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Classic sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) theorizes that crime exists in all societies because it reaffirms moral boundaries and at times assists needed social changes. Former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) argues that modern crime has gone way beyond the point of being functional.
Professor Adrian Raine argues that one of the reasons why we have been so unsuccessful in preventing adult crime is because crime-control policies have systematically ignored the biological side of human behavior. In a now-classic article, the late eminent sociologist Robert K. Merton asserts that social conditions produce deviations from accepted norms of human conduct.
The late psychologist and criminologist Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, argue that a significant cause of crime is low IQ. Criminologists Francis T. Cullen et al. assert that Herrnstein and Murray ignore the many significant environmental factors related to both crime and intelligence.
Professor of management and public policy James Q. Wilson and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein argue that crime studies should focus on street criminals. Philosophy professor Jeffrey Reiman contends that pollution, medical malpractice, and dangerous working conditions that go uncorrected are for more serious than street crime.
Janell D. Schmidt, supervisor of the Milwaukee County Child Protective Services, and criminology professor Lawrence W. Sherman argue that arresting batterers in many cases does more harm than good. Associate professor of public administration and social work Evan Stark contends that arresting batterers is a vital step for female empowerment and for women achieving full citizenship status.
Jared Taylor, president of the New Century Foundation, and the late psychology and neuroscience professor Glayde Whitney argue that the disparity in crimes committed by members of different races justifies racial profiling by the police. Professor Michael J. Lynch, however, argues that a proper analysis of the crime data does not support Taylor and Whitney’s conclusions. He finds racial profiling to be objectionable from a legal and moral perspective as well.
Attorney Lawrence Wright argues that while castration may not be an ideal solution, if we treat it as therapy rather than punishment, as help instead of revenge, and if we view offenders as troubled victims, not monsters, then perhaps castration will become an accepted and humane option for sex offender treatment. Attorney Kari A. Vanderzyl asserts that castration should be rejected as an unacceptable, ineffective, and unconstitutional alternative to imprisonment for sex offenders.
Law professor Barry C. Feld contends that creating a separate juvenile court system has resulted in unanticipated negative consequences for America’s children and for justice. Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Justice Policy Institute, and researcher Jason Ziedenberg maintain that moving thousands of kids into adult courts is unnecessary, harmful, and racist.
Writer Julia Wilkins argues that claims of Internet dangers are simply an example of "moral panic" causing otherwise sensible people to overreact. Magazine writer Bob Trebilcock contends that the Internet is a real danger to children because it provides easy access to pornography and encourages the creation and dissemination of child pornography.
Penny A. Robinette, an administrator at Presbyterian Child Welfare Services in Richmond, Kentucky, contends that mandatory testing and segregation of HIV-positive inmates is justified. Assistant professor of criminal justice Billy Long argues that mandatory testing and segregation of inmates will have more negative than positive consequences.
Assistant professor of criminal justice Jill Gordon identifies and defends several humanitarian and practical reasons for allowing family visitations in adult prisons. Associate professor of criminal justice Elizabeth H. McConnell maintains that there is little empirical support that conjugal visits are useful for either inmates or their families.
Professor of psychiatry Frank M. Ochberg argues that some violent offenders are incurable and should be confined for life to mental hospitals. Professor of psychiatry and law Howard Zonana contends that doctors have no business becoming jailers for those who are perceived as dangerous by legal authorities.
David Von Drehle, a writer and the arts editor for The Washington Post, examines specific capital punishment cases and data and concludes that capital punishment is a bad social policy. Ernest van den Haag, a professor of jurisprudence and public policy (now retired), maintains that the death penalty is just retribution for heinous crime.
John R. Lott, Jr., the John M. Olin Visiting Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, contends that rather than increasing crime, gun ownership actually reduces it for several reasons. Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, director and senior fellow, respectively, of the Earl Warren Legal Institute, assert that possession and use of handguns causes the vastly disproportionate number of homicides in the United States.
George L. Kelling, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and William J. Bratton, former New York City Police Department commissioner, strongly defend Kelling’s formulation of zero tolerance/broken windows theory and Bratton’s implementation of Kelling’s ideas. Judith A. Greene, senior fellow of the Institute on Criminal Justice of the University of Minnesota Law School, compares New York’s policing style with San Diego’s community policing model and argues that the latter is as effective and less costly.
Ethan A. Nadelmann, the founder and director of the Drug Policy Alliance, contends that contemporary marijuana laws are unique among American criminal laws because no other law is both enforced so widely and yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the public. Enforcing marijuana laws also wastes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars annually. John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, argues that marijuana does the most social harm of any illegal drug. Moreover, Walters asserts that the ultimate goal of those who advocate marijuana legalization is tolerated addiction.
Eugene H. Methvin, senior editor for Reader’s Digest, contends that a very small number of juveniles and adults commit the majority of serious crimes. The main solution to the crime problem, then, is to identify them as early as possible and increase the punishments each time they offend, eventually incarcerating the repeat offenders. Professor of criminal justice David Shichor argues that "three strikes" laws are costly, inefficient, unfair, and do little to reduce crime.
Paul Butler, an associate professor at the George Washington University Law School, argues that black jurors should acquit black defendants of certain crimes to make up for inequities in the criminal justice system. Randall Kennedy, a professor at the Harvard Law School, finds it tragic that black jurors would pronounce a murderer "not guilty" just to send a message to white people.
The late University of Michigan psychologist James V. McConnell argues that society has the technology to brainwash criminals and turn them into productive citizens. Celebrated author the late Jessica Mitford contends, however, that sensory deprivation and other forms of behavior modification are immoral and constitute the legally sanctioned use of torture.