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Crime Causation and Famous Figures

I have chosen Nannie Doss which is a female serial killer, but I need help with the 1500-2000 word paper.

Crime Causation: Select a well-known criminal offender (e.g. Al Capone, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson). Describe his or her criminal activities and any background information you know or can find out about him or her. Discuss how the various theoretical schools of crime causation would attempt to explain that criminal's behavior.

Solution Preview

Briefly, Nannie Doss, "the black widow", killed four husbands; one in Alabama, one in North Carolina, one in Kansas and one in Oklahoma, Samuel Doss, for which she was eventually tried and convicted. There were other numerous family members who became victims as well. Nannie killed her mother, two of her four daughters, mother-in-law #2, either by her
favorite form of homicide, prunes salted with rat arsenic, special coffee, or by way of suffocation. http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/women/doss/1.html (attached for convenience).

1. Learning theory of Crime: SUTHERLAND'S DIFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION THEORY

"You, too, can learn to be a serial killer." (Robert Hale)

Some theories in criminology believe that criminality is a function of individual socialization; how individuals have been influenced by their experiences or relationships with family relationships, peer groups, teachers, church, authority figures, and other agents of socialization. These are called learning theories, and specifically social learning theories and more concerned with explaining the social process by which anyone, regardless of race, class, or gender, would have the potential to become a criminal. Social Learning, Control, and Labeling theories are all examples of social process theories (http://faculty.ncwc.edu/TOConnor/301/301lect10.htm).

Sutherland (1883-1950) is called the father of American criminology. His theory is called Differential Association (DA) theory, and Sutherland devised it because his study of white-collar crime (a field he pioneered) and professional theft led him to believe that there were social learning processes that could turn anyone into a criminal, anytime, anywhere. Let's look at the 9 points of DA theory that would be used to describe Nannie Doss's serial killing, which suggests she learned this behavior through the socialization process:

1. Criminal behavior is learned....
2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with others in a process of communication....
3. Learning criminal behavior occurs within primary groups (family, friends, peers, their most intimate, personal companions)
4. Learning criminal behavior involves learning the techniques, motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes....
5. The specific direction of motives and attitudes is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable....
6. A person becomes a criminal when there is an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law.... (this is the principle of differential association)
7. Differential associations vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity (frequent contacts, long contacts, age at first contact, important or prestigious contacts)
8. The process of learning criminal behavior involves all the mechanisms involved in any other learning....
9. Although criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and attitudes, criminal behavior ...

Solution Summary

By example of one female criminal, this solution describes her criminal activities and provides ample background information including a supplementary article. In general terms, this solution discusses how the various theoretical schools of crime causation would attempt to explain that criminal's behavior.

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