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Psychological Theories on Crime Prevention and Offender Treatment

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Evaluation of Crime Prevention And Offender Treatment Programs. This essay will discuss and critically evaluate methods used by psychologists in environmental crime prevention and offender treatment programs. One theory of how the environment could both prevent or encourage crime came to our understanding through architectural journalist Jane Jacobs (1961) when she identified a relationship between the design of the urban environment and criminal activity believed that these older urban developments had a steady community spirit in place which acted as a form of surveillance against street crime as people knew each other and recognised outsiders more easily but these older urban developments also had unsafe places where criminals could carry out their deviant trades without fear of apprehension. Jacobs further identified that whilst the older urban developments encouraged community spirit the newer urban developments encouraged a fortress spirit and communication between neighbours was more limited. She pointed out that the new forms of urban design broke down many of the traditional controls on criminal behavior, for example, the ability of residents to watch the street and the presence of people using the street both night and day, she suggested that this lack of natural guardianship in the environment promoted crime. Jacobs believed that crime flourishes when people do not meaningfully interact with their neighbors. ...read more.


facing the street as this too is a natural form of surveillance and would encourage residents to see what was happening in and around the building and to place the new builds in a low crime area. Newman backed up his theory when he looked at 100 housing estates in New York and found a negative correlation between the amount of defensible space and crime for example as defensible space decreased the crime rate increased and as the defensible space increased the crime rate decreased. These findings show that Newmans theory had substance to it but does not directly prove that defensible space actually creates a reduction in the crime rates. Newman only proposed the correlation between the two variables existed, he may have overlooked other variables such as whether the buildings in question housed people who were of a poorer status, whether the areas where these buildings were built were poverty stricken, whether there were a large number of children living in the buildings and if there were any activities available for the children to engage in. The theories mentioned in this essay contribute greatly to the understanding of environmental crime prevention. We can see that some of the steps recommended have been taken and often work. ...read more.


The next stage is to work on maintaining a conversation and interacting with members of the opposite sex. Throughout the program the offenders are encouraged to perform and practise their gained skills in a variety of situations. It is evident that having positive social skills will benefit the individual greatly in many situations but the skills learnt are only short term changes and there is no eveidence that would suggest that the benefits last over the longer term, Hollin (1990) stated that social skills training would possibly be good for personal development but not as a cure for crime. It is clear that the offender treatment programs are a positive aspect of a prisoners life, the treatments such as the token economy make life easier for the prison gaurds which in turn makes life safer for many. The offender treatment programmes are evidentley successful in changing specific behaviours but this appears to be the case only when under controlled conditions such as the prison. There is not much evidence for these programs benefitting the individual upon their release from the institution and therefore they require the individual to actively participate in the program and to practise any new found skills when appropriate. These methods are a better alternative to offering nothing to offenders and some will benefit widely from the treatments given. ...read more.

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