This paper is an evaluation of the classical criminological theory. The
main objectives of the paper include assessing the rate of increase in
the subway shooting, identifying the suitable security measures to
reduce crime, and to design a public policy to curtail the subway
shooting. To achieve this, paper has used the evaluation method of
research to assess the suitability of the available methods of crime
reduction and then propose the design a policy to prevent subway
shooting crime. The designed public policy is based on three main
methods of clime reduction namely personnel saturation, technological
measures, and judicial strategies. The policy will be evaluated after
every six months based on the trend in subway shooting to determine
assessed its capacity in reducing crime. The paper concludes that
classical theory is the most suitable theory to base the policy for
prevention of subway crimes. Finally, the paper recommends for a further
longitudinal research that will assess the decision making behavior of
subway shooting culprits.
Key words: Subway shooting, classical theory, criminology,
Application of Classical Theory of Criminology in Preventing Subway
Peaceful coexistence in the society determines the magnitude of
development that can be achieved. An increase in the rate of criminal
activities reduces the level of trust among the members of a given
community or at work set up. Subway shooting is one of the criminal
activities, which have been reported to increase at the highest rate
especially among the teens. Different people commit crime for varying
reasons, but none of the reasons comprehensively justify a crime.
Currently, scholars are using different criminological theories to
explain the reasons behind the high rate of criminal activities and
suggest the suitable methods to prevent crimes. Different people have
varying opinions on the best measures that can help in reducing the
crime rate. The commonly suggested approaches include a reformed legal
framework, reformed police, reliable judicial system, and community
empowerment. However, since the researchers use different research
methodologies to arrive at their conclusions, the designed public
policies to fight crime may as well vary. Constant review of policies
designed to fight crime should be revived frequently to ensure that it
can help in countering the emerging challenges. A detailed study on the
cause of the high rate of crime using the available criminology theories
is necessary to design a viable public policy, which implications should
be sufficiently studied and evaluated frequently.
Statement of purpose
Subway crimes including the shootings are some of the crimes that
require the attention of the stakeholders in the security docket. The
necessary solutions to prevent the occurrence the increasing trend in
the subway shootings an effective policy. The policy should mainly
target the prevention of the subway shootings requires sufficient
information rather that over-relying on apprehension and judicial
punishments. The high rate of the subway crimes is an indication of
inadequate measures to curtail the vices in the subways. In addition,
the design of a public policy to address this issue needs reliable
sources of information on the suitability of the current policy
measures. However, there are few scholarly and research works to provide
the necessary information. This research seeks to fill these gaps by
assessing the suitability of the classical theory of criminology in
preventing the crimes, evaluating the current security measures in the
subways, and design the public policy to prevent crime.
Public policy is the main tool used to approach different national and
international challenges such as an increase in crime rate. Bruce (2003)
defined public policy as the principled guide to the actions taken by
the administrative branches of the state with regard to a given
challenge. The design of suitable public policies requires a concerted
effort of different stakeholders. For an instant, a public policy
designed to reduce the crime rate requires the contributions of
different bodies such as the police department, members of the judicial
system, lawmakers, and the non-governmental organizations that deal with
matters such as conflict resolution and sustainable relationships among
communities. However, the involvement of different groups of people, who
often have varying opinions and interests, makes the process of making
the public policy a difficult exercise. These groups use varied tools
and tactics such as advocating for recognition and mobilization of the
allies, to advance their interests (Bruce 2003).
Setting an effective public policy in criminology is one of the hardest
parts of dealing with crime. This is because the policy has to encompass
the societal goals and a framework directed towards promoting the
internal social cohesion. In addition, the policy should clearly define
the criminal justice problems to be addressed and establish a conceptual
framework that guides the evidence gathering process and interpretation
of the gathered data. These requirements are met through consultations
to make the plan all inclusive. Additionally, the public policy should
have an approach of testing and evaluating it viability. Curtain (2002)
suggested that the policy making process should use a more independent
source of policy advice and appropriate a greater contestability to
access public funding.
The rate of subway shooting has been increasing at an alarming rate in
the developed countries especially in the United States of America.
Different investigations suggested varying reasons for the high rate of
this crime. Most of the subway shooting occurs as a result of conflicts,
robbery, and irresponsible shooting mainly for personal reasons
including depression and hopelessness (Trains, 2000). However, the
police officers have been reported to commit some of the subway
shootings for various reasons such as retaliations towards the incidents
such as riots and cases of theft. Most of the subway shooting committed
by the police officers are agitated by ratio hatred. In addition, the
majority of the victims of this category of subway shootings are the
young Black Americans. This was evidenced by the killing of the Oscar
Grant, who was shot in a subway by a BART police in Oakland California
in 2009 (Perlow, 2012). Apart from police incidents, teens have been
involved in several incidents of irresponsible shootings in the subways.
Despite the large amount of subway and involvement of different groups
of people ranging from the police, robbers and teens, there are no
sufficient research works to identify the reasons for the alarming rate
of increase in this category of crime. In addition, there is little
information available to facilitate the design of viable public policy
that can aid in reducing the incidents of subway shootings. This paper
evaluates the reported cases of subway shooting and suggested the viable
public policy to handle the crime.
Classical theory of criminology
Examination of the reasons for people to commit a crime is a
prerequisite in the determination of the most suitable means of
preventing crimes. In the past, criminologists have advanced theories
try to identify and explain the factors that induce people to commit a
crime. The main goal of advancing these theories has been to redefine
criminology and streamline the criminal justice system by outlining the
causes, correction, and prevention of different categories of crime.
Shichor (2002) defined criminology as the study of etiology, nature, and
extent of law breaking. This means that an effective criminology theory
should encompass the structural issues in the society, group roles, and
societal arrangements. Classical theory is one of the criminological
theories that have played a crucial role in refining the manner in which
criminologists view the discipline of criminology.
The classical theory was advanced by Cesare Beccaria in the eighteenth
century. According to Aker (2004) classical theory induced positivism in
view of criminologists towards crime and structural influences. The
effectiveness of the classical theory in defining criminology and
identifying the reasons for people to commit a crime is governed by
three main ideas. First, the classical school of thought asserts that
people have the freedom to choose. The criminal aspects arise when an
individual selects the behavioral aspects that are considered vices in
the society. These vices include greed, lust, anger, search for the
thrill, and vain.
Secondly, the classical theory is based on the premise that people have
the capacity to control the choices they make. The fear of punishment
can reduce the tenderness towards criminal activities. This means that
human beings have the capacity to assess the positive and the negative
repercussions before indulging into criminal activities. This suggests
that people commit crime if the benefits exceed the risk associated with
the crime (Aker, 2004).
Third, the classical school of thought is founded on the idea that
certainty, swiftness, and severity of punishment can influence the
criminal tenderness. Presence of the three aspects of a given society
makes people shun crime. Amanda (2006) suggested that the administration
of punishment is an incentive to obeying the law and an effective tool
However, other researchers argue that human beings must be motivated to
commit a crime. To this end, there are other factors such as
victimization, demographics and lifestyle that affect criminal
tenderness. Shichor, (2002) suggested that demographic and lifestyle
aspects such as being male, being unmarried, and leading an active
lifestyle influence the crime occurrence. In addition, potential
criminals are fully informed of the value systems and have the capacity
to use their intelligence in committing the crime.
The capacity of the classical theory to explain the three d’s of crime
namely detect, delay, and deter makes it the best criminological and
preventive theory. The second aspect is that the classical theory
individualizes the crime, based on the fact that a potential criminal
must first collect, analyze the data, and then decide on the most
suitable alternatives. The rational reasoning of an individual is then
translated into other members of the society. In addition, the classical
theory recognizes the state has the response to maintain order and
preserve the common good through the legal system.
The research questions that pushed me to address this theme include the
following what measures has the police department adopted to achieve
the three d’s of crime in dealing with subway shooting? To what extent
has the judiciary succeeded in creating certainty by punishing the
culprits of subway shooting? What are the key crime opportunity reducing
measures has the state put in place in the efforts to reducing the
increase in rate of subway shooting crimes?
Application of the three d’s crime in crime prevention
The police department has a role in the reduction of crimes through
detection, delay and deterrent. Crime detection mechanisms are the
prerequisites in expediting the role of the police in crime reduction.
According to Vigne, (2001) the Metro Washington DCs subway is currently
one of the safest subway in the world. The Metro subway, which began is
operations in 1976, have been developed over time and equipped with
safety and security system that has accorded it the security current
security status. The safety of Metro Washington DC has been achieved
through the application of three security mechanism. The approaches
include the architectural designs that employ crime prevention
principles, vigilant maintenance of policies, and stringent enforcement
of rules and law. The subway also reduces the crime rate through
deployment of police officers in different locations, a technique
referred to as the police saturation mechanism. The presence of the
police officers in the potential areas of crime induces fear in the
potential criminals, thus deterring the crime behavior (Vigne, 2001).
Installation of the closed circuit television (CCTV) can aid in both
detection and deterrent of crime. However, the appropriation of this new
technology is still far from reaching the effective standards. Coretta
(2001) conducted a research in Britain to assess whether the reported
decline in crime as a result of installation of the CCTV cameras in all
the cities. The objective of the study was to assess whether the crime
reduction may result from other fact including crime prevention
activities, socio-economic factors, general trends in the national crime
rates, or pure statistical artifacts. The research identified that the
presence of mechanisms for timely detection of crime, in this case the
CCTV machines aided the police in recording the crime figures and
incidental data that aided in crime follow up. In addition, the cameras
aided in the collection of victimization, arrest, and detection data.
The 24 hour surveillance capability of the CCTV machines makes reduce
crime as the potential criminals are deterred from visiting the CCTV
covered areas (Coretta, 2001).
Crime opportunity reducing techniques applied in sub-ways
Situational crime prevention is one of the techniques that can be used
to reduce the criminal opportunities in along the subways. Previous
research works have proposed different techniques that can be used to
opportunities for potential criminals to commit crimes in the subways.
The first and one of the most effective approaches is the increase in
perceived effort of offending. According to Amanda (2006) the perceived
effort of offending can be improved by target hardening, controlling
access, and controlling the facilitators of committing a crime. The
Metro subway has achieved this through several means including the
design that limits the number of stairways leading from the street level
to underground stations. This means that the potential criminals have to
use more efforts and spend more time to commit a crime that it would
have been under normal condition.
According to Nancy (2000) the subways with a reduced number of public
rest rooms, luggage lockers, and benches experience fewer crimes
compared to subways with more of these facilities. This technique
reduces the chances for the potential criminals to linger around, and
thus minimizing their time to assess the target. An increased perceived
risk at the subways can reduce the opportunity for potential criminals
to commit crimes. This can be achieved through established policies that
ensure entry and exit screening policies, effective employee
surveillance, formal surveillance techniques, and natural surveillance.
The role of courts in crime reduction
The competent courts of law are part of the judicial criminal systems,
and thus have a role in crime reduction. Fair judgments rendered in
courts enhances the crime reduction through two main strategies namely
celerity and certainty. This can be achieved by making the potential
criminals realize that the courts have the capacity punish criminal
within the shortest time and with surety that no crime will go
unpunished. Referring to the classical theory of criminology, criminal
is aware of both positive and negative outcomes of the crime activities.
The Follow up of the court proceedings offers the potential criminals an
opportunity to weigh the punishment and the benefits they will get from
a given crime. In addition, Tonry (2003) suggested that rapidity of
criminal proceedings can reduce crime though indirectly, through reduced
frustration and exasperation of criminals. Placing a limit on the
sentencing discretion is rational and effective means of deterring
crime. Apart from warning the potential criminal, courts judgments
reduce instill behavioral change in the criminal who have been
sentenced. The suspected criminals incur exorbitant costs during the
judicial hearings and other forms of punishments offered after
conviction (Mantle, 2005).
Being an applied research, this work intends to evaluate the policies
applied in different areas of criminal judicial system in the efforts to
prevent subway shooting. The study targets at identifying the need for
improvement of the security measures specifically in the subways. To
achieve this, study will consider the measure for prevention of the in
the subway shooting based on the provisions of the classical theory of
criminology. In addition, the paper will evaluate the effectiveness of
the current subway security measures in preventing the crime occurrence
and the effectiveness of the judiciary in rendering justice to the
culprits of the subway shooting and the shooting victims. In addition,
the study will evaluate the court proceedings of different cases of
subway shooting to identify the effectiveness of the court in rendering
punishment as a measure to prevent farther subway shooting crimes. The
paper will compare the security measures taken in different subways
especially in the United States of America to identify the bottlenecks
in the security system in the subway.
Subway security policy
The increase in the number of subway security shootings has necessitated
the design of a new public policy. The main objective of this policy is
to enact the safety measures that will enhance the security status and
improve the efficiency of the existing subway security strategies. The
policy is subdivided into three sections namely the personnel
saturation, technological, and judicial measures.
Identification of the security hot spots and Personnel saturation
The alighting and boarding sections of the subway are the main where
most of the shootings take place compared to overland. The
identification of the shooters becomes more difficult because of these
sections are densely populated especially in the morning and late
evening hours (Nancy, 2000). To this end this policy proposes an
increase of the security officers in all the alighting and boarding
sections of the subway. However, the increase in the security personnel
will be matched with the estimated population in every subway sections
thus a ratio of one police officer to 40 people will be enacted. In
addition, all the security personnel deployed to different sections will
be in full police attire at all times to increase their easy
recognition. The police officer deployed at the subways will be under
strict instructions to legal actions even for minor violations of law.
Additionally, the security officer shall ensure that no person shall be
allowed into the subways with a gun, even the licensed guns shall be
left at the points of entry.
The technological measures outlines in this policy are based on the
first two provisions of the crime prevention through environmental
design (CPTED) (Trains, 2000). This means that this section puts more
emphasis on the preventive measures that the apprehension and
punishment. First, the natural surveillance will be achieved by
eradicating all unnecessary physical objects and structures in the
subways to increase maximized visibility. The policy recommends
restructuring of the existing subways to facilitate the natural access
control. This will be enacted through segregation of the entrance and
exit, installation of lighting facilities, and fencing of the security
hot spots along the subways. In addition, this policy emphasizes on the
installation of CCTV machine in all sections of subways. However, this
applies to the subways that have already been constructed. The policy
recommends that all the future designs of subways must adhere to the
provisions of the CPTED and get a certification from the relevant
authorities before construction can commence. Moreover, the structural
changes in the subway sections will reduce of business operations in the
subways by minimizing the business premises such as fast food shops and
entertainment rooms. Additionally, the structural changes seek minimize
the number of luggage lockers, and benches in the subways and ensure
that the future subway constructions will has less or none of these
structures (Trains, 2000).
This policy acknowledges that the apprehension, judicial proceedings,
and the punishment rendered in competent courts of law play a role in
reducing reduction of the criminal activities in the subways. To this
end the policy recommends the publication of the court hearings of the
court proceedings for the cases related to subway shooting. The policy
creates an implied right for members of the public to know and follow
the proceedings to the end. This will be achieved through posting of the
proceedings in the website of the judiciary. In addition, the policy
recommends the review of the laws outlining the punishment for the
culprits of the subway shooting crimes to increase the punishment by
incarceration and reinstatement increase in the number of boot camps.
The offenders found guilty of murder should be jailed for life. The boot
camps will help in curbing the rate of subway shooting among the teens,
which has shown an increasing trend in the last few year Jensen, F. G.
Implications of the recommendations of the public policy
The main goal of the policy is to reduce the number of the subway
shootings. The policy measures outlined in the policy derive their
implications from the classical theory of criminology. The deployment of
the security personnel at different sections of the subway has several
policy implications. First, the policy requires that the security
officers be vigilant of any actions that depict deviations from the law.
The legal actions taken on the minor issues will act as means of
cracking the minor offenses to reduce the opportunity for considerable
violations of the law Brega, A. A. (2008). The police saturation at the
crime hot spots will instill fear in the potential subway shooters. The
prohibition of entry with guns into the subway sections is an
opportunity reducing technique.
The natural surveillance mechanisms will help in ensuring maximum
visibility. On the other hand, the natural access control measure will
control the flow of people and limit access. The two measures will
reduce the opportunity for chances for subway shooting. Other structural
and technological measures such installation of CCTV cameras and removal
of unwanted structures will increase will reduce the chances for crime
occurrence through deterrence. In addition, the CCTV cameras will aid
the detection of the shooting and identification of the culprits (Brown,
2000). These measures will increase public reassurance that the subways
are secure, and thus increasing the public space.
The policy recommends a life sentence for the subway shooters found
guilty of murder as a form of punishment. This has the implication on
the rational choice because the potential subway shooters will avoid the
crime in fear that it could go in prison for life. In addition, the
policy recommends that the cases related to subway shooting should be
give a priority, and the decision be rendered within the minimum time
possible. This increases the celerity and certainty that committing
subway shooting crimes will result in legal actions. The publication of
the rulings pertaining the subway will inform the potential subway
shooters that the crime has a certain, severe, and a swift punishment
Evaluation of the public policy
The performance of the designed policy will be evaluated to assess its
capacity to reduce subway shooting after six months of implementation.
The evaluation criteria will distinguish the effect of the policy from
the other factors such as improved economy and social factors, which
have been suggested to reduce crime. The evaluation process will
involve the collection of data from the police department on the
recorded subway shootings after every six months to monitor the trends
for a period of two years. The data to be collected include the cases of
victimization, number of subway shooters arrested, and the CCTV
detections of the subway shooting. The effectiveness of the CCTV will
help in determining if the cameras have the capacity to collect
sufficient information that can convince the offenders to accept the
guilt. The evaluation criteria for the technological policy measures
will be based on the Tilly Model (Brown, 2000). In addition, the
evaluation process will assess the number of subway shooters who have
been found guilty in the courts trial and the magnitude the punishment
rendered. Moreover, the evaluation process will observe the offenders’
behavioral change and risk perceptions. This will establish the
effectiveness of the criminal judicial system in reducing the subway
shooting crimes through punishment.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The criminological theories have played a crucial role in reforming the
approaches towards crime detection and prevention. Many policy makers
base their public policy on the classical theory because of its capacity
to relate crime and criminals. The theory helps in detection, delay, and
deters crime. The theory is based on three principles including the fact
that people have the freedom to make choice, ability to control their
choice, certainty, swiftness, and severity of punishment. These
principles make the classical theory the most appropriate in designing
the policy for prevention of subway shooting crimes. The suitable policy
for prevention of the subway shooting crime should consider the all the
main stages of crime and crime processing especially the detection,
arrest, apprehension, prosecution, and sentence. The designed policy
should be evaluated to determine its effectiveness in achieving the set
goals of crime prevention.
This study recommends a longitudinal study that will assess the decision
making behavior of the subway shooting culprits. The study will consider
factors such as the decision offer promise and displacement of the
offenders. The outcome of the research will aid in designing of the
policy measures aimed at preventing the crime occurrence. This will be
achieved by influencing the rational thinking of the potential offenders
rather than relying on the apprehension and punishment.
The paper also recommends the evaluation of other security measures and
their capacity to reduce crime. A consideration of more optional
techniques will expand the chances for future development and review of
existing policies. Some of the security measures that need a
consideration include the algorithmic image interpretation and facial
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