The question of whether crime is actually a necessary part of society at first seems like it is an easy question to answer. Most people would believe that the entire world would be better off if there were no such thing as crime: but a world like that is an impossible utopia and might actually be a less interesting world to live in.
Crime is good in the sense that all those people who do not commit crimes get to feel better about themselves for being law-abiding citizens whose pictures won’t end up on the news or in their local newspaper’s crime spotting column.
The argument can also be made that a lack of crime would give more funding for important programs in the US. If there were not any crimes being committed then all the money being funneled into keeping all the prisons could then be used in other places where it is needed, such as America’s public school education systems or welfare programs for underprivileged children.
There is also an odd balance in the justice system. Crime creates jobs in law enforcement and in the legal world. Criminal lawyers, police officers, sheriffs and other such lines of work would become unnecessary. Anyone who currently works in a capacity in the prison systems would be out of work, which could show an increase in unemployment in the country.
As sociologist Emile Durkhelm points out in “The Normality of Crime,” people often overlook that the way society views and settles disputes about crime is the based on the collective views that society has. What is considered acceptable and the way those things are understood the consciousness of the person within that society are dependent on the time and attitude of the time.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan states in “Defining Deviancy Down: How We’ve Become Accustomed to Alarming Levels Of Crime and Destructive Behavior,” that he believes the average person’s response to crime has become “curiously passive.” He also said that the drive to act and work toward a better society and the people in it has gone by the wayside.
While it is possible to see the merit to both sides of this debate, the side that believes crime, in some form, is beneficial to society as a whole makes a strong argument.
As mentioned earlier, if there were no such thing as crime in a society there would be no need for those who have studied law enforcement. The police motto of “protect and serve” would not have any real meaning to it since there would not be any crime from which citizens need to be protected.
According to the book “The Anatomy of Violence:The Biological Roots of Crime” by criminologist Adrian Raine, there is also the issue that some people are biologically predisposed to be criminals. These people who lose the genetic lottery may not be able to be rehabilitated by any system or doctor that exists. So it stands to reason that unless there was a way to change and alter the genetic code of an individual, there would be crime regardless of what people want.
Crime, whether violent or not, is a matter of discussion because the police are afraid to do the full extent of their job due to fear of being caught on film doing something that would land them in hot water and a spot on the six o’clock news. At the same time, individuals and entire populations of people are afraid of or worried about what their local police officers could possibly do to them and not get in trouble for if there is no one else to witness and document the events.
When including the dark figure of crime or the amount of unreported or undiscovered crime, it seems to imply that crime is a necessary part of the societies we humans have created for ourselves to live and work in.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Harri Kuokkanen for SUU News