Case study for subject ( Psychology of Crime )
Length: 4000 words (Include your actual work length on title page).
Select one theory discussed this semester. Using this theory, address each of the following:
1. Briefly outline the key features of your selected theory. (about 1000 words)
2. Using this theory, explain the causes of the criminal behaviour of Mary in the case study below
(about 2000 words), and
3. Based on this theory and your case analysis, suggest ways that Marys criminal behaviour might
be prevented and/or treated (about 1000 words).
Mary is 16 years old and has just been arrested for murder. She and her 18-year-old female accomplice stabbed and killed an international male tourist during a street robbery. The offence took place at 2.00am outside an inner city backpackers hotel. Mary approached the victim as he was returning to the hotel alone after a night out. While she engaged him in conversation her accomplice came from a nearby alley, crept up behind him, and stabbed him in the lower back. They grabbed his wallet and watch, and fled. The man was discovered 20 minutes later and died in hospital. Video images of Mary and her accomplice were later caught on security CCTV in a nearby shopping mall, and acting on information received, police arrested them both
the next morning at an inner-city squat. They were still in possession of the victims credit card and watch. Police also found drug paraphernalia in the squat and Mary bore tell-tale injection and track marks. At the time of the offence, Mary had been living on the streets for several months after running away from home. She had previously lived with her mother, her younger brother and sister (11 and 8 years old respectively) and her stepfather of four years. An older sister, now 18 years old, had also run away from home 2 years earlier and had not been seen since. Marys natural father had abandoned the family when she was 9 and he has also had made no contact since he left. Mary remembers him as a violent man, who drank
heavily, and subjected all members of the family to regular and unprovoked beatings. He rarely worked and had served several short prison terms for a variety of property and violence offences. She was relieved when he left. Unfortunately her stepfather was even worse, and the two fought from the start. He complained continuously about her wayward behaviour and was physically abusive towards her. It was true, in fact, that Mary was a rebellious and hard to handle child, and her behaviour had steadily deteriorated over the years. She was a poor student, regularly skipped school and got into constant trouble when she did attend. Her friends were all similarly delinquent. By the time she ran away from home she was staying out all hours, drinking regularly and experimenting with illegal drugs, shoplifting and carrying out petty thefts, and engaging in casual sex. In addition to the physical abuse Marys stepfather had been sexually abusing her since she was 14 years old. The abuse began soon after her older sister ran away, and Mary realised that she too was probably being sexually abused and ran away for that reason. Mary had initially told her mother about the abuse but she refused to believe her. Her mother was an ineffectual and distant parent who neglected the children physically and emotionally. She was more concerned with keeping her relationship with the stepfather in tact
than concerning herself with the welfare of her children. Like her husband, she drank heavily and the two of them frequently left the children alone while they went out drinking. For Mary, the hypocrisy of her stepfather sexually abusing her while at the same time complaining about her behaviour intensified her hatred of him.
Things finally came to a head one night when she arrived home late to find her stepfather drunk and waiting for her. After haranguing her for coming home late he attempted to force himself on her. This time she picked up a beer bottle and smashed it over his head. As he lay dazed on the floor, she gathered a few things and
fled the house. For the next few months prior to the offence Mary lived rough on the streets. She lived in squats with other homeless youths, and this is how she met her co-offender. Her drug use increased and she began to engage in prostitution in order to obtain drugs. She and her co-offender had talked for a few days prior to the offence
about committing a robbery as an alternative way to get money. They bought the knife the day of the offence and worked out a loose plan. They had several false starts that night before finally getting the courage to go through with the offence. After the offence they immediately went out and scored drugs. When interviewed by
a psychologist prior to her court appearance, Mary was sullen and uncooperative and seemed unconcerned about the gravity of her situation. Indeed, she displayed considerable bravado about the prospect of being sent to an institution. She was adamant, however, that since she had not actually done the stabbing and she could not be held responsible for the crime. In any case, she said, the victim only had himself to blame for trying top pick her up in the first place.
a? Check the case study examples in the LearningGriffith site for the course.
a? Write the case study in normal essay-style. You do not need to pretend that you are writing a report for court or that you have personally interviewed Mary.
a? You must use a theory covered in this course. Do not just recycle theorists covered in other courses (eg Criminological Theories: Social Perspectives). In particular, if you select social learning theory, be sure to use the psychological versions covered in this course (eg Bandura) and not sociological versions (eg Sutherlands differential association).
a? There is no right theory for this case. You can choose any theory covered in this course. However, you may find that some theories are easier to apply in this case than are other theories. In particular, you may find that with biological theories it may be difficult to relate the causes of Marys behaviour to particular aspects of his upbringing.
a? The debates about human behaviour nature/nurture, free will/determinism, normal/pathological, person/situation are not specific theories.
a? Some theoretical perspectives are quite broad and really encompass a number of quite distinct theories. For example, within the psychodynamic perspective there are various schools which often have conflicting views. To make your assignment more manageable, you may decide to narrow your focus to a particular theoretician rather than try to cover the whole perspective.
a? You must relate the theory to the specific case study. Dont just provide general information about your selected theory. Similarly, dont waste space in your essay simply regurgitating the case history.
a? Make sure that you try to explain the causes of Marys behaviour a diagnosis (eg. psychopath) is not an explanation in itself.
a? Because the brief description above cannot cover all of aspects of Marys life, you may need to make some plausible assumptions to fill in necessary gaps.
Please use this theory for write this assignment:
8. Social Learning Theories (Lecture): Looks at the role of modelling and other cognitive
Processes in crime.
(Please dont write more than 4000 words).