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JLS: Critical Issue in the Justice System > Test #1 > Flashcards

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 Sentencing laws may disproporionately impact minoriteis.  Example: 100:1 disparity in sentencing for crack cocaine vs p owder cocaine


Spiritual Explanations of Crime

earliest theories of crime/devience tended to focus on supernatural causes  or religous factors. Most focused on assumption that criminals/deviants were possessed    ****


Spiritual Ways of Dealing with Crimes

 Exorcism  Primitive Surge  ry (open skull so evil spirits can leave), burning at the stake, torture



   was an 18th century philosophical movement in Europe that stressed the importance of reason and the critical reappraisal of existing ideas and social institutions (LATE 17th CENTURY-MID 18th CENTURY) Key Contribution: humans are rationals-they make decisions based on what is best for them.   


Social Contract

   • Thomas Hobbes 1651 and was elaborated upon by other philosophers (Locke and Rousseau)
• An Agreement b/t the gov’t and the people, defining and limiting the right and duties of each
o That gives the gov’t power

• Thomas Hobbes 1651 and was elaborated upon by other philosophers (Locke and Rousseau)
• An Agreement b/t the gov’t and the people, defining and limiting the right and duties of each
o That gives the gov’t power



Thomas Hobbes

Social Contract


How did the social contract come to be?

1. Humans are selfish and greedy, thus people live in a constant fear of everyone else
2. Humans are rational and thus realized that it was better to give up some freedoms to form states and governments to avoid this constant state of fear


How does the Social Contract work?

• Everyone sacrifices the least possible portion of their freedom in exchange for safety and being able to live in peace and the sum of all these portions of freedoms given up by the citizenry is the right of the government to have laws and punish law breakers


When did the Positive School of Criminology take off?

Took off in the mid-1800s with the rise of science and the scientific method. Systematic Observations


Positive School of Criminology theories:

1. Human Nature is Naturally good or a “blank slate”
2. Human Behavior is “deterministic”


What is Determinism?

Determinism is the assumption that most human behavior is determined beyond free will and free choice.  Attributed to biological, psychological, and sociological factors which cause people to act in a certain way.


What did early Determinism theories focus on?

     Early theories of determinism focused on biological and psychological theories of crime:
• Based on the notion that certain individuals offend more than others
• And that these “inferior” individuals should be controlled or even eliminated
• Theories fit Eugenics movement that began around this period and lasted well into the 20th century 



What is Eugenics?

Eugenics is the study of policies related to the improvement of the human race via control over reproduction
• I.e. sterilization of defective individuals
o Nazis- of homosexuals
o US- of mentally handicap



What is Craniometry?

Craniometry is the field of study that believed the size of the brain or skull represented the superiority or inferiority of certain individuals or racial/ethnic groups


How were the early studies of Craniometry?

Early studies of Craniometry were poorly designed and biased and tended to support views that white/western people were superior, but as research improved early findings were debunked showing there is no correlation b/t brain/skull size and criminality.


What is Phrenology?

Phrenology is the science of determining human dispositions based on distinctions (like bumps) on the skull. Some thought the shape of the skull conformed to the shape of the brain; bumps were indicators of brain deformities. Didn’t get much research supports because bumps, etc. have little to nothing to do with the shape of the brain.


What is Physiogromy?

Physiogromy is the study of facial structure and other body characteristics to indicate developmental problems such as criminality.


What were the problems with the early theories of Physiogromy?

The early theories of physiogromy were mostly biased
• Designed to portray certain racial/ethnic groups inferior
• Research didn’t support the early theories


Why did the field continue to be dominated by biological explanations of crime into the early 20th century?

• 1859 Charles Darwin- Origins of Species
o Survival of the fittest
o Theory of evolution continue to justify exploring hereditary biological and psychological/determinants of human behavior- including criminality


What happened in 1859 that affected the field of criminology?

In 1859 Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species came out. This helped maintain focus of biological explanations of crime until the early 20th century.


What do free societies depend on?

Free socities depend on faith that the other person will behave decently.


What are some possible explanations for the link b/t low IQ and crime?

• Low IQ often le ads to failure and frustration
• Lack of foresight associated w/ low IQ
• They don’t understand why something is wrong


The Size of the IQ Gap:

• Incarcerated offenders average an IQ=92, 8 points below the general population
• Chronic offenders have an even lower IQ average


What was the 1876 theory of the Born Criminal?

In 1876 Cesare Lombroso published his theory of the “born criminal”. Certain people are “born criminal” and it is possible to identify them through a variety of physical characteristics
• Crime is committed by those who failed to evolve like the rest of us (Atavistic)
• To test his theory Lombroso studied many more people (dead and alive)
• He concluded criminals could be identified by specific physical traits


What are Stigmata?

Stigmata are physical manifestations of the atavism of an individual which indicate a prior evolutionary stage of development.  Having more than 5 stigmata indicated an individual is atavistic and will inevitably be a born criminal. I.e. Fleshy lips, large jaws etc. etc.


What are the theories of IQ and Crime?

• The early spiritual explanation: the dull-witted are possessed by the devil and forced into exile
• Early naturalistic explanation: its hereditary (Darwin)


Who is Alfred Benet and what is his significance?

Alfred Benet invented the IQ TEST in the early 1900s, with it some simple theories emerged that attempted to explain crime through low intelligence.


Who was HH Goddard and what were his contributions?

HH Goddard was an American psychologist and eugenicist in the early 20th century. He explained that societal problems were caused by feeblemindedness. 


How did HH Goddard classify the feebleminded?

HH Goddard classified the feebleminded into three categories. 
1. Moron- caused all the problems
2. Imbeciles
3. Idiots- the most feebleminded-you don’t have to worry about the they have trouble doing basic tasks 


What are some policy implications caused by HH Goddard’s theory?

 • Deportation of immigrants for “mental deficiency”
• Sterilization of people with low intelligence
o Buck v Bell (1927)- “3 generations of imbeciles is enough”
o The sterilization of the feebleminded wasn’t ruled unconstitutional until the 1970s


How is HH Goddard’s research viewed today?

HH Goddard’s research fell out of favor because of the controversial policies that emerged from it but research today still tends to find some correlation b/t IQ and criminality but it’s unclear if the relationship is a causal relation


What did Travis Hischi and Michael Hindelang find?

Hischi and Hindelang found that among youth of the same race and social class, intelligence was a significant predictor of delinquency and criminality.


What are some verbal IQ findings?

Recent studies found that having a low verbal IQ significantly impacted delinquent and criminal behavior.


What are Cytogenetic Studies?

Cytogenetic Studies focus on the genetic makeup of individuals with a specific focus on chromosomes. Like abnormalities.


What do Cytogenetic Studies focus on?

Cytogenetic Studies focus on largely on XYY males. XXY males are more likely to have behavioral disorders, recent studies focus on how the extra Y chromosome is tied to aggressive behavior and possibly criminality.


Why do we research hormones and neurotransmitters?

There is an idea that abnormal levels of hormones or neurotransmitters can influence behavior.


What does the Hormonal Research focus on?

Hormonal research focuses on testosterone
o High level may “masculinize” the brain
o Push people towards aggressive behavior


What are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain and body that help transmit electrical signals across neurons.


What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is responsible for the feeling of pleasure
• It is part of the body’s natural reward system
• It affects the ability to respond to “cues” in the environment
o I.e. drive fight or flight responses
• Over-production is related to psychotic, antisocial behavior and violence


What is Serotonin?

Serotonin regulates the ability to process emotions and control certain behaviors including aggression. Studies find low levels of serotonin are associated with:
• Depression
• Suicide
• Agression
• Violent & Criminal behavior


What does brain injury have to do with criminality?

If the brain areas responsible for higher-level functioning like problem solving, communication, impulse control, etc. are damaged one may be more likely to act on emotions and take risks especially temporal and frontal lobe.


What is the CNS?

CNS is the Central Nervous System- brain and spinal column- responsible for our voluntary motor activity.


What are some findings of the research on CNS?

Research on the Central Nervous System uses brain imaging and brain wave studies. We found that Psychopaths tend to have slower brain wave patterns.


What is the ANS?

ANS is the Autonomic Nervous System responsible for involuntary functions such as breathing and your heart beat.


What are some findings of the research on ANS?

People with low Autonomic Nervous System functioning are more likely to commit crime
• Perhaps because they are under stimulated but this has not been proven.


Nature vs. Nurture: Nature

People on the side of Nature argue that a person’s genetic makeup has the largest impact on behavior


Nature vs. Nurture: Nurture

People on the side of Nurture argue that how a person is socialized/nurtured has the largest impact on behavior
• Proper parenting- who they are around while growing up
• Neighborhood they are born into- social class


What are the earliest studies on Nature vs. Nurture?

The earliest studies (early 1900s simply looked at offending within families). There was a belief that serious offenders came from families with long history of crime. “Criminogenic gene”


What are the findings of the Family Studies?

1. Consistently, some families had much longer and more prevalent rates of criminality than others. This does not prove that crime is genetic because families share more than genes (like environment).
2. Criminality of the mother (or FHH) had much bigger impact on children that the criminality of the father. This is not proof though because:
a. The father may be absent
b. Female offending is less common, so those who offend may be highly anti-social


What are Monozygotic Twins?

Monozygotic Twins are identical twins, share a single eggs and 100% of their genotype


What are Dizygotic Twins?

Dizygotic Twins are fraternal twins, have two separate eggs and share 50% of their genotype


What are the finding of Twin Studies were twins were raised in the same hh?

• Concordance rates were highest among identical twins
a. Initially seen as evidence of impact of genes on criminality but there are environmental factors could still explain why concordance rate was higher for identical twins (they may be treated more similarly)


What did the Adoption Studies examine?

Adoption Studies examine the influence of biological parents vs. adoptive parents on a child’s criminality. What matters most?

• Having criminal biological parent they never knew (inheriting criminal gene) OR being raised by criminal adoptive parents (learning criminal behavior)



What are the findings of Adoption Studies?

1. Strongest effect was found in people with both
2. But the criminality of the biological parent had a greater impact


Why don’t the findings of Adoption Studies prove that it’s Nature?

There is selective placement were kids are placed in homes similar to theirs.


What do studies of Twins Separates at Birth examine?

Studies of twins separated at birth (1990s-present) examine identical twins separated at birth and raised in very different environments


What are the findings of studies of twins separated at birth?

Concordance rates for identical twins separated at birth even higher than in past studies of identical twins raised in the same household.


Nature vs. Nurture which wins?

Neither. Studies show both biological and environmental factors have an impact on criminality


What are Biosocial Explanations of Crime?

Biosocial Explanations of Crime try to explain how a person’s biological and psychological makeup interacts with their environment to affect behavior. Examples:
• Older studies suggest link b/t low birth weight and criminality. But recent studies find this is only true if they are raised in a low income family


How are Perinatal Problems and Societal Class linked?

• Perinatal problems can lead to a child having problems (colicky baby, hyperactive as a toddler and child, learning disabilities, etc.).
• In low income problems are more likely to be exacerbated and less likely to be treated.
• Thus, biological makeup interacts with environment


What is the Hysteria over Drugs and its importance?

• 1938 Refer Madness
• 1988 “Crack Baby Epidemic”
o Increased cocaine use in 1980 (& crack) raised concerns over fetuses
o Early, bad research suggests prenatal cocaine use leads to developmental problems
 Premature birth-low birth weight-shorter limbs- rare bone and other birth defects
o No causal link
o MAIN POINT: public hysteria over drug related crime prevents sensible discussion of policy


What are the 4 surveys used to calculate the extent of illegal drug use?

• National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
• Monitoring the Future (MTF)
• Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)
• Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM)


What is the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)?

NSDUH is the broadest of the general surveys
• Self-report data from general population (households_
• Good: broad sample, useful for looking at national trends
• Bad: respondents may lie; missed at-risk groups such as the homeless and prisoners 


What is Monitoring The Future (MTF)?

• Self-report data from students in grades 8,10, &12
• Surveys students in the classroom
• Good: you get information from at-risk group (students)
• Bad: misses the most at-risk kids (dropouts)



What is the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)?

• Drug-related hospital emergency room admissions
• Good: Measures most serious health consequences
• Bad: reports only on the cases were drug use was mentioned


What is the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM)?

• Urine specimen and arrestee self-report
• Good: some info on high risk group (for drugs and crime)


How do we get Official Crime Data?

  • Police, Courts, Corrections
  1. Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
  • Victimization Surveys
  1. Measures crime by asking people if they have been victimized in the past


What is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)?

• The major victimization survey in the US
• Samples 50,000-76,000 households
• Everyone in the household 12+ is interviewed
• Measures: assault, rape, sexual assault, burglary, MVT and theft


What are the Strengths of NCVS?

• Can measure crimes not reported to authorities
o Better at shining light on dark figure of crime
 Finds about 3X more crime than UCR
• A better measure of less serious crimes than official data


What are the Limitations of NCVS?

• People may forget to report minor crimes
• Telescoping- people include crimes that happened outside of the time period of interest
• Leaves out the homeless and small children


What are self-Report Surveys?

Self-report surveys asks people if they have committed any crimes


What are the strengths of self-report surveys?

·         Can get dark figure

·         Can include victimless crimes (such as drug use)

·         More accurate for minor crimes

o   Unlikely to be reported to police (cell phone theft)


o   Forgotten by victim


What are the limitations of self-report surveys?

  • ·         People may lie about crimes committed (especially serious crimes)


  • ·         Telescoping


At what age does illicit drug use peak?

Illicit drug use peaks around 18-20 years of age


What are Drug-defined crimes?

The possession and sale of illegal substances


What are Drug-related crimes?

Behaviors influenced by pharmacological effect of drugs. Example: robbery to pay for drug habit


What are crimes associated with drug usage?

Offender was using at time of offense, but drugs were not the cause


Drugs and alcohol use is VERY common among arrestees

Yes, many offenders use drugs but patterns of drug use vary among them. Some use drugs 1st, or commit crime 1st, or both.


TAKE AWAY on Drugs:

Drugs modify encounters b/t people in ways that make them a particular risk for violence. We can’t say drugs are direct cause of crime but they are related to crime.



1.       Supply Reduction


2.       Demand Reduction


What is Supply Reduction and how is it carried out?

Supply reduction is a Major Drug Control Policy designed to reduce availability.  Through:

1.       Drug Interdiction

2.       Drug Eradication

3.       Tougher Sentencing

Police Crackdowns


What is Drug Interdiction?

Drug interdiction is a method of supply reduction; it looks to prevent drug smuggling into US by intercepting and seizing drug contraband. It is one of the primary foci of US drug control policy. 


What is Drug Eradication?

Drug Eradication is a method of supply reduction; it looks at reducing the production of drug plants in the field.


What is Tougher Sentencing?

Tougher sentencing is a method of supply reduction; it looks at making sentences for all drug offenders more severe and longer


What are Police Crackdowns?


  • ·         Negative consequences for residents and police
  • ·         Increase fear
  • ·         Undermine support for population
  • ·         Exacerbate existing racial and ethnic disparities in CJS
  • ·        May not work or could only displace crime


What is Crime Displacement?

Crime Displacement prevention efforts moves crime to areas not being targeted. Deterrence based, results are mixed but encouraging.


What is Drug Reduction and how is it carried out?

Drug Reduction is a Major Drug Control Policy designed to decrease desire for drugs. Through:

1.       Education

2.       Drug Treatment


3.       Reclassifying and Decriminalizing Drug Offense


What is Education?

Education is a method of drug reduction. Public campaigns designed to persuade people to not use drugs. Through

  •  Information dissemination- provides info, assumes people are rational
  • Fear arousal-“this is your brain on drugs
  • Moral appeal-drug use is wrong
  • Affective education- help develop skills needed to resist


What is Drug Treatment?

Drug Treatment is a method of drug reduction. Planned intervention designed to change behavior. Through:

  • Methadone maintenance
  • Therapeutic communities- residential, intensive counseling
  • Outpatient drug-free programs-most common and least expensive
  • Faith-based treatment- operated by religious organizations 


What is Reclassifying and Decriminalizing Drug Offense?

Reclassifying and Decriminalizing Drug Offense is a Major Drug Control Policy. Many states have lowered classification levels for offense involving possessions.


Arguments for the legalization of drugs:

  • The futility of enforcement (<1%) Despite # of arrests, we reach less than 1% or users
  • The restriction of the drug market (more pot may reduce demand for hard drugs)
  • The hypocrisy of drug laws (tobacco and alcohol are legal)
  • International relations (heavy enforcement may hurt relations w/ Mexico, Peru, Columbia)
  • Personal freedoms (new search and seizure powers, employer drug testing etc.)
  • The crime rate (no need to burgle or rob if drugs are legal and cheap)
  • Public health (regulation= pure drugs and removal of stigma may convince addicts to get help)


Arguments against legalization of drugs:

  • The alcohol argument (substances as harmful as alcohol should be illegal for the sake of society
  • The crime rate (criminals are even more unpredictable or dangerous when high)
  • The cost of legalization (high taxes may increase black market and $ will be spent on added traffic deaths, loss of productivity and medical costs)
  • The addicts (addicts would lose job and resort to crime)
  • Personal freedoms (safeguarding the freedoms of drug users may impinge on rights of everyone else)


How was the Death Penalty in Colonial & Early America (1600s-1829)?


  • The death penalty was a common practice for a wide array of crimes
  • Executions were public
  • 1608- 1st execution in Virginia Colonies


What is Beccaria’s “On Crime & punishment”?

In 1767 Beccaria said that we should practice the least amount of punishment for crime so that they don’t repeat it. Not to execute for everything.


How was the Death Penalty in the Reform Era (1830-1975)?

  • 1838- 1st Discretionary capital punishment (mandatory execution)
  • Death available for fever crime types
  • No more public executions
  • Several states abolish it


How was the Death penalty in the Modern Era (1976-present)?

·         Two major constitutional changes to the death penalty

o   Does the death penalty violate due process?


o   Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?


Does the death penalty violate due process?

  • ·         In 1971 case, the defendant argues the death penalty violates the 14th amendment- due process

o   Jurors & unrestricted discretion

o   Guilt & sentence at same time


  • ·       Supreme court disagrees- due process rights are not violated


Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?

·         Furman v Georgia (1922)- Supreme court says yes

o   Process is too arbitrary

o   Violates 8th amendment- Cruel and unusual

o   Not the death penalty itself, just the way in which it was applied- inconsistently


o   Results: 40 states voided, 629 sentences commutes; nation stops all executions; states attempted to standardize process


What is the Mandatory Death Penalty?

Mandatory Death Penalty- certain types of narrowly defined murders automatically get the death penalty. Quickly ruled unconstitutional.


What is Guided Death Penalty?

Guided Death Penalty – juries are provided some sentencing direction. Aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Similar to sentencing guide lines. 


Greg v Georgia (1976)

·         3 forms allow for a return of the death penalty

1.       Guided Death Penalty

2.       Bi-furcated trial- separate deliberations for guilt and penalty

a.       After conviction, 2nd trial to decide death penalty vs. prison


3.       Proportionality reviews- have requirement for states to regularly review system of disparities


Dominant Methods of Execution


  • Hanging (pre-colonial) some would not die immediately
  • Firing Squad (late 19th century) messy, might not die
  • Electrocution (1890)
  • Gas Chamber (1924)
  • Lethal Injection (1977) 1. knock out 2. massive paralysis 3. Massive Heart Attack


Who is on Death Row?

  • 32 states, federal government, and military have it
  • Currently 3170 on death row in the US
  • States with most inmates on death row
  • Cal (699)
  • Florida (392)
  • Texas (315)
  • Pennsylvania (215)
  • 76% of all executions occur in the south


Death Penalty and Criminal History


  • 97% have prior homicide conviction
  • 66% have prior felony conviction


Death Penalty and Gender

98% male, 2% female


Death Penalty and Race/Ethnicity

·         White 43%, AA 42%, Hispanic 12%


Death Penalty and Education

·         Median education level of death row inmates is 12th grade


Death Penalty and Age


  • About 50% were 20-29 at the time of arrest, 11% 19 or younger
  • 42 at time of execution


What is the goal of the death penalty?


  • Incapacitation
  • Retribution
  • General Deterrence


What is deterrence?

·         Deterrence-could reduce violent crime


What is the brutalization effect?

·         Brutalization Effect- could increase violent crime


What did Cochran et al. examine?

Cochran et al. 1994 examined impact of return of death penalty on homicides rates

  • Find neither deterrent nor brutalization effect

Cochran and Chamlin (2000) examine impact of one highly publicized execution in CA


  • Find small deterrent effect for instrumental, non-stranger homicides
  • But even bigger brutalization effect for expressive, stranger homicides


What did recent studies on the effect of the death penalty find?

  • Land et al. (2009) small, short term deterrence effect in TX
  • Kovandzic (2009) no deterrent effect in US
  • Bottom Line: no clear evidence that the death penalty acts as a strong deterrent


Are there disparities in carrying out the death penalty?

McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) – Plaintiff cites Baldus (1981) study showing that cases with white victims got the death penalty more. Not all studies found a race effect however, challenge on grounds of racial discrimination rejected.


What did Poternoster et al. (2003) examine?

Poternoster et al. examined 4 key decision points

1. Decision by prosecutors to rue notification to seek death

  • Race of victim mattered more likely to seek death for white victims
  •  Location mattered some counties are more likely to seek death

2.Prosecutors decision to make death notification stick

  • No race effect

3.Prosecutor's decision to advance case to penalty phase

  • No race effect

4.Decision of judge/jury to sentence defendant to death

  • No race effect


Summary of Disparity Research


  • Victims race, death penalty more likely if victim is white
  • Race of offender- no substantial effect
  • Social Class: Inconclusive evidence and confounded with race


Why is it more costly to execute?

  • Death sentence costs approximately $3 million, compared to $1.1 million where death was not sought
  • Trial Phase:
    • 70% of added cost occurs at trial: Longer trials, more motions, more prep time, investigation, jury selection
  • Appellate Conviction Phase- greater # of motions, appeals and hearing
  • Prison Costs: death row is more expensive