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1-4 CC200

Lesson 1:
The Rise and Fall of Delinquency
The Public Issue:
- Youth crime has generated considerable public concern and discussion
- News accounts help to fuel these concerns
- High profile cases: Reena Virk (1997) and Stefanie Rengel (2008) further fuel public
- Violence is discussed in media accounts as indicative of all youth crime
- “The children now love luxury. They have badd banners, contempt for authority; they
show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise” - Socrates
Media and the Politics of Youth Crime:
- Extensive and disproportionate coverage given to stories on youth crime
- Youth crime is political
- Parties have different philosophies/policies
- Facts about youth crime are socially constructed
- Media accounts drive public opinion about youth crime
- The public also is critical of legal attempts to solve the problem such as the YOA
Government Response:
- Calls for reform in the 1990s
- Canada passes the YCJA in 2003
- Immediate criticism after it comes into effect
- Disproportionate media reports continue
- New types of youth crime are reported
Two Opposing Sides:
- Youth advocate - focus is on the problems faced by young people (also called child
welfare approach)
- Law and order group - focus is on how youth criminals are portrayed as an enemy of
society (also called the get tough approach)
- Results in different approaches to law e.g. 1995 reform of YOA
Lessons from the Nunn Commission (2006):
- Shows how youth and crimes they commit are problematized in the media
- Often one extreme cause is used as an example of how all youth behaviour is out of
- On June 29, 2005, the provincial government appointed Justice Merlin Nunn to head a public
inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the release of a youth offender who was convicted
under the Youth Criminal Justice Act as the result of a fatal car crash. Commissioner Nunn
submitted his report on December 5, 2006, including 34 recommendations.
History of Youth Crime:
- Shows that the youth in the past were also described in negative terms
Historian shows root causes to be parents of youth (indulgent parents)
The fur trade: problem if inheritance led youth to the trade, which was a profession
wrought with illegal practices
Immigration: promises of new world often did not materialize leaving youth alone and
Rise of Legal Governance of Deviant Youth in Canada:
- Various solutions proposed
- More schools more clergy, geographic segregation
- Leads to the creation of early justice systems for youth criminals
- At the same time as residential schools
19th Century Explanations: Sources of Youth Crime:
- Orphans
- Immigrants
- Poverty
- Gender
The Victorian Public Issue:
- By the mid 1800s the poor were targeted for allegations of immortality
- New urban problems: illiteracy, sex trade, addictions, poverty, juvenile delinquency
- Specialist professions and agencies emerge to combat these problems
Who Were the Targets:
- Street kids (vagrancy)
- Poor children and youth, rowdy youth
- Young women (sexual immorality)
- Law applied when children were able to distinguish right from wrong - 7
Causes and Solutions:
- 1850-1908: social reform movement
- Rehabilitative view: youth can be reformed
- In parallel to reform movements with adults
- Child savers: scott and kelso
- Juvenile delinquency becomes a new label
- Bad parenting by working class parents is a source of the problem
The Era of the Juvenile Delinquent:
- Definitions of youth deviance are tied to rapid population increases in Canadian cities
- Statistics appear to show that youth crime increased throughout 20tht century
Thomas Bernard: 3 myths of Juvenile Justice:
1. Myth that nothing changes: youth crime in past is the same as it is today
2. Myth of the good old days: delinquency in the past was much less serious
3. Myth of progress: delinquency in the past was much more serious than it is today
Media and Moral Panic:
- Stanley cohen coined term moral panic
- Moral panics are based on perceptions rather than on the alleged reality of a problem
- Out of control youth is one such moral panic with a natural history
Moral Panics and Youth Crime:
- Media sources often act as claims makers in the moral panic of youth crime
- They in fact help to generate public concern
- Concern is created through context developed by reporters rather than real events
- Youth crime and accused are decontextualized
Moral Panic and Penal Populism:
- Media claims made about youth are not always the truth
- Politicians who respond with policy that addresses moral panic rather than real numbers
are engaging in penal populism
- Public fear drives political agendas and results in changes in legislation
- E.g. conservatives reaction was toughing up YOA and YCJA
Political Response:
- Deaths in the media - Jane Creba (2005) Jordon Manners (2207)
- Resulted in direction by Ont. Liberal Premium Mcguinty
- Rob McMurty and alvin Curling created the roots of youth violence report (2008)
Conclusions: What is the same?
- The presence of youth crime
- Concerns about ineffective systems of youth crime and personal safety
- Media stories continue to vilify all youth
What has changed?
- The way we discuss the youth crime problem
- The alleged sources of youth crime
Lesson 2:
The Facts of Youth Crime:
Measuring Youth Crime
- Data varies by source
- Official statistics are social constructions of the youth crime problem
- Data can be viewed as political depending on the agenda of the agency
Social Control Agencies:
- Government agencies, including police courts and corrections
- These agencies produce reports about certain aspects of youth crime
Sources of Youth Crime Data:
- The media: fuels moral panic
- Police: uniform crime reporting
- Court statistics
- Self report surveys
- Victimization surveys
- Criticism: individual sources do not give an accurate portrayal of youth offending
The Media
- Much of what we know about youth crime comes from media
- The truth of these reports often goes unquestioned
- “Media waves”
Police Statistics:
- Canadian police data are compiled in standardized way using a system known as the
uniform crime reporting (UCR)
- Recent changes to the system resulted in the UCR2, which captures offence, offender
and victim information on 200 offence categories
Uniform Crime Reports UCR:
- Collected by canadian centre for justice statistics
- Similar term used in the us
- 1962 - aggregate summary data collected each month from all police forces
- 1984 - revised UCR2 collects info about each crime, more detail, 148 police forced
participate (90% of all crime)
- Canadian centre for justice statistics (CCJS) also conducts homicide survey (since 1961)
Collecting the UCR:
- Incidence of crime
- Actual (reported) and founded (through investigation)
- Percentage change from year to year
- Broken down into violent, property and other
Crime rate is # of crimes / population x100,000
Clearance rate (by charge or otherwise)
- Can police identify a suspect? Varies for different offences
Accuracy of UCR:
- Reporting practices
- Will people call the police? E.g. sexual assault
- Law enforcement practices
- Are police enforcing some crimes and not others?
- E.g. 0 tolerance policies, effect of forfeiture laws
- Legal definitions
- Have the laws changed? E.g. prostitution
- Media practices
- Do news stories encourage citizens to report more crimes?
- Do news reports encourage police to crack down?
- Methodological practices
- How are the crimes counted
- How do police decide if a crime is founded
Crime Severity:
Court Statistics:
- Are kept by individual courts
- These are normally not open to public scrutiny
- Thee centre for justice statistics compiles youth court data and publishes summaries for
the country on a yearly basis
- Problematic to make comparisons across years given provincial differences
Accuracy: Media Practices
Self Report Surveys:
- A survey where the person reports on their own criminal behaviour
- Have been used in high schools
- Indicate higher levels of youth crime than official statistics reflect
- More people report their criminal activities anonymously
- Usually quite accurate
- Used with captive audience e.g. students prisoners
- Problems with accuracy
- Lying, forgetting and bragging
- Emphasis on minor offences
- Drug and alcohol use
- Are the most deviant least likely to respond?
- E.g. truants
- Usually better for attitudes
Victimization Surveys:
- Asks individuals if they have been victims of various categories of crime
- Demonstrate crimes are usually underreported
- Clearance rates - outline whether criminal incidents are processed as charged offences
- Property and personal offenses differ in reporting and clearing rates
Problems with Victim Surveys:
- Over reporting
- Loss is reported as theft
- Telescoping (biggest problem)
- Identifying past victimization as recent
- Underreporting
- Forgetting, embarrassment, fear
- Does Not include personal criminal activity
Sampling problems
- Excludes people without phones, underage victims
Question format
- Poor format may invalidate answers
Alternative Sources of Information:
- Commissions of inquiry
- Both federal and provincial
- E.g.
- native justice
- Sexual abuse in religious and government institutions
- Doping in sports
- The federal sponsorship program
- Canadian Criminal Justice Crisis index
- Formed by mennoonite central committee 1997
- Shows provincial differences in
- Overall and violent crime rates
- Incarceration rate
- Spending on prisons
- Spending on community corrections
Profiling Youth Crime:
- Property crime is most common of all youth crime
- Youth accounts for fewer criminal offences than adults
- Violent offences are less common; however attract most attention
- Sexual assault cases are rare but a concern
Murder is rare but recieves attention
- Males more involved than females
- Similar offences - minor theft, minor assault, administrative offences, drugs
- Boys tend to be more violent
Youth Homicide Victims:
- Youth homicide is rare and when it occurs the victim is usually parents, family or friends
- Murder of a stranger is very rare
Profiling Youth Crime:
- Administrative offences: include such cases as failing to appear in court or failure to
comply with bail conditions
- Can result in custody
- Make up a quarter of youth court cases
Measurement Issues:
- Violent crime debate:
- Is violent youth crime a problem?
- Most youth crime is non violent; cases of violent crime is rare for youth yet we
still ask this question
- Zero tolerance policies
- Policies related to sanctions for violating conduct rules
- Used more often in schools
- May lead to more crimes being reported to the police
Measurement Issues: Validity and Reliability:
- Validity: how well are you measuring what you propose to measure
- Reliability: the extent to which research results can be replicated in other studies
Other Measurement Issues:
- Lying about crime
- Can lie about involvement and degrees of victimization
- Recalling crime
- Subjects may nor properly recall victimization or involvement in crime
- Telescoping
- When people have problems with timeline of victimization
Which source of Info is the best?
- Most sources are not complete pictures of youth crime problem
- Self fulfilling prophecy: official statistics may contribute to the crime problem
Crime Changes Between the JDA, YOA and YCJA
We can examine crime rates as related to historic policies
Higher crime rates under the YOA are likely the result of changes in legislation and
police reporting rather than increases in offending among youth
The YCJA has resulted in increased diversion and lower charge rates
Measures of severity add a new interpretive layer to statistics
Lesson 3:
Creating a Juvenile Justice System: Then and Now
Youth Crime and Capitalism
- One perspective on early youth crime laws is that they were developed to address
concerns about rising poverty and youth crime in urban areas
- Result of new urbanization: poor children on the streets and new crime committed by
- This creates fear among the upper classes that the root problem of crime lies in the
children of the poor and working (or “dangerous”) class
Youth Crime and Child Savers
- Another view of the origin of youth crime laws is that 19th century North American social
reformers were influential in the creation of a separate justice system for juveniles
- They believed that delinquency was the result of a bad social environment
- Children could be “saved” and therefore reformed through various methods
Juvenile Delinquents Acts (1908)
- Originates with the ideas of J.J. Kelso and W.L Scott
- Child - Saving: leads to the creation of a separate system of justice
- Adopted a child welfare philosophy
Young Offenders
Juvenile Delinquents Acts (JDA)
Welfare-based juvenile justice: focus is on rehabilitation of the youth offender
Rehabilitation - a belief that a person’s attitude, values and behaviour can be changed
Parens Patriae: a doctrine that gives the state the right to act as “parent” or guardian of
the youth offender
Parens patriae is intended to serve the “best interests” of the child
Forms the basis of the JDA
JDA: Key Components
- Extensive powers given to the courts
- Focus was on reforming the youth offender
- Sentence ranged from fines to sending the child to an industrial school or reformatory
- Probation was a central element to the JDA
- Once labelled as a delinquent, children remained under control of the state in some
causes up to 21 years of age
- Age of delinquency: set by province
- JDA was costly due to the new bureaucracy it entailed
- Implementation by provinces was inconsistent
Criticisms of the JDA
- Child advocates: saw the JDA as potentially abusive of the rights of children and their
- Conservative critics: saw the JDA as not tough enough on youth crime, the problem
was youth and the act
- Police: saw problems with the administration of the JDA. The JDA was also too lenient,
with police expected to act as “parents” of the youth offender
Other Criticisms of the JDA
- Children’s aid societies: problem in how to best accomplish the goals of the JDA
- Politicians: concerns over lack of lawyer representation, high level of discretionary
powers of probation officers, and lack of right to control
Modifying the JDA
- 1960s: new calls for change to the JDA
- New focus in 1960s on rights
- UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child
- Canadian Bill of Rights
- These created new awareness of individual rights in the juvenile legal process
Modifying the JDA
- Under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) everyone had to be treated
as equal
- Status offence: acts that are criminal only due to the age of the offender
- Example truancy, sexual promiscuity, loitering,
- Status offences included only youth behaviours and were therefore discriminatory
Modifying the JDA
- Other critics: cited the ineffectiveness of deterrence under the JDA
- Status offences were not really criminal and yet these offenders were being treated as
equal to those who had committed criminal offences
- The JDA essentially labelled all youth as potentially criminal
Other critics: there were inconsistencies in the application of the law
Judges could order the youth held for an undetermined period until the youth was
Abuse of discretionary power among all workers and other court-appointed officials
Reform starts in 1965
Various bills were introduced
April 1984: Young Offenders Act (or YOA) came into effect
Replaced by JDA
Principles of the YOA
- Removal of “status offences”
- Limited accountability: different from adults - added youth responsibility
- Protection of society
- Young people are seen to have special needs
- Alternative measures: diversion from jail sentences
- Minimal interference: youth to be treated at every step with least possible interference
Increased focus on the rights of the accused
Parental responsibility: parents are no longer held responsible for child’s offence. The
YOA stressed parental involvement in relation to the child’s processing through justice
Parental responsibility lead to inequalities in the youth justice system: aboriginals
could receive harsher sentences due to poverty
The YOA is a hybrid law in terms of its use of three models of justice
Justice Model: focus is on the rule of law
modified - justice model: not a strict adherent to pure justice
Crime - control model: retributive in its approach to justice (“get tough” on crime)
Modifying the YOA
- Criticism began soon after the passing of the YOA
- Some saw the law as too lenient, essentially a “slap on the wrist”
- Provinces had to pay the high costs of administering the YOA
- media : fuelled public condemnation of the YOA
- Rights of the accused took precedence over protection of the public
Government Response
The YOA underwent a number of amendments in 1986, 1991, and 1995
These revisions moved the YOA toward a crime-control model (get tough approach)
Critics were still unsatisfied, calling for the creation of a new law
The YCJA (2003)
- The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) introduced as Bill C-7
- Came into effect April 2003
- Critics soon after argued that the YCJA needed amendments
Principles of the YCJA
- Is a hybrid of several models of justice
- Age range: 12-17 years
- Uses a crime - control approach
- The term “juvenile” is replaced with “youth”
- Purpose of youth justice system:
- The protection of the public through crime prevention, rehabilitation, and
meaningful consequences
Restorative justice: repairing the harm done to victims and communities
Reparation: making amends
reintegration: ensuring youth is successfully involved in her/his community after debt
paid to society
diversion: from custody sentences
Addressing the “special needs” of offender (addiction treatment, anger management)
Modifying the YCJA
- Criticisms of the YCJA started soon after its passing
- A number of bills have been introduced to amend the YCJA
- Bill C-25: followed recommendation of Nunn Inquiry
- Bill C-4 (Sebastian's Law): more crim control based amendments
- Bill C:10 conservatives win a majority government and introduce new changes to the
THE YCJA Focus on Rights
- The YCJA addresses the rights of the accused
- This is partially due to Canada’s tied to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- The YCJA both supports and rejects some articles of the UN Convention
- YCJA use of adult sentences and release of youths name is sentences as an adult is
Contrary to CRC
- The UN Convention shows some problems with member-nation adhering to international
Cycle of Juvenile justice
Bernard claims the cycle is perpetual
People are never convinced that crime is being adequately controlled
Calls are made for never ending reform with harsher treatments
In practice, trend goes leniency
Critics then call for reform to youth law
- The 20th century saw a shift: children are more easily criminalized
- While the YCJA made progress in terms of addressing youth rights, it also created a
more punitive system that is, in some aspects, contrary to the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child
Lesson 4
Sociological Theories of Crime
The Scientific Method: Positivism and Criminology
- Theory: integrated set of propositions that seek to offer explanations of a problem
- Positivists: 1th century theorists who used the scientific method to determine the
causes of crime
- Assumes that the objective truth can be discovered - the universe is knowable
Classical Criminolgy
- Cesar beccaria: founder
- Rationality and free will are parts of the human behaviour
- Punishment should be proportionate to the crim
- Excessive punishment would lead to an increase in crime
- People can control their behaviour
- Costs and benefits of crime can be weighed
Biological Positivism
- Cesare lombroso: the born criminal
- Focuses on links between biology and crime
- Lombroso saw common physical features among criminals
- These external physical features included nose shape, tattoos, skull shape/contour, ear
lobes, and so on that denote criminality
Types of People
- Richard Dugdale’s study of the jukes (1888)
- Early ideas of inherited criminality
- Used the Jukes family to agree that criminality and other social problems were inherited
Henry Goddard extended this to include links between heredity, crime, and
“feeblemindedness” (low IQ)
Godards study of the Kallikak family (1912) links low intelligence (or feeblemindedness)
through family lineage
Goddard concludes that criminal is inherited
The Rise of Eugenics
- Eugenics rises as a branch of science
- Laws are passed to sterilize the “feebleminded”, mentally ill, or epileptic
- Problem: law targets the poor, minorities, and women
- Problem: early IQ tests were based on cultural knowledge rather than intellectual ability
Creating a “Dangerous Class”
- The growth of a dangerous class of people comprised mostly of the poor
- Parents were seen to be the source of the problem, called defectives
Twentieth-Century Theories
- Biological and positivism persists
- Twins and adoption studies: show the best link between biology and crime
(however flawed)
- Identical twins have higher rates of criminality than fraternal twins (50% similar)
- Adoption: links exist between adopted criminal child and biological criminal
- Body Type: Sheldon’s somatotypes study suggested that body shape is tied to
criminality - mesomorphs are most likely to become criminals
- Chromosomes: theories of linking crime to an extra Y chromosome were not
well supported
How do We Explain Biology
- Main focus of biological theories is in differentiating the criminal from the non-criminal
- Must consider social and environmental impacts as well
- Biology links to criminality by creating a behavioural potential that is put into action by
environmental factors
Sociological Positivism
- Focus is on environment and how it affects individuals behaviour
- Social disorganization theory (shaw and mckay)
- Links crime and delinquency to regions of an urban area
- Residential zone in transition: highest level of crime
- Social variables exist in zone that creates crime
Anomie/strain theory (Merton)
Strain causes of crime
Five modes of adaptation
Innovators are the most likely type found among delinquents
Delinquent subculture (cohen)
Status frustration
Youth gangs emerge when lower class teens are unable to realize middle class goals
Differential opportunity (cloward and ohlin)
Add illegitimate opportunity to Cohen's model
Inequality exists in youth gangs. There is a hierarchy of opportunity
Class Culture (Miller)
Cultural characteristics of lower class contribute to delinquency (focal concerns)
Differential association (Sutherland)
Crime is learned from others who are criminal
Behavioural (skills) and ideas (ways of thinking) about crime are learned
Drift and delinquency (David Matza)
Crime is situational rather than learned and criminals do feel remorse
Youth drift between conventional life and deviant life and rationalize each as needed
Labelling Theory
- Tannenbaum: rejected positivist perspective that there is something unique about
criminals versus non-criminals
- Deviance is socially constructed such that the “person becomes the thing he is
described as being”
Lemert: primary and secondary deviance
primary : initial acts of deviance
Secondary: deviant identity forms to public reaction to formal labelling process
Becker: The deviant is one whom society has successfully labelled
Deviance is not objective but subjective in nature (called “the social reaction view of
Deviant labels are pervasive and tend to envelop everything about the individual
(become master status)
Critical Criminology and Conflict Theory
- Inequality and oppression are central to crime and deviance
- Conflict theory: class, status, and power are key concepts
- law and those who become criminal are often determined by the powerful
Conflict Theory
- Liberal conflict theory: less powerful groups more likely to be defined as deviant
- Radical conflict theory: root cause of crime is capitalism
Opportunity Theory
- Has a focus on the situational factors associated with crime
- Central question: why did the criminal event happen?
- Opportunity theories have ties to classical criminology
Routine Activity Theory
- Based on the research of Cohen and Felson
- The routine activities of people have changed, therefore giving an opportunity for
increased crime rates
- When people are away from their property (for work, vacation, or leisure), there is
opportunity for theft
Three components are needed for the criminal event:
- Motivated offenders
Suitable targets
The absence of capable guardians
Motivated offenders: it is always assumed there will be a criminal
Changes in lifestyle will increase the likelihood of the presence of a motivated offender
Suitable targets: include property that is easy to steal and move (turn into cash) on the
Large items: fridge, furniture are not suitable; ipads ipods computers can be moved
Criminals are always looking for suitable targets
Absence of a capable guardian: when people are not at home (work etc.) or their hotel
people see an opportunity
This increases with a lifestyle change, the trend of eating more at restaurants is tied to
increased property crimes
Rational Choice Theory
- Offenders rationally assess their involvement in crime
- They can weigh the costs versus benefits of doing crime
- Tied to classical criminology
Integrative Theory
- There are a number of theories that borrow from several other theorists
- These are hybrids that take the best ideas of two or more theories and create a new one
Social Learning Theory
- Asks the question: how do we learn to conform or become criminal?
- What are the strategies we can use to control behaviour
- Has its basis in psychological behaviourism
Differential Association - Reinforcement Theory
- Burgess and Akers (1966) take ideas from Sutherland and those of conditioning theory
and imitation (Bandura)
- Breaking the law is based on the anticipated rewards and punishments of doing the
Social Control and Social Learning
- Self derogation theory: based on self esteem and combines social learning, control,
strain, and labelling theories
- Integrated theory: focus is on weak institutional bonds
- Interactional theory: how do multiple variables play in determining criminality
- Radical conflict, social control, and social learning: ties to class, and coercion at
school and at home
Feminist Theory
- There are no direct criminologial theories that are “feminist” in orientation
- Most borrow ideas from other theorists
- Early theoretical references to females and crime were focused on women's inferiority to
men biologically and socially
Predominant issues with theories and policies related to females and crime are:
- Generalizability problem: theories based on men and boys applied to women
- Gender ratio problem: challenges in explaining gender differences in criminal
Delinquency and Patriarchy
- Power control theory: includes class and gender. Is a hybrid of conflict and control
- Examines patriarchal and egalitarian families
Girls and Oppression
- The problem of double oppression
- Women are controlled in the workplace and also by men
- They are less likely to be deviant
Other Ideas about female offending
- Ethics of care: girls are more nurturing than boys
- Resistance to care: girls who not conform to society’s expectation about caring for self
and others are considered more “delinquent”
- Mean girls: girl aggression is tied to social bullying
“New “ Directions in Criminology
- Peacemaking criminology
- Tied to restorative justice and transformative justice
- Penal abolition is the key idea
Other “new” directions
- Tied to the british school of criminology and studies of youth culture and gangs
- Examines youth crime in youth culture/subculture rather than in relation to adult content
- Postmodernism: rejects contemporary truths about youth crime
Sociological Positivism
- Techniques of neutralization (skyes and matza)
- Juvenile delinquents justify their crime for using five techniques
- These techniques displace blame for the ongoing involvement in crime
- Examples: “i was drunk, “they deserved it”, “no one got hurt”, “i was protecting my
Control theory (reckless, hirschi, and others)
- Assumption is that we are only kept from criminal behaviour through socialization
- Deviants have not developed controls needed to ward off criminal behaviour
- Sub-theories
- Containment (reckless) and social bonding (hirschi)
Social Bond Theory
- Hirschi asks - not why do you youth commit crime by don’t they
- Importance of reframing the question - WM
- Says we need a social bond
- We need
- Attachments
- Commitment
- involvement