Criminal behavior used to be howI made it, but that shit s overrated -Everlast, lyricist, 1994. Throughout time, mankind is slowly refining our relationship to society. Because of our increasing population and our constricted placement on earth, we are unremittingly coming closer to physically and mentally living together in a community. Learning to live with one another in a balanced society is a common goal sought for by all people. Despite the fact that millions of humans exist, personality characteristics are individualized between every single human being involved in or out of society. These different traits distinguish individuals on the basis of many factors, including the environment, family life, life experiences, and even the aspects of heritability. One would think that such a diverse amount of personality characteristics would lead to many different obstacles encountered by people involved in society. This thought leads to the conclusion that our creation and reaction to anti-social behavior stems from the realization of crime, mainstream society s disapproval for it, and our fight to control criminal behavior. Crime does not have a solid definition because of the diversity throughout variant societies around the world. Crime has been defined in different ways by researchers scrutinizing the relationship between genetics and crime. Several studies have defined criminality on the basis of a single arrest (Crowe, 1972); others have defined it on the basis of at least one prior conviction (Hutchings and Mednick, 1975); still others have relied on a diagnosis of anti-social personality rather than actual criminal behavior (Cadoret, 1978). The lack of a consistent definition has affected researcher s data because nearly any type of illegal behavior can be defined as a crime, which in turn leads to an inflated reported occurrence of criminality. The study of genetics and its relationship to crime is a recent and controversial subject affecting today s researchers. Heredity may account for as much as 50% of the variance in scores achieved on various measures of personality (Dworkin et al., 1976; Goldsmith, 1983; Loehlin et al., 1985; Rushton et al., 1985, 1986). Rushton et al. (1986) for instance, found heritability estimates of 56 to 72% on questionnaires measuring aggression, altruism, assertiveness, empathy, and nurturance. Over 25 studies have been published since Rosenthal s review (1975) of research in this area. Genetics, which is a study of biology involving heredity and different traits, is questioningly being incorporated into criminality research. This new area of study revolves around the controversial possibility that anti-social characteristics are inherited. The relevancy of biology to the study of crime seems to be justified and researchers are presently developing the ground work. Researchers have divided the study of genetics and crime into four different categories: family studies, twin studies, adoption studies, and gene-environment interaction studies. Considerations such as social, political, or treatment implications as well as the financial and emotional impact that criminals have on society must be taken into account when studying the relationship between genetics and crime. It is extremely difficult and too broad a subject to pinpoint precise information. Lombroso (1918) was one of the first investigators to assess the possible connections between heredity and crime through the study of phrenology. He said that criminals were a throwback of an earlier developmental stage of mankind acknowledged by the slanting foreheads and protruding jaws. Sheldon (1942) is credited with developing the first genetic theory of criminality which eventually led to the XYY sex chromosome theory in the early 1960 s (Sandberg et al., 1961). A handful of researchers have introduced this topic so far and because of their pioneership, many more will have an easier path to follow in the study of genetics and crime. The history of criminology does not reflect the early beginnings as found in medicine and biology. In the 1920 s the term criminology was used to apply to sociology. Criminology started with the school of Lombroso and others in an attempt to apply science to the study of human behavior. The main figures in this movement were Charles Darwin, Cesare Lombroso, Gregor Mendel, and Sigmund Freud. However, before Lombroso s time there were a number of prominent figures who were developing the study of the brain in relationship to human behavior. In 1806, P. Pinel published his Treatise on Insanity, Francis Gall had published his work on phrenology and behavior in 1826, J. Pritchard had published A Treatise on Insanity in 1835, Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859, and Paul Broach s work on the brain was emerging at the same time. Mendel s original work on genetics appeared in 1866. Herbert Spencer s First Principles appeared in 1862 using a bio-evolutionary model for the study of society, and his Principles of Psychology, published in 1896, was naturalistic, evolutionary, biological, and positivistic. Thus, the influence of biology and the study of man was very great in the nineteenth century, and Lombroso s work was only a small portion of the movement. Ehrenreich has stated that anthropologists postulate a murderous instinct, almost unique among living species, in human males (1990, p. 88). the prospect of blood and the glint of a weapon brought about by drumbeats and war songs intoxicate men, reaching deep inside to awaken instincts passed down from generations. Heredity is said to play a part in today s crime investigations. The idea of heredity involves the study of genetics and inheritable traits passed on to new generations. A man by the name of Gregor Mendel (1822 - 1884) was one of the first men ever to work in the field of genetics. He carried out most of his work in the garden of an Austrian monastery. Because of the time, it was largely misunderstood and was therefore ignored during his lifetime, but was rediscovered in the year 1900. His work involved the crossing of two different kinds of pea vines at which the offspring appeared in different combinations. Raven et al. explains Mendel s work in that genes, which are carried in chromosomes, are a unit of heredity; a sequence of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) nucleotides that codes for a protein, tRNA, or rRNA molecule, or regulates the transcription of such a sequence (1992, p. 746). Genes act as the building blocks of a living organism and, in the form of different codes, they will govern the traits passed on to future generations. The genes of most organisms are organized into individual packages called chromosomes, with a characteristic number for each species. Human beings have 46 in each body cell except eggs and sperm which have only 23. Each human receives two sets of 23 chromosomes at conception, one set from each parent. Each chromosome will carry the developmental process for each individual. One of the first issues that must be addressed in order to set the parameters of biological research in criminology is the question of whether human behavior is a product of nature or nurture. People in the past that harbored conservative political ideologies, called hereditarians , claimed that nature contributes essentially to an individual s behavior. Behavior was primarily attributed to inherited pre-dispositions, and genetic influences were considered responsible for most of the variety in human behaviors. Environmentalists argued that nurture was the key factor for developing different behaviors and were generally associated with liberal ideologies. John Locke s Tabula Rosa (blank slate), for example, is interpreted that humans are born without predisposition to behave in any predetermined or predictable manner. Environmental influence was considered the prime element in the final behavior product and manipulations of external inputs were thought to modify behavior. The thought of behaviors being predictable was rejected by many people and the threat of control and oppression by science was realized and feared. Over the past few years, scientist have made a consensus about the idea that lies mainly in between nature vs. nurture. A nature plus nurture perspective was consequently developed. Several studies on alcoholism, temperament, criminality, depression, and mental illness have established a solid role for genetic and biological influences. Scientists are not able to determine precisely the separate, relative contributions of biology and social learning to behavior, but their findings should prove relevant to criminologists and their studies. Biological factors play a role in the development of all human behavior, states Linden (1996, p. 199). The evidence comes from both animal and clinical studies. One example would be the aggressive behavior in a monkey that was stimulated at certain areas of the brain with implanted intracerebral electrodes (see Carlson, 1977: 442-449). The final behavioral result depends upon the hierarchical structure of the monkey colony. In the presence of a submissive monkey, dominant monkeys will submit aggressive behavior when stimulated by the electrodes. But in the presence of another dominant monkey, the monkey will suppress its aggressive behavior. Cognitive brain patterns, or the process of thinking and interpreting, can be altered by different activity patterns, like rough and tumble play. This can hinder brain development in young organisms. We must be cautious not to replace environmental explanations with biological deterministic views. The acceptance of biological explanations for human behavior has been thought by many to prevent the possibility of free will. This idea leads to the misunderstanding and unacceptance of biological factors effecting behavior. Most individuals like to credit their behavior to their own free will and refuse to look at other aspects like socioeconomic conditions or neurochemical events. In the assessment of human behavior s most complex phenomenon, it is particularly difficult to separate the different influences in order to assess their relative contributions. Every action that a person will make throughout life will change their course of action limited to certain boundaries. Decision limiting factors include current circumstances and opportunities, learning experiences, physiological abilities, and genetic predisposition. Each one of these conditions will collaborate internally (physically) and externally (environmentally) to produce a final action. This cannot be precisely predicted but generally, with stable people, they will behave with some degree of expectability. In other words, certain patterns of behavior are a common individual characteristic, and some patterns are more probable than others in a given situation in a given individual. The principle of conditional free will does not demand a deterministic view of human behavior. Rather, it says that individuals choose a course of action within a predetermined, yet to some degree changeable, range of possibilities. This simply states that we should have accountability for our actions. With calculating the risks, benefits, and judging the realities that exist, the result will likely be an adaptive response meaning that the behavior will be beneficial to the individual and the surrounding environment. This theory of conditional free will predicts that if one or more conditions to which the individual is exposed are disturbed or irregular, the individual is more likely to choose a disturbed or irregular course of action. For example, a child with a learning disability might function well in society. With the addition of family instability, lack of appropriate educational programs, and a delinquent peer group, however, the learning-disabled child may be more prone to maladaptive behavior, which may, in turn, result in actions that society deems criminal. The child s range of possible decisions has, in other words, been altered. The first of the four main topics that scientists have grouped genetics and its relation to criminology is in the area of family studies. This area provides valuable information about the increased risk for deviance among the family members of affected individuals. Family studies provide few conclusions about genetic etiology, however, because members of families share environments as well as genes. Family studies of criminality and antisocial behavior have consistently revealed a relationship between parental and offspring criminality. In the classic study by Robins (1966), the father s criminal behavior was the single best predictor of antisocial behavior in a child. In terms of genetics, very little can be concluded from such family data alone. The parents have a major influence on the child s environment as well as his genetic make-up; family studies cannot disentangle these hereditary and environmental influences. It has been noted that criminals have numerous close relatives who are also criminals. Several well known studies of juveniles (Robins, 1966) have all noted that a large proportion of those who became adult criminals had parents who were convicted offenders. Cross-generational linkages have been studied for personality and behavioral attributes related to criminal behavior including temper outbursts (Mattes and Fink, 1987), sociopathy (Guze et al., 1967), delinquency (Robins et al., 1975) and disorder, aggression, violence, and psychopathy (Stewart and DeBlois, 1983). Although such investigations suggest that the family is important in determining criminal behavior, they do not help us separate its specific determinants such as learning, television viewing habits, social class, heredity, and so on. This method of study does not directly assess genetic contributions. Environmental influences on measures of behavior can be common to parents and offspring, and thus, large environmental correlation among relatives cannot be accounted for. At the most part, these studies suggest that bioBohman et al. (1982) further argues that genetic influences on criminality may differ from those who are also alcoholic. Specifically, when the biological parents are both alcoholic, crimes of adoptees tend to be more violent. There is no direct evidence, however, that criminality/antisocial personality and alcoholism are genetically linked to the same antecedent conditions. Nevertheless, the link between the two behaviors has been widely documented (see Cadoret et al., 1985). Studies of the similarities between twin pairs with respect to criminal behavior have been carried out in an effort to discover if a genetic factor can be involved as a component of adult criminality. Such investigations compare concordance rates (proportion of twin pairs where both twins suggest the characteristic under study) for monozygotic twins (twins who have the same genes) with those of dizygotic twins (twins who have, on average, half the same genes). If monozygotic pairs have higher concordance rates for criminal behavior than dizygotic pairs, it is reasonable to say that a genetic factor may partially determine the criminal behavior. In all the published investigations of this kind (see reviews by Ellis, 1982; Mednick and Volovka, 1980; Rosenthal, 1975) concordance rates for monozygotic twins are greater than those for dizygotic twins, clearly suggesting that a genetic factor is involved in determining criminal behavior. Such studies also provide information about the importance of the genetic factor. Concordance rates for the monozygotic pairs never reach 100 percent, thereby indicating that other factors play a casual role. In the first twin-criminality study, the German psychiatrist Lange (1929) found 77% pairwise concordance for criminality for this monozygotic twins and 12% pairwise concordance for his dizygotic twins. Lange concluded that heredity plays a preponderant part among the causes of crime . Subsequent studies of twins (until 1961 there were eight in all) have tended to confirm this direction, but not to the extent of Lange s results. Some of these 8 twin studies suffer from the fact that their sampling was rather biased. Some were carried out in Germany or Japan during the mid 1900 s, an unfortunate period in their time. Again, this data is not conclusive proof that a genetic factor is implicated in the determination of criminal behavior. All of the twins in the studies have been reared together. The monozygotic twins may have been treated more similarly than the dizygotic pairs because they look so much alike. Also, it is not conclusive as to whether the twins were truly monozygotic or dizygotic. Only blood and serum typing can truly prove their classification. Such an interpretation would suggest that psychosocial factors, not a genetic factor, explain the higher concordance rates for monozygotic twins. However, further analyses have shown that both genetic factors and sibling interactions are important determinants of criminal behaviors (Carey, 1992). The study of adoptions better separates environmental from genetic influences; if adopted children with criminal biological parents were found to commit more crimes than appropriate controls, this would suggest a genetic influence in antisocial behavior. Crowe (1974) found just such a suggestion of genetic influence in an adoption study examining 52 offspring born to incarcerated female offenders in Iowa state. Seven of those 52 adoptees were convicted as adults vs. one adoptee conviction in a well-matched control group. Similarly, six of the offspring of criminal mothers were diagnosed as having an antisocial personality vs. only one adoptee in the control group. Crowe also reported an interaction between genetic and environmental factors, such that adoptees who had both a criminal mother and spent a longer time in temporary placement were found to have the highest rates of conviction. It seems likely that the explanation for the high rate of antisocial behavior in adoptees with alcoholic biological families is that many of the alcoholic family members were also antisocial. When this factor was controlled, scientists found that the rate of antisocial personality in this group of adoptees was not significantly elevated over the rate for normal controls. Social class of the biological parents and social class of the adoptive parents contribute independently to the criminal behavior of the adoptees. However, the social class of the adoptive parents can exaggerate or mitigate the influence of the biological parent s social class. The inherited potential with which an individual enters the world is very much influenced by the environment that he or she encounters. A somewhat different approach to the crime-gene question was taken by researchers examining the possibility of an interaction between one s genetic constitution and environment. This is an important new trend in genetic research on crime, for if genetics do play a significant role in the development of a criminal life-style, then it is likely that it exerts its influence along with various environmental factors (Ellis, 1982). A study recently carried out by Gabrielli and Mednick (1984) determined that both antisocial, biological parentage and urban home environment correlated with adoptee criminality, although these relationships were found to be largely independent and non-interactive. Other gene-environment interaction studies have found similar results. Gabrielli and Mednick found that adoptees with felony convictions tended to have parents, biological as well as adoptive, of lower social class origin. They went on to conclude that since the social class of both biological and adoptive parents correlated significantly with adoptee criminality, even when each was considered at different levels of the other, genes as well as environment contribute to the development of criminal behavior. Denno (1988) conducted a fairly comprehensive study of the effects of numerous environmental and biological variables on criminal behavior, juvenile delinquency, and disciplinary problems. The model was able to predict 25% of future male adult criminality and 19% of future adult criminality among females. Denno drew the following conclusions:Biological and environmental variables exert strong and independentinfluences on juvenile crime...(and) crime appears to be directlyrelated to familial instability and, most important, a lack ofbehavioral control associated with neurological and centralnervous system disorders. (Denno, 1988, p. 659). An example can be found in the mental illness called schizophrenia. Evidence indicates a heredity component to the disorder. If one identical twin is schizophrenic, chances are that the other twin will exhibit some signs of mental disturbance. But whether or not the other twin develops the full-blown disorder will depend upon a number of environmental factors. The genes may predispose, but the environment shapes the outcome (Atkinson et al., 1996). Philip Parsons in his Responsibility for Crime cited Ellis, Lombroso, Drahms, and Maudsley as the great figures in criminology and used this to form a theory involving the influences of the environment. Parsons classified criminals according to the Lombrosian system, and he noted that crime is the normal functioning of the abnormal mind. His formula for crime was Criminal Personality x Stimulus = Crime, or Organism x Environment = Crime. In his work, Parsons discussed the environment but only in interaction with the individual or Heredity x Environment = Individual. Not all illegal behaviors are dysfunctional or maladaptive and not all legitimate behaviors are moral, acceptable, or adaptive. In attempting to develop a framework in biological perspectives in criminology, you must first identify behaviors of interest and appropriate subject populations. The term criminality includes behaviors that do not necessarily offend all members of society, such as certain so-called victimless acts, and it excludes behaviors that may be antisocial or illegal but that are not detected by the criminal justice system. Criminal behavior is not exclusively unstable or dysfunctional behavior; thus, biological theories are differentially applicable to various forms of criminality. In order to successfully study and understand the relationship between criminology and biology, a model that describes the underlying assumptions about human behavior generally, a theory of development of maladaptive behaviors specifically, and practice implications for the criminal justice system must be created. This model of behavior must accommodate well-established theories in the social, psychological, and biological sciences. Individuals are not inherently criminal, nor do they become homicidal maniacs (except under certain circumstances). Antisocial behavior has many forerunners. Manifestations of a problem are frequently observed in childhood when innate tendencies toward antisocial behavior or other risk factors are compounded by suboptimal environmental and social conditions (Lewis et al., 1985). According to this developmental course model of human behavior, criminal behavior is essentially always secondary to an underlying problem. An example of this process is the link between IQ or learning disabilities and delinquent/criminal behavior. Children with conduct disorders tend to have lower IQ scores than non-deviant subjects (Robins, 1966). Richman et al. (1982) reported that antecedent factors contribute to both difficulties independently. Probable conditions that may cause both low IQ scores and conduct disorder are parental psychopathology, temperamental disturbances, neurological problems, genetic susceptibilities, and disadvantageous environmental influences (Shonfield et al., 1988). A child with a learning disability or a deviant nature with the addition of one of the aforementioned factors will increase the likelihood of further adjustment problems. Over time, behavioral difficulties become compounded and, to some extent, reinforced once the child has established mechanisms to protect him or herself and cope with his or her liabilities. Thus, maladaptive behavior is a function of a cumulative, developmental process. Although low IQ or a learning disability is not necessarily criminal, in the absence of proper intervention the child may become frustrated in attempting to pursue mainstream goals without the skills to achieve them. Kandel et al. (1988) demonstrated that juveniles with high IQ who were otherwise at high risk for criminal involvement due to their family environments resisted serious antisocial behavior. Evidence is now accumulating that the developing brain of a fetus is relatively fragile and sensitive to insult. Insults can be directly biological, for example, when a mother abuses alcohol and/or drugs, or indirectly biological, when the mother experiences a severe psychological trauma and the physiological consequences are experienced by both her and her baby. Female offenders with a history of multiple offenses have been found to have experienced more pregnancy and birth complications than one-time female offenders (Denno, 1988). It has been hypothesized that children who have experienced pregnancy and/or birth complications will grow up to be violent offenders if their parents modeled aggressive behavior, but not in the absence of parental violence (Mednick, Brennan, and Kandel, 1988). A very heavily researched item in the relationship between crime and genetics is the XYY super male. Gender is determined by the sex chromosomes, called X and Y; females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y. Errors in cell division can result in extra chromosomes in each cell. The XYY man has an extra Y, or male-engendering chromosome. The noticeable phenotypes, or physical and behavioral characteristics of the XYY man, are his exceptional height, light complexion, acne, and low fertility. Comparing the XYY male s height to that of his peers, or to their own family members, there is no doubt that the XYY males are about 5 to 10 centimeters taller. Another factor is the testicular functions, or the reproductive capabilities. There seems to be low fertility associated with this condition. This abnormality seems to be a complication of the extra chromosome rather than any hormonal change. Not much information linking the XYY male to criminality is readily available but there are some studies currently underway with different hypotheses connecting the genes of the XYY male to deviant activity. These men were said to be highly aggressive and disproportionately represented among prison inmates and security-hospital patients. What appears to be true in research, however, is simply that XYY males are relatively less intelligent.Another possible genetically based biological mechanism that may underlie criminal behavior is deficient enzyme activity. Genetic and metabolic studies have been done by H. G. Brunner et al. (1993) in which several males in a family are affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal behavior. The types of behavior that occurred include impulsive aggression, arson, attempted sexual assault, and exhibitionism. An analysis of 24 hour urine samples indicated disturbed monoamine metabolism. this syndrome was associated with a complete and selective deficiency of enzymatic activity of monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). In each of five affected males, an alteration in one of the nucleotides in a chromosomal DNA molecule, or point mutation, was identified in the eighth exon (a segment of DNA) of the MAOA structural gene, which changes a glutamine to a termination codon (a sequence of nucleotides in a DNA molecule that form a code for the termination of a polypeptide chain). Thus, isolated complete MAOA deficiency in this certain family is associated with a recognizable behavioral phenotype that includes disturbed regulation of impulse aggression, often in response to anger, fear, or frustration. These observations suggest that genetic defects in the metabolism of these neurotransmitters may effect aggressive behavior, but such mutations have not yet been reported (Brunner et al., 1993). Also, it is unclear whether all of the biochemical alterations caused by the MAOA deficiency state are required to cause the apparent increase in liability to impulsive behavior. Lower MAO activity is characteristic of both men and of young adults, and young adult males are the demographic group found to commit the majority of criminal activity. The inhibition of monoamine oxidase has not been reported to be the key cause in aggressive behavior in adult humans (Murphy et al., 1983) but deficiencies throughout life might have different consequences. Taken together, these findings suggest that enzyme activity may be another possible biological pathway through which genetic influences on criminal behavior are justified. ConclusionThis paper has clearly proven that genetic factors can and do influence certain types of criminal behavior, and recidivistic criminal behavior in particular. First, biological factors must be added to the list of causes of crime; it is through heritable biological structures and processes that the genes exert their influence. Second, we must try to identify the specific biological mechanisms through which heritable predispositions toward criminal behavior are expressed. By identifying these mechanisms, we can learn how to successfully treat and prevent criminal behavior. Research on the genetic components of human behavior suffers in general from numerous methodological and interpretive flaws (Blehar et al., 1988). It is difficult to isolate genetic factors from ontogenetic (developmental) events, cultural influences, early experiences, and housing conditions. It is also severely criticized because criminal behavior is a legalistic label, not descriptive of actual behavior. Genetic studies that focus on criminal behavior may be inherently flawed; as criminal behavior is heterogeneous, genetic effects may be more directly associated with particular traits that place individuals at risk for criminal labeling. As a rule, what is inherited is not a behavior; rather, it is the way in which an individual responds to the environment. Also, genetic influences on human behavior are polygenic-no single gene effect can be identified for most behaviors. In sum, social behavior is learned through the principles of conditioning, which are founded on biological and genetic dictates in accord with stimulus-response relationships. Social behavior satisfies biological needs and drives by providing adaptive mechanisms for reproduction, mating, rearing, defense, and numerous other biological functions. Even though these strategies are fundamentally biological, how we behave to satisfy them relies heavily on learning. Caution against the premature application of biological findings is clearly called for. The weaknesses in design, sampling techniques, and statistical procedures prevent drawing distinct conclusions, and results are frequently contested and unreliable. I believe, deriving from the information researched on the relationship between genetics and criminality, that heredity definitely influences deviant behavior in society. The environment, rearing practices, outside influences, etc. also play a role in the development of criminal behavior. A mixture of both factors clearly show that genetics is, at the least, a justifiable issue in criminology.
The Free essays given on our site were donated by anonymous users and should not be viewed as samples of our custom writing service. You are welcome to use them to inspire yourself for writing your own term paper. If you need a custom term paper related to the subject of Criminology or Biocrime, you can hire a professional writer here in just a few clicks.