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Psychological and Sociological Explanations of Crime

You receive an e-mail from your supervisor about her attendance at the upcoming city council meeting to request an increased budget for sex offender rehabilitation programs. She will be very busy before the meeting and needs your help to prepare her presentation. Reply to your supervisor's email by giving

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1. You receive an e-mail from your supervisor about her attendance at the upcoming city council meeting to request an increased budget for sex offender rehabilitation programs. She will be very busy before the meeting and needs your help to prepare her presentation. Reply to your supervisor's email by giving a quick overview of how the competing psychological and sociological explanations of crime would seek to explain the actions of a serial rapist and why you believe a specific explanation or theory of criminal behavior should be used as the basis of your local sex offender rehabilitation program.

Psychological theories of crime begin with the view that individual differences in behavior may make some people more predisposed to committing criminal acts. These differences may arise from personality characteristics, biological factors, or social interactions. Examples of psychological theories of crime are Psychoanalytic Theory, Cognitive Development Theory and Learning Theory.

? Psychoanalytic Theory. The improperly socialized child may develop a personality disturbance that causes her or him to direct antisocial impulses inward or outward. The child who directs them outward becomes a criminal, and the child that directs them inward becomes a neurotic.

? Cognitive Development Theory. According to this approach, criminal behavior results from the way in which people organize their thoughts about morality and the law. People who do not progress through the stages may become arrested in their moral development, and consequently become delinquents.

? Learning Theory. Learning theory is based upon the principles of behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology posits that a person's behavior is learned and maintained by its consequences, or reward value. These consequences may be external reinforcement that occurs as a direct result of their behavior (e.g. money, social status, and goods), vicarious reinforcement that occurs by observing the behavior of others (e.g. observing others who are being reinforced as a result of their behavior), and self-regulatory mechanisms (e.g. people responding to their behavior). According to learning theorists, deviant behavior can be eliminated or modified by taking away the reward value of the behavior (http://psy.ucsd.edu/~hflowe/psych.htm) (attached for convenience).

In Sociology, however, society and social interactions are seen as the cause of criminal behavior. There are three broad theory of crime and numerous theories under each perspective. Learning theory is also used by sociologists to explain criminal behavior.

? Structural functionalist theories see society as a system and identify structural characteristics and functions and dysfunctions of institutions and distinguish between latent and manifest functions. Functionalists typically share a belief that most members of society share a consensus regarding their core beliefs and values. Functionalist focus on how key institutions or structures -- the family, schools -- socialize individuals to conform to the core values of the broader society, thus helping it to function smoothly. Crime results when there is a breakdown or strain in the social processes that, under normal conditions, produce conformity. http://www.nissi.org/keytext.cfm?keytext_id=1678 (see theories below).

? Conflict Theories of Crime are inspired by Karl Marx and argues that the structure of society and the nature of social relationships are the result of present and past relationships. Where Marx believed that social class is the most basic division in any society, Max Weber saw conflict as having many possible bases--including social class, but also religion, race, ethnicity, and more. Where Marx believed that class inequalities would ultimately be ended by revolution, Weber saw conflict as eternal, although it could take new forms. Group conflict theory derives from Weber's vision. (http://www.d.umn.edu/~bmork/2306/Theories/BAMconflict2.htm)

Feminist Theory. One inequality that didn't receive much attention even from the conflict theorists is gender, until feminism made it important. Theorists sometimes apologized for their lack of attention to girls and women, but ...

Solution Summary

This solution overviews the competing psychological and sociological explanations of crime that explain the actions of a serial rapist and the traits and motives of a serial rapist that need to be dealt with in a local sex offender rehabilitation program to help determine which theory is best suited. Supplemented with three articles on crime theories.

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