Crime in America – Why Do We Spend So Much Money?

Durkheim believed that is a normal social function, both necessary and indispensable, serving as a social function. (Edles and Applerouth 2015). What does this mean? The social function of crime is to validate the social norms, by going against these norms. Crime is a deviance, simply put, that goes against the set of norms established by a society. However, it should be noted that from a sociological perspective, no act is inherently deviant. (Edles and Applerouth 2015)

Deviance is defined socially, dependent upon one group to another and characteristic of members of a particular group or society. Just because one group believes that something is deviant does not mean that another group will agree the same act is deviant. We see differences in what society believes to be a deviance every day. This is what causes disagreements within cities and the root of political splits. Some groups rally for pro-life while others believe in pro-choice. Some groups believe it is a deviance, or crime for a company to discriminate against workers, while management may believe a worker is in social deviance to report corporate wrongdoing to authorities. However, once a society or other societal institutions agree that a deviance is severe enough to result in criminal punishment, laws are then set into place to be enforced by the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

This is where the court system is granted power to set offence levels. In the State of Texas, offences are designated as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are further broken down into class A, B and C categories according to level of seriousness. Felonies are similarly classified into five categories according to seriousness. These include capital, felonies of the first degree, second degree, third degree and state jail felonies.

Durkheim also focused on, “social solidarity,” or how a society works together and is organized (Edles and Applerouth 2015). He believed that society should be studied collectively and rejected the idea of individualism. Durkheim believed that stability in society is rooted in “social facts,” or the “ways of acting, thinking and feeling, external to the individual,” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 74). One of Durkheim’s main arguments is that crime exists, therefore, it must be performing a necessary function; if not – it would not disappear in an advanced society. (Hamlin 2009).

Taking the macro perspective on the question – why do we spend so much time and money to fight crime may be better answered by taking a few select topics of deviance to analyze, for more of a micro view as to why this is happening. Looking at the arrest statistics for the State of Texas for 2011 (TxDPS 2011) there were a total of 4,140 arrested for sex offenses (other than rape and prostitution, 1,756 arrested for rape, 108,414 arrested for other assaults (not aggravated) 5,417 for offenses against family and children and 69,770 arrested for possession of marijuana.

Looking deeper into the number arrested for sex offenses, other assaults and offenses against the family – this number combined comes to 119,727, for the entire state. An assault can be a number of things – anything from a slap in the face, a kick, throwing a ball at someone that got mad and decided to press charges. More than just sexual assault. Therefore, the total number of sexual offenses to be used is 5,896 (rape and sexual offenses combined). More data would need to be obtained to analyze if any of the “other assaults may have been sexual, so those are not being considered sexual for the purposes of this report, as the state did not report them as such.

Looking at a publication from Hope Alliance, their data shows that for 2011 there were nearly 178,000 incidents of family violence in the state and 18,088 incidents of sexual assault in the state for the same year. (Hope Alliance 2011). However, just looking at the sexual assault numbers that Hope Alliance is reporting, compared to the number of arrests for sexual assault (other than rape) the same year from the state – there is a huge variance – of 13,948, or 77%.

Now, we have numerous social service agencies that constantly strive to stop domestic violence. However, the numbers are lingering behind. In addition to the above numbers, it also states that more than 226,000 children will become victims of sexual assault every year, in 85% of the sexual assaults, the offender was NOT under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense and that victims are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. (Dawgert 2009).

Victims of sexual assault have different ways of coping with the trauma. Those who have survived rape, 89% used cocaine for the first time after the attack. (Dawgert 2009). Data also shows that 73% of women in substance abuse programs were raped and that 45% were so multiple times. (Dawgert 2009). Both physical and sexual abuse show an association with higher rates of use of alcohol, marijuana and all other drugs. (Dawgert 2009). Considering this information. You have to wonder what the real problem is – drugs or sex.

Looking at the number of possession related arrests for marijuana – 69,770. The total arrest for possession all together for 2011 were 118,432. (TxDPS 2011). The totals include arrests for heroin, cocaine, narcotics and methamphetamines. When you look at data on the most dangerous street drugs, crack cocaine and heroin show up on the list, but marijuana doesn’t. However, the combined arrests for possession of cocaine and heroin for 2011 were 22,837, only 19% of the total drug possession related charges for the year.

This goes back to the question, “if Durkheim is correct – that crime is normal in any society – then why do we spend such time and money to combat it within our society?” We all know that sexual assault is morally wrong. However, the data shows that we are obviously spending more money incarcerating people for marijuana than sexual crimes against people. I believe this goes into an even deeper question to be answered on this topic – why do we spend so much money focusing on some issues and not others? Why are we spending so much money focusing on something that may very well be a result of the root issue and not the issue itself? It appears from the information above, that society is spending money criminalizing victims.

There are some concepts in psychology that I believe apply to society in this case. How we cope with this bigger issues. First, I believe that law enforcement and the courts are practicing social solidarity on the basis of aim inhibition – that is lowering their sights on what seems more achievable. This is one of the first reasons there is so much money being spent on crime. I would say that we are stuck in a cycle where there is a positive correlation in the number of victims of unreported and unaddressed sexual related crimes and drug related crime. It is much easier to convict someone for possession that it is for sexual crimes against a person. I would think this is a good reason alone to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, so the focus and funding can be used in other areas, such as the investigation of more serious crimes against the person that are shown to lead to these later deviances in society.

Second, as a society, many people solidify on smaller topics and agree that addicts are deviant and do not want to hear about the root causes, even if there is data to validate it – such as sexual assault and rape. This is because issues like this cause uncomfortable emotions. This is a coping mechanism known as avoidance. However, at what point does society realize that living inside one’s own ego and comfort zone just isn’t working anymore? That to address this issues that everyone find’s so important, that they have to be willing to toughen up and deal with these things that nobody wants to deal with? The things that are quite uncomfortable to think about?

Considering that 226,000 kids will become a victim this year, (Dawgert 2009) I would say that is more than enough reason to face reality. The faces of the unknown victims to come are not known. Never know if it is going to be someone we know in our own family, church or neighborhood. Why wait for it to hit home – when it is too late?

We have our priorities distorted. We deal with what is comfortable for us to deal with. We avoid painful topics and pick and choose what is important to us. We ignore the obvious – playing the game of willful blindness in society. Choosing consciously, but sometimes not, to not see those situations where we “could know,” but we, “don’t want to know.” We really, “need to know,” but we would, “feel better not knowing.” We keep ourselves in the dark on the bigger things, because they are painful. I think we are doing this as a society, until somewhere down the road, it will come to a head and we will all ask ourselves, “how did we not see this?” Not seeing it makes us feel good about ourselves. Seeing the bigger issue, such as 226,000 kids to be sexually assaulted this year and only 13% of sexual assault cases being assertively taken care of will make us feel like a failure. Having to admit at that a large portion of the 118,432 people arrested for possession of drugs in 2011 were likely victims of sexual crime and the perpetrator was never convicted and is still free to take another victim is not a happy feeling.

However, if it is truly the root of the problem, facing the reality and the feelings associated with it are unavoidable. Until that happens, there really should not be any question as to why we are spending so much money on crime. If someone wants to ask that question and is uncomfortable in facing reality, then all they need to do to answer that question is go look at themselves in the mirror to find the answer to that question, if they have failed to do anything do change it. Are we asking this question while human children are being mistreated at the expense of more attention being put on if adult homosexuals can marry, or if pig wresting is humane? We need to stop pointing fingers at a faulty system and remember where we live and that we need to take accountability and enforce changes in the system through solidarity. Not fall into willful blindness, avoidance, aim inhibition and refusal to act on much larger issues that data shows to contribute to deviance in our society.

References:

Dawgert, Sarah. 2009. “Substance Abuse and Sexual Violence.” Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Retrieved August 15, 2016 (http://www.pcar.org/substance-use-and-sexual-violence).

Deering’s California Codes Annotated Penal Code Section 1203.073 (2015).

Hamlin, J. (2009) The Normality of Crime. Durkheim and Erikson, Department of Sociology and Anthropology. UMD

Hope Alliance. 2011. “Facts & statistics.” Retrieved August 15, 2016 (http://www.hopealliancetx.org/education/facts-statistics/).

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

TxDPS. 2011. “Crime in Texas reports.” Retrieved August 15, 2016 (https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/pages/crimestatistics.htm).

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Dysfunctional Thinking Patterns

We all encounter negative thinking. It can be both a positive and negative process, but at what point does it become dysfunctional in nature and what defines dysfunctional? While negative thinking can provide some benefits, when a person gets to a point that their thinking is centering primarily in a negative state, it can be toxic. Should a person find themselves at a point that their negative thoughts are causing problems in their life, it may be of value to evaluate their thoughts to reverse this highly detrimental process.

Negative thinking has been shown to have neurological roots  stemming from the arousal of the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain that is aroused and stimulates the release of the hormones for the “fight or flight” response we encounter when faced with danger. Okanagan Clinical Trials stated, “Within the brain, the amygdala is associated with the evaluation and processing of emotionally charged events.” (Okanagan Clinical Trials) In some people, this arousal of the amygdala, from automatic thoughts, can remain for a long time. The response could very well be a survival mechanism that has evolved over time to dangerous stimuli. While this is process is vital to our well-being, it can sometimes become overwhelming.

Dysfunctional thinking has specific characteristics which can be used to determine if a person’s automatic thoughts are in a chronic state of negativity. David Burns compiled a list, “The Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking,”(Burns) which can help a person challenge their thoughts when tension or anxiety arises. By identifying these ten traps, and reversing them, a person can move from a state of negativity, to one of positivity.

  1. All-or-nothing

This is when a person looks at things in black or white, or in absolute terms. Things are only good or bad, black or white. There is nothing in between. All of the brightness of any situation is pushed out. The person caught in this trap may be heard to say, “I will always be a failure,” or, “I will never find the right person,” when faced with a failed relationship.

  1. Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization is another way of looking at things which can be toxic to a person’s well-being. This process is taking one negative event and thinking that everything else will follow the same path. One bad thing happens and to this thinker, the world is going to end. Seeing an athlete that loses a game that states, “We will end up losing the rest of the season,” in response to the one loss is partaking in overgeneralization.

  1. Mental Filter

Some use what is referred to as a mental filter. Thinking is so zoned into the seemingly irrelevant negative aspects of something, that the person totally ignores the positive aspects of the same thing. Think about a person who has just cleaned the carpets and wants them replaced, because of a pea sized stain on the carpet that won’t come up. They are so hyper-focused on the small flaw that the perfection of the rest of the carpet is construed as ruined.

  1. Disqualifying the Positive

To totally filter out all positive things and only focus on the negative is another trap, referred to as disqualifying the positive. Good things are always turned into something negative through viewing them as a mistake, or just plain not counting. This thinking involves a double standard. No matter what evidence you have that something is positive, it is rebuked as negative. This can be seen in relationships – when partners disqualify the positive with each other, they focus with the negative traits of the other, with no mention of anything good about the other.

  1. Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions is making assumptions based on no facts. This person makes an assumption that based on feelings, such as thinking the reason a person did not call back is because they don’t like them. They are sure in the negative outcome without waiting for any feedback from the other party to explain their side.

  1. Minimization / Maximization

Minimization and Maximization are common traps as well. Maximization heeds to the term, “blowing things out of proportion.” These can be interchanged to result in negativity. A battered wife may minimize her partner’s actions while maximizing his positive actions, as justification of staying in the relationship. In turn, the abuser may maximize the wife’s small imperfections, totally ignoring her positive contributions as a basis for his behavior.

  1. Emotional Reasoning

When a person bases their decisions on how they feel, rather than with an objective and logical reasoning. They are blinded of the variation between facts and feelings and make illogical decisions. This individual may be the one that feels as though something bad is going to happen; therefore it is. After taking an exam, they feel the failed, so it must be.

  1. Should Have

“Should have” thinking results when a person, facing an upsetting or anxiety provoking event, starts in with, “should statements.” A parent disciplining a child that makes a 95 on the test and says it is not good enough, “You should have studied harder,” is in this destructive trap.

  1. Labeling / Mislabeling

Labeling and mislabeling is related to generalization and occurs when a negative label is put on an individual, rather than lining out the error and looking at it objectively. A person that says, “I am such loser,” for slipping on a diet, is applying a negative label to themselves. The event is turned into something that is emotionally loaded.

  1. Personalization

Personalization occurs when a person takes blame for an external event that was not their fault. A mother who loses a child to a progressive disease may personalize the situation by saying, “Had I just taken her to the hospital a little sooner, she would still be here.”

“Cognitive behavioral psychologists believe that our feelings are largely dependent on our thoughts.” (William Doverspike) Once a person can identify any of these irrational cognitive processes, steps can then be implemented to change them, and move to a  world of positive thinking. When an automatic thought manifests, a person can stop in their tracks and work to find which trap they are using at that time. One highly respected model that can be used to turn thinking around is REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy – developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. (The Albert Ellis Institute). Utilization of methods such as these can be of benefit to individuals seeking to change their outlook, through cognitive transformation.

Works Cited:

Burns, David. The feeling good handbook: Using the new mood therapy in everyday life. New York:William Morrow, 1989.

Okanagan Clinical Trials. Okanagan Clinical Trials. 14 April 2011 <http://www.okanaganclinicaltrials.com/public/column.php?category=Mood%20Disorders&title=Depressive+thinking&gt;.

The Albert Ellis Institute. The Albert Ellis Institute Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. 26 April 2011 <http://www.rebt.org/public/about-us.html&gt;.

William Doverspike, Ph.D. http://www.gapsychoilogy.org. 24 April 2011 <http://www.gapsychology.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=217&gt;.

Drugs and Crime

Drugs and Crime

Many people could preconceive that drug use is positively correlated to crime.  The general connection is seen in our everyday lives.  People steal from more defenseless family members, to purchase drugs and many times these events go unreported, due to the family’s desire to try and circumvent the issue within the home, or prevent conflict. (World Health Organization, 2014)  There is also the social stigma that many drug users turn to crime, such as theft, burglary and prostitution, as a means to support their drug use.  There are not many families out there that can say that they do not have a family member that has been the perpetrator of such actions.

The highest probability of drug use leading to crime has been linked to crack cocaine and the lowest stemming from recreational users.  (Bennett, Holloway, & Farrington, 2008)  With this piece of information, one could also explore the possibility that crime is more likely with use of the more expensive and addictive drugs.  (Look at how much society pays for coffee each year!)  It is possible that the many variables related to this equation have not truly been explored.  Are there certain drugs that are more likely to cause the user to commit crimes?  Does age or socioeconomic status play a part in determining the probability of offenses, or reoffending?

Further meta-analysis may be able to show the strength of the relationship to drug use and crime focusing on the other factors.  Regardless of the lack of research, or the specific details of the relationship between the variables, the link between drug use and crime is supported.  The research has a long way to go before more precise information can be obtained, but there is definitely enough to support the positive correlation on this topic. Further meta-analysis may be able to show the strength of the relationship to drug use and crime focusing on the other factors.

Works Cited

Bennett, T., Holloway, K., & Farrington, D. (2008). The statistical association beetween drug misuse and crime: A meta-analysis. Aggression and ViolentBehavior, 13(2), 107-118.

TL, H. (2003). NCBI. (R. Bonnie, R. Wallace, Editors, & N. A. Sciences, Producer) Retrieved 11 23, 2014, from Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK98784/

World Health Organization. (2014, 11 22). World Health Organization. Retrieved from Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol Fact Sheet: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/ft_intimate.pdf

Knowledge Creation

The creation of knowledge is a highly complex topic. There are many ways this can be looked at. What is considered to be true can be based on research, through providing factual data to back up a theory. Alternately, it can be created by a set of ethics from religion or institutional bylaws. Subjective interpretation of historical texts and using logical reasoning are other ways that knowledge can created, It can be either subjective or objective in nature and dependent upon the intent of the specific group presenting it.
There are several institutions that determine what is right for society. However, this can be different from society to society. At a local level, city municipalities are given the authority to determine what is appropriate for things not falling under federal control. At a global level, the UN can make decisions on what is right for the collective nations – through select power elite individuals from each country. When you look at religion, each denomination has a subjective interpretation of historical texts that is used to determine what is good for their followers. Each individual has the ability to create their own answer to this question; however, individuals do not always have the power (in the form of money or people).
This is where institutions come into play – be it a corporation, government, military or religious institution, to name a few. On the flip side of this, it seems that due to the common knowledge that social groups of oppressed people can challenge oppression, that specific oppressive topics can be initiated or focused upon to take the attention away from an unknown hidden agenda that contributes to unseen oppression. Proving this is difficult, due to the barriers and obstacles that exist for those who wish to conduct research on the activities of powerful states and corporations. (Tombs & Whyte, 2003)
Poststructuralist theories have influenced the construction of knowledge through showing that knowledge is dispersed throughout society. (Glasberg & Shannon, 2011) This reference goes back to my previous statements on the several different institutions and how each is structured, formed and their overall focus.
Regarding knowledge in my field, one example of a major contributor to knowledge in the field is C.G. Jung. Knowledge is not always enriching – it can remove us from the mythical world we once were at home with upon our entry, or birth into this world. (Jung, 1989)

Works Cited
Glasberg, D. S., & Shannon, E. (2011). Political Sociology: Oppression, Resistance and the State. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
Jung, C. (1989). Memories, Dreams and Reflections. New York: Random House.
Tombs, S., & Whyte, D. (2003). Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful: Scrutinizing States and Corporations. Critical Criminology, 217-236.

Chaotic Heart

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Eventually, she always rises back to the top, again at peace with the world.  She has become a master of chaos and bringer of the storms of destruction.  In the destruction she finds peace. Time reaffirms the life long knowing that only a few will understand the contents of her heart.  The door to the innermost parts of her soul will be as it was before.  Sealed, with an evolving lock that not just anyone can open.  Finding it will mean that one must travel and small, twisted, solitary path that only she possesses the map to.  Sacred keys are only given to a few.

Why is this process necessary?  What knowledge comes from betrayal?  Is there anything good about the darkness, or what is perceived as betrayal to the heart?  How many times can the heart be stabbed before it fails to live?  At what point does it give up, never to trust again?  Why is it that when the heart opens unconditionally to freely trust someone, that it is stabbed from behind, by someone it thought spoke the same language?

In chaos and pain, lies wisdom.  In wisdom, the heart finds the truth of life and is conditioned to be a warrior of the sacred legion.

Things are not what they seem.  What appears to be light is the darkness and what appears to be darkness is the light.