Criminal Justice

Introduction – describe the main idea of your paper (Title of documentary, why you choose it, list of theories you will discuss). This should be about 1 paragraph.
Crime/Criminal – give some of the details of the criminal or crime.

Theories – Evaluate and apply at least 4 different theories to explain the crimes feature in the film. One (1) paragraph per theory is a good rule to follow. Explain the theory in your own words, then tell me how this theory explains (can be applied to) the criminal or crime featured in the documentary. If the theory has three parts, then you need to apply all three parts of the theory. This demonstrates that you thoroughly comprehend the theory. Be specific with examples and elaborate on the theory’s usefulness in understanding why people violate norms/laws/values. Bold/highlight theories.

Concepts – apply at least 4 concepts from the chapter/book. You can integrate these into the general discussion of the theories when necessary or discuss them at the end. (Example: discuss strain theory and in same paragraph discuss innovator). Concepts are “vocab” words or key statistics and patterns like victimization according to sex of person or age. Your choice of concepts will effect your grade on this paper. Selecting a concept like “crime” or “deviance” will reduce one’s score. Instead select concepts like “aging out of crime” or “incapacitation”. These concepts require a more elaborate discussion than the terms crime or deviance. Highlight/bold concepts.
 
Conclude – Summarize your thoughts. What did you think of the documentary? Do you think theories help us to make conclusions other than the generic “That was crazy!” What other crimes are you  interested in? You can even state whether the current policies and laws are effective in controlling this crime.

Here are sample questions to consider when apply the theories:
Cultural Transmission Theory
1. Is the behavior a product of learning, operant conditioning, lack of containment, or failure of self-control?
2. How does this theory apply to the characters? Give 3 examples of learned techniques as well as learned motivations.
3. Conclude by analyzing the agents of socialization facilitated cultural transmission (parents, media, school, peers, etc.).
4. Is there any way to break the cycle from generation to generation?
 
Structural Strain Theory
1. What are the socially-endorsed goals that the main character(s) is seeking to achieve?
2. Do you personally consider those goals normal and desirable?
3. Using Merton’s theory of strain, determine what mode of adaptation the actions of the character represent: keep in mind that you might find a number of these modes throughout the movie depending on specific obstacles and circumstances.
4. Conclude by determining is the criminal innovation and rebellion that resulted from the strain is understandable and should be excused, or deviant and should be prosecuted.
 
Control Theory
1. Explain how Hirshi’s control applies to the characters in the film?
2. Give specific examples of how the main criminals had bonds of attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.
3. Which bonds were missing, weakened or broken, and what are the specific rules for that criminal?
4. If you were a policy maker, what would you for to ensure that the crucial bonds that give control to teenager’s lives are not broken – and what can you do for those who lose control and resort to crime?
 
Labeling Theory
1. Describe three specific examples from the film using dialogue and scene description to explain the labeling process and its repercussions on the criminal.
2. Who were the agents of socialization that labeled the criminal?
3. In what way were they “significant others” or “moral entrepreneurs”?
4. Did you see any examples of primary deviance which transformed into secondary deviance?
5. Was the criminal an example of a “self fulfilling prophecy?”
 
Corrections: Institutional Settings          
1. Based upon your viewing of this documentary, consider the objective of incapacitating criminals—not only as a means of punishment, but also as a means of protecting the law-abiding public. Discuss the psychological and physical impact of incarceration on the inmates.
2. Does a prison term incapacitate people from committing crime…or can they commit crime in prison?
3. Were the criminals rehabilitated and their behaviors corrected? Explain.
4. What barriers do ex-cons face when trying to successfully adjust to society?
5. Out of the six models of justice, which one do you think is most effective in controlling crime AND rehabilitating criminals?
6. Overall, do prisoners have too many rights today or are they treated inhumanely? Discuss.
 
Organized Crime          
1. Consider the readings from your textbook on the history and structure of organized crime. After watching [the film] identify the crime families and/or ethnic “mafias” which are prevalent in the film?
2. How are the criminals rational? How are the criminal traits learned? What bonds were weak that attributed to future criminal behavior? Were there any biological factors that afflicted the criminals that can be attributed to the illegal activities? What role does testosterone play in the male criminals? How is the violence a product of social or family influences?
3. Compare and contrast the activities as seen in the documentary with the description of organized crime in your textbook: how important are issues of military-style organization, loyalty, ethnic solidarity in committing crime?
4. How should police respond to organized crime that is run better than a corporation?

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