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    Criminals in prisons benefits everyone

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    1. Write a position paper on the following statement: Placing criminals in prisons benefits everyone.

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    The function of theory is to provide puzzles for research (Lewis Coser)
    To understand criminal justice, it is necessary to understand crime. Most policy-making in criminal justice is based on criminological theory, whether the people making those policies know it or not. In fact, most of the failed policies (what doesn't work) in criminal justice are due to misinterpretation, partial implementation, or ignorance of criminological theory. Much time and money could be saved if only policymakers had a thorough understanding of criminological theory. At one time, criminological theory was rather pure and abstract, with few practical implications, but that is not the case anymore. For example, almost all criminologists today use a legalistic rather than normative definition of crime. A legalistic definition of crime takes as its starting point the statutory definitions contained in the penal code, legal statutes or ordinances. A crime is a crime because the law says so. Sure, there are concerns about overcriminalization (too many laws) and undercriminalization (not enough laws), but at least on the surface, a legalistic approach seems practical. It is also advantageous to a normative definition, which sees crime as a violation of norms (social standards of how humans ought to think and behave), although there are times when criminology can shed light on norms and norm violators.
    Every criminological theory contains a set of assumptions (about human nature, social structure, and the principles of causation, to name a few), a description of the phenomena to be explained (facts a theory must fit), and an explanation, or prediction, of that phenomenon. The assumptions are also called meta-theoretical issues, and deal with debates like those over free will v. determinism or consensus v. conflict. The description is a statistical profile, figure, diagram, or table of numbers representing the patterns, trends, and correlates of the type of crime taken as an exemplar (most appropriate example) of all crime. The explanation is a set of variables (things that can be tweaked or changed) arranged in some kind of causal order so that they have statistical and meaningful significance. Criminological theories are primarily concerned with etiology (the study of causes or reasons for crime), but occasionally have important things to say about actors in the criminal justice system, such as police, attorneys, correctional personnel, and victims.
    There are basically thirteen (13) identifiable types of criminological theory, only three (3) of which are considered "mainstream" or conventional criminology (strain, learning, control). The oldest theory (biochemistry) goes back to 1876 and the last four theories (left realism, peacemaking, feminist, postmodern) have only developed in the past twenty-five years. ...

    Solution Summary

    Examines the following statement: Placing criminals in prisons benefits everyone. Supplemnted with an article on theories of crime as it applies to this statement.