Deviant Behavior and Justice System
Labeling theory presupposes the process of putting labels on offenders used in the criminal justice system. Moreover, this theory creates stereotypes about offenders and criminals in the community that do not allow ex-criminals to integrate into society again. According to labeling theory, the criminal justice system is limited in the possibility to restrain unlawful conduct. There is also the cultural deviance theory that focuses attention on deviance from the established norms. This research paper intends to suggest a criminological theory that is not based on stereotyping and explains the peculiarities of the labeling and cultural deviance theories.
How to Avoid Stereotyping Individuals
Labeling theory is applied in the criminal justice system. However, it provokes stereotyping individuals and does not give the opportunity for correction and rehabilitation. Consequently, one can suggest the rational choice theory as a strategy against labeling and stereotyping. The advantage of the rational choice theory is that it presupposes intelligent and logic explanation of the activities of the criminal. Moreover, the strength of this criminological theory is that it exercises a rational approach to the analysis of the potential offenders, unwilling guardians and suitable targets. In addition, implementation of the rational choice theory is a way to avoid stereotyping individuals in criminal justice (Downes & Rock, 2007).
One should mention that it is possible to avoid stereotyping individuals if labeling theory is not applied. Labeling theory treats a criminal or a deviant person as untrustworthy and unreliable. It is difficult to get rid of labels. Moreover, labeling theory creates a stereotypical attitude towards deviant people. Such people cannot create a family, find work, and live a happy life after the imprisonment for the past mistakes (Williams, 2012). Modern society continues to impose labels related to the moral, ethical and psychological aspects of behavior. One should not label a person prematurely as he/she deserves the chance for rehabilitation. At first, one should use preventive measures. Application of labels to people and creating categories of deviance are tasks of the forces of law and order. However, the problem is that corruption and subjectivity in the decision-making process raise doubt about the efficiency of this theory. Moreover, labeling presupposes division of people into groups and marking those who are dangerous to the society (Tierney, 2010).
For example, the stereotype that all drug users are deviant can be a false and subjective thought that has a destructive and misleading force. Stereotypes do not help the criminal justice system but isolate a person from the society and do not give the chance for correction.
Legitimacy of Labeling Theory
It is evident that labeling theory is a legitimate crime causation theory. First of all, this theory leads not only to charging and punishment, but to putting labels on the people who have a criminal record. Consequently, labeling theory is a crime causation theory that presupposes not only punishment after committing a crime. Moreover, it punishes even after the punishment. Firstly, labeling theory deprives the individual of the opportunity to integrate into society and socialize with other people. Secondly, labeling theory is mutually exclusive. As a result, it excludes offenders and criminals from the community. Deviant behavior of people should be not regarded as a taboo. Everybody should have the chance for correction. Labeling theory makes deviant people feel labeled and isolated from the society, provoking the feelings of hostility and inferiority. One can say that this theory provokes another kind of violence and cruelty (Williams, 2012).
Labeling theory raises strong criticism due to its subjectivity. First of all, labeling theory ignores the fact that its stereotyping causes new deviant actions. Secondly, this theory is not concrete, and its efficiency is still under debate.
Gangs and 3 Versions of Cultural Deviance Theory
Cultural deviance theory includes three influential versions that can be related to crime referring to organization of criminal gangs. The first version states that lower-class culture benefits from generating crimes in the urban environment. Without a doubt, lower-class culture is provoked by social and economic issues. People are poor and organization of gangs is essential for getting some money. It is evident that gang formation is the consequence of miserable life in the urban areas (White, Haine, & Asquith, 2012).
The second version of the cultural deviance theory insists that rise of crime can be provoked by the urban lower-class areas. It means that deviant behavior rarely depends on the area of living. On the contrary, it depends on the social and economic status. The third version of the cultural deviance theory presupposes creation of subcultures consisting of individuals who come join bands to commit crimes for personal satisfaction. To my mind, the third version of cultural deviance theory is the basement for gang creation because there are many subcultures present. Their activity is violent and presupposes committing crimes to cheat other people and involve them in criminal activity (Newburn, 2007).
Labeling Theory as a Way of Explanation of Crime Rise
The case shows that the number of young people that have joined gangs doubled as gang leaders are being released from prison for good conduct. Furthermore, this tendency has led to increase in the crime rate for gangs by 20%. Consequently, one should regard this situation according to labeling theory, as one deals with the problem of stereotyping of former criminals. However, one should say that there is no interaction between deviants and non-deviants. The latter do not accept ex-criminals in the society. It is evident that such situations can be avoidable if the amnestied have the possibility to socialize and admit their past mistakes.
One can explain this situation with the help of labeling theory. However, it has no practical application as it leads to new crimes and offences. For example, the ethical dilemma of labeling at an early age that can cause moral degradation, increasing the crime rate and turning the young generation into criminals. The consequences of labeling are negative as labels destroy future life in freedom and spoil the identity. It is evident that deviant people and non-deviant ones cannot interact peacefully. However, even former criminals have the right for correction and socialization (Muncie, McLaughlin, & Hughes, 2003).
In conclusion, one should say that the criminal justice system regards deviant behavior according to labeling and cultural deviance theories. However, one should not regard these theories separately. It is better to apply them in complex. Labeling theory can have practical value but this value is negative due to the existence of powerful groups in society. It is possible to avoid stereotyping in the society with the help of rational choice theory. However, one can do this only improving the criminal justice system. Labeling theory is a legitimate crime causation theory. It leads not only to prosecution, but to putting labels on people who have a criminal past. Labeling theory can explain the crimes committed by those who have been already imprisoned.