Pat is living in the “Pork & Beans” housing project (Liberty Square) in Miami. This part of Miami is dismally poor, drug-ridden, and crime-ridden. However, just a few blocks away are multi-million dollar homes, luxurious high-rise condo buildings, fancy restaurants, expensive stores, and car dealers that sell Maybach, Bentley, Ferrari, and other exotic vehicles.
Pat’s father was shot and killed in a bad drug deal when Pat was 5 years old. Pat suffered a head injury in the incident, getting knocked over by the killer as he was fleeing the scene. Pat’s older brother is in prison for aggravated assault, Pat’s 13 year old sister has just started prostituting herself for money and drugs, and Pat’s mother is addicted to crack, and has been in and out of jail for prostitution. Pat’s grandmother is a stable force and tries to help the kids and teach them. She preaches the value of education and tries to instill in them the pride of hard work. However, she isn’t having much success. Pat has had difficulty in school for many years, partly due to the brother’s bad reputation. Pat became identified as a “trouble-maker” in elementary school when trying to help a classmate stop a fight. Pat started hanging out with other kids who had family and school problems, which led to more bad behavior, which led to dropping out of school. In the past, Pat had been detained several times for truancy, vandalism, simple possession, and graffiti. However, two days ago, Pat was detained for breaking & entering and burglarizing a very nice home in a more rural area where the houses are more spread out and there is less security. Pat took jewelry, silver, expensive audio/visual equipment, some cash, credit cards, and computer equipment. The plan was to fence (give them to someone who specializes in the sale of stolen goods) the items and get money to purchase enough drugs to get started in the business of selling.
Answer the following questions about Pat:
1. Given the statistics on offender characteristics (who is most likely to engage in crime), what is Pat’s SEX (male or female), RACE/ETHNICITY (black, white, Hispanic, Asian, other), and approximate AGE (<18, 18-25, 26-35, >35)?
2. Name at least THREE theories that are implied in the above scenario, name the theorist(s), describe the theory, and provide a BRIEF explanation of how each of these three could work to explain Pat’s behavior.
3. Which of the three theories you described above do you think BEST explains Pat’s behavior? Explain and defend your choice.
List of Theories
rational choice (theory of criminal/deviant behavior)
routine activities (theory of victimization)
Cohen’s status frustration
differential reinforcement/social learning
A “General Theory” (Gottfredson & Hirschi)
differential social control
Social Development Model (SDM)
Elliot’s integrated theory
Integrated structural theory
Farrington’s Theory of Delinquent development