Criminal Behavior and Policing in America

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Criminology, like many sciences, is interested in naming and defining the ideas, events, and principles that mark its development. Defining criminal behavior, though, is an especially complex task. At its most basic level, criminal behavior in the US can be defined as an infraction against a rule or law established by a local, state, or federal government that results in punishment…

Introduction


Orderliness allows societies to grow and prosper. To create order in societies, leaders often create codes of conduct, a policing system to make sure people are complying and to help prevent crime, and a punitive system that judges the unique situation of every accused offender, decides guilt or innocence, and doles out punishments when deemed necessary (Blackburn, 1998).
Examples of similar mechanisms are all around us, from an elementary school discipline board, to the workplace, and, of course, in our police departments and court systems. This is because the need for social order is so great. It is no coincidence that the holy books of the religions of the world provide guidelines that are not only saintly, but also promote peace and order in the larger community. Criminal behavior is also defined, then, as conduct which creates a threat to social order.
The definition of criminal behavior changes with time. As laws change, behavior that was once illegal is suddenly permitted. Americans in the early-twentieth century could have seen, in their lifetime, the rollercoaster ride of alcoholic spirits from "accepted" to "criminal" to "accepted once again." Another case study is Texas, where the Supreme Court recently struck down its laws banning same-sex sodomy. ...
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