Free Essay on the Criminology Theory: Agnew's General Strain

Published: 2019-09-25
Free Essay on the Criminology Theory: Agnew's General Strain
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1527 words
13 min read

Summary of the crime

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On May 13, 2016, Friday at about 4:05 pm, there was a notification at the Weld County Sheriffs office that a robbery has taken place at the Colorado East Bank & Trust in Severance, Co. The report asserted that there was an undisclosed amount of money that was robbed when a 28 years female suspect, Rachel Einspahr, gave a note to the teller demanding money through the drive-thru window at the Colorado East Bank & Trust in Severance, Co. The two suspects, teller and Rachel Einspahr, were detained. The investigation revealed that the female suspect passed the drafted note to the teller via a vacuum tube located at the drive-thru window. The note indicated that there was a man in Einspahrs car and the man wanted money from her. Additionally, the note notified that the man was threatening her to harm the two kids in the car in case he is not given the money (Turner, 2016).

Under unavoidable circumstance assuming that the life of the female was in danger, the Bank Teller gave out about $500. The investigators that were given a role in carrying out the investigation revealed that the female suspect was a local babysitter. The babysitter with a SUV car drove with the two kids, age one and seven during the time of the robbery (Davis & Pohl, 2016). The two kids were not harmed during the time of the crime. Further investigation was carried out only to realize that there was no man in the SUV car, and the whole aspect was a planned scheme to cheat the Bank Teller. After the investigation, Einspahr admitted guilty and was detained on the misgiving of felony robbery and two counts of children abuse (Davis & Pohl, 2016). The criminal accepted the action claiming that she wanted to use the money to pay back about $15, 000 up front as a section of her restitution in the counterfeit and felony crime in Evans as per the arrest affidavit.

Explanation of the theory

Agnew's General Strain

Agnew (1999) defined strain as the relationship in which other people are not treating other people in a way in which they are required to be treated. General Strain Theory (GST) was argued by Agnew that stressors or strain escalate the like-hood of negative emotions like disturbance, anger, and resentment. The emotions generate strain for a corrective measure, and offense is a potential response from the emotion. According to Agnew (1999), crime can be a corrective measure that can help in the reduction of strain. Agnews theory is recognized as the increasingly significant enlightenment for crime at the personal level. Drawing from this perception, Agnew claimed that GST can be applied in the explanation of the various crime rates in our communities (Fowler & Wanner, 2003). Agnew (1999) argued that strain comes from the failure of the positively valued objectives or existence of negative stimuli like harassments, provocations, and individual affronts. Agnew (1999) asserted that the probability of scandalous responses resulting strain depends on various aspects. Such aspects involve the presence of alternative identities or objectives, opportunities for crime, the stage of a familiar societal control of personal behaviors, values that are conducive for the occurrence of the crime, and the availability of the subcultures that encourages external attribution of the blame (Fowler & Wanner, 2003).

Like other strain theories, Agnews strain theory emphasizes that strain incidences force people into delinquency. The key difference between the Agnews theory and other theories is its assertion that strain comes from different sources, not just from a loss to accomplish goals. According to Evans and Hay (2006), Agnews strain theory results from any event or relationship in which individuals are not treated as they would like to be treated or undergo an undesired experience. These circumstances include any event in which a person fails to accomplish positively valued goals, a threat of removing a positively valued objective, or a threat of presenting negatively-valued stimuli. The above-named events escalate the possibility that people will experience a negative emotion, and the most essential for the delinquency is anger. For example, anger escalates the possibility of delinquency by escalating the level of the perceived injury. The perceived injury creates a desire for reprisal, thus energizing the person for the corrective measure.

According to Agnew, if strain can be defined in different perspectives, then the strain theory is virtually un-falsifiable. However, there is a novel corrective measure that can recoup the theory. In response to this, Agnew (1999) claimed that the theory must be detailed about the type of strains that should be significant and the reason behind it. The Agnews strain theory suggests that the strains can be perceived as unjust rather than being perceived as a misfortune. Also, Agnews strain theory asserts that strain can be extreme because they can be perceived as of high magnitude. According to Evans and Hay (2006), Agnews strain theory can lead to the creation of some inducements in engaging in criminal activities.

According to Piquero & Langton (2007), Agnews strain theory was developed by Agnew in 1992. Agnew postulated in the theory that strains are required not to be particularly connected to the economic status of a person since it is an emotional response to any professed depressing aspects of a persons setting. According to the Agnews strain theory, an individual from a social class can engage in a criminal action because the person can be experiencing a negative emotion that is originating from strain. There are three categories of strain identified by Agnew. The three categories include breakdown to realize positively valued objectives, exclusion of the positively valued stimuli, and staging of the noxious or negative stimulus (Piquero & Langton, 2007). Each category of strain can lead to a particular deviance.

Application of the theory in the crime

Agnews strain theory can be considered as a criminology theory that has accumulated a vital amount of experiential evidence, and the theory has expanded its key objectives by providing explanations of the incidences outside of the criminal behavior. The theory can be incorporated into Einspahrs case in understanding the reason why the crime was committed. According to Agnew, crime is committed for a reason, and the reason can be because of strain. Agnew would clarify that Rachel Einspahr did the crime since she was undergoing a strain because of the removed positively valued stimuli, thus resulting to the delinquency. The crime behavior that was exhibited by the babysitter happened because it was her attempt to avoid the loss of the stimuli. The babysitter decided to commit robbery because she wanted a replacement of the stimuli and the only way to replace the stimuli was to commit a robbery crime. According to the investigators, Einspahr committed the crime because she robbed the money from the bank because she wants to use the money to pay back $15, 000 as part of her restitution in a counterfeit and offense theft case in Evans. The repayment of the money was to remove the positively valued stimuli, and this stimulus is considered the possible source of strain explained in many crime incidences.

The robbery was the source of strain that made Einspahr experience negative affective state. According to Agnew (1999), a strain is caused when an individual loses a positively valued objective such as when a person takes someones property and the availability of negative stimulus like harassments, provocations, and individual affronts to return the property. Einspahr had to repay the money through robbery, and the robbery was the only opted means to repay the money. The increased level of strain resulted to the increased negative emotions such as anger and frustration, thus resulting to the robbery of the bank by Einspahr. The increased negative emotions within the babysitter increased the possibility of committing a crime, thus resulted into the robbery of money in the bank.

In conclusion, Agnew (1999) view strain as an essential aspect in considering the stage of crime in a person or a community. Therefore, Agnew (1999) would agree that Einspahr committed the crime since she was being controlled by negative emotions of paying back the money. She had no any other alternative than robbing a bank through a piece of note to the bank teller.


Agnew, R. (1999). A general strain theory of community differences in crime rates. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 36, 123 155.

Davis, M. & Pohl, J. (2016). Babysitter Accused of Robbing Bank with Kids in Car. U.S.A. Today.

Evans, M. M. & Hay, C. (2006). Violent Victimization and Involvement in Delinquency: Examining Predictions from General Strain Theory. College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Criminal Justice 34 (2006) 261274Florida State University, Tallahassee,

Fowler, K. S. & Warner, B. D. (2003). Strain and Violence: Testing a General Strain Theory Model of Community Violence. Department of Criminal Justice and Police Studies, Eastern Kentucky University. Journal of Criminal Justice 31 (2003) 511 521. Pergamon.

Piquero, L. N. & Langton, L. (2007). Can general strain theory explain white collar crime? A preliminary investigation of the relationship between strain and select white-collar offenses. Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Journal of Criminal Justice 35 (2007) 115. The University of Florida.

Turner, M. (2016). The Weld County Sheriff: Severance Bank Robbery UPDATE. News Release.

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