they should come down hard on even the slightest signs of disorder. The evidence
  • 5. Great successes have been claimed for zero tolerance policing. There was a 50% decrease in murder in New York when Zero tolerance policing was used. However it is not clear how far zero tolerance was the cause of the improvements. NYPD benefitted from 7,000 extra policemen There was a general decline in crime at the time, even in cities that didn’t use zero tolerance policies While deaths from murder declined, attempted murder remained high. Improved medical facilities might be the reason for this. Punishment One measure that can be seen as reducing crime is punishment. There are two main justifications that have been offered for it: reduction and retribution. Reduction One justification for punishing offenders is that it prevents future crime. This can be done through: Deterrence – punishing the individual discourages them from offending in the future. Rehabilitation – this is the idea that punishment can be used to reform or change offenders so that they no longer offend Incapacitation – this is the use of punishment to remove the offender’s capacity to offend again (execution, chemical castration etc)
  • 6. Sociological perspectives on punishment Durkheim: a functionalist perspective Functionalists such as Durkheim argue that the function of punishment is to uphold social solidarity and reinforce shared values. Two types of justice While punishment functions to uphold social solidarity, it does so differently in different types of society. Durkheim identifies two types of justice, corresponding to two types of society. Retributive justice – (revenge) Restitutive justice – (restore things to how they where before the offence) Marxism: capitalism and punishment For Marxists the function of punishment is to maintain the existing social order. In the 18th century punishments such as hanging, and transportation to the colonies for theft and poaching were part of the ‘rule of terror’ by the aristocracy over the poor. Foucault: birth of the prison Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish opens with a striking contrast between two different forms of punishment, which he sees as examples of sovereign power and disciplinary power.
  • 7. Sovereign power was typical of the period before the 19th century, when the monarch had power over people and their bodies. Inflicting punishment on the body was the means of asserting control. Punishment was a spectacle such as public execution. Disciplinary power becomes dominant from the 19th century. In this form of control, a new system of discipline seeks to govern not just the body but also the mind or ‘soul’. It does so through surveillance. Foucault demonstrates his point with the panopticon prison which was designed so that the prisoners could be observed by the guards at all times. Because they might be watched the prisoners behaved themselves. Foucault argues that the panopticon was was one of a range of institutions that began to subject individuals to disciplinary power through selfsurveillance. Other institutions include mental asylums, work houses, factories and schools. Criticisms The shift from physical punishment to imprisonment is less clear than he suggests. He exaggerates the extent of control that the state has over individuals. Imprisonment today In liberal democracies that do not have the death penalty, imprisonment is considered the most severe form of punishment. However it has not proved an effective method of rehabilitation. – about two thirds of prisoners commit further crimes on release. Since the 1980s the prison population has swollen is size. A consequence of this has been overcrowding.
  • 8. Britain imprisons a higher proportion of people than almost any other country in Europe. For example in England and Wales 139 out of every 100,000 people are in prison. This compares with France 99, Germany 91 Ireland 86 and Sweden 64, However, the world leaders are the USA with 750 in prison per 100,000 of the population. The prison population is mainly male ( 95%), young and poorly educated. Black and ethnic minorities are over represented. Alternatives to prison In the past, a major goal in dealing with young offenders was diverting them away from the criminal justice system to avoid the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy turning them into serious criminals. The focus was on welfare and treatment such as community service. In recent years there has been a growth in the range of community based controls, such as curfews and electronic tagging. Far from diverting young people from the criminal justice system, community controls may divert them into it. Some think that police use ASBOS as a way of fast-tracking young offenders into prison. What is meant by ‘zero tolerance policing’? What does Foucault mean by ‘disciplinary power’?