Anthony Walsh and Cody Jorgensen
Evolutionary criminology is part of a broader biosocial approach to criminology. The evolutionary perspective can help organize the hodgepodge of extant, and often contradictory, criminological theories in a coherent way, thus providing a more robust explanation of criminality. This chapter demonstrates the relevance of evolutionary theory to criminology, discusses the evolutionary origins of both prosocial and antisocial traits, and shows that evolutionary theory is invaluable to understanding two key issues that have been impervious to solution using the standard social science model—the sex ratio in criminal offending and the age–crime curve. The chapter also provides a discussion on the distal causes of traits conducive to criminal behavior as well as a Darwinian explanation of why humans can be altruistic toward some humans yet victimize others.
Alberto Concha-Eastman, Edgar Muñoz, and Mateus Rennó-Santos
Despite improvements in the socioeconomic conditions of Latin American, the homicide rates in the region have not declined as expected. Data from World Health Organization and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime show that this region has the highest homicide rate in the world. This analysis describes the regional homicide trends, explores how these trends compare to other countries and regions of the world, and identifies country-level predictors of homicide. Seven indicators were analyzed: population aged 15–29, Gini Index, Criminal Justice Index, unemployment, GDP, mean of schooling, and infant mortality. The lack of a clear rule of law is perhaps the greatest driver of homicides and of other types of violent crimes. Recognizing the potential for extraordinary profits and perceiving their low risk of being captured and punished, criminals have an increased motivation to engage in illegal activities.
Illicit Drugs and Organized Crime in Latin America: New Scholarship and the Future of Alternative Policies
Illicit drugs have long affected public security, social relations, and politics in Latin America. Until recently, the analysis of illicit drugs primarily focused on Colombia and, to some extent, Mexico, and most scholarship was policy-oriented, dealing with the influence of the US and the Global Drug Prohibition Regime. In recent years, the scholarship has expanded its theoretical and methodological approaches as well as its geographical scope. This chapter analyzes key contributions emerging from new research: the mapping of the political, social, and economic constellations of actors and discourses that sustain policies related to illicit drugs; the critical revision of certain assumptions, fostering a more nuanced understanding of the multiple social and political relations involved in illicit drug markets; and greater attention to how illicit and licit actors relate, including unpacking the links between state actors and criminal groups.
Research on the formation of police officers generally focuses on the beliefs, accounts, and categories that recruits must master. Becoming a police officer, however, is not simply a matter of acquiring new attitudes and beliefs. This article attends to an unexplored side of police culture—the sensorial and tactile education that recruits undergo at the police academy. Rubenstein wrote in 1973 that a police officer’s first tool is his or her body. This article examines the formation of the police body by examining how police recruits learn to use their hands as instruments of control. In police vernacular, this means learning to “lay hands” (a term borrowed from Pentecostal traditions) or going “hands on.” This chapter focuses on two means of using the hands: searching and defensive tactics. It describes how instructors teach recruits to use their hands for touching, manipulating, and grabbing the clothing and flesh of others to sense weapons and contraband. It also examines how recruits are taught to grab, manipulate, twist, and strike others in order to gain control of “unruly” bodies. It concludes by discussing the implications of “touching like a cop” for understanding membership in the police force.
Patrick Sharkey, Max Besbris, and Michael Friedson
This article examines theory and evidence on the association between poverty and crime at both the individual and community levels. It begins with a review of the literature on individual- or family-level poverty and crime, followed by a discussion at the level of the neighborhood or community. The research under consideration focuses on criminal activity and violent behavior, using self-reports or official records of violent offenses (homicide, assault, rape), property crime (burglary, theft, vandalism), and in some cases delinquency or victimization. The article concludes by highlighting three shifts of thinking about the relationship between poverty and crime, including a shift away from a focus on individual motivations and toward a focus on situations that make crime more or less likely.
Gabriel Kessler and Alejandra Otamendi
Independently of the varying national homicide indexes, the fear of crime affects all socio-political dimensions across Latin American countries and influences the agendas of political parties, security markets, and everyday life. This contribution presents an overview on the fear of crime and insecurity studies in the region, focusing on two main fields: fear of crime studies showcasing similarities and differences among Latin American countries in terms of the relationship between fear and victimization, gender, class, age, and community cohesion perceptions, and the socio-cultural dimension to this phenomenon, including media influences on the fear of delinquency, the role of the state, and the general climate of ontological insecurity.