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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 156023 Find in a Library
Title: National Crime Control Policies
Journal: Society  Volume:32  Issue:2  Dated:(January/February 1995)  Pages:30-36
Author(s): M R Gottfredson; T Hirschi
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 7
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article critiques current crime control policies and proposes a policy based in control theory.
Abstract: Lacking a theory to guide it, crime policy in the United States relies on the unexamined slogans and catchphrases of politicians that show no evidence of effectiveness in reducing the crime rate. The proper response to these circumstances is to return to social theory and research. Control theory -- as espoused by Durkheim, Thomas, Janowitz, and Kornhauser -- is based on the concept that people are controlled by anticipation of the consequences of their behavior. According to control theory, both opportunity and failure to heed long-term consequences are necessary for a crime to occur. Control theory is thus a choice theory, a theory that assumes rational decisionmaking on the part of the actor, which has obvious implications for crime control. The control-theory approach to crime prevention is to analyze the features of the act and the tendencies of the offender and to pattern prevention efforts accordingly. The most relevant characteristics of offenders are age, cognitive skills, and self-control. Control theory would reverse the tendency to place more and more responsibility for crime control in a centralized government. It prefers local over central responsibility for crime prevention and assigns primary responsibility for the offender to the family and the school. The development of self-control is largely a consequence of teaching by those closest to the child. Eight rules for an effective crime control policy are presented in this article. Among these rules are those that would restrict the unsupervised activities of teenagers, support programs designed to provide early education and effective child care, and support policies that promote and facilitate two-parent families and that increase the number of caregivers relative to the number of children. 4 suggested readings
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime control policies; Crime control theory; Social control theory
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