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Biological Theories, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 371

Essay

Biological Theories of crime have been explored since the early nineteenth century. They were used to justify eugenics, as theorists had begun to suggest that some people were “born criminals.” Nicole Hahn Rafter in her study of biological theories and eugenics, notes that such theorists referred to some criminals as “defective delinquents”  born with traits that necessarily doomed them to a life of crime and unable to change (Rafter, 1997). Eugenicists used these theories to justify the incarceration of those thought to be cursed with criminal genes. They sometimes prevented these “born criminals” from reproducing.

Although biological theories were used to justify some unsavory practices, they were not all wrong. There does, indeed, seem to be some link between biological factors and criminality. Studies have shown, for instance, that identical twins are more likely than fraternal twins to have similar criminal records (Criminology: Intellectual History – Biological Theories In Criminology, 2010). Furthermore, other studies have revealed that behavioral traits are often inherited, including behaviors from alcohol addiction to a tendency toward violence and abuse.

Nevertheless, while biological factors can play a role in determining whether or not an individual is inclined to engage in criminal activities, biological theories ignore the great role that societal factors can play in shaping an individual’s outlook and behavior. Some individuals whose parents have always followed the law turn to crime for non-biological reasons. Poverty, for instance, is often a determining factor. Some people who are poor resort to criminal activities to keep themselves or their families apart. Meanwhile, others who feel as if society has wronged them also commit crimes. Recent examples of this in the news include the slaying of a census worker and the flying of an airplane into an IRS building (Man Crashes Plane Into Texas I.R.S. Office , 2010).

Biological theories of crime are useful tools by which we can understand many aspects of crime, but we must study other factors as well to gain comprehensive knowledge of criminal behavior.

Bibliography

Criminology: Intellectual History – Biological Theories In Criminology. (2010). Retrieved June 16, 2010, from JRank Law: http://law.jrank.org/pages/911/Criminology-Intellectual-History-Biological-theories-in-criminology.html

Man Crashes Plane Into Texas I.R.S. Office . (2010, Feburary 18). Retrieved June 16, 2010, from New York Times (Online): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/us/19crash.html

Rafter, N. H. (1997). Creating Born Criminals. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

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