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Chapter 1 Key Terms Sociological criminology the sociological understanding of crime and criminal justice stressing the importance of social structure and social inequality Sociological perspective stresses that people are social beings more than individuals Actus reus the actual criminal act of which a defendant is accused Common law the system of law originating in medieval England and emphasizing court decisions and customs Conflict Originates from Marx and Engels work and refers to a theory that assumes that people disagree on norms and act with self interest because of their disparate socioeconomic positions The powerful may commit very harmful behaviors but because they determine which laws are created their behaviors are often legal or at least not harshly punished even if they are legal Consensus Originates from Durkheim s work and refers to a theory that people agree on norms despite their disparate socioeconomic positions When crime and deviance occur they violate these widely accepted norms and punishment of the behavior is necessary to ensure continuing social stability Crime behavior that is considered so harmful that it is banned by a criminal law Criminal intent having the desire to commit a crime Criminogenic crime causing Criminology the study of the making of laws the breaking of laws and society s reaction to the breaking of laws Customs norms that are unwritten and informal Debunking motif part of the sociological perspective and refers to the challenge sociology poses to conventional understandings of social institutions and social reality Dependent variable an attitude or behavior that changes because of the influence of another variable independent variable Deviance behavior that violates accepted norms and arouses negative social reactions Duress threats or coercion on another to commit a crime Felony a serious criminal offense punishable by a prison term of more than a year Generalize to apply knowledge of particular cases to other similar cases Independent variable a characteristic or trait that influences change in another variable dependent variable Laws written formal norms Longitudinal studies research in which the same people are studied over time Mala in se behaviors that are wrong in and of themselves Mala prohibita behaviors that are wrong only because they are prohibited by law Mens rea a guilty mind or an individual having criminal intent Misdemeanor minor criminal offense punishable by less than one year in prison Norms standards of behavior Social control society s restraint of norm violating behavior Self defense violent of other actions committed to protect oneself or others Public issues social problems resulting from structural and other problems in the social environment Private issues individual problems that many people have that they think stem from their own failings or particular circumstances Social inequality the differential distribution of wealth power and other things of value in a given society Social structure the pattern of social interaction and social relationships in a group or society Survey questionnaire administered to a set of respondents Sociological imagination the ability to attribute private troubles to problems in the larger social structure Important Notes Crime rates in the United States has declined since the early 90s but the prison and jail population has almost doubled since then to make it the highest rate of incarceration in the Western world The sociological perspective stresses that social forces influence our behavior and attitudes and derives from the work of Durkheim and his suicide studies Many of criminology s important concepts including anomie relative deprivation and social conflict draw from concepts originally developed in the larger body of sociology Moreover research methodology originating in sociology provides the basis for much criminological research Because criminal law is obviously an essential component of the criminal justice system its most important goal is to help keep the public safe from crime and criminals or to prevent and control crime and criminal behavior A second goal of criminal law is to articulate our society s moral values and concerns emphasized by the consensus theory A third goal is to protect the rights and freedoms of the nation s citizens by protecting it from potential governmental abuses of power Law in the US has its origins in English common law Most US jurisdictions still retain common law concepts of the types of crime and the elements of criminal law violation that must be proved before a defendant can be found guilty Defendants may offer several types of excuses or justifications as defenses against criminal accusations including ignorance duress self defense entrapment insanity or mistake One of the most important types of research in criminology is survey research Experiments are very common in psychology but less so in criminology and sociology Criminological surveys gather information involving public opinion on crime and the criminal justice system self report data on crime and delinquency and information concerning criminal victimization All societies have social norms and violating these norms results in deviance What is defined as a crime depends not only on the behavior but the social conditions under which it occurs The consensus view assumes an agreement of opinions of different people on what the social norms of behavior are and should be People obey the laws because they reflect their values and punishment is necessary to ensure continuing social stability The conflict view assumes that members of the public disagree on what is considered socially appropriate Laws represent the powerful and help the ruling majority maintain their social position Research is a fundamental part of criminology with criminological research asking whether one variable independent influences another variable dependent Independent variable x influences or has an effect of the other variable The dependent variable y is the variable being changed affected For example alcohol use independent causes aggressive behavior dependent The rules to follow include X precedes Y in time X and Y must be related X and Y must not be a spurious relationship Chapter 3 Key Terms Chronic offenders a small number of offenders who commit a disproportionate amount of serious crime and delinquency and who persist in their criminality Criminal careers the continuation of criminal behavior

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FSU CCJ 4614 - Chapter 1

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