A crime is an offence against the state. Conklin (2010) defines a crime as an act that violates the criminal law and is punishable by that state as stipulated in the penal code. A society can be defined as an organized group of persons that is recognized by distinctive features that it shares in common such as religion, culture, political views, and even scientific views. This paper seeks to give a detailed analysis of what amounts to a criminal career while putting special emphasis on the various forms of criminal careers and the factors influencing the occurrence of such careers. The paper will also give a critical analysis of what factors that catalyze commission of crimes with special regard to the role that cultures, religion and other sources have in commission of such crimes. The paper will also address the costs that come along with commission of crimes and the role played by sources in the cost of crimes.
The concept of criminal career reflects on the fact that engagement in deviant behavior encompasses entry into a social role that matures overtime and is regulated by social rules and systems that determine the development of this career (Conklin, 2010). Therefore, the term criminal career reflects on an individual’s involvement in crime both intensively and extensively to earn a living and it ends up becoming an individual’s way of life. Recruitment into criminal careers often begins from a mere act such as stealing minor things like few coins and it mature into a criminal career as an individual gets used to stealing overtime.
Juvenile delinquency in criminology focuses on the increasing involvement of young people in crimes. Statistics indicate that the rates of offenders are high among the youth and adolescents (Conklin, 2010). For instance in 1998, the peak age for males who were found guilty of indictable offences was 18 while that of females was 15 in both England and Wales (Unknown, 2011). Children who become delinquent are most likely to have had a prior history of poor educational performance and conduct problems in their early schooling years. In addition, other family factors such as poverty, parents’ history of criminal behavior and large family sizes are viewed as predictors of delinquency.
When committing crime becomes the routine of a child’s lifestyle, he develops to become a chronic offender who is used to persistently violating laws. As he grows up to become an adult, he views crime as a way of life that he cannot afford to do without. According to statistics carried out in Minnesota State in 2009, 75 to 85 percent of capital crimes such as manslaughter, robbery with violence, and murder are committed by chronic offenders with a history of previous arrests. Such offenders do not seem to realize that the crime is serious, they are used to being in and out of jail. According to Walklate (2003), chronic offenders are bound to commit crimes that are more serious even after conviction because they get used to the penalties imposed on them and they get to understand exactly what they expect after committing a crime hence they are always prepared for whatever the consequences.
The transition from juvenile to adult criminal careers is mainly determined by the child’s growing up environment. The sort of people the child associates with are bound to affect his behavior has he develops. This effect is seen in his when the child becomes an adult and he maintains the behavior he was taught while young. Statistics indicate that 68 percent of juvenile offenders who appeared in NWS children’s court in 1995 also appeared in NWS criminal court after 8 years while approximately ten percent ended up in adult prisons within this period Walklate (2003). When their backgrounds were reviewed, it was noted that bad societal influence such as peer influence, poverty and lack of parental guidance were the major factors negatively influencing the crime behavior in these adults. Adults’ criminal behavior is bound to develop into a criminal career with time because it becomes difficult to controls adults who are used to violating laws. Walklate (2003) observes that the solution to curbing adult crime is to child crimes by reducing risk factors for child involvement in crimes by providing both education and health facilities to improve a child’s social and family life.
Most criminal careers such as robbery with violence are carried out intensive offenders who have a history of criminal engagement since childhood (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). Over time, such offenders develop to become more skilled in carrying out harmed robberies with large payoffs as they get used to both tactics of evading police traps and acquire more equipment to keep themselves secure from these traps. Intensive offenders are known to consciously plan their affairs and they are always persistent and frequent (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). They are normally motivated to continue carrying out criminal activities when find that the society is vulnerable and lacks enough security hence they are professional criminals. When they become more persistent, it becomes an uphill task for security forces to eradicate them.
Intermittent offenders are mainly motivated by occurrence of some circumstances. Such offenders have an irregular history of crime commission and they mainly engage in opportunistic crimes with minimal payoffs compared to greater risks that come along with such crimes (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). They do not view themselves as professional criminals but rather as any criminal with petty offences. Criminal careers of robbers can be both intensive and intermittent. Research indicate that when an intermittent robber gets used to minor house breaking, this becomes the routine of his lifestyle and he gradually graduates to intensive burglary. This is because he develops an urge to steal any valuable thing at sight that becomes uncontrollable as he develops. This urge drives him to intensive burglary such as bank robbing and robbery with violence.
White-collar crimes have also been ignored while studying criminal careers but to some extent, they form part of a criminal career. Persons of high social status while holding some office commit white-collar crimes (Piquero et al, 2010). Such crimes may go unrecognized and influence the offender to develop a habit of violating laws which may culminate in capital offences culpability in the future lifestyle of such an offender. White-collar crimes can involve fraud, bribery, identity theft, and forgery. According to Walklate (2003), the sort of people, they relate with mainly influences offenders of white-collar crimes and such influence is bound to culminate into remarkable criminal careers that may be intensive. Statistics indicate that at least 16 percent of retired officers from armed forces who engage in criminal career robberies must have began with white-collar crimes such as bribery while in office (Piquero et al, 2010).
Offenders may resolve into quitting crime due to some societal and cultural factors such as severe punishments and penalties accompanied by commission of certain crimes (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). To regulate commission of serious offences such as murder and robbery with violence, most jurisdictions have categorized such offences as felonies that are accompanied by either death penalties or life imprisonment. This has seen the rate of such crimes reduce because many offenders fear going through such coercive penalties.
Cultures such as religion that apparently criminalize some activities such as rape and provide for isolation of such offenders also influence their believers to quit crime in order to be accepted by the society. Peer influence from optimistic and goal oriented peers also influences most offenders to quit crime as they seek to lead risk free lifestyles as their peers do (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). Rehabilitation also helps criminals quit criminal careers, as they are encouraged to be optimistic about life and acknowledge leading that they can live without violating existing laws. Also economic status improvement and provision of basic human needs to such offenders influences them to quit criminal careers because they are mainly out to commit crimes to earn a living.
Learning to Commit Crime
The Psychological theory emphasizes that behavior is learnt through interactions (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). This implies the fact that commission of crimes adapted from peer influence and societal influence. The society influences juvenile delinquency in several ways. Factors such as poverty drive children into being more rebellious and ignorant about the consequences of their actions. Researches indicate that 80 percent of offenders convicted of felonies have a poor background and lack adequate education (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). Due to poverty minors are forced y the economic strain to fend for themselves through commission of petty crimes such as minor stealing. With time such behaviors becomes habitual and they are carried forward into adulthood. This culminates into criminal careers.
The behavior theory indicates that behavior that is rewarded becomes habitual (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). Therefore, when children begin committing petty crimes such as stealing and parents fail warn them against such behaviors they carry develop a habit of stealing which matures into intensive crimes. The social theory also asserts that adults are aggressive and develop to become aggressive because while young, they modeled their behaviors to after those of their violent adults (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). This implies that parents who are offenders themselves and have an habit of engaging in commission of crimes influences children’s behavior as these juniors tend to copy what their guardians do and perceive it to be the right thing to do in the future. With time, they develop a habit which culminates into a criminal career. Adults with such a background are persistent in commission of crime and it is normally difficult for them to quit crime because they develop an irresistible urge to commit crimes just as their seniors.
Peer influence is perceived to have grave impacts on an individual’s psychology (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). Peers influence most youth who engage in capital offences such as terrorism. Peer influence I learning how to commit a crime is evident in both children and adults. Peer influences changes the manner in which an individual perceives and interprets the world in which he lives. The moral development theory indicates that an individual’s behavior is mainly shaped by peer influence. If an individual hangs out with robbers who attribute their success to criminal activities, such an individual is likely to engage in those activities in order to yield success as his peers.
According to developmental psychologists, criminals are not in a position to make personal moral judgments (Gavin & Hockey, 2010). They do not consider the rights of others but rather go by the opinions of those whom they perceive to be at the same social status as theirs. The social theory indicates that children brought up in societies with strict moral rules that are obeyed to the letter are likely to observe such rules even in adulthood. This implies that the society norms also influence an individual to learn some criminal behavior.
The labeling theory also attempts to explain how individuals learn to commit crime. According to the theory, those in power decide what amounts to a crime and the characteristics that make one to be regarded as a criminal. Once the society recognizes such characteristics that identify one as criminal, then the society withdraws some privileges from such person such as association with some people, entry into some places and even access to some social amenities.
This influences an individual to develop some criminal behavior that seeks to protect him from such ill treatment. The strain theory indicates that in a bid to earn those privileges and demand for normal attention like any other individual from the society, an individual develops a defiant behavior that makes him more rebellious. An individual may resolve into breaking the law until such an equal opportunity is granted to him. In his quest for his privileges, he ends up learning how to commit crime and this may end up becoming the routine of his lifestyle.
Individuals are also encouraged to learn how to commit a crime due to the rewards accompanied by commission of such crimes. Where an individual knows breaking into a bank is highly risk but the reward that comes along with such an act if he goes scot-free is worthy an individual is encouraged to try. This influences the individual’s general behavior if he happens to succeed in his first crime. Such an individual may develop a stealing habit that may culminate into a criminal career.
Cost of Crime
Most crime costs are associated with the victim’s physical injury and loss of property. However, crime can cause more costs which may not be directly recognized by third parties but felt by the victim alone. Tangible costs related to property loss are one of the most recognized losses associated with crime (Walklate, 2003). Tangible costs can be categorized into three. First, they are those direct costs associated with loss of property from the victim such as stolen money. The second category is those costs that come along because of property damage. Such costs are easily quantified and fixed. Lastly, victims can suffer loss of wages due to the mental or physical injuries that they may suffer because of crime. The costs may be difficult to ascertain because they may arise long after the commission of crime.
Medical costs can also arise because of crime (Walklate, 2003). Crimes against a person more often come along with medical and mental health treatment costs. Some of these costs are not catered for by the offender and are shifted to the society. Government costs are also some other forms of costs that accrue from commission of crimes such as terrorism. The government has to incur the costs of ensuring the public is safe from crimes such as terrorism and incase of such occurrences; the government is always responsible for treating such victims and compensating them (Walklate, 2003). Other costs that caused by crime are private security measures costs. Private individuals are forced to hire individual security while visiting some areas or doing some crucial activities so has to curb the probability of harm being caused to them. These private security costs also include purchase of personal effects to help protect individuals from crime that may include firearms, better locks, and home security systems such as CCTV cameras.
Indirect costs that are intangible also accrue from crime (Walklate, 2003). These costs include the negative effects that criminal victimization is bound to have on the children and spouses of a household. Relatives of such a household are bound to suffer psychological strain and financial strain in quest to save their loved ones from the harsh penalties that accrue from commission of crime (Walklate, 2003). This results into intimate partner violence that is indirect but felt within the family. Organized crimes such as robbery with violence also cause indirect costs to victims such as financial strain in a bid to curb them and ensure that families remain secure from such crimes.
As analyzed above, various factors contribute to commission of crime and culminate to criminal careers that become difficult to handle. Such factors include poverty, peer influence, and economical strain. To curb crime both individual citizens and governments ought to get involved. Eliminating global poverty should be the first agenda in a quest to curb crimes such as terrorism and robbery with violence. State governments should be responsible enough to provide basic needs to their citizens. Parents and societies should also be active in helping regulating crime by upholding positive societal norms which do not have any negative influence on both children and adult behaviors.