Chapter Seven - Faculty Server Contact | UMass Lowell

Chapter Seven - Faculty Server Contact | UMass Lowell

Criminological Theory The Irony of State Intervention: Labeling Theory Introduction Rather than diminishing criminal involvement, state interventionlabeling and reacting to offenders as criminals and ex-felons can have the unanticipated and ironic consequence of deepening the very behavior it was meant to halt The criminal justice system is a major factor in anchoring people in criminal careers Introduction

State intervention is dangerously criminogenic Grew rapidly in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s 2.2 million American in state and federal prison and nearly 5 million on probation and parole The Social Construction of Crime Labeling theorists urged criminologists to surrender the idea that behaviors are somehow inherently

criminal or deviant What makes an act criminal is not the harm it incurs but rather whether this label is conferred on the act by the state It is the nature of society that determines whether a crime has occurred Changes over time, across societies, etc. The Social Construction of Crime Labeling

theorists argued that criminologists could ill afford to neglect the nature and effects of societal reaction, particularly when the state was the labeling agent Origins of criminal labels Marijuana Howard Becker Federal Bureau of Narcotics Delinquency Andrew Platt affluent women Child abuse Stephan Pfohl pediatric radiologists Wife-beating Kathleen Tierney media and feminist organizations The Social Construction of Crime

What the state designated as criminal was not a constant but rather the result of concrete efforts by men and women to construct a different reality Behaviors criminalized only when the social context is ripe for change and groups exist that were sufficiently motivated and powerful to bring about legal reform The Social Construction of Crime A lawbreakers behavior is only one factor in determining whether a criminal label is conferred

Many studies illustrate this point: Black Panther bumper sticker study (Heusenstamm, 1975) Juveniles demeanor (Piliavin and Briar, 1964) Customers reporting shoplifting (Steffensmeier and Terry, 1973) Saints and Roughnecks (Chambliss, 1984)

The Social Construction of Crime The nature of state criminal intervention is not simply a matter of an objective response to illegal behavior but rather is shaped intimately by a range of extralegal contingencies Influenced by individual characteristics such as race, class, and gender Rates of labeling also vary according to the resources available to and political demands placed on police and other criminal justice organizations The Social Construction of

Crime Official measures of crime depend not only on how many offenses are committed but also on the arrest practices of police Official crime statistics may be inaccurate to the extent they reflect a systematic bias in enforcement against certain groups or fluctuations in the willingness of police to enforce certain laws Labeling and reacting to people as criminals composed the major source of chronic involvement in illegal activity Labeling as Criminogenic:

Creating Career Criminals Argued that causal analysis should commence not with offenders and their environments but rather with the societal reaction that other people including state officialshave toward offenders Labeling and treating lawbreakers as criminals have the unanticipated consequence of creating the very behavior they were meant to prevent Early Statements of Labeling Theory

The idea that criminal justice intervention can deepen criminality did not originate in the 1960s Bentham prisons are academies of crime Lombroso prisons create habitual criminals Bonger prisons create professional criminals Tannenbaum was the earliest scholar to state in general terms the principle that state intervention is criminogenic because it dramatizes evil

Being caught and punished changes the persons world and the person reconsiders his/her identity ; the person is tagged, defined, and treated as a criminal and acts accordingly Labeling as Criminogenic: Creating Career Criminals In 1951, Lemert further formalized these insights when he distinguished between two types of deviance: Primary 1. Arises from sociocultural and psychological sources

Occurs when the offender tries to rationalize the behavior as a temporary aberration or sees it as part of a socially acceptable role Do not see self as a deviant Labeling as Criminogenic: Creating Career Criminals In 1951, Lemert further formalized these insights when he distinguished between two types of deviance: 2. Secondary

Precipitated by the responses of others to the initial proscribed conduct. As societal reaction intensifies progressively with each act of primary deviance, the offender becomes stigmatized through name calling, labeling, or stereotyping Often accepts the deviant status Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Howard Becker, Kai Erikson, and John Kitsuse argued most convincingly that

societal reaction is integral to the creation of crime and deviance These labeling theorists borrowed Mertons concept of self-fulfilling prophecy A false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Labeling scholars argued that most offenders are defined falsely as criminal

The falseness in definition is tied to the fact that criminal labels, once conferred, do not simply provide a social judgment of the offenders behavior; they also publicly degrade the offenders moral character The act and the actor are bad and the person would soon be in trouble again Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy The meaning of the label criminal in our society leads citizens to make assumptions about offenders that are wrong or only partially accurate

These assumptions are consequential because they shape how people react to offenders Criminal becomes the persons master status or controlling public identification In the face of repeated designation as a criminal, the person internalized the public definition of a deviant Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Additionally, once labeled as a criminal, often the person is cut off from previous pro-social

relationships One solution to being a social pariah is to bond together with those of a like status Accordingly, conditions are conducive for offenders wearing a criminal label to differentially associate with other lawbreakers Further reinforces antisocial values and provides partners in crime Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy The

abrogation of ties to conventional society is most probable when the state intervention involves institutionalization Loss of employment, strains on family, contact with other criminals The ex-convict label limits employment opportunities Labeling as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Assert that the false definition of offenders as permanently criminal and destined for lives of crime fulfills this very prophecy by evoking

societal reactions that make conformity difficult and criminality necessary, if not attractive The labeling process stabilizes participation in illegal roles and turns those marginally involved in crime into chronic offenders Assessing Labeling Theory Radical and Conflict Criminology Criticism Labeling theorists did not go far enough in their analysis Argued that the origins and application of criminal

labels were influenced fundamentally by inequities rooted in the very structure of capitalism Behaviors of the power are criminalized Assessing Labeling Theory Positivists Criticism Labeling theorys major tenets wilted when subjected to empirical test The perspectives popularity had less to do with its empirical

adequacy and more to do with its voicing a provocative message that meshed with the social times Brought data to bear on two principal propositions 1. Extralegal factors, not behavior alone, shapes who is labeled 2. Labeling increased criminal involvement Assessing Labeling Theory Extra-Legal Factors Proposition

Seriousness of the crime, not the offenders social background, is the largest determinant of labeling by police and courts However, Sampson uncovered an ecological bias in police control of juveniles Police were found to be more likely to make arrests in poor neighborhoods than in more affluent neighborhoods Assessing Labeling Theory Extra-Legal The controversy over labeling has resurfaced in the

recent debate over racial profiling Minority drivers appear to be stopped, cited, searched, arrested, and have force used against them more often Factors Proposition Unclear if this is due to individual prejudice or more institutionalized practices Consistent with labeling theory, whether individuals are subjected to social control and potentially have a criminal label attached to them is determined by more than simple legal factors Assessing Labeling Theory

Extra-Legal Factors Proposition Three theoretical perspectives concerning social reaction have potential to enrich the labeling paradigm 1. Deployment theory police are more likely to arrest minorities because they are more likely to be deployed in greater numbers in inner city neighborhoods whose residents are disproportionately people of color 2. Racial threat theory level of social control exercised by the majority group will increase as the number of minorities in an area grows 3.

Focal concerns theory criminal justice officials make decisions based upon blameworthiness, protection of the community, and practical constraints that serve as cognitive filters or perceptual shorthand in sentencing Assessing Labeling Theory Extra-Legal Factors Proposition These three theoretical perspectives move labeling theory beyond the study of whether the extra-legal factors matter Attempt to understand why and under what conditions discrimination might occur Assessing Labeling Theory

State Intervention Is Criminogenic Proposition Many offenders become deeply involved in crime before coming to the attention of criminal justice officials Offenders become extensively involved in illegalities such as corporate crime, political corruption, wife battering, and sexual abuse without ever being subjected to criminal sanctioning Tests of Labeling Theory Tests

of labeling theory have produced mixed results First, some argue criminal justice labeling has no effect State intervention is just a reaction to criminal involvement, not a cause of it Tests of Labeling Theory Tests of labeling theory have produced mixed results Second, criminal justice sanctions are criminogenic under different circumstances

Effect of police officers mandatory arrest of batterers varies according to whether the batterers are employed A meta-analysis has shown juvenile justice processing has no crime control effect, rather increases criminal involvement Labeling as a felon has iatrogenic effects Prison sanctions and recidivism are positively related Future Directions in Labeling Theory

Specify more carefully how different types of state intervention impact the lives of different types of offenders Conduct longitudinal research Labeling Theory in Context During the early 1960s, optimism ran high and people had confidence in the government As the 1960s unfolded, this optimism declined Most disquieting was the governments response to political protest The state faced a legitimacy crisis; citizens no longer trusted the motives or competence of government officials This atmosphere created a ripe environment for

harvesting a theory that blamed the state for the crime problem The Consequences of Theory: Policy Implications Labeling theory has a profound impact on social policy The prescription for policy change was eminently logical and straightforward: If state intervention causes crime, then steps should be taken to limit it Four policies: 1. Decriminalization 2.

Diversion 3. Due process 4. Deinstitutionalization Decriminalization The criminalization of victimless deviance, such as drug use, creates crime in various ways The mere existence of the laws turns those who participate in the behavior into candidates for arrest and criminal justice

processing It often drives them to commit related offenses It creates a lucrative illicit market The existence of the illicit market fosters strong incentives for the corruption of law enforcement officials Decriminalization Labeling theorists argued for the prudent use of decriminalization the removal of many

forms of conduct from the scope of the criminal law The goal is to limit the laws reach Seen with abortion laws, marijuana laws, the criminal status of pornographic material, and gambling laws Diversion Divert from the criminal justice sanction Some examples of diversion:

Youth service bureaus, welfare agencies, and special schools Privately run mental health agencies, community substance abuse programs, government sponsored job training classes Home incarceration Diversion Originally conceived as an alternative to involvement in the criminal justice system or to incarceration, diversion programs most often

have functioned as add-ons to the system Diversion has widened the net of state control by creating a system with an even greater reach However, drug and other specialty courts show some promise Due Process Labeling theorists also were quick to join the mounting due process movement, which sought to extend to offenders legal protections Individual justice must give way to a return to

the rule of law Individualized treatment discriminated against the powerless Punishments should be prescribed by law, and sentences should be determinate Reduce discretion Due Process Hope that these policies would result in shorter and more equitable sentences and thus would reduce the extent and worst

effects of state intervention Due process has provided offenders with needed protections against state abuse of discretion However, it remains unclear whether the corresponding attack on rehabilitation has succeeded in creating a system that is less committed to interventionist policies and more committed to humanistic ideals Deinstitutionalization Labeling theorists took special pains to detail the criminogenic effects of incarceration and to vigorously advocate the policy of lessening

prison populations through deinstitutionalization However, the U.S. has abandoned the idea of deinstitutionalization and chosen instead to incarcerate offenders in unprecedented numbers Extending Labeling Theory The key issue is not simply whether a sanction is applied but also the quality of the sanctionwhat actually happens to an offender during the criminal justice process Two

important attempts have been made to develop a theory of how the quality of sanctioning affects reoffending: 1. Braithwaites theory of shame and reintegration 2. Shermans defiance theory 3. Rose and Clears macro-level coerced mobility theory Braithwaites Theory of Shaming and Crime Took up the issue of the conditions under which societal reaction increases crime or

decreases crime Legal violations evoke formal attempts by the state and informal efforts by intimates and community members to control the misconduct Braithwaites Theory of Shaming and Crime Central to social control is shaming All process of expressing disapproval which have the intention or effect of invoking remorse in the person being shamed and/or condemnation by

others who become aware of the shaming Shaming can be: 1. Disintegrative 2. Reintegrative Braithwaites Theory of Shaming and Crime Disintegrative Shaming

Stigmatizes and excludes, thereby creating a class of outcasts Branded as a criminal beyond forgiveness which leads to a further entrenchment into crime since denied employment and other legitimate opportunities Reintegrative Shaming An illegal act initially evokes community disapproval bur then is followed by attempts to reintegrate the offender back into the community through words or gestures of forgiveness Braithwaites Theory of

Shaming and Crime In this case, shaming has two faces: It makes certain that the inappropriateness of the misconduct is known to the offender and all observers It presents an opportunity to restore the offender to membership in the group Braithwaites Theory of Shaming and Crime The

underlying social context determines the degree to which shaming will be reintegrative or disintegrative America lacks the cultural and institutional basis that would encourage seeing offenders as part of an interdependent community Social control has a strong disintegrative quality Communitarian societies, like Japan, prefer to have reintegrative shaming Braithwaites Theory of Shaming and Crime Enriched labeling theory by illuminating not

only that shaming (or labeling) varies on its nature and effects but also why this variation ultimately is contingent on the society in which shaming takes place Braithwaite, Ahmed, and Braithwaite have marshaled evidence from an array of quantitative and qualitative sources consistent with the theory Self-report studies have yielded promising by mixed results Shermans Defiance Theory Began with the observation that labeling theory does not account for the many examples of sanctions reducing crime Sherman

asked: Under what conditions does each type of criminal sanction: 1. Reduce, 2. Increase, or 3. Have no effect on future crimes? Shermans Defiance Theory The central concept is that of defiance

The net increase in the prevalence, incidence, or seriousness of future offending against a sanctioning community caused by a proud, shameless reaction to the administration of a criminal sanction Shermans Defiance Theory Factors that increase criminality When offenders have few social binds to the community, there is little to restrain their defiance, and arising criminal inclinations Offenders are more likely to be defiant when they perceive the sanction as stigmatizing not their actions but rather the offenders

personally When offenders are treated unfairly or with disrespect, they are more likely to act defiantly Criminal sanctions are not given legitimacy; rather, the sanctions evoke anger and defiance Shermans Defiance Theory Few empirical tests Existing data sets do not contain measures of the theorys key components

Of the studies conducted, there has been mixed support Policy implications Unless attention is paid to the quality of relationships between inner-city youth and criminal justice representatives, attempts to sanction these offenders may be counterproductive Shermans Defiance Theory Factors that increase criminality

When offenders deny or refuse to acknowledge the stigmatizing shame that has been opposed on them, they are more likely to respond with pride and use crime to exact revenge on conventional society Criminal sanctions can backfire, and through processes such as defiance, create the kind of selffulfilling prophecy first identified by labeling theorists Rose and Clears Coerced Mobility Theory Explored what happens when the government adopts a policy of mass incarceration that disproportionately removes young, minority males from inner cities at the macro- or community-level

Nearly 1 in 10 African Americans aged 26-30 are incarcerated Conceptualize this incarceration as a form of coerced mobility A practice that regularly takes large numbers of males out of inner-city communities for prolonged absences Rose and Clears Coerced Mobility Theory Theorize that the mass coerced mobility of minority males may well have the unanticipated consequence of increasing, rather than decreasing, a communitys crime rate Offenders are community liabilities and also

community assets Their incarceration lessens liabilities as well as depleting the community of assets Removes sources of income, family life, supervision levels, depletes the marriage pool, etc. Many return from prison and import prison cultural values and networks Additionally, the stigma of incarceration is lessened The impact on neighborhoods will differ by the areas affluence and social organization

Rose and Clears Coerced Mobility Theory State social controls have important secondary effects on family and neighborhood structure These impede the neighborhoods capacity for social control At the ecological level, the side effects of policies intended to fight crime may exacerbate problems that lead to crime in the first place

Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry Find ways to blunt the negative, criminogenic effects of criminal justice sanctions Restorative justice rejects the logic that equates the states harming of an offender with victims receiving any meaningful sense of justice Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry Advocates of restorative justice suggest that

the guiding principle of the criminal sanction should be to decrease harm by restoring: The victim and The offender to the community The goal is to reintegrate the offender into the community Often through a victim-offender conference Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry

In Braithwaites terms, restorative justice is built on the premise of reintegrative shaming rather than stigmatizing shaming However, studies assessing restorative justice are mostly directed toward minor offenders There are some very promising results but also conflicting findings Most effects of restorative justice are relatively small but significant When court-ordered, they have no effect on recidivism; when non-coerced , they have they show the largest reduction

More effective with low-risk offenders, but other research shows they are more effective with more serious offenders Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry Many offenders leave prison with their criminogenic needs untreated or worsened by their stay behind bars Within the last decade, there has been a new realization that failing to address prisoner reentry and pursuing a policy of stigmatizing reintegration exacerbate recidivism and pose

a threat to public safety Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry Many offenders face collateral consequences or what Alexander (2010) calls New Jim Crow Legalized exclusion in voting, government benefits, and employment requiring state licensure seen especially among African Americans Policy Implications: Restorative Justice and Prisoner Reentry To

combat this problem, we need to: Start reentry preparation while offenders are in prison Focus on the challenges and crises that are faced immediately upon release Provide treatment services and support to facilitate long-term community reintegration Conclusion Labeling

theorys distinctive focus on societal reaction succeeded in sensitizing criminologists to the important insights that the criminal nature of behavior is socially constructed by the response to it and that a variety of factors can shape who comes to bear a criminal label Also showed sanctions can be criminogenic Thus, scholars must continue to understand and research differential impact of sanctions

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