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Consequences of Labeling

I need to analyze the following questions based on the scenario below. Can someone please help?

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Jack comes home early from work. He sees 15-year-old Chuck, a friend of his son Ted, hurriedly going through drawers in the kitchen. Jack can see his wife's earrings, some cash, and a screwdriver on the kitchen counter.

Chuck appears frightened and tells him that Ted was not at home, and he was only looking for a pencil and paper to leave a note. When asked about the jewelry, cash, and the screwdriver, Chuck denies any knowledge about how they came to be on the kitchen counter. Jack decides to report the matter to the police.

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1. Whether or not Chuck has been labeled. Why? If not, at what point would he acquire a label?

2. The consequences of adjudicating Chuck as a delinquent at each step of the labeling spiral, if:

Chuck is formally charged
Chuck undergoes informal processing

3. The perspective of deterrence theory about the punishment Chuck should receive. What would be the consequence of the punishment according to this perspective?

4. Your assessment of which theory provides a better understanding of the consequences of punishing Chuck. Provide a rationale for your opinion.

Solution Preview

Excellent questions!

RESPONSE:

1. Whether or not Chuck has been labeled. Why? If not, at what point would he acquire a label?

Chuck has not been labeled yet, beyond being a suspect. He would receive the label as a delinquent once he was formally charged with a crime.

2. The consequences of adjudicating Chuck as a delinquent at each step of the labeling spiral, if:

a. Chuck is formally charged

In the labeling view, juvenile court labeling of chuck through being formally charged is expected to increase the probability that offending will be extended into the adult years. Further, change in delinquent identity, or the internalization of the delinquent label, is argued to mediate the labeling/reform relationship. Common to the classic labeling theories (Becker, 1963; Lemert, 1967) is the view that deviant labeling can have a profound, detrimental impact on the person's social standing and may thus be a crucial step in building a stable pattern of deviant behavior (http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/pb/thornberry/socy7004/pdfs/Labeling,%20Life%20Chances,%20and%20Adult%20Crime.pdf).

Sampson and Laub (1997:138) have characterized labeling theory as "truly developmental in nature, because of its explicit emphasis on processes over time" (see Loeber and LeBlanc, 1990). Deviant labeling, official labeling in particular, is seen as a transitional event that can substantially alter the life course by reducing opportunities for a conventional life (Becker, 1963; Link, 1982; Link et al., 1989). Thus, labeling is seen as being indirectly related to subsequent behavior through its negative ...

Solution Summary

By on the case, this solution discusses and explains if Chuck has been labeled, and at what point he would acquire a label. It then explains the consequences of adjudicating Chuck as a delinquent at each step of the labeling spiral, if: Chuck is formally charged and Chuck undergoes informal processing. Based on the perspective of deterrence theory about the punishment, it describes the the consequence of the punishment according to this perspective. It then explains what theory provides a better understanding of the consequences of punishing Chuck and why. Supplemented with an article on labeling.

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