Criminal Justice system

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Discussion Questions: (Remember: You may use ONE of these or any concept that you find in the chapter. You may start a new topic or respond to the existing one.)


  1. Reflect upon the types of things your parents did to try to help you prepare for starting elementary school (this could even involve table manners for the cafeteria, or sitting quietly while adults talk). In what ways were you given help in getting through the first few grades? Do you believe a parent’s help made any difference? What about homes where parents do not assist? How much of parental emphasis on doing well in school do you think is class-based?
  2. Are there any types of everyday behaviors that you can think of that might be useful or functional in the lower classes, but would not serve that same purpose for those of higher socio-economic standing? What about interactions with peers, teachers, and other authorities?
  3. Were Cloward and Ohlin correct about the presence of an illegal opportunity structure and its greater availability to the lower classes? Given today’s criminological treatment of white-collar crime, is there different access to white-collar crime opportunities by class?
  4. How have changes in society views toward certain types of crimes changed the amount of negative labeling that is associated with them? Provide examples.
  5. Discuss some of the laws that appear to be differentially enforced by the criminal justice system today. Why do you think this occurs?
  6. Discuss ways in which reinforcement or reinforcement schedules are used in everyday life. How do we use conditioning in the criminal justice system today? What factors seem to determine if the reinforcement is effective?
  7. Discuss the concepts of “modeling” and “imitation.” Do you believe violence on television translates directly into violence in real life?
  8. Ray Jeffery views materials sources of learning, including neurobiological sources of reinforcement/punishment, to be most important to a person’s behavior, while Ron Akers believes social sources of learning are most important. Discuss and justify your views on this issue.
  9. Taking learning theory as a given, along with the behavior modification and conditioning aspects, respond to charges that what we want to do to modify criminal and delinquent behavior is also being done by corporations (advertising) and government in its daily activities.
  10. According to social learning theory, why do people commit crime?
  11. One of the criticisms of self-control theory is that it minimizes the effects of race and economics and appears to target parenting as the source of low self-control in youngsters. Does this put too much blame on individual parents and not enough responsibility on society to create equal opportunities and avenues of success for all children?

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