College of Criminal Justice News

Friday, February 8, 2013

Beto Chair Lecture: Dr. Marcus Felson

Beto Chair Lecture Series

Fri, Feb 8, 2013
9:30 - 11:00 A.M.
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

Dr. Marcus Felson
Dr. Marcus Felson
Dr. Marcus Felson, a Professor at Texas State University, developed the routine activities theory in collaboration with Lawrence Cohen, which proposes that crime has a chance to take place anytime a potential offender comes into contact with a potential target in conditions conducive to crime. His lecture will discuss "How to Be a Crime Analyst."

Dr. Felson is a leader not only in crime theory, but also to applying theory to reduce crime. His books include Crime and Nature (2006) and Crime and Everyday Life (2002 and co-authored with Rachel Boba) which is currently in its fourth edition. The author of more than 80 publications, Dr. Felson also has written about the role of business in crime and crime reduction. His work is increasingly applied to understand juvenile street gangs, co-offending, organized crime, and outdoor drug sales.

Before joining Texas State University, he was a Professor at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, the University of Southern California and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was also a Visiting Scholar or Professor at the University of Stockholm in Sweden, the Netherland Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement in Amsterdam, and the Institute for Canadian Urban Research at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He also has been a guest lecturer in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Spain and Switzerland.

Image of broken windowsHis Beto Chair Lecture is based on a course he developed at Texas State University called Crime Analysis. Designed for their graduate level students, Crime Analysis introduces a step by step process for how to evaluate and synthesize local crime data and present it to others. Unlike conventional methodological courses, this approach helps student to think about crime data and how to organize it so they can identify local crime trends and cycles, develop useable crime maps, and offer practical local police responses. The course incorporates routine activity theory, situational crime prevention, and problem-oriented policing.

“I teach crime analysis so that my students can go into various walks of life and quickly reduce crime opportunities,” said Dr. Felson. “This focuses not on criminals but rather on crimes, their modus operandi. Like reporters, we consider who, what, when, where, and how. But we combine events to produce statistics that are very usable for preventing the next crime quickly. What we do is so practical that most police officers in the classroom have stopped saying that criminology is irrelevant to crime as they know it.”

Picture of a cop on the beat.
Dr. Felson said that the criminal justice discipline is in a “revolutionary period for studying crime and reducing it.”

“We now know that most crime prevented in one location is not simply displaced to another,” said Dr. Felson. “That means we really can reduce crime overall by working locally. That means police can really be more effective than in the past, if they focus their efforts. Police patrols can now be very focused and strategic. Many branches of local government can help ‘design out crime.’ Businesses can reduce shoplifting and employee theft with better techniques and design. But it's not all new information. Age-old experience about liquor policy is often forgotten. The mismanagement of entertainment districts has caused many of our crime problems -- and can be remedied. The mismanagement of public space is a very general problem that feeds crime in measureable ways.

Image of burglar breaking into a car.“We now have much larger and more detailed crime data, as well as mapping techniques,” Dr. Felson continued. “These help us verify exactly what the problems are and then focus prevention and control in a way that gets results.”

Dr. Felson received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

In 2009, Dr. Felson was nominated for the Stockholm Prize in Criminology under the Swedish Ministry of Justice. In 2008, he received the Ronald V. Clarke Award for Outstanding Contributions to Crime Analysis from the Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis group and, in 2002, he was presented the Paul Tappan Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Criminology from the Western Society of Criminology.


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