Criminology Lecture 13 Now Available

Welcome to the thirteenth lecture in the undergraduate criminology course of the University of Maine at Augusta, available to you now on the web. This week follows a focus on fear of crime last week and asks you to read Chapters 13 and 14.  We begin with a consideration of the upcoming test, and then answer your questions for the course.  We then proceed to consider public order crime and white-collar/organized crime.  Critics of the former often characterize these as crimes without victims and critics of the latter identify many victims but no prosecuted crimes.  Are these critical characterizations fair?  What makes these crimes so different from the “ordinary” crimes we find characterized by Part I of the Uniform Crime Report?  How would we know the difference?

The sections of this week’s lecture, which you can access at, are as follows:

Lecture 12 — Fear, Piracy and the Legislature — Now Available

The twelfth lecture in our undergraduate criminology course at the University of Maine at Augusta is now available.

This week follows a focus on violent crime last week and asks you to read Chapter 12 regarding property crime. Being the victim of a murder, an assault, a burglary or a car theft is a possibility that generates significant fear in some people, but which does not appear to bother others. Our lecture focuses on what factors might explain these differences in fear of crime. An additional walkthrough video demonstrates how to use the Maine State Legislature website to research current bills under deliberation. Finally, we move to your second reading for the week, Scott Wolfe and George Higgins’ “Explaining Deviant Peer Associations…,” an article listed in your course syllabus that considers how people come to be socially connected to online pirates. Despite the online nature of this activity, real-world networks lie beneath. I’d like you to talk about the definitions favorable and unfavorable to delinquency that Wolfe and Higgins discuss… and apply them to yourself.

As sometimes happens when public events intervene, the subject matter of this lecture has shifted. As I was preparing to send out this lecture, two bombs exploded in Boston, bringing sharply into relevance the question of terrorism. In the choice of the word to describe this kind of act, “terrorism” explains the goal — not to directly damage a society but to indirectly damage it by creating terror (a sharp fear), that then leads a society to harm itself.

It turns out that criminologists have a lot to say about fear, and I think it’s important for us to consider that subject this week as our thoughts turn to Boston (and not, noticeably, to other American cities). For that reason, I’m devoting a major section of the lecture to a review of the literature on fear of crime and social connection to jarring events.

This leaves little room, unfortunately, for the answering of your questions — and your questions remain important, both to you and to me. What I’ll do instead of creating an inappropriately long lecture for the week is incorporate my answers to your questions in next week’s lecture.

Finally, please note the nature of the discussion task this week. Because I am asking you sensitive questions (the answers to which will not be associated with your name), please send me your discussion answers by e-mail, to

To access Lecture 12, click here.


Gallup Poll: Is Crime in the U.S. worse than it was a year ago?

Criminology Lecture 11 (Violent Crime) is now Available

The eleventh lecture in the undergraduate criminology course of the University of Maine at Augusta is now available. This week, we consider the subject of violent crime. Be sure to read Chapter 10 in Anthony Walsh’s Criminology: The Essentials and “The Impact of Neighborhood Context on Intragroup and Intergroup Robbery: The San Antonio Experience,” a reading assignment listed in your course syllabus. We begin by thinking about the meaning of the phrase “violent crime” and move on to consider the rational or irrational basis for interpersonal violence. When criminal behavior is irrational, we can find a social basis to explain it, sometimes as simple as physical or social proximity.

You may access the 11th criminology lecture through the menu system on this web page, or simply through this link:

Out of all phrases per year in the Google Books database of 5.2 million books, the percent that are property crime and violent crime

Criminology Lecture 10 (Developmental Theories) Now Available

The tenth lecture in the UMA undergraduate criminology course is now available. This week, we consider developmental theories of crime. Be sure to read Chapter 9 in Anthony Walsh’s Criminology: The Essentials and “The Effects of the Fast Track Preventive Intervention…” article listed in your syllabus in addition to this lecture — if you have trouble accessing this additional article, please review the second video below! We begin by building a bridge from biological theories to developmental theories of crime with the consideration of concordance in twin studies and adoption studies. We then consider a pair of studies (one of which you’re already reading about) attempting to intervene on behalf of “at risk” youth to keep them off the developmental track that leads to a life of crime.

Midterm Grade Frequency for Criminology Spring '13

Lecture 9, on Biosocial Theories of Crime, is Now Available

Click here to access to the ninth lecture in the undergraduate criminology course of the University of Maine at Augusta. This week, we consider biosocial theories of crime. As a sociologist, I am inclined to look to social structure for explanations of criminal behavior, yet despite easily mocked early biological theories of crime there are growing indications that something about the physical nature of our bodies leads some of us to be more susceptible to crime than others. This week, we set social structure aside to consider the biological basis of crime.

This week’s lecture assumes that you have read Chapter 8 in Anthony Walsh’s Criminology: The Essentials, plus Jessica Wolpaw Reyes’ “Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime” and Rick Nevin’s “Understanding International Crime Trends: the Legacy of Preschool Lead Exposure.” Our lecture subjects this week are:

Please take extra note of the special discussion task for the week: this week I am not asking you to participate in a discussion board, but rather to submit anonymous responses to a mid-term class survey. This survey is located on Blackboard on a special page; please see instructions at the end of the lecture for details.


Click here to access Criminology Lecture 9.



An image of phrenology from Webster's Dictionary, Circa 1900

UMA Criminology Lecture 7 (on Critical Theories of Crime) is now Available

The classical, social structure and social process theories of crime that we have considered in previous weeks of this course have one common element despite all their diversity: the assumption of consensus that some behavior called crime exists, is harmful and is worthy of being countered. In contrast, critical theories of crime question the assumption that we fight crimes as an impartial way of best countering and controlling harmful behavior. Critical theorists suggest that the acts we identify as crimes and the people we pursue as criminals are targeted not simply because of the magnitude of the harms they inflict, but more centrally because they are a threat to those who hold power. For critical theorists, the definition of crime (and the exclusion of harmful acts by those in power from the sphere of crime) are a way of reinforcing a system in which some people hold advantage and other people are held down.

To review Lecture 7 in this online course, click here.

Criminology Lecture 6 (Social Process Theories) Now Available

Lecture 6 in the undergraduate criminology course of the University of Maine at Augusta is now available for your review. This week’s lecture, meant to accompany readings on social process theories of crime, devotes special focus to two areas: labeling theory (which gets an undeserved bum rap in your text) and social control theory (which has an interesting connection to age). Also look out for mention of the exam and the beginning of exam review!

To access this week’s lecture, click here:

What is the Effect of a Criminal Label?

Lecture 5 (from Pre-Classical to Post-Classical Theories of Crime) now available

Lecture 5 in the Spring 2013 undergraduate criminology course of the University of Maine at Augusta, covering the development of criminology from pre-classical, through classical and into post-classical theories of crime, is now available for your review at the following web address:

Please note that to account for the cushion I extended for your previous week’s work due to the recent blizzard, I have further extended the due date for Week 5′s discussion a week past the original due date (see the bottom of the text of Lecture 5 for details).

UMA Criminology Lecture 4 (Crimes on Halloween and in Maine Cities) Available for Review

In your readings for this week (Chapter 3 in the textbook by Anthony Walsh plus de Haan and Vas 2003) you learned that the acts we consider today to be “crimes” in the sense of a violation of written law have not always been thought of that way. Until relatively recently in human history, offenses were considered to be acts of aggression against groups or acts of heresy against universal religion. In this week’s readings, you learned about early thought in the development of the concept of crime and, thereby, the study of criminology.

We’ll pick up that topic in next week’s lecture, covering Chapter 3 as well as material from following chapters regarding “structural” theories of crime. But in this week’s lecture, we’ll look backward and review some of the ground of where we’ve been before moving forward.

Lecture 4 is now available for your review.

UMA Criminology Lecture 3 (on Measuring Crime) Now Available

Welcome to Week 3 of the undergraduate criminology course at the University of Maine at Augusta! This week, we’re beginning to move beyond (but not completely abandoning the habit of) doubt regarding the classification of crime, and moving into the difficult task of figuring out just how to measure and count crimes that occur in a society. The task is trickier than you might think, complicated by matters such as different police coverage in rural vs. urban areas, the incentives of police department leaders to underreport crimes, and the question of who one consults to to determine whether a crime’s occurred: the offender? The victim? A witness or official? Regardless of these difficulties, some common trends in crime begin to emerge when we use multiple methods to measure crime from multiple points of view.

To access Lecture 3 for SOC/JUS 316, click here.

Best Regards,

James Cook
Assistant Professor of Social Science
University of Maine at Augusta