Susan Smith Paper

WHY DID SHE DO IT?  The case of Susan Smith

The first several chapters of the Belknap text cover various criminological theories that have been presented as possible explanations for female criminal behavior… with various levels of success in this endeavor.  For the purpose of this assignment, I want you to put on your criminologist hat and select a theory to explain a female offender’s behavior.  You can use any of the theories used in the course text, but don’t feel limited to do so – if you have another criminological theory you feel would better explain the behavior, please do so.

Our subject: Susan Smith  In October 1994, Smith strapped her children, Michael and Alex (ages 3 and 14 months, respectively) into her car, got out, and put it in drive – plunging it into the John D. Long Lake outside Union, South Carolina, with the boys inside.  Both Michael and Alex died.  For days, Smith claimed she was carjacked by a black man, and the boys were missing.  When the car was located in the lake, police turned their attention to Smith. Susan Smith was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder; she was sentenced to 30 years to life; eligible for parole in 2025.  VIDEO:

Assignment Outcomes:

  • Explain the facts of the case and the court proceedings. 
  • Select one theory, discussed in our textbook, that could be used to explain Smith’s behavior.
  • Briefly summarize the theory and provide at least 2 examples of how the theory applies to Smith. 
  • If there are any elements of the theory you have selected that clearly do not apply to Smith’s case, please address this as well. This will show me that you are familiar enough with the theory to explain not only how it applies, but how it does not apply.
  • The essay must be APA format, at least 3 pages in length in actual content, double-spaced, using 12-point font with 1-inch margins and include at least 3 legitimate sources. MUST HAVE IN TEXT CITATIONS THAT MATCH REFERENCES, MUST HAVE LESS THAN 10% SAFEASSIGN SCORE
  • You can use the Library Database system to search articles/ newspaper articles.  Wikipedia, blogs, and other nefarious sources of dubious credibility are not acceptable sources.

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