Foran extended period, token sucking was a major security issue in theNew York City subway. Token suckers are a group of offenders whojammed the token slot and sucked it to extract the stuck token afterthe frustrated plunker leaves. Mostly, the crime was committed byhomeless men and deviant teenagers. There were several strategiesemployed by law enforcement officers to deal with the transgressions,but they were not effective. Locking up the desperate suckers was notan adequate deterrence. However, the introduction of the MetroCardreduced the opportunities to commit the offense. Additionally, someof the criminals were eliminated by diseases (Kennedy, 2003).

Oneof the approaches that could have been used to deal with tokensuckers was the use of three strike laws. This is a statute thatallows harsher sentences for habitual offenders (Akers, 2013). However, due to the nature of the crime and desperations associatedwith it, the strategy would not have been practical. Additionally, itincreased the risk of hardening the wrongdoers, rather than acting asdeterrence. According to conflict theorists, criminal behaviors suchas token sucking are as a result of alienation in the society.Therefore, individuals involved in these offenses cannot becontrolled using social institutions such as the criminal justicesystem. Additionally, symbolic interactionism theory is based on thefact that individuals are likely to assign symbols to particularactions or behavior depending on the social interactions. Thisinfluences what a person will consider as acceptable or unacceptablebehavior (Akers, 2013). Consequently, the token may not be valuableto the teenager or homeless man, but its symbolism forces him tocommit the offense. In the article, it is evident that conventionalpolicing strategies were not effective. Nonetheless, eliminating theopportunities killed the crime.


Akers,R. (2013). CriminologicalTheories: Introduction and Evaluation.New York: Routledge

Kennedy,R. (2003). TunnelVision The Kiss of Desperation: A Disgusting Practice Vanishes Withthe Token.New York Times.