Criminal Justice Discussion

Part A

In your opinion, is it a good idea to label people as criminals? Ex-cons? Why or why not? Did any of the theories for this week change your mind? If so, how? If not, why not? Without resorting to “strawman” arguments (making a bad faith counter-argument based on something that IS NOT actually what is being argued in the first place) or “slippery slope” arguments (making a bad faith counter-argument based on potential, but unrealistic, outcomes), what is the worst realistic outcome of NOT labeling offenders as such? Best realistic outcome of NOT labeling offenders? Which realistic outcomes have more merit in your opinion? Why?

Part B

These theories assume that people are good or altruistic which I agree with. Individuals become corrupted by society as they grow up and engage with different types on individuals. Stereotypes can lead people to commit crime even if they have never thought about it. For example young minority males are stereotyped to be criminals, therefore since it is expected of them by society they then engage in deviant behavior. Pluralist paradigm of society is also assumed which I agree with. Negative connotations originate from other groups or people rather then ourselves. The part I do not agree with is soft determinism; it argues that anyone who is labeled is more likely to commit crime. I don’t think everyone who is labeled will engage in criminal activity; it depends more on their social status in my opinion. Both Cooley’s concept and Merton’s lay a platform for labeling theories because they show the process in which our mind can work. For example, if a minority is being called names like criminal, ex-con, etc. then they might be more likely to engage in crime because people already see him as a criminal therefore it will not hurt his label is he commits a crime.

I do not believe that we should continue labeling criminals or people who have not even committed crimes as criminals. It is wrong to do so, specially young people because, like studies show they can carry that label through adulthood and become criminals. A young person should be taught right from wrong, and if their attitudes or behaviors are extreme then it should be treated instead of being labeled. The outcome of not labeling can create any person a successful one. The worst outcome is creating a criminal; a person who can hurt others just because of negative labels.

I do not believe labeling theories alone are strong enough to be considered general theories of crime because it doesn’t explain why individuals engage in criminal activity in the first place. These theories only explain why they continued to engage in crime. It doesn’t study the depths of criminal activity and individuals like it probably should. I don’t think any theory is better than the other because we need a piece of all theories so best explain criminal behavior.

Part C

Labeling people as ex-cons or criminals does not seem logical or ethical to me because most of the time, these people serve their time in prison and re-invent themselves. When they are always referred to as an ex-con it does not allow them to fully grow out of who they used to be. They are constantly being reminded of their mistakes. The theories did not change my mind about this but rather confirmed it even more so. Specifically because when someone is being referred to as a label, it’s hard for them to escape it and become something else. When society sees these people being referred to as criminals, they begin to treat them like one. This leads to them struggling with the conformity aspect of getting released from prison as well as increasing their recidivism rate due to not being able to fit back into society. The worst outcome of NOT labeling offenders is that they do not feel any shame about what they did and are likely to think it is okay and will likely do it again. The best outcome of not labeling offenders is that they are able to successfully reintegrate back into society and people are more likely to associate with them. The best outcomes come from NOT labeling them because they can easily feel accepted back into society, reducing recidivism rates.

Powered by WordPress