January 19, 2015
A Martha Dalesio
Criminological theory is defined as the theory on why people commit crimes. There are many theories out there, some of which fit to society and some of which do not. Personal criminological theory would be the latter. Each individual person has an opinion on why someone commits a crime, much like an opinion on anything else. I define my personal criminological theory as a want and need theory. My theory of want and need is fairly easy to explain. Those that commit crimes either want or need something. This can be a physical manifestation, such as a teenager shoplifting a cell phone that they wanted, or it can be mental, such as a serial killers need to kill. From that perspective, it is easy to see where criminals can fall into the want category. There are rare cases in which people commit crimes as a need, but is far more common to see a crime of opportunity (want) than for a crime of need. By examining the economic status of the criminals, we are able to determine a possible reason for their actions. For example, if a wealthy person commits a white collar crime, it would fall under the want category as their means are not into a need for financial gain whereas if the person was heavily in debt and committed the same crime, it would be classified as a need since their means would be for financial gain. It is apparent that many upper level management of corporations commit crimes of opportunity at the expense of their employees or company, but are either not caught or there is a lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute these individuals (look at how many former Enron employees hold government jobs for example). Tying into this variable would be social class. Many people associate wealth with social class, but debt can just as easily accompany the rich and powerful. Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy numerous times, and he is regarded as social elite; but he could just as easily commit a crime of need as a lower social class individual could. My theory ties into a personal disproving of the traditional labeling theory, as an individual can be labeled as successful and upstanding yet have committed criminal acts despite being labeled as a good citizen. The opposite is true as well, as a person that is in a low social class gets labeled as a loser, but has no criminal inclinations whatsoever and continues down a straight and narrow path. I cannot abide by the labeling theory as I feel that is does not truly reflect a real showing of an individual, only actions prove this.
I assume much in my theory, mainly because I have a clear view on crime. In cases of extreme need (such as teenager stealing bread to feed himself or his family), I assume that the system has failed the individual in some way and it was a true need. In a way this is…