Biological Explanations of Crime Biological Explanations of Crime Crime Statistics from the Chicago Police Department Biological Explanations of crime Cesare Lombroso William Sheldon Neurological Defects Conclusion Biological Explanations of Crime In society today, crime rates are increasing at alarming rates. For decades, extensive amounts of research have been collected and analyzed in attempts to find out why people commit crime. In the city of Chicago, according to the Chicago Police Department Crime Summary, between January-August of 2008, when compared to January-August of 2007, the total crime incidents were up by 2. . Murder rates in Chicago alone are up nearly 15. 7%, and nearly 80%, involved firearms. As crime rates increase throughout the United States yearly, many people are asking the question why. Why are people committing crimes at alarming rates and do they actually have control over their actions? Biological theories pertaining to the biological explanations of crime have been around for centuries. One of the most recognized theorists is Cesare Lombroso, founder of the Italian school of Positivist Criminology.
In his biological explanation of crime, he believed criminal behavior to be genetic and that certain individuals who commit crime, can be identified by certain physical abnormalities or defects. One example is that murders have cold, glassy blood shot eyes, long hair and thin lips. He insisted that criminals committed acts that were beyond their control. William Sheldon theory of crime took on a different approach; he associates certain body types with certain behaviors. In his theory, he believed behavior to be inherited.
Sheldon simply assumed that there is an association between personality and body type. Below are three basic body types according to Sheldon ? Endomorphs-which are heavy, obese; soft, round shaped ? Mesinirogs- rectangular build, muscular, hard and heavy ? Ectomorphs-linear, flat, thin, fragile, and delicate. Another biological explanation of crime relates to certain brain dysfunctions. This can be seen in children and adults who suffer from ADHD, and other hyperactivity disorders. According to an article written by Dr.
Goldstein, “The severity of ADHD symptoms in adolescence and adult- hood apparently coincides with an increase of problems related to aggression and conduct. Thus, the worse an individual’s ADHD symptoms get, the more likely that the individual might progress to criminal behavior”. Generally, everyone has their own theory and opinion regarding criminal behavior. Biological and Psychological factors are both contributors in many cases. Sheldon and Lombroso, associate internal and external appearances, and body types with criminality.
As science and research progress, previous theories when compared to modern theories, are considered falsifiable to some extent. Take an individual like Ted Bundy, who was intelligent, and handsome. He had all the outer attributes of a normal individual, but yet he was still a serial killer who sensesly murdered innocent women. After interviewing Chicago Police Sergeant Alice Johnson, who deals with a broad range of criminals from housewives to murderers, I asked her opinion on Sheldon’s and Lombroso theories.
Sergeant Johnson stated, “Individuals today still believe criminal behavior can be identified by physical abnormalities. In an example she gave, she concluded, “If you are big and black, which is a common perception of a criminals, then you’re presumed guilty”. In conclusion, there are many explanations to why people commit crime. Biological factors in some cases play a signifanct role. As time goes on and more research is done, maybe society will finally come up with the answer to the question of why people commit crime
Reference Page Britannica. com-mesomorph (http://www. britannica. com/eb/article-9052217) Retrieved on Sept 24, 2008 Chicago Police Department Crime Summary. 2008. Retrieved Sept 24, 2008 (http;//www. cityofchicago. org/police) Conklin, John E. 2004. Criminology, 8th ed. 2004. Goldstein, Sam Ph. D. 2005. ADHDand Implications from the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved on Sept 24, 2008. (http://www. mental-health-matters. com/articles/article. php? artID=682) Personal Interview with Alice, Johnson. Sept 19. 2008