For the term paper assignment you will identify and apply a Criminological theory or theories to explain the over-representation of African Americans in crime statistics and in the justice system. This will require that you review the criminology theories from your CJ 3301 Criminology course. Additionally, talk about the policies or reforms that would be needed to reduce the problem.
Follow these guidelines in writing your paper:
The paper length should be between 6-8 pages in length (excluding references and a cover page). It should be double-spaced, with 12-point type, Times New Roman or Arial font, one-inch margins on all sides, and left justified.
The paper should have a cover page with the title, your name, the course title and CRN number of the class, and date of submission.
You must have at least 6 references, but preferably more, and all sources must be cited correctly according to APA guidelines. You will need to provide a reference list and that also must be in APA style. If you have questions about how to cite using APA, there are some useful guidelines on the UHD Library website. At least four of your sources must be academic (academic journals, law reviews, scholarly books, and government or organizational reports). Avoid using websites, Wikipedia, and the text as sources.
African American High Crime Rates
African American High Crime Rates
The population of African American population in the criminal justice system and crime statistics have significantly increased over the years, thus indicating high levels of crime among the group, and there is a need to understand the high numbers through the different criminology theories. The American criminal justice system is impacted by the bias of police mentality and outdated judicial precedents controlled by racial disparities that have contributed to the obstruction and deconstruction of minority groups such as African Americans (Unnever and Cullen, 2012). The three major criminal justice systems of law enforcement, courts, and corrections have seen a growing trend in the number of African Americans in the justice system as occasioned by their crime involvement. In the African American society, crime and violence rates have been higher than that of the white population and other ethnic groups such as the Hispanics. Consequently, researchers have made efforts to study and explain African Americans’ overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. The researchers have identified some of the reasons leading to high crime rates among African Americans as socioeconomic factors that include poor early childhood education, poverty, poor access to public education, exposure to poor neighborhoods, and exposure to harmful chemicals (Mukku et al., 2012). The different reasons for involvement in crime can be linked to various criminology theories. The increased involvement of African American society in the criminal justice system can be understood and explained through criminology theories such as the social disorganization theory or strain theories.
Social Disorganization Theory
The social disorganization theory argues that increased crime rates in society are occasioned by social change that has had a significant impact on social controls’ breakdown. Social controls prevent one from engaging in crime or violating laws, rules, and regulations set within their society. Society has experienced a rapid change of social change, especially in the urban neighborhoods leading to members of the society engaging in different crimes to cope with the changing social environment (Boyd, 2020). In this regard, social change creates social forces beyond individuals, thus causing a significant change in human behavior. The social changes result in social disorganizations of societal structures that inform the social controls such that people engage in crime and delinquent behaviors due to external forces.
The societies were stable before the industrial revolution since there were stable social structures with every section making their contribution to social growth and controls. Family as a social unit has a significant contribution to the growth and development of social controls among society members. The different social structures and institutions such as family, school, and religious organizations were stable, and they modeled individuals to have social control and act in the interest of the common good (Abbott, 2019). The stability within the social structures ensures that one was modeled to cope and counter social, economic, and cultural challenges in life. During this period, American society experienced low crime rates since people had social controls that made them law abiding. Consequently, the emergence of the industrial revolution in the 19th century resulted in significant social change and disorganization, increasing crime rates, especially among African American societies. During the industrial revolution, American societies and cities grew rapidly. The rapid population growth was a result of increased opportunities in the cities. The population’s significant growth in the cities was occasioned by the migration of farmers and African Americans in the cities to take the different opportunities available. Additionally, European immigrants joined American cities to take advantage of the available opportunities. The people across the region and globe joined American society and cities to enjoy better living conditions while working in different factories. On the contrary, the reality in the cities was harsh working conditions, long working hours, and low wages. The new form of life resulted in a significant transformation of American society. The American society transformed from a population of small and stable rural communities to urban populations characterized by crowded cities and populations settling around the factories. The increased population with different challenges contributed to the instability of societies leading to social disorganization. Social disorganization negatively affected people’s socialization to prepare them to cope with challenges and overcome them with socially developed solutions. The unstable social structures and the new and increased social problems inclined the urban poor to engage in all forms of crimes. The cities’ problems arose due to financial challenges, thus inclining the urban poor population to engage in crime that benefited them socially and financially to solve their different problems. The African American society comprised the poor and disadvantaged people who were mostly affected by social changes, thus encouraging most of them to engage in different forms of crime to meet their social and financial demands. This fact has resulted in a trend of criminal involvement among African Americans leading to their over-representation in the justice system and crime statistics compared to other societal groups.
Anomie strain theory
The anomie theory can be adopted in explaining the significant increase in crime rates among African American societies. The Anomie theory argues that societies experience a sense of normlessness as occasioned by the societal inability to regulate natural appetites. The American dream inclined the people to accumulate wealth as an ultimate goal of life (Antonaccio, Smith, and Gostjev, 2015). Increased wealth was associated with favorable living conditions, social status, prestige, and self-worth; thus, wealth accumulation became American culture. Americans embarked on achieving the American dream possible for everyone by pursuing education, hard work, deferring gratification, and honest pursuit of goals. Consequently, the American social structure accumulates wealth goals almost impossible for the highest number of society. The fact that the wealth accumulation goals are emphasized despite the institutionalization of means of honesty, hard work, deferred gratification, and access to education makes it hard for the underprivileged members of society to access them. In this case, strain comes in due to gaps existing between the accumulation of wealth, and the institutionalized means associated with wealth creation. The strain affects every American society member, but more effect is felt by the people occupying lower social classes. This fact means that the lower-income earners are blocked from achieving the American dream. The fact that the society over-emphasizes the accumulation of wealth and whiles the structure limits some members of the society from achieving the wealth accumulation goals inclines them to engage in illegitimate means of wealth accumulation. The illegitimate means of accessing wealth are associated with crimes. In this regard, African Americans are the most disadvantaged in accessing wealth through the established societal institutionalization. Therefore, the highest number of African Americans is involved in different forms of social or financial crimes to achieve American dream goals.
General strain theory
The general strain theory explains the social-psychological factors that result in strain among the members of society. The general strain theory evaluates the negative emotions that contribute to strain among the people. In this regard, strain is caused by failure to achieve positively valued goals, gaps between expectations and the achievements, removal of positively valued stimuli and negative stimuli such as child neglect, child abuse, crime victimization, family and peer conflict, physical punishments (Downes, Paul, and McLaughlin, 2016). The African Americans are subjected to social structures that create strain in their lives such that they engage in crime as a means of ending the strains. This fact has made the African Americans, especially those living in a poor neighborhood to engage in crime as a norm leading to their overrepresentation in crime statistics and the criminal justice system.
Policies and reforms to reduce the over-representation of the African American in crime statistics
African Americans are highly featured in crime statistics and justice systems compared to the white majority or other minority groups; thus, there is a need for the adoption of policies and reforms in the criminal justice system and society to combat the crime rates among African Americans. In this regard, the social disorganization theory argues that crime arises from the disintegration of the social structure; thus, there is a need to rebuild the different social structures and institutions to restore social control, thus preventing and reducing crimes (Boyd, 2020). Society needs to have coordinated plans with churches, labor unions, schools, clubs, industries, and other societal institutions in solving the problems existing in society. The different social institutions ensure to transform the disorganized communities to stable communities such that the people in society regain social control, thus significantly preventing crimes. Consequently, strain theory policy argues that crime results from a lack of legitimate opportunities in the society; thus, crime can be prevented through provisions of equal opportunities and an enabling environment for the members of the society. The government and the society need to ensure equal education opportunities, job opportunities, and access to resources, making it possible for every party to realize the American Dream legitimately (Downes, Paul, and McLaughlin, 2016). The government needs to ensure that the lower classes of the society are enabled to access the opportunities to ensure that they achieve their social and financial goals. Therefore, access to different wealth creation opportunities ensures that crime and delinquent behaviors are effectively prevented and reduced.
The increased criminal trends among the African American society can be explained through the different criminology theories of strains and social disorganizations, and the problem can be combated under the development of relevant policies and reforms. The social disorganization theories argue that African Americans consistently engage in crime due to the disintegration of social institutions and structures that eliminate social control to engage in crime. On the other hand, social strain theories argue that African American societies engage in crime due to the limitation of wealth creation opportunities. In this regard, crime in society can be reduced by rebuilding social institutions and structure while equally providing wealth creation opportunities.
Downes, D., Rock, P. E., & McLaughlin, E. (2016). Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.
Antonaccio, O., Smith, W. R., & Gostjev, F. A. (2015). Anomic strain and external constraints: A reassessment of Merton’s anomie/strain theory using data from Ukraine. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 59(10), 1079-1103.
Abbott, A. (2019). Living one’s theories: moral consistency in the life of Émile Durkheim. Sociological Theory, 37(1), 1-34.
Boyd, R. C. (2020). Beyond Social Disorganization Theory: The Influence of Multiple Structural Determinants of Crime on an Urban Community.
Mukku, V. K., Benson, T. G., Alam, F., Richie, W. D., & Bailey, R. K. (2012). Overview of substance use disorders and incarceration of African American males. Frontiers in psychiatry, 3, 98.
Unnever, J. D., & Cullen, F. T. (2012). White perceptions of whether African Americans and Hispanics are prone to violence and support for the death penalty. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49(4), 519-544.