Table of Contents
Clashing Views in Crime and Criminology
Unit Explanations of Crime
- Issue Is Crime Beneficial to Society?
YES: Emile Durkheim, from The Rules of Sociological Method (The Free Press, 1938)
NO: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, from Defining Deviancy Down, The American Scholar (Winter 1993)
Classic sociologist Emile Durkheim (18581917) theorizes that crime reaffirms moral boundaries and helps bring about needed social changes. Former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) argues that modern crime has gone way beyond the point of being functional.
- Issue Is Criminal Behavior Determined Biologically?
YES: Adrian Raine, from The Biological Basis of Crime, in James Q. Wilson and John Petersilia, eds., Crime: Public Policies for Crime Control (ICS Press, 2002)
NO: Jeffrey H. Reiman, from The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice (Allyn & Bacon, 1998)
Adrian Raine argues that one of the principal reasons why we have been so unsuccessful in preventing adult crime is because crime control policies have systematically ignored the biological side of human behavior. Professor Jeffrey Reiman asserts that social forces create the conditions that become sources of crime in American society.
- Issue Is a Persons Body Type Clearly Linked to Criminal Behavior?
YES: Sean Maddan, Jeffery T. Walker, and J. Mitchell Miller, from Physiques, Somatotypes and Crime. An essay. (2009)
NO: Chris L. Gibson and Kevin M. Beaver, from Does Body Type Really Have an Effect on Criminal Behavior? An essay. (2009)
Professors Maddan, Walker, and Miller argue that body type is related to criminal behavior because more criminals have muscular body builds. In other words, there is a strong correlation between a persons body build and criminal behavior. Professors Gibson and Beaver argue, in contrast, that both biological and social factors lead to criminal behavior and that no single variable, such as body build, can explain crime. Moreover, they assert that while body type may be a predisposing factor for crime, that predisposition will surface only under certain environmental conditions.
Unit Contemporary Public Policy Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Issue Does a Warrior Gene Make People More Prone to Violence?
YES: Kevin M. Beaver and Joseph A. Schwartz, MAOA Genotype Contributes to Violent and Criminal Behaviors, adapted from Beaver, K., M., Delisi, M., Vaughn, M.G., & Barnes, J.C. Monoamine oxidase A Genotype is associated with gang membership and weapon use. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 51, 130-134 (2010).
NO: Joshua W. Buckholtz, Neuroprediction and Crime. NOVA Science NOW (2012).
Professors Kevin M. Beaver and Joseph A. Schwartz argue that a Warrior Gene has been demonstrated to be related to aggressive and violent behavior. In fact, humans with a low-activity form of the MAOA gene, are much more prevalent in populations with a history of warfare. These individuals are also more likely to join gangs and to use weapons in committing crimes than other persons. Professor Joshua W. Buckholtz, in contrast, asserts that the Warrior Gene theory has as much power to explain and predict the actions of an individual as a deck of tarot cards. Moreover, he believes that although genes may be able to influence our behavior, the environment in which we live influences our genes as well.
- Issue Is Racial Profiling an Acceptable Law Enforcement Strategy?
YES: Jared Taylor and Glayde Whitney, from Racial Profiling: Is There an Empirical Basis? Mankind Quarterly (Spring 2002)
NO: Michael J. Lynch, from Misleading Evidence and the Misguided Attempt to Generate Racial Profiles of Criminals; Correcting Fallacies and Calculations Concerning Race and Crime in Taylor and Whitneys Analysis of Racial Profiling, Mankind Quarterly (Spring 2002)
Jared Taylor, president of the New Century Foundation, and Glayde Whitney argue that the disparity in crimes committed by members of different races justifies racial profiling by the police. Professor Michael J. Lynch, however, argues that a proper analysis of the crime data does not support Taylor and Whitneys conclusions. He finds racial profiling to be objectionable from a legal and moral perspective as well.
- Issue Should Juvenile Courts Be Abolished?
YES: Barry C. Feld, from Bad Kids: Race and the Transformation of the Juvenile Court (Oxford University Press, 1999)
NO: Vincent Schiraldi and Jason Ziedenberg, from The Florida Experiment: An Analysis of the Impact of Granting Prosecutors Discretion to Try Juveniles as Adults ( July 1999)
Law professor Barry C. Feld contends that creating a separate juvenile court system has resulted in unanticipated negative consequences for Americas children and for justice. Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Justice Policy Institute, and researcher Jason Ziedenberg maintain that moving thousands of kids into adult courts is unnecessary, harmful, and racist.
- Issue Is Exposure to Pornography Related to Increased Rates of Rape?
YES: Diana E. H. Russell, from Dangerous Relationships: Pornography, Misogyny, and Rape (Sage, 1998)
NO: Anthony DAmato, from Porn Up, Rape Down, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 913013 (2006)
Diana E. H. Russell argues that the evidence is overwhelming that exposure to pornography is a major causal factor of rape. She utilizes the concept of multiple causation to explain the relation-ship between pornography and rape. Anthony DAmato contends that the incidence of rape has declined 85% in the last 25 years while access to pornography via the Internet has become more widely available to teenagers and adults.
- Issue Should It be a Crime to Download Copyrighted Music From the Internet?
YES: Barry Shrum, from The Magical Ring of Gyges: Why Illegal Downloading is so Rampant in the Age of Cyberspace, Law on the Row (2011).
NO: Janice Ian, from The Internet Debacle An Alternative View, Performing Songwriter Magazine (May, 2002).
Attorney Barry Shrum argues that downloading music illegally from the internet is wrong morally and should be considered a crime because it fails to pay creative individuals for their intellectual property. Moreover, because approximately 95% of the music downloaded from the internet is done so illegally, the problem is a very compelling one. Noted recording artist and songwriter Janice Ian, in contrast, believes that there is no evidence to support the proposition that material available for free online downloading is harming anyone, especially the artists who produce it. In fact, free downloading may actually benefit the majority of artists because it allows them potentially to reach millions of new listeners, who may later purchase CDs, and attend their live concerts.
- Issue Are Supermax (Control Unit) Prisons an Appropriate Way to Punish Hardened Criminals?
YES: Gregory L. Hershberger, from To the Max, Corrections Today
NO: Daniel P Mears A Critical Look at Supermax Prisons, Corrections Compendium
Federal Bureau of Prisons regional director Gregory L. Hershberger contends that the challenges posed by hardened prison inmates support confining dangerous offenders in a supermax prison facility. Professors Daniel P. Mears argues that supermax prisons are an unproductive response to our crime problems. Moreover, they are incredibly expensive and prevent states from developing correctional programs that may actually be much more effective.
- Issue Do Three Strikes Sentencing Laws and Other Get Tough Approaches Really Work?
YES: Eugene H. Methvin, from Mugged by Reality, Policy Review (July/August 1997)
NO: David Shichor, from Three Strikes as a Public Policy, Crime & Delinquency (October 1997)
Eugene H. Methvin, senior editor for Readers Digest, contends that a very small number of juveniles and adults commit the majority of serious crimes. The main solution to the crime problem, then, is to identify them as early as possible and increase the punishments each time they offend, eventually incarcerating the repeat offenders. Professor of criminal justice David Shichor argues that three strikes laws are costly, inefficient, unfair, and do little to reduce crime.
- Issue Does Imprisoning Drug Offenders Reduce Crime Rates?
YES: Ilyana Kuziemko and Steven D. Levitt, from An Empirical Analysis of Imprisoning Drug Offenders, Journal of Public Economics (2004)
NO: Dave Bewley-Taylor, Chris Hallam, and Rob Allen, Report 16: The Incarceration of Drug Offenders: An Overview, Kings College London, International Centre for Prison Studies (2009)
Professors Ilyana Kuziemko and Steven D. Levitt argue that incarcerating drug offenders is almost as effective in reducing violent and property crime as locking up other types of offenders. Professors Bewley-Taylor, Hallam and Allen, in contrast, assert that increasing incarceration rates for drug offenders throughout the world has had only a marginal and/or temporary impact upon the illegal drug market and generates many negative financial and collateral costs.
Unit Modern Trends in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Issue Should Private For-Profit Corporations Be Allowed to Run U.S. Prisons?
YES: Wayne H. Calabrese, from Low Cost, High Quality, Good Fit: Why Not Privatization? Privatizing Correctional Institutions (1996)
NO: Jeff Sinden, from The Problem of Prison Privatization: The U.S. Experience, Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization & Human Rights (2003)
Wayne H. Calabrese, vice president of the Wackenhut Corporation, argues that the privatization of U.S. prisons saves money and provides quality services. Jeff Sinden, managing editor of Human Rights Tribune, contends that the private prison industry has failed to achieve substantial cost savings and that there have been systemic human rights abuses in for profit correctional institutions.
- Issue Is Capital Punishment a Bad Public Policy?
YES: David Von Drehle, from Miscarriage of Justice: Why the Death Penalty Doesnt Work, The Washington Post Magazine (February 5, 1995)
NO: Ernest van den Haag, from The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense, Harvard Law Review (May 1986)
David Von Drehle, a writer and the arts editor for The Washington Post, examines specific capital punishment cases and data and concludes that capital punishment is a bad social policy. Ernest van den Haag, a professor of jurisprudence and public policy (now retired), maintains that the death penalty is just retribution for heinous crime.
- Issue Should Serious Sex Offenders Be Castrated?
YES: Lawrence Wright, from The Case for Castration, Texas Monthly (May 1992)
NO: Kari A. Vanderzyl, from Castration as an Alternative to Incarceration: An Impotent Approach to the Punishment of Sex Offenders, Northern Illinois University Law Review (Fall 1994)
Attorney Lawrence Wright argues that while castration may not be an ideal solution, if we treat it as therapy rather than punishment, as help instead of revenge, and if we view offenders as troubled victims, not monsters, then perhaps castration will become an accepted and humane option for sex offender treatment. Attorney Kari A. Vanderzyl asserts that castration should be rejected as an unacceptable, ineffective, and unconstitutional alternative to imprisonment for sex offenders.
- Issue Do Strict Gun Control Laws Reduce the Number of Homicides in the United States?
YES: Franklin E. Zimring, from Firearms, Violence, and the Potential Impact of Firearms Control, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (Spring 2004)
NO: Lance K. Stell, from The Production of Criminal Violence in America: Is Strict Gun Control the Solution? Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (Spring 2004)
Professor Franklin E. Zimring argues that there is a strong relationship between gun use and the death rate from violent crime and that handgun use increases the death rate from violence by a factor of three to five. Professor Lance K. Stell asserts that strict gun control institutionalizes the natural predatory advantages of larger, stronger, violence-prone persons and increases the risks of violent victimization for less well-off, law-abiding citizens.
- Issue Should the Police Enforce Zero-Tolerance Laws?
YES: George L. Kelling and William J. Bratton, from Declining Crime Rates: Insiders Views of the New York City Story, The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology (Summer 1998)
NO: Judith A. Greene, from Zero Tolerance: A Case Study of Police Policies and Practices in New York City, Crime & Delinquency (April 1999)
George L. Kelling, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and William J. Bratton, former New York City Police Department commissioner, strongly defend Kellings formulation of zero tolerance/broken windows theory and Brattons implementation of Kellings ideas. Judith A. Greene, senior fellow of the Institute on Criminal Justice of the University of Minnesota Law School, compares New Yorks policing style with San Diegos community policing model and argues that the latter is as effective and less costly.
Unit The U.S. Supreme Court, Crime, and the Justice System
- Issue Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
YES: Ethan A. Nadelmann, from An End to Marijuana Prohibition: The Drive to Legalize Picks Up, National Review ( 2004).
NO: Charles D. Stimson , from Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No, Legal Memorandum ( 2010).
Ethan A. Nadelmann, the founder and director of the Drug Policy Alliance, contends that contemporary marijuana laws are unique among American criminal laws because no other law is both enforced so widely and yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the public. Enforcing marijuana laws also wastes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars annually. Charles D. Stimson, a senior legal fellow in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation,, argues that marijuana legalization will increase crime, drug use, and social dislocation the exact opposite of what pro-legalization advocates promise. Moreover, he believes that there is substantial evidence to suggest that legalizing marijuana would lead to greater problems of addiction, violence, disorder, and death.
- Issue Does the U.S. Constitution Protect the Right to Possess a Firearm?
YES: Antonin E. Scalia, form Majority Opinion, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
NO: John Paul Stevens, from Dissenting Opinion, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
Justice Antonin E. Scalia, writing for the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), held that a District of Columbia law making it a crime to carry an unregistered handgun and prohibiting the registration of handguns, but that authorizes the police chief to issue 1-year licenses, and requires residents to keep lawfully owned handguns unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device, violates the Second Amendment. Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), asserted that neither the text of the Second Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislatures authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Moreover, there is no indication that the Framers intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the constitution.
- Issue Should it be Lawful for the Police to Conduct Jail House Strip-Searches of Persons Arrested for Minor Offenses?
YES: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, from Majority Opinion, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burington, 566 U.S. ___ (2012)
NO: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Stephen Breyer, from Dissenting Opinion, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholder of County of Burlington, 556 U.S. ____ (2012)
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asserts that police officers and correctional officials must be permitted to develop reasonable search policies to detect and deter the possession of contraband within their facilities. Moreover, exempting people arrested for minor offenses from such searches may put the police at greater risk and result in more contraband being brought into jails. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, in contrast, believes that because strip searches involve close observation of the private areas of the body, they constitute a serious invasion of personal privacy and may not be justified in cases involving minor offenses.
- Issue Does an Imprisoned Individual Have a Constitutional Right to Access the States Evidence for DNA Testing?
YES: John Paul Stevens, from Dissenting Opinion, District Attorneys Office v. Osborne, 557 U.S. ____ (2009)
NO: John Roberts, from Majority Opinion, District Attorneys Office v. Osborne, 557 U.S. ____ (2009)
Justice John Paul Stevens, in a dissenting opinion in District Attorneys Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne (2009), contends that a fundamental responsibility to ensure that justice has been served requires a state to provide a defendant with postconviction access to DNA evidence. Because it could conclusively establish whether an accused had committed the crime in the first place, this right should be protected by the Fourteenth Amendments Due Process Clause. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, in District Attorneys Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne (2009), held that the U.S. Constitutions Due Process Clause provides no right to postconviction access to DNA evidence because it would take the development of rules and procedures in criminal cases out of the hands of state legislatures and courts.