Criminological Theories Explaining Behaviors Of The Cocaine Kids

1584 words - 6 pages

The Cocaine Kids: The Inside Story of a Teenage Drug Ring is an intriguing narrative of the experiences Terry Williams witnessed first hand while observing the lives of “The Kids” and their involvement in the cocaine trade. Throughout this piece, there are numerous behaviors displayed by the drug dealers that are each examples of and can be attributed to well-defined criminological theories. This paper will explore how such criminological theories are associated with how and why individuals are introduced into the world of drug selling, as well as, why they leave it. I will elaborate on this by revealing the motivations and conditions that seem to pressurize these individuals to be drug dealers. Although there are multiples shown, the specific theories I will explore are all based on the same idea that an individual becomes a criminal by learning how to be one through experiences, examples, role models, etc. Such theories include the theory of Differential Association, Subculture of Violence Theory, and the Social Learning Theory.
The first criminological theory, that explains behavior of the drug sellers, is the theory of Differential Association. Differential Association, termed by Edwin Sutherland, argued that persons engage in delinquent behavior because they learn it from society and they engage in it when it benefits them. By this, he is saying that an individual will be a criminal if they experience an excess of criminal definitions over conventional definitions. Sutherland discovered that Differential Association is developed through various stages and he explains such development with the use of nine propositions. (Lily et al. 2011, 48) Such propositions are as follows: (1) criminal behavior is learned, (2) it is learned in interaction with others and through the process of communication, (3) learning occurs principally within intimate interpersonal relationships, (4) techniques of committing crime are learned, (5) motives and drives are learned from definitions of law, (6) delinquency occurs when definitions to violate the law outweigh definitions favorable to conform to the law, (7) associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, or intensity, (8) learning criminal behavior does not differ from other forms of learning, and (9) motives for criminal behavior cannot be the same the motives for conventional behavior. (Lily et al. 2011, 48-49)
I will elaborate on a selected few of Sutherland’s propositions in order to provide proof of how Differential Association Theory is relevant to understanding the behaviors of the drug sellers portrayed within this novel. The third statement, relates to how Max was introduced to the business of cocaine trade by his brother Hector. They are family, which is an intimate interpersonal group, and Max learned this criminal behavior by being in the same vicinity as Hector who used to be a major drug dealer and served as his mentor. (Williams 26) The sixth statement provides...

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