How Labeling Theory Influenced Criminal Justice Policy
This theory posits that it is in the process of controlling crime that it is instead increased. These theorists argue that the individuals who are arrested and prosecuted are often labeled in society as criminals. Others, just by mere perception, treat these individuals as criminals, and this has an impact of increasing the possibility of these people committing crimes for several reasons.
Consequently, these individuals that are labeled as criminals find it difficult to secure employment, an act that may strain and reduce their stake in conformity. The labeled people develop an idea that conventional people are difficult to associate with and hence may lead to them associating with other criminals. This has the net effect of weakening the bond between them and the societal others, which can enhance the social learning of crime. All the above perceptions enable the criminals to consider themselves criminals and will act according to that perception.
There has been a debate as to which type of labeling will attract criminal activities; this is between informal labeling and official labeling. Modern theoretical works have focused a lot on informal labeling. This includes labeling by peers, teachers, and the teachers, which of late has been quite powerful. There has been another perception that labeling reduces crime and it only increases crime when there is no effort to assimilate the individual back into the society, and it reduces crime when the offenders are made to feel some sense of shame or guilt, but the society has to make an effort to forgive them and reintegrate them into the society.
The labeling theory has had more harm than good on the American criminal system since it has made it cast the criminal net too far and wide, and this will have a negative impact on the individuals’ interactions and behavior. It is the labeling theory that influenced the development of juvenile diversion as one of the measures to minimize negative and harmful effects. Juvenile diversion is a program for first-time offenders which is often an alternative to the court system and involves activities like community work and counseling. The best case of labeling theory is captured where Brenton Butler, the Afro-American youth, is labeled as a criminal due to his color, which demonstrated that an incompetent criminal justice system would lead to persecution and prosecution of the wrong individuals.