Subject: Others
Topic: Criminal Theory Midterm
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 3
Midterm Exam 1. According to the power point lecture on Race and incarceration trends, are there racial disparities in arrest, sentencing and incarceration between whites and blacks for non violent drug offenses? If so, how does that impact the minority prison population? And, according to critical race theorists, how will the privatization of prison increase the already existing racial disparities? 2. Please Discuss Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory. What are the components of bonding and how does each one of them operate as inner and outer constraints? Found on pages 180-182 of your book. 3. Please discuss the movie The Hurricane in the context of race relations during the time of his arrest, how race was related to his false conviction, incarceration and lack of effort to vindicate him in the appeals process. Could this still happen to people of color in 2012? 4. Please discuss Merton’s stain theory. Discuss the in impact of the discrepancies between goals and means and how that leads to various forms of adaptation. Please discuss each form of adaption in detail. The adaptions are found on pages 151-152 of you book. 5. Please discuss the documentary The House I live in and how it is related to Race and Incarceration Trends in the U.S. How has race been utilized by people in positions of power to criminalize people of color and discuss who benefits from the war on drugs.

Race and Incarceration

Yes from the PowerPoint lecture on race and incarceration trends, there are racial disparities in arrest, sentencing, and incarceration between whites and blacks for nonviolent drug offenses. According to report regarding racial disparities in the United States criminal justice system to United Nations human rights committee(August 2013), The United States criminal system is the largest in the world. At the end of the year 2011, there were approximately seven million persons under some correctional control in the U.S. This number included 2.2 million individuals incarcerated in Federal, state or local jails and prisons.

Statistics show that the racial disparity infuses the U.S. criminal justice system. The racial minorities are more likely to be arrested than the whites. The report also indicates that once arrested the minorities, the minorities are more likely to be convicted, and they also suffer high penalties and stiff sentences. Africa-American (black) are six times more likely to be imprisoned than the white and 2.5 times more than the Hispanic males. Such statistics show that if the trends continue then one of every three black can be incarcerated as one of six Latino males – compared to one of every seventeen white males. However, the racial and ethnic disparities among women is relatively lower than among men. These racial disparities permeate every stage of The U.S criminal justice system from arrest to trial and sentencing (The Sentencing Project, 2013).

From the source;”Crunching Numbers: Crime Incarceration at the End of the Millennium” (Chaiken, 2000), the disparities by drug offense was highest in 1992 by the ratio of about 21%, but the figure slowed down to about 15.5%. The disparity of the drug has maintained the lead of other forms of crimes such as violent, rob/burg, and theft. The number of the black being imprisoned is notably very high with about 40% of the black male population put under the supervision of the correction system.

Affirmative actions being taken to reduce the alarming figures of discrimination by race and prejudice. Such measures include recommendations by the human rights watch in ways that federal, state and local officials can work to eliminate racial in justice. An article by (Quandt, 2014) suggested that privatization of public prisons will increase the disparity of Racial injustice. This is because private prisons prioritize on profit rather than correction and rehabilitation. Critics argue that will lead to common prisons conditions and quotas requiring high-level incarceration even though the crime is reducing. The minorities (mostly on drugs) will, therefore, be subject to stricter sentencing and penalties.   


The Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory

The Hirschi’s Social Bonding Theory was developed by Travis Hirschi’s (1969). Articulation os social control or bonding theory has significant contributions to the explanation of deviant behavior. Before the inception of the theory, there were assumptions that individuals are constrained from committing deviants behavior by social bond to conventional norms of the society. Hirschi’s efforts were to collate these assumptions and ideas into a well-formulated statement that could lend itself to empirical investigations. The theory suggests that socialization and forming personal are among the most important facets of human development that keep us from committing crimes or other forms of social deviance.

The prospects of this theory are instances where in life developments, a child grows developing many relationships with the significant others; family and peers. Over the course, the child unofficially accepts the social conditions and expectations that arise with being part of that society. According to Hirschi, the recognition that one is dependent on others from whom they empathy and because they accept that such deviations have consequences like going to prison, averts individuals from committing crimes. The theory describes four major elements of social bonding which includes attachment to family, commitment to social norms and institutions like schools and employment, involvement in activities and the believe that these things are important.

Attachment is the first and most important element of Hirschi’s Theory and refers to the interpersonal relationships, social and cultural standards. Through attachment to parents as the basic people who help us understand the world around us, we learn what to expect from others in our culture and what is expected of us. Overtime the norms and culture is integrated into us and helps us to form and recognize the importance of social boundaries. Commitment, on the other hand, prevents us from violating social norms .this element refers to our acceptance and willingness to stick to those expectations. The third element is involvement, and it refers to the extent to which a person engages with or feels a connection to peer groups. According to Hirschi, an individual who experiences high levels of involvement in others forms stronger attachment and involvement as a result, and is less likely to engage in deviant behaviors. Lastly, beliefs are the way we internalize things around us, and identifying the most important and the deviant acts. This knowledge and the other three elements will have internal and external impacts prevents individuals from committing crimes (Ozbay & Ozcan, 2006).


The Hurricane Movie and Racial Disparity

The Hurricane movie is a story of a gifted boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (Denzel Washington) who was framed for three murders in Patterson, NJ and lost 19 years of his life because of racism, indifferences, and corruption. A fifteen Years old boy name Lesra, reads the Hurricanes autobiography, he becomes determined to meet the boxer and support fight for freedom and that decision leads to redemption. The case mobilized masses of people into action against the injustice afflicted upon two black men.

The central theme of this movie is the social turbulence caused by the racial prejudice right from the arrest of the boxer to his release. The story in the film deals with massive personal struggle as well as the legal struggle Carter underwent trying to find justice and proving his innocence.

From the early scene of the movie, which shows how the young Carter (11) was arrested for defending a friend against the predatory advances of a wealthy white. At the moment Carter was petty thief and a child of the roughest street in New Jersey, he stabs the man in self-defense. After his arrest, he was hounded for more than 20 years in a juvenile home. He later escapes from the juvenile home and joins army stationed in Germany, where he begins boxing and realizes that it offered him a way of harnessing his anger at the world. He marries and leads a wealthy but flamboyant and arrogate life.

One of his interviews in National public radio, James Hirsch, Carter’s official biographer, said: “He sacred people and advocated any means necessary for black people to defend themselves ...” (Cooper, 2000). Della Pesca is outraged by Carter’s success and popularity and decide to arrest him and Artis for murder. “can you believe that black punk? He thinks he’s champion of the world” such was the statement of Della. Reviewers argue that it was not merely because that police detective was a racist and enjoyed sleuthing a popular black boxer, but because of his outspoken position on civil rights and his willingness to advocate for any “means necessary” for blacks to defend themselves against racism. The plot of the story in the film is successful in conveying a sense of racial discrimination in arrest and incarceration.

 Merton’s Strain Theory

About social and criminology The Strain Theory state that social structure within the society may pressurize citizens to commit a crime. The theory was advanced by Robert King Merton(1957) following the works of Emile Durkheim. The proponents of the theory are the discrepancies between goal and means and how that leads to various forms of adaptations. 

The strain may either be structural or individual.

Structural Strain refers to the processes at the society level which flitter down and affect how the individual perceives his or her need. This means that if a particular social structure is inherently inadequate or at that time there are inadequate regulations, that may change the individual’s perception as to, means and opportunities. The other is the individual, and the theory refers this advocate to the fictions and pains experienced by an individual as he or she looks for ways to satisfy his or her needs. That means that if the goals of society become significant to an individual, achieving them may become more important tan the means adopted to get them. The two proponents explain deviant behavior as an inevitable outcome of the strain an individual experience when society does not provide and approve means to achieve culturally valued goals. According to Merton, our cultural goals are not in balance with the means made available by the societal structures, and this is when structural strain occurs.   

The house I live in

The house I live in is the documentary film that questions why the U.S. has spent more $ 1 trillion on drug arrests in the past 40 years. The critiques argue that the drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. The film examines the economic, moral and practical failures of the so-called “war on drugs.” They call for the United States to approach the issue of drug abuse not as “war” but as a matter of health.

The statistics for the past 40 years shows that nearly 1.7 million people were arrested in the U.S for nonviolent drug charges. Although both whites and blacks use drugs at approximately equal rates, black people are 10.1 times likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses. The blacks represent 56% of the total individuals incarcerated for drugs crimes. That statistics shows that there is still racial decimation in incarceration in the U.S. 

From the documentary, the U.S spends an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up which is more than 20 times the total cost of a day on probation. The U.S locks more people than any other country in the world. Issues of case fixing and inappropriate sentencing and penalties have been raised arguing that such only benefit the federal and state officials. It also benefits those in power and profiting the private prison owners.  


Chaiken, J. M. (2000). Crunchin Numbers: Crime and Incarcerationat the End of Millennium. National Institute of Justice Journal Dated:January 2000 Pages:10 to 17 , NCJ 180078, 8.

Cooper, J. (2000). The "Hurricane" Carter story on film: What's there, and What's not.

Ozbay, O., & Ozcan, Y. Z. (2006). A test of Hirschi's Socail Bonding Theory: JUvenile

Delinduency in High Schools of Ankara, Turkey. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Commparaitve Criminology .

Project, T. S. (2013). Report of The Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Commitee. Washingto , DC 20036: Research and Advocacy for Reforms.

Quandt, K. R. (2014). Why There's an Even Larger Racial Disparity in Private Prisons Than in Public Ones. Political Mojo .