Criminogenic Commodities

Not only does the criminal justice community now view situations as criminogenic, it also views some commodities as criminogenic (Moore, 1983b). At the top of everyone's list are drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. These drugs are linked to violent criminal offending in many different ways (Fagan, 1990). They seem to have an immediate impact on the level and seriousness of offending. They may also have a developmental influence on young children, drawing them into patterns of criminal offending that they would have resisted had they not become involved with drugs but that, once established, seem to hold firm against other more positive social influences (Jessor and Jessor, 1977).

These drugs, particularly alcohol, seem to affect victims as well as offenders and to increase their vulnerability to attack (Wolfgang, 1958b). They also seem to create situations—in barrooms, crack dens, and shooting galleries—in which disputes can erupt and violence can occur (Police Executive Research Forum, no date a). Of course, the economics of producing, selling, and distributing illegal but desired commodities also creates circumstances in which instrumental and expressive violence are both quite common (Goldstein, 1985).

Guns, too, are increasingly seen as criminogenic and violence inducing (Cook, 1983). There is an argument that guns in the hands of police officers or law-abiding citizens might reduce crime and violence through general deterrence of criminal offenders (Kleck, 1988). However, what is more readily observable is that the widespread availability of guns seems to facilitate violence by providing criminal offenders with a plentiful supply of weaponry; by making it possible for spouses, in a moment of fury, to become murderesses; or by providing the means for protective homeowners to transform a household burglary into a violent encounter in which the burglar, the homeowner, or the late arriving teenage son, mistakenly taken for a burglar, might be killed (Cook, 1983).

In addition, there are some who claim that the widespread availability of weapons, and their use in recreational activities such as hunting and target shooting, tend to sustain a general cultural milieu in which violence is celebrated and therefore facilitated (Kleck, 1984). Without passing judgment on the accuracy of these views, it is sufficient to note that there are many in the criminal justice research and practitioner community who are now prepared to see guns as criminogenic in that they contribute to the overall levels and consequences of crime. To a degree, this



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