LAW1210 Criminology Theory Case Study (20%) Fall 2020
Individuals participate in crimes for various different reasons and some, seemingly for no
reason at all. Some crimes are so disturbing and heinous, they seem to defy explanation,
however if you look deep into the persons behaviour and criminal mind, there is always an
answer to the question of, “Why?’. This your chance to review a detailed behavioural
assessment and determine which criminological theory would apply to the individual.
John Smith is a 29-year-old male that resides at 124A Huxley Avenue, Kitchener Ontario.
Family Background and Education:
John spent the first 13 years of his life growing up with his grandmother and mother and one
older sister in a low class, disorganized neighbourhood (Huxley Complex area) in Kitchener. The
Huxley Complex area is known for its high crime rate, disorganized gangs and multiple drug use
by individuals. Both his mother and grandmother were unemployed and lived on social
assistance. His sister Jane, died at 17 from a heroin overdose. John was 12 when he found her
in the bathroom dead. This caused some mental trauma and stress at the time. His father who
was living in Cambridge and only saw him occasionally, sometimes on his birthday. John never
reported any child abuse issues while growing up. His father had occasional mental illnesses
issues such as depression. He was a low-level bank robber and was killed when John was 20
during an armed conflict with the regional police during a botched robbery of the CIBC bank in
During primary school John was inattentive and jittery most of the time, and teachers thought
he had ADHD was but he never diagnosed. He but failed grade 7 and had to repeat it. He didn’t
have any problems with his teachers however he was picked on by older boys and called a
number of names. When he got to high school where he started to become involved in minor
criminal activities and caused a number of disturbances at school and was eventually expelled
in Grade 11. John never completed high school, and never went to college. However, he has
been assessed with an average IQ.
John Smith employment history has been sporadic. He seems not able or not interested in
holding a job. He enrolled in the military but was discharged during recruit training for being
argumentative and assaultive to his fellow candidates. He received a dishonourable discharge.
He is currently unemployed and is living on social assistance.
Deviant and Criminal Behaviours
While in grade seven John started experimentation with marijuana and sniffing glue as a result
of peer pressure. In order to pay for it he started to steal items from stores and sell them to his
friends. He was a loose member of a few street gangs but could never get into the organized
subculture. He also experimented with psychedelics such as LSD and psychedelic mushrooms
but is not a regular user. He is a regular user of alcohol when he can afford it and primarily
drinks with peers in the park or back alleys drinking four to six beers at a time.
After he was expelled from high school he started to get a number of tattoos and a few were
rather disturbing, such as SS and 88 tattoos. He tends to dress shabby and goes out late at
night. While out wandering the various neighbourhoods, he would catch the odd cat and
torture it. John tends to act impulsively when he makes decisions to buy something or to react
to something or someone.
John has never had a long-term relationship. He usually visits prostitutes occasionally and uses
on line pornography to satisfy himself.
In his late teens John started associating with a number of low-level criminals and started to rob
individuals on the street at night using a knife. In addition to support his habits and his life style
he started to break into houses. He prefers late at night in low income areas so he does not
have to travel too far, plus those houses tend not to have alarms systems and usually the street
lights in the area do not work. He avoids homes with dogs as they act as an alarm system and
he was bit by a dog when he was seven.
Once during a street fight he was hit on the back of the head with a baseball bat and knocked
unconscious. While in the hospital he was found to have high blood sugar levels and he told the
nursing staff that he likes a lot of candy and sugar even though it makers him on edge but he
likes the rush. However afterwards he crashes and feels down or depressed.
John has been incarcerated on four different occasions for assault, theft under, and break and
enter. He prefers to be housed with white inmates and does not like to be in a unit housing
minority offenders. He tends to get into fights with minority inmates. His longest stay in jail was
eight months. While incarcerated, due to his aggressive behaviours, he was tested by the
psychology staff using the MMPI and the Hare Psychopathic Checklist (Revised). He scored an
11 out of 20 on the PCL-R. In addition, they discovered that he has a high testosterone level, a
low serotonin level and an abnormal EEG reading.
Case Study Assignment. (20%)
Review any relevant terms in your textbook and the five theories (Rational Choice Theory,
Strain Theory, Trait Theory, Cultural Deviance Theory and Labelling Theory) that may apply to
the above offender assessment. Using your textbook and any on-line sources. Think about
which criminological theory best applies to John Smith. Then complete the four sections of the
Complete the Offender Profile Chart (5 points)
List under the Individual Items Headings as many criteria/behaviours as necessary. Then place
an ‘X’ in the column of which theory they apply to. You can have as many items/rows that you
Trait Theory Social
Section 2: Theory Research (5)
Explain why any of the selected items under the above profile chart belong to the specific
criminological theory. For example; Why do they fit under this theory? Why are they relevant?
What do they imply? Why should we be concerned? Etc.
Section 3: The Theory (5) 1-Rational Choice Theory, 2-Strain Theory, 3-Trait Theory, 4-Social
Control Theory, 5-Labelling and 6-Theory Life Course Theory)
Based on your research and the above charting, which of the six criminological theories (above)
apply to John Smith. Explain in detail why the theory you selected is the primary theory that
would apply. Used the information from Section 1 and Section 2 to support your decision.
Section 4: Behavioural Correction (5)
Using any resource in your textbook or on-line source, if you were going to work with John
Smith to change his behaviour what would you do? What would you suggest John does? What
does John need to help him stay on a legal path? Which organizations in the community could
help him? Etc. Essentially your trying to develop a lifestyle plan to help him stay on a noncriminal
pathway. If citing community agencies, use actual community agencies within the
Waterloo Region with proper contact information.
Writing Format (-3) (see handout)
Up to minus 3 for spelling, grammar, misused words, lack of proper paragraphs and failing to
follow the paper structure guidelines.
This is a major criminological paper worth 20% of your overall mark. Think about the topic,
gather your research and put thought into each section. It is not difficult, but if you skimp on
information or research you will lose marks. Essentially everything is available to you in your
textbook except maybe some of parts of Section 4. I would suspect it will be 10 -12 pages or
more. Spend the proper time on this paper. Review the criteria for success.
Identify the majority of
items per theory
Identifies a number of
appropriate criteria of
Minimal number of criteria
identified in the profile chart
Has a very good
understanding of the
relationships of the
criteria & behavioural
traits & with in-depth
Has some understanding
of the relationships of
the criteria &
behavioural traits &
explains the relationship
to the various theories
Requirements not met,
demonstrate s lack of
understanding of the material.
Fails to adequately answer the
Explains accurately the
relationship of traits and
behaviours to the
theory. Paper shows
original thought and
knowledge oo the
subject but fails to fully
explain the association
of the traits and
behaviours to the
theory. Product shows
some original thought.
Fails to explain why a specified
theory is relevant to the
exhibited traits and behaviours.
Fails to demonstrate originality
Demonstrates a in-depth
available in the
community that can be
properly linked to the
of the subject.
Identify one or two local
programs linked to traits
Fails to identify appropriate
programs linked to traits ort
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