The term, “crime” entails many connotations when it comes to American policy, law, and corrections. Although stealing from a department store is criminal, not returning a book from the library is not. Fundamentally, there is no significant difference between the two forms of theft. However, American law dictates which is criminal and which is not. Not returning a library book is not punishable by law. Considering the situation provided, there are major discrepancies in the American definition of crime. With this in mind, a new theory of crime is introduced entitled, Theory of Criminal Menace. This theory, created by Robinson (2012), describes a definition of crime that is both just and unbiased. Implementing and applying this theory to America’s criminal justice system would be both beneficial and rewarding to greater society.
Theory of Criminal Menace: any individual or entity that is a menace; participates in menacing activity or a menace to society is considered a crime or criminal, punishable by law through imprisonment, habilitation, and/or rehabilitation.
Menace is defined as, “a person or thing that is likely to cause harm; a threat or danger”, (“google.com”, 2012). Marriam Webster goes on to define it as “a dangerous or possibly harmful person or thing” and “a dangerous or threatening quality”, (2012). This definition of menace is clear cut, easily understood, and applicable. It provides the ability to fairly describe a criminal without the minor nuances and references that is observed in the definition of crime and criminal behavior. Google.com defines crime as, “an action or omission that constitutes an offence that maybe prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law”. Again, Marriam Webster’s definition concurs, indicating that crime is related to law; they define it as “illegal acts” and “activity against the law… for which someone can be punished by the government”, (2012). Without the assistance of the government and laws determined by the state, an act or activity cannot be considered a crime. Thus, the definition of crime is directly related to law and policy. So, if the law does not recognize corporate corruption as criminal, then these actions are not punishable by law. However, when utilizing the Theory of Criminal Menace, entities and individuals can receive punishment that fit the crime. As such, menace an accurate term that better identify crime and implement punishment in areas that is lacking in the current Criminal Justice System.
The theory recognizes crimes withheld from the Criminal Justice System, describing individuals who participate in menacing activities that are not observed as criminal by state and federal authorities. These include white collar crimes and individuals who manipulate the current system. Furthermore, the theory encourages better rehabilitation from individuals who participate in criminal activity due to addiction, abuse, neglect, and mental disabilities.
Individuals, including accountants, CEO’s, and others who participate in corporate corruption should receive punishment that fit the crime committed. In the current system, the only punishments corporations receive by law are fines and fees. Rarely, do CEO’s, corporate presidents, and managers receive imprisonment for causing harm to employees or customers. A primary example is in the movie, “Erin Brockovich”. In the movie, the main character Erin Brockovich discovered that Pacific, Gas & Electric (PG&E) contaminated city water causing death and illness to local residents. However, the only punishment received by PG&E was monetary compensation to victims. The individuals who took part in the activity, including those who physically contaminated the water, the authorities that gave them permission to contaminate the water, as well as the individuals who were aware and withheld information, were not prosecuted nor received the punishment associated with murder or illness as a result of poisoning. Recognizing and applying the Theory of Criminal Menace, affiliates of the PG&E water contamination would receive imprisonment for murder, harm, and corruption. All individuals and organizations must receive punishment according to the crime or menace sustained to another.
Individuals who suffer from drug addiction are recognized by the Criminal Justice System as criminal. However, when utilizing the Theory of Criminal Menace, these individuals do not fit the criminal profile of menace. All drug addicts are not, “likely to cause harm, threat, or danger”. Although some addicts participate in menacing activity, their addiction is the cause of the crime. As such, individuals who suffer from drug addiction or alcohol abuse should receive rehabilitation and habilitation to fight their addiction. Today, addicts receive criminal punishment as a result of their addiction. Many steal from others or participate in violent activity caused by the disease of addiction. Throughout rehabilitation, addicts can receive the help they need to become productive members of society. The text defines rehabilitation as, “the goal of restoring a convicted offender to a constructive place in society through some form of vocational or educational training or therapy”, (Clear, Cole, & Reisig, 2011). However, addicts can benefit from habilitation, which allows individuals to learn new skills. Providing, training and education to fight addiction is a better method to stimulate a safe community.
In conclusion, Theory of Criminal Menace is an adequate and accurate theory of crime and criminal activity. This theory pushes for reform of the current Criminal Justice System. Associating crime with menacing activities rather than law and policy can better determine who is a threat to society and who is not. Individuals who are prosecuted for prostitution would not be convicted under this theory. These individuals will receive habilitation and rehabilitation to combat their problem of sexual exploitation. Although prostitution is morally wrong, they are not a threat or danger to others. With the current Criminal Justice System, many individuals who are not harmful to others are prosecuted for reasons of morality. Thus, the current system requires reform. Reform will produce less crime by punishing criminals according to their actions, and provide a safer society.
Clear, T., Cole, G., & Reisig, M. (2011). American corrections. (9 ed.). Belmont, CA:Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
What does crime mean. (2012, March 16). Retrieved from http://www.google.com/
Marriam-Webster. (2012). Menace and Crime. Retrieved from:http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/menace