Mod 6: Critical Criminology
Jennifer Auvenshine
PBS300 - Introduction to Crime and Deviance
Colorado State University - Global Campus
Lisa A. Hoston

November 19, 2017

Mod 6: Critical Criminology
Criminology is an ever-growing field, with plenty of theories that
attempt to understand, explain, and prevent crime. However, not every crime
can be so neatly packaged into a box and explained. The story of "Richard"
provides a prime example of how human behavior and crime are complicated
matters. After watching his story and reviewing both critical criminology
and integrative theories, I believe his crime most closely fits the
critical criminology labeling theory. Although, I do not believe this
theory fully explains his actions.
"Richard" grew up in an economically stable home. Both of his parents
held decent jobs, providing an upper-middle-class lifestyle for "Richard"
and his two sisters (CSUGlobal Multimedia Team, 2013). The finical status
of the family is important to note, as many theories rely on socioeconomic
status and the need for or lack of power criminals face in society (Hagen,
2013). However, while everything looked great from the outside, a darkness
plagued "Richard" in the form of an extremely abusive father and a
depressed, withdrawn mother who he also states was emotionally abusive
(CSUGlobal Multimedia Team, 2013).
"Richard" was a bright kid acted up out of boredom and a need for
attention (CSUGlobal Multimedia Team, 2013) - a common response of a child
who is not being intellectually challenged of shown enough love at home. He
also states that he was socially awkward, spending his time cowering in the
corner of the playground, while his schoolmates played (CSUGlobal
Multimedia Team, 2013). While this information is only part of the story, I
assume that "Richard" remained a loner throughout his life, which
contradicts the theories that rely on criminals being influenced by deviant
peer groups (Hagen, 2013).
The Crime
As "Richard" grew, he became depressed and suicidal. One day, he was
fighting with his mother and decided he had enough, "Richard" was going to
end his life. He went to the basement where he kept a gun that he
previously used for target practice, intending to use it on himself. His
mother, who was still upset, decided she was not finished with the argument
and went to the basement after "Richard," as she came down the stairs,
yelling, "Richard" snapped, pointed the gun at his mother, and pulled the
trigger. "Richard" immediately felt a sense of regret, and spent some time
processing what he had done before he realized that he was in trouble and
attempted to cover up the crime (CSUGlobal Multimedia Team, 2013).
Labeling Theory
Labeling theory states that "individuals are deviant mainly because
they have been labeled as deviant by social control agencies and others"
(Hagen, 2013, p.185). No one can argue that "Richard" committed a heinous
crime; however, "Richard" did not intend to kill his mother. The crime was
not premeditated and before this fateful moment, "Richard" had no prior
history of criminally deviant behavior. Labeling theory also accounts for
what Edwin Lemert referred to as secondary deviance. Secondary deviance
occurs when getting caught and the decision-making process of the criminal
justice system becomes a function of the offender's behavior. When
"Richard" took steps to conceal his crime, not only was he committing a
second crime, but he was also acting out of secondary deviance (Hagen,
Earlier, I mentioned that I do not believe that labeling theory is a
perfect fit, only the closest to explaining "Richard's" situation, and here
is my reasoning: labeling theory is one of the many theories that also
account for socioeconomic status. However, it only accounts for a small
portion of the theory, as opposed to 1/3 of others. Labeling theory also
states that "no act is intrinsically criminal" (Hagen, 2013, p. 185), and I
find it hard to qualify murder under any circumstance as not intrinsically
Criminology has come a long way in understanding, explaining, and
preventing criminal behavior, but has yet to be perfected. Like all forms
of psychology and science, criminal theorists continue to learn and develop
hypotheses that will hopefully one day provide a clearer view of what
causes deviant behavior.

CSUGlobal Multimedia Team (2013, June 10). pbs300 Mod6 1 [Video file].
Retrieved from YouTube website:
Hagen, F. (2013). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and
criminal behavior (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.