Criminals are Not Born Essay

Published: 2021-07-06 06:36:40
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Category: Criminology

Type of paper: Essay

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Although crime has a punitive connotation, it is not universal. An act crime in the US might not be categorized as a crime in India. Crime is usually punishable and prohibited by the legal system and crossing those legal boundaries engender crime if the place where a person lives considers it offensive and criminal. Similarly, crime is not universal or fixed. Therefore, the legal system of countries is based on culturally appropriate concepts of crime and criminology. Regardless crime and criminality are disliked around the globe due to the negative connotation and harmful impacts. Crime and criminality is mostly undesired behaviour in the society but it persists in every society. The persistence of crime in any society might be due to social, economic, political or psychophysical reasons but in the history, crime was considered to be inherited behaviour. However, the evolution of crime from being inherited to a socio-economic phenomenon has helped to a reduction in crimes as well as understanding criminal behaviour. The changed in the theory of criminals has changed the approaches and responses by the society towards a criminal behavioural. Cesare Lombroso suggested that crime was hereditary and humans have little control over their behaviour. Such a belief related to crime justified the criminal behaviour and harsh treatment by the police or law enforcement detaching all other factors from the equation. But Lombroso’s observations of criminals convinced him that the criminals had similar physical features such as “Sloping foreheads, receding chins, and long arms”. Based on the features, it categorizes the criminals into “opportunist, passionate and the born criminal” (Walklate, 9). This division and understanding lead to the prisons and capital punishment as the born criminals had the tendency to create problems for the society. The theory of born criminal necessitated prisons. It divided the humans between the criminals and the non-criminals making criminals undesirable and naturally bad regardless of socio-economic situations. The criminals become incurable and crimes made the criminal undesirable in the society. They became subject to brutal punishment in the society and jails. The capital punishment was a way to clean the society from the criminals. However, the punishment was not suggested by the Lombroso but Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham to prevent the crimes. Both Beccaria and Bentham considered criminals “rational and free-willed” persons committing crimes to benefit. The criminals commit crimes after good calculations. Hence, they ensured that the punishment for the crimes was more than the benefits from the crimes so that the criminals would rationally analyse the consequences and refrain from committing crimes. But, the Chicago School approached crime using sociology. The sociologist in the Chicago school came up with a distinct approach using research on the neighbourhoods of Chicago to study crime and criminology. The Chicago School mastered the urban sociology and school used ethnographic methods to approach deviance. It studied gangs, prostitution and urban crimes to come up with a theory of deviant behaviour. For instance, Social disorganisation, differential association and social learning of learning based the deviant behaviour in the research in urban Chicago to explain the crimes and criminology. It studied immigration. The socioeconomic situation to formulate the theories. Social disorganisation theory focuses on the social and economic problems as it notes that the immigration and migration and the influx of people to the inner cities break the socially accepted norms paving ways for deviance. The theory suggests that in the process of change pathological and abnormal behaviour come to existences leading to crimes. Hence the influx of people and instability causes is the root of crimes and delinquency. Moreover, it focuses on the environment where the person lives. It argues that the place matters and the people living in certain areas are prone to commit crimes as their culture supports it. The theory of disorganization removes the focus of one the race, gender, age or genetics, it says the place where a person lives matter to contribute to deviant behaviour. It focuses on the situation and the interactions of a person with the society. Unlike the Lombroso, the theory takes into account the broader perspective on crime. Considering neighbourhood to study crime, it tries to unveil the underlying causes of crimes. It suggests criminals are not born they are made in certain socioeconomic situations. It is sympathetic towards the criminals and considers their living conditions and influences that might have contributed to the delinquent behaviour. It focused on studying the problem and trying to understand the urban phenomenon that leads to the delinquent behaviour in people. Although the theory deviated the attention from born criminals, it associated crime with the middle class or inner city communities. The association of crimes with the middle or lower class and a certain group of people with lack of economic resources exclusively blamed the middle or lower class. The disorganization as instability and influx of people from different regions to inner cities implied that the outsiders coming into the cities are the root cause of the crimes. Although it was beneficial as it changed the focus from an individual to a phenomenon, the phenomenon put the blame on the lower class of people excluding upper class. It disadvantages the people of the lower class as it homogenised all the people from lower classes and criminalised them. One of the important contributions of the social disorganization theory is that “disorder and poor integration permit and encourage crime” (Treadwell). Similarly, social learning theory focused on the learning and transmission of the criminal behaviour. It argues that deviant behaviour is learned through experiences and exposure to the stimulus. It focuses on the expectations of others and responding to those expectations by being involved in deviant behaviour. Therefore delinquency is not an inherited characteristic of a person. It is rather a trait that is learned in the society and from socialization. The theory opposed the hereditary basis of crime and presents learning and transmission based approached to the crime. It focused on the environment and the learning of an individual. It negates the born criminality or invention of crime by the individuals. It rather focuses on the individual’s interactions within social groups. If a person is exposed to deviant ideas and attitudes that encourage the violation of laws. It also takes into account the length and amount of exposure. For instance, if a person is exposed to delinquent ideas for a longer period that person is likely to be attracted to crimes compared to other people who are not exposed most of the time. Thus, the social learning theory is crucial in assessing the environmental and social conditions and interactions to explain the problem instead of focusing on the evolutionary theory of genes and inheritance of crimes. The emphasis on the environment and interaction ignore the hereditary aspects of deviance. Hence, the socialist theories of crime and criminology are essential in proving that anyone can commit a crime regardless of the genes if the conditions are favourable. These social theories paved the ways to consider individual’s socioeconomic conditions, pathology and exposure to deal with the issue of crime. It protects the individuals from being ostracised for committing a crime providing the person with a chance to change and adapt to new environment and conditions. Unlike the heredity basis of crimes, it helps the law enforcement to consider the influences of the environment on the person. The theories help to understand humans as learning beings who can get influenced by the society and the environment. The sociological theories assist people in understanding that the rationality of humans does not work always and they succumb to the environmental conditions. It helped the law enforcement system to be emphatic towards the crimes and criminals denying the claims of Lombroso’s inherited crimes. It paved the ways to examine a problem holistically instead of focusing on a single cause of the problem. It showed the complexity of a problem helping the future researchers and criminals in changing their approach towards crimes and criminals. Moreover, it protects the rights of the individuals who commit crimes. The concept that people are born criminal and the society and environment does not impact on them makes the criminal’s evil who cannot help but commit crimes. It scares the society to live with the evils who might inflict damage to their property or lives as they cannot be controlled. Such a picture of criminals contributes to unsympathetic responses that are usually inhuman towards crime and criminals leading to the death of criminals. And the harsh treatment is justified due to the evil associated with the crime and criminals. However, the sociologists’ approach to crime helps the society to understand the problem and the causes of the problem. To conclude, the theories of social disorganization and learning theory of deviance showed a hopeful picture to the people about crimes and criminals as it could be learned. These theories negated the notion that criminals are born and there is no way to cure them than condemning them to jail or dispose them to death. By considering urban culture and components and the socialization and interaction of people with their environment, the Chicago school proved delinquency to be a complex problem with many aspects. Reference List

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