The level of cruelty in today’s world rises up. Every day we hear about numerous crimes, committed by teenagers and adults, housewives and inveterate criminals. Robberies, murders, thefts have become an integral part of our daily life. The problem of growing crime rate remains one of the most important in the society. The causes of crime are eternal, while penalties and preventive measures change with time.
Crimes have always existed in the society. To start discussing the notion of crime, it is necessary to define “crime.”¯
Crime is a violation of law established in a particular country which entails penalty according to the law system of the country (Tonry, 2000). Throughout the history types of crimes have not changed except of the fact that with the progress of the society, crimes became more complicated and covered more spheres of life of people. However, the correctional system has undergone many changes throughout the world and the variety of punishments has increased, which permitted to choose more corresponding penalty for each particular offence. If in early civilizations death penalty predominated over other kinds of punishment, today each and every case is regarded carefully and results in particular punishment, which might include fines, deprivation of liberty and rarely capital punishment.
All crimes can be classified into three main categories ”“ violent crimes, property crimes and public order crimes. Violent crimes are offences in which victim’s physical state and health are damaged or are threatened to be damaged.
They might be either robberies when violence is just a method to gain one’s end or murders when violence is itself the goal. Property crimes are connected with any possible damage to the property of people. These might be thefts, arsons, burglaries, vandalism, etc. Public order crimes are caused by behavior that is contrary to the norms and values established in the society. Another classification of crimes distinguishes crimes according to their objectives.
There one can name crimes that are directed against people and their rights, their religious believes and dignity, against economy and industry of the country, administration of justice, public morality and heritage.
Despite the development of legal system and the diversification of corrective measures, the main causes of crimes remained the same despite different epochs and countries. Since the beginning of time, people who committed crimes were guided by the feeling of envy, jealousy, revenge, and desire to get easy profit. These feelings sprang from poverty and wish to oppress others. Discrimination of others is one of the major causes of crimes. Difference of all people and unwillingness to accept it have always caused the majority of conflicts in the society. At first sight, it seems quite strange that the majority of people do not want to admit the fact that all of them are individuals and have a right to have their own unique beliefs, habits and ways of life. People are usually guided by the wish to be superior to others and to oppress them due to this superiority. Therefore, they take every chance to find any drawback in others and to accuse them in their imperfection and their incompatibility with the society. Hate crimes can have different reasons, including racial, ethnic, sexual orientation or gender discrimination (Thompson, W. & Hickey J, 2005).
Another widespread cause of crimes is poverty. Economic status of people usually does not satisfy them. It might concern both people who hardly make ends meet and those who belong to middle class; it is possible to observe rich people, committing crimes in search of enrichment. Desire for money has always been an incentive for people to search for different ways of gaining money. Some of them found this way in robberies, thefts and cheating.
A great number of crimes belong to domestic crimes when members of families cannot solve their problems peacefully and resort to violence. Jealousy and hatred, envy and irritation are the main causes of crimes. Domestic violence is defined as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”¯ (Wallace, 2004, p. 125).Ā It can be displayed in numerous ways. This rather general notion can include different violent acts between the members of a family or between cohabitants. Abuse may be either psychological that leads to mental disease and suicidal attempts, or physical that involves beating, rapes, and even murders.
To continue analysis of causes of crimes, it is necessary to mention the growing crime rate among teenagers, particularly in America. A great contribution to this phenomenon is made by the development of computer games, easy access to drugs and alcohol. Very often substance abuse becomes the main cause of committing crimes by adolescents, who are influenced by their peers. Strong correlation between the violent nature of video games and their players is traced. The results of the cruelty of video games are evident and its consequences can’t be left without attention. Cruel games give rise to cruel behavior: in the year 1999 two boys, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebord organized an assassination on High School in Littleton. The result is 13 men killed and 23 wounded and two suicides of these boys. It is impossible to determine the exact aims and motives of boys’ actions but it’s known that the boys fanatically played the video game called Doom (Grossman, 1999).Ā Influence of video games is unpredictable: some children feel frustration and stress; others become very aggressive and can do mental, emotional or even physical harm to their surrounding.
Thus, it is obvious that crimes have different roots and can be provoked by different factors. Nevertheless, if to distinguish logical policy implication of causes, all causes originate in the desire to have more money and to oppress others (Bellamy, 1997). Besides, many people see the main cause of growing crime rate in soft sentences, which do not fulfill their main deterrent function. Almost in every country there are supporters and opponents of hard and soft sentences. Those, who support life sentence, usually have many arguments and use very impressive and touching stories to prove the necessity of extreme penalty for murderers, rapists and other felons, who committed atrocious crimes. They claim that due to soft sentences the gravity of crimes is diminishes in the eyes of the society, which contributes to the growth of crime rate. Young people do not realize the whole horror of the life of crime. Even on the level of subconsciousness imprisonment for several years does not seem as menacing as life sentence or capital punishment. Amnesty also contributes into the reduction of responsibility for committed crimes. Those, who are let out of the prison not having served a term up to the end, do not feel punished for their crimes.
Certainly, the sentence should match with the gravity of the crime and should fulfill its main function of punishment and deterrence from further offences. However, there is a strong opinion that capital punishment is unacceptable in a democratic and humane society. People do not have the power of life and death. While the society considers those who killed other people criminals, for some reason it decides to stoop to their level and also kill them.
Besides, many supporters of capital punishment forget to mention that the judicial system is not ideal and very often judges make mistakes. Such crucial mistakes lead to murders of innocent people, which cannot be considered normal. The number of judicial mistakes in different countries, and in America particularly, is over 20 (Tonry, 2000).
What is also significant is that it is necessary to try to eradicate the roots of crimes, in other words, to control drug dealing more severe, to ban violent video games, to create centers for victims of domestic violence, etc. Such activities will help to diminish the tension in the society and to decrease the crime rate. The law system should be improved in order to provide a corresponding punishment for a crime. A sophisticated system of penalties might be helpful in the today’s world full of different kinds of offences.
To make a conclusion, the problem of crime and corresponding punishment will be urgent throughout different epochs. The causes of crimes are eternal and will exist in future. However, the main task of any society is to make efforts to decrease the crime rate in order to secure people against themselves.