Crime and Delinquency

Our perspectives on crime&delinquency related to SOC206

Kaila Tripp's Story

Kaila Tripp

Alcohol, Drugs, Crime, and Violence

I was put in this group, not because me myself have been involved in any of these topics, but I have had many family members who have. I have seen how it affects a family from a different perspective.

A little background, my dad is the second oldest of four children, his brother Rob was always the troublemaker. He struggled his whole life with depression, suicide thoughts, drug use, and he smoked weed very heavily for his entire life. He took his life last year. That alone was the most traumatizing thing my family has ever gone through. I watched my Grandma and Grandpa feel like they had done something wrong as parents and I watched my dad feel like he should have seen the signs and he felt guilty for not stepping in. The person who was affected the most by Rob’s death was his son Zac, my cousin. Zac has been a heroin addict since the 8th grade. That was the year he dropped out of high school and started dealing drugs and guns. He was arrested during my 7th grade year and he was released from prison at the end of my junior year in high school. The first time he went to prison my mom and dad corresponded regularly with him and sent him the things he needed, coffee, work boots, books and CD’s. He got his GED and convinced everyone he was going to change. When he got out he hopped from treatment center to treatment center and family members house to family members house. He couldn’t hold a job and he blamed it on the fact that no one will hire a convict, which is partly true. But when my uncle committed suicide, Zac had already started using again and he went off the deep end. He is now back in jail for another possession charge and for dealing heroin.

The thing that I learned from my family is that you have to choose for yourself to be happy and healthy and you cannot let other outside circumstances affect you that much. Because when Zac was out he would post horrible horrible posts on facebook about committing suicide or being on drugs, and all my family members including myself would beg him to get halp, or go to Grandma’s, or call a suicide hotline. He would never reply to any of us. He would reply to his drugged out friends but never to his family who was trying to help. Now that he is back in prison he writes my parents even more asking for DVD players and money and blaming his troubles on the fact that his dad committed suicide. And don’t get me wrong that was traumatic for everyone, but I have learned that being an addict or even being an adult, you have to make decisions for yourself. If you don’t want to be clean, no matter how many resources are available to you, you will not get clean. It has to be something you choose for yourself.

I pray for Zac every day that he will one day find his way past the horrific drug that heroin is.

My Experience: Winnie Lee

I grew up in a super sheltered community in the comfortable suburbs outside Portland. Crime was something I would hear about in the news; something that I thought would never affect me. School shootings, one of the biggest crime debate that has taken the American politics by storm, have been on the rise. There has been 142 school shootings since Sandy Hook in late 2012. It took me 18 years to feel first-hand the pain that came with such a tragedy.

I remember June 5, 2014. Like any college freshman, I was preparing for finals but it was also Senior Banquet for the club that I was a part of. The day proceeded normally: school, planning the banquet, dressing up. It wasn't until early evening when I heard that there was a shooting at SPU. My friend who told me about it said there was one confirmed death, and asked if I knew anybody who went there. I had 4 friends attending SPU, but it never crossed my mind that one of them would be the victim. I was worried for the safety of my friends and I knew I should ask how they were holding up, but I wasn't devastated with news of the shooting. It wasn't until the next day when I found out who passed away. I was casually scrolling through Facebook when a friend messaged me. I turned to my late friend's Facebook to see hundreds of friends posting their condolences and memories. The emotions began taking over, sadness and anger. My roommates didn't know what to do. Strangely though, five days later was the Reynolds high school shooting where my then-roommate went to high school. She was stuck in the same place I was. Both our lives were shaken up, unable to comprehend how our seemingly perfect, sheltered lives changed.

There are a lot of crime that impacts us immensely the moment it happens. We tend to forget about it within a week. There's a mass surge of social media presence over this event and then it dies down because it loses relevance. For me, there is a constant struggle and reminder of what was lost

From a different experience, I ran into an accident with the law. I was an immature freshman that got too hyped up into a game that I didn’t realize I went a little too far. The game was to use paper ninja stars to attack other players. So my team and I decided to do an ambush at 2 in the morning. Long story short, the police came because neighbors thought it was domestic violence with almost an hour long of yelling and breaking and entering. Needless to say, I was scared of the labeling theory and that was my first and last time interacting with police. Fear of that getting out I kept the incident private (Sullivan, 268).

Many of our classmates’ experiences come from what they hear on the news. A lot of us seem to have grown up in the suburbs and don’t associate well with criminal behavior. Many have seen the loss of a loved one, yet a handful can only sympathize with the violent loss of a loved one. The group has seen minor property crimes before, even been the victim, but are relatively unaffected by white-collar or victimless crimes. In regards to mass shootings, it seems that the majority has had some close encounters. They can connect a shooting with someone they know or from the community around them, like in the Reynolds high school shooting, UCC shooting, or others in California. You can definitely sense anger and confusion in trying to understand mass shootings. So many of us ask “why?” but there is no definitive answer.

Crime: Talia Trapalis

Looking at the text for this week I found applying the reading to my real life experiences to be helpful in the understanding of the chapter.

Growing up my parents owed a convenient store in Roseburg. Everyday I had to watch my parents deal with people steeling something. Crazy to think this was a every day experience. One day I had gotten off the school bus in front of the convenient store something I did everyday. When I was dropped off I started noticing there were police in front of the building. I rushed into the store to see a bunch of police officers questioning employees and my parents. I go to my mom to ask what had happen with tears in her eyes she couldn't finish her sentence. I went and asked my dad he tells me that they had be robbed at gun point. Yes the convenient store was in a bad area, but I couldn't image something like this happening, lucky no one was hurt. This ultimately lead to my parents selling and moving forward and away from this part of my hometown. I remember walking away from the situation to young to understand anything but with the lingering question of why. Why would someone do this? They ended up finding the person who committed the crime and he was put into jail with multiple theft charges.

To elaborate more on my experience the police were extremely helpful through the entire experience. After the initial instance they helped us track the guy down and surprisingly he was one of our customers. I found this extremely interesting due to him knowing my parents and workers inside. He was usually really friendly and nice towards everyone. When the police told us that they had caught him it was a giant relief. They questioned my parents and all the employees after to make sure everyone’s stories match with what had happen. After the instance you could tell that the amount of security increased in the area. It seemed every time I would look outside there was an officer driving around the area to petrol. Officers were even coming in more often for lunch as well, I wasn’t sure if this was for a reason or not. My parents appreciated everything that the officers did from getting the suspect to comforting them afterwards, all was extremely helpful.

The outcome from this experience helped me realize the bad side of living in a poverty struck environment. The suspect ended up confessing and saying he needed the money to aid with his drug addiction. We tend to see increased violence is pore communities with high levels of drug related crimes. After the experience the man went to jail on charges of theft and drugs. For my parents, this experience really opened their eyes to the reality that the area itself isn’t safe for their family. This was one of many reasons why they chose to leave shortly after the experience. They viewed it as the risk not being worth the benefit if we would be in danger from it. After we sold the store we came back to see what had come to the little store on the corner, and it actually was shut down from other multiple robberies that the new owners had encountered also. You could say my parents were happy with their decision to leave.

Roseburg as a whole a overall great community has seen some economic down fall over the years. With logging companies under attack from animal activist constantly, the logging industries have taken a little bit of a hit. Also with the 2008 economic crisis the city didn’t bounce back as easy as others. With our main export being under attack people find their own ways of making money, weather they are legal or not. Unfortunately for my parents the store was in the bad part of the community. Lower income families could afford cheaper housing, and living. The best way to describe the living conditions would be the ghetto of a major city. There were always police driving around the houses, in which many drug busts would take place. This area is no place to have a family and this was one of the reasons why my parents decided to move. The “American Dream” was what my parents wanted, to have the opportunity to own their own business. They had that option and took it, but realized shortly after that it wasn’t for them, at least the location wasn’t.

Summary of our Experiences:

We all have an experience with something outside of our control. School and business shootings, family drug use and crime are both things that we have no control over, yet severely impact our lives. As it happens, I am from a town about an hour away from Talia's, and the shooting at her families store and the shooting at the local community college (UCC) impacted both of our communities. The community college in my town, which I attended, and my little sister still attends was shut down the day after the shooting because of threats towards them. School shootings or shootings in general are something that rock a town to its core, especially in small towns like Roseburg or Coos Bay (my town). In larger towns, like Seattle for the SPU shooting, people still band together in wake of tragedy. One of my roommates actually attended SPU at the time of that shooting and has very vivid accounts of how the school came together in the wake of that tragedy to try and heal.

Our text Introduction to Social Problems states that gender is the most predictive of patterns of criminal behavior. All three of the shooters in our experiences, Talia's family shooting, the UCC and the SPU shootings were male.

Connecting our Experiences to SOC206

On page 264 of Introduction to Social Problems, the authors define the psychological approach as crime linked to personality disorder or maladjustment, often developing during childhood. For me (Kaila), I know that my cousins childhood was not easy. My uncle, his father committed suicide last year and had been troubled for the majority of his life. Zac had divorced parents and not much love. He was introduced to drugs early and had no reason to not turn to them.

I think all three of our experiences fall under the interactionist perspective. It is defined on page 268. Sullivan says, "Interactionist approaches do not dispute the sources of crime pointed to by the functionalist and conflict views. But interactionists see these views as incomplete because they do not explain how a person becomes a criminal or why one poor person responds to the anemone through crime and another does not". He goes on to say how according to the differential association theory, crime and delinquency are learned and culturally transmitted through socialization. We don't know if the shooters of the UCC, Talia's family, or the SPU shootings grew up with criminals for parents or had learned behaviors, but these theories show that it could be a huge contributing factor.

In the case of Zac, he was labeled with primary deviance early on. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade, and was not disciplined very well, because of the absence of parents. HE continued on that deviance until it escalated into hard drugs and crime.

On page 279 in our text, Sullivan describes how our police and criminal justice systems are the most crucial link that most citizens have. In the UCC situation, Roseburg is a very closed off community, somewhat economic depressed, with many blue collar conservative people. People who hold their beliefs very tightly. After the immediate dust settled, it was obvious that the citizens did not want the shooter to get any attention. The people of Roseburg wanted the press and the media to concentrate on the survivors and the heroic-ness of the police force. The police worked very hard to keep the media under wrap because they knew how important it was to the people of Roseburg that the shooter not be named. In the last sentence of that paragraph Sullivan says, "In middle class neighborhoods, police put more effort to find solutions to the dispute". This was very true in Roseburg. The police strove to do what the citizens of Roseburg felt was important! They handled the situation beautifully!

According to the Functionalist Perspective, “ties to family, community, and church become less important in industrial societies as families become smaller and workers become more mobile and independent of their families…the reduction in [these] social constraints also results in a degree of social disorganization as people pursue needs and goals that may be detrimental to the overall good of society (Sullivan, 265).” Crime is just the price we pay for living freely. I believe that from these loss of values we see the deviance of criminals. Statistically, mass shooters come from families with strongly severed ties. The shootings arise from conflicting goals in either a religious, racial, or social class matter.

Reflections on Race, Class, and Gender

Through all three of our experiences we can see similar experiences between the people committing these crimes. In my parents store the shooter was a 27 year old white male. In the Seattle Pacific University and Umpqua Community College shooting the shooters were also white males at the age of 26. Kaila's cousin started committing crime when he we 13 but has continued, and is now a 29 year old white male. According to page 275 Introduction to Social Problems, males are more involved with high crimes rates then females in almost all crimes. 81 percent of males every year are arrested in crime related instances. According to the chart on page 276 men over the age of 25 commit the most violent crimes. In all three instances age, race and gender of the suspects all fell under these categories. In this instance of “violent crime” African American males are responsible for a higher crime rate (38 percent). White males are more involved with embezzlement crimes then robbery crimes according to Introductions to Social Problems.

Those who commit crimes tend to be poor, non-white males that have been constantly rejected by society. Once they’ve been labelled as criminals, they are more likely to keep offending. When children are suspended from school, they are more likely to associate with deviant behavior. This increases their chances of living in poverty and inability to get a job, leading them to participate in criminal behaviors to make ends meet. Especially in American culture, there is tension among the poor and rich, the whites and blacks, the Christians and Muslims, etc. This could cause a dramatic rift escalating towards violent crimes. However everything we’ve read about violent crimes don’t line up with incidents of mass shootings: whites commit 68% of mass shootings, there are a small amount of female shooters, mental illness is seen as a risk factor that increases their likelihood to commit mass shootings, and families are usually a primary target.


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