Criminology – Bodkin

Criminology – Bodkin

End of Semester Writing Assignment

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Your essay must be typed, double-spaced using Times New Roman 12-point font.  It should be approximately 1.5-2 pages.


Consider the following scenario:


Jimmy is the eldest of three children born to Jeff and Eileen Green.  Up until the age of 7, Jimmy lived in a household characterized by extreme turmoil.  Jeff Green was an alcoholic who frequently came home drunk and beat Eileen.  Jimmy witnessed these beatings on several occasions, occasionally even being abused himself.  In fact, it was Jimmy who called the police the night that Jeff beat Eileen so badly that she was hospitalized with a concussion and broken ribs.  Jeff was sentenced to prison for assault, and upon his release, he had no further contact with the family.

After Jeff was incarcerated, Eileen took two jobs to support her family, but the family still struggled financially.  She rarely had time for her children.  When she was home, she was often hostile: She berated Jimmy as worthless and scolded him for his failure to be more helpful at home. 

Jimmy had similar experiences at school.  Not only did he get poor grades in school, he also hated going.  He complained that his teachers thought he was a bad kid and would not give him a chance. He often was not able to participate in activities with other children because he was being punished.

By the time he was 12, Jimmy stayed away from home as much as possible and was frequently truant from school to hang out on the street with his friends.  In the community Jimmy developed a reputation as delinquent.   He engaged in many car and home burglaries, but often claimed that the victim had insurance or had done something to deserve being burglarized (e.g. left the car or home unlocked).  He also got into numerous fights: At the slightest insult, he would fly into a rage.

Jimmy is now 16.  He has an extensive criminal record for burglary and assault.


From the list below, choose at least two theories from different traditions (strain, control, labeling)  and show how each would understand Jimmy’s behavior.  In your answer consider what factors each theory would consider the most important explanations of Jimmy’s behavior.  What are some of the strengths and weakness of each theory in understanding his behavior?  For each explanation suggest policy recommendations to help Jimmy control his behavior.  Be sure to cite specific examples from the scenario to support your argument.


Theories: Merton’s Strain Theory, Agnew’s General Strain Theory, Techniques of Neutralization, Social Bond Theory, General Theory of Crime, Labeling Theory


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