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Criminological Theories

A number of criminological theories have been put forward in a bid to explain the occurrence of crime and the conditions that favor criminal activities. These theories range from biological theories looking into the possible deficiencies or peculiarities in the genetic make up of criminals to environmental factors which look at the possibility of the environment influencing an individual to commit criminal acts. The motivation to pursue biological theories to explain crime is informed by the consistent observation that a small number of individuals are responsible for some of the most serious crimes hence the suggestion that some forces that lie in the genetic make up of the individual are responsible for antisocial behavior.

Recent biological findings present ample evidence linking criminality, alcoholism and temperament to biological and genetic influence. The Defendant comes from a family with a traceable history of criminal behavior going back to the maternal grandmother. The genetic theory would indicate that this behavior is inherent in the family holding that that certain genetic factors in the family predisposed the Defendant to criminal behavior. He has been diagnosed a mental disorder and his time during incarceration is characterized by psychotic breakdowns. He appears normal when under medication but relapses to his previous condition soon after withdrawing from drugs.

During the hearings we are told that the Defendant’s parents were mentally disordered and similarly engaged in criminal behavior, the mother showing a clear history of criminal behavior with the father involved in selling illegal drugs.

His mother Tracey is extremely violent towards him when he is young and is diagnosed with a Major Depressive Disorder. She has preponderance for abusing alcohol and hard drugs like cocaine, a behavior that biologists have linked to biological factors. She has a history of lying and the victim describes her mother-in-law as paranoid, psychotic and in need of hospitalization. Biological criminological theorists would point on these factors to show that the criminal behavior that runs down the family is indicative of a genetic deficiency.

Genetic explanations to explain crime propose that what is inherited is not the criminal behavior but rather the way in which an individual responds to the environment. Personality types and temperamental traits as can be seen in Tracey also dispose one to alcoholism, depression extraversion and impulsivity, conditions that can precipitate criminal behavior as a way of satisfying their hyperactivity.

Yet these problems in behavior could also be explained by the learning theory that the Defendants environment motivated him to get involved in crime as it was modeled to him by his parents and a rewarding venture. His father exposed him and his brother to drug dealing at a tender and he admits that drug dealers became their role models. The parents reinforced the behavior by themselves engaging in criminal activities and making no effort to dissuade them as long as it didn’t obviously affect their grades.

As his brother notes, the Defendant has a kind heart but he traces his aggressive behavior to the appalling treatment he received from his mother while he was young. He is bathed in hot water and when he tries to get out of the water, he is hit with a blunt object prompting hospitalization.  The environment clearly leads him to accept violence as the norm in achieving his goals and defending himself. His general lack of social and emotional skills can be traced to this violent upbringing and it is plausible to conclude that the distinction between right and wrong is blurred in his eyes. His wife also reinforces his illegal business of selling drugs because his barber shop is not generating enough finances as the drug trade to sustain their family. The environment therefore does not offer him motivation to disengage from his criminal behavior.

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