Last fall, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) hosted a fascinating talk by Professor Andrew Papachristos entitled “Why Do Criminals Obey the Law: The Influence of Law and Social Networks on Active Gun Users.” You can read the abstract for the talk and watch the video below.
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Our findings suggest that while criminals as a whole have negative opinions of the law and legal authority, the sample of gun offenders (just like non-criminals) are more likely to comply with the law when they believe in (a) the substance of the law, and (b) the legitimacy of legal actors, especially the police. Moreover, we find that opinions of compliance to the law are not uniformly distributed across the sample population. In other words, not all criminals are alike in their opinions of the law. Gang members – but especially gang members with social networks saturated with criminal associates – are significantly less likely to view the law and its agents as a legitimate form of authority. However, those individuals (including gang members) with less saturated criminal networks, actually tend to have more positive opinions of the law, albeit these opinions are still overall negative.
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Vodpod videos no longer available.
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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see”The Legal Situation of the Underclass,” “The Situation of Criminality – Abstract,” “Clarence Darrow on the Situation of Crime and Criminals,” “Why Criminals Obey the Law – Abstract,” and “Tom Tyler on “Strategies of Social Control” – Video.”