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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Week 6 Discussion - Criminological Theory.

Society controls the definition of crime. For instance, some things that were considered crimes 100 years ago are not crimes today and vice versa. In the context of the impact of changes in the nature of crime, what are some likely trends?
Genetic and biometric information may be able to predict criminal tendency in the future. DNA evolutionary adaption, frontal lobe activity differences, and low heart rate have been found as distinctive in criminals. In “The anatomy of violence: The biological roots of crime”, Raine discusses such biological markers. As technology advances, the ability to “dissect” these factors can only grow. It would be a mistake, however, to only rely on these factors to explain criminal behavior either now or in the future.

Sociological explanations can describe criminal phenomena that has not been encountered yet due to future culture conflict, the human tendency to labeling of mala prohibita behavior as criminal, and the growth of the burrocracy. These factors can be demonstrated as changing what is legally criminal behavior today. The malleable nature of culture conflict can be seen in the transition of the gay rights movement from demanding tolerance to now demanding compliance; a baker now “must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines,”(Moreno, 2013, para. 1). Whether you define it as the growth complex, the bureaucratic politics model, or as Pournelle's Iron law of bureaucracy, the tendency of large organizations to forgo their forming mission and seek additional power can be seen even now in the culture conflict between the burrocracy & welfare state versus the taxpayers Silvergate gives several examples of citizens arrested for felonies for behavior that they did not know was illegal, and did not seem criminal in the first place. One example is of “American businesswoman Diane Huang was convicted under this far-reaching provision, despite her unawareness of the supposed Honduran law banning the shipment of lobsters in clear plastic bags. Lack of criminal intent, the Washington Legal Foundation argued on behalf of Huang and her co-defendants, should make the government’s criminal charges inappropriate. To make matters worse, the Honduran law governing such shipments was not valid at the time of Huang’s arrest—a fact that the Honduran government pointed out to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nonetheless, the federal court found Huang guilty in March 2003 and imposed a two-year prison sentence”. (Silvergate, 2009, para.2) You can see politicians pushing new “bullying” laws, which they will use to silence their opposition or any criticism. “An incumbent legislator has threatened cable companies with litigation if they run advertisements citing his voting record in the Texas House. Meanwhile, the same lawmaker’s chief of staff demanded that a website publishing his votes be shut down, citing a law designed to protect teenagers from cyber-bullying on social media websites. “ (Gutowski,2014, para 1)
In the previous paragraph, the discussion touched on one of the trends we will see in the future of criminology, the criminalization of more and more behavior. Another major changes comes from technology. The Foresight Crime Prevention Panel  of the UK “predicts that crime will transcend national borders and that electronic services will become direct targets for crime. “ (BBC News, 2000, para. 7) In the future as in the past there will be a technological arms race between the criminal justice system and criminals. One of the areas I was interested in beginning this program was in cyber crime. I have spent many hours on the Bad Ideas forum at Zoklet.net, and on the deep web black market Silk Road forums, and I believe that a disciplined criminal can conduct a variety of fraud and remain anonymous. On the other hand, to prevent this behavior would necessitate the destruction of a lot of our privacy, even as we see the burrocracy doing so now. The harm the destruction of our privacy far outweighs the harm an “uncatchable” thief does.
(For those of you interested in the discussions of petty criminals see:
For discussion of anonymity and moving money secretly, get the TOR browser and search for the Silk Road forums, which tend to disappear and reappear occasionally)
Even with the advance of technology, it will be possible to integrate some criminalogical theories to meet the challenges of the future; human nature is imutable even if the technology is not. For example, we can look at the behavior of sex predators; the technology has allowed predators access to more victims, but it has not changed their underlying behavior.”This proportion of arrests may have grown since 2000 as Internet use has become more widespread, and more law enforcement agencies have been trained to respond to Internet-related crimes.”(Wolak, Finkelhor, Mitchell, & Ybarra, 2008, p10)
The major factor that limits our ability to study crime today is the inability to gauge the criminals' true intent; beyond the issues of self-reporting, on which criminal may overestimate in bragging, or under report in concealing punishable activity, some crimes committed are from lack of control. They are emotional in nature and not always understood by criminal himself. Underreporting of crime by victims will also remain an obstacle to understanding crime.
Criminalogical theory will always be, in part, able to explain any sort of crime. These theories have been developed by the observation and study of human behavior throughout history, whether from a classical or positivist viewpoint. Even though no one theory can successfully explain all crime, each theory (that is, those based on observation and not political wish casting such as Marxist-based theory) can explain some aspect of crime and can continue to do so. The role criminology can play in counter-terrorism is through the use of the same tools to combat criminals; profiling, relationship mapping. One such tool is statistical analysis. “University of Pennsylvania criminologist Richard Berk, a trained statistician, never met a data set he didn't like. Now, using fresh data from the Philadelphia probation department, Berk and three colleagues have built an innovative model for predicting which troublemakers already in the system are most likely to kill or attempt a killing” (ecollege.com, n.d., p.1)
Although the technology of crime can change, and the definition of crime can vary, human nature itself does not. We experience the same rages, greed, envy, and lust that the Ancients did. The theories of criminology will always be useful in describing the results of these, and sometimes in explaining them, and hopefully, sometimes in preventing them.

Crime-fighting's hi-tech future. (2000, March 25). BBC News. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/690182.stm
ecollege.com. (n.d.) W6_News_Reports. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://vizedhtmlcontent.next.ecollege.com/pub/content/6a2e9492-75c8-4a56-8ba2-c65dcbde19af/W6_News_Reports.pdf?eclg_res=176601&eclg_resver=242033
Gutowski, S. (204, Feburary 9).Texas State Rep tries to use anti-bullying law to silence critics [Breitbart]. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://capitolcityproject.com/headline/texas-state-rep-tries-use-anti-bullying-law-silence-critics-breitbart/

Moreno, I. (2013, December 6) Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve gay couples. The Denver Post.
Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24672077/judge-orders-colo-cake-maker-serve-gay-couples
Raine, A. (2013). The anatomy of violence: The biological roots of crime. Kindle Ed. Random House LLC
Silvergate, H. (2009) You, too? Three felonies a day: How the Feds target the Innocent. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K., & Ybarra, M. (2008) Online “Predators” and their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for
Prevention and Treatment. American Psychologist, 63, 111-128. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/Am%20Psy%202-08.pdf

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