Labeling theorists are adamant about the labels that offenders are given throughout the criminal justice system. Labels, such as ex-felon, are deepening the very behavior that they are meant to halt because of stereotypes that incite an individual trying to recover after a prison term. The labeling theory argues that the criminal justice system is limited in its capacity to restrain unlawful conduct but also is a major factor in anchoring people into criminal careers.
The cultural deviance theory explains that the causes of criminal behavior in urban areas are not about the poverty suffered in those areas but the product of a distinct lower-class culture whose focal concern is deviance against the norms of society.
The theory has identified three influential versions, as follows:
- The lower-class culture as a whole is responsible for generating crime in urban areas
- Urban lower-class areas produce subcultures that are responsible for the rise of crime
- Subcultures of crimes in urban areas where individuals band together in creating crimes for their own personal gain and satisfaction
- What would be another theory and strategy to avoid stereotyping individuals in the criminal justice system?
- Is labeling theory a legitimate crime causation theory? Why?
- In your opinion, where do gangs fit within the 3 influential versions of cultural deviance theory? Why?
- Decide whether labeling theory or cultural deviance theory best explains the following problem, and why:
- The number of youths joining gangs in the inner city has doubled, while the number of gang leaders serving time in prison and being released after good conduct has increased. The crime rate for gang violence has risen 20% from last year.
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