An Educational Blog
THE SCIENCE OF CRIME:
I was facing litigation from my estranged wife. I was in Saudi Arabia and she was in India. My monthly salary was 6500 Saudi riyals as a doctor and my estranged wife had a document supporting my salary of 6500 riyals because I left India with her full support and knowledge. However, as the marriage broke down, she alleged in court of law that I ran away from India without her knowledge after committing cruelty on her, and to extract money from me legally, she forged the document containing my salary statement by putting 1 before 6500 so that my salary became 16,500 riyals and she submitted forged document in the court of law. The estranged wife became a criminal. The greed for money was responsible for the transformation. Crime has often been considered, especially in ages of deep religious feeling, to be due to an evil element in human nature. Modern criminologists acknowledge the existence of moral weakness, but do not consider it to be a basic cause of crime. They do feel, however, that a morally weak person may be easily tempted by circumstances to commit a crime. In my various articles “The lie”, “The anger”, “Crime of silence” and “The death”; the words crime & criminals have been used frequently. Crime is not a new problem in society. Aristotle complained about the unruliness of youth. Cities in medieval times were always dangerous and despite a wider choice of controls in those times than those available today, crime was never eliminated. Over the last fifty years, almost every country in the world experienced an enormous increase in crime rates. Neighborhoods that once were safe at night have become dangerous during the day. Random acts of violence, once almost unknown, have become common. The good news is that rates seem to have stabilized but the bad news is that appears to be largely a demographic issue. The U.S. has been experiencing a decline in crime rates while a number of European countries are catching up; traditionally low-crime societies, such as Denmark and Finland, are near the top in street crime rates today. Other countries that weren’t even on the crime radar–such as Japan–are also experiencing a rise in crime. Most perpetrators of crime are young men.
Statistics tell us each year 1 out of every 5 families will be a victim of crime. One crime occurs every 2 seconds. One murder occurs every 1 minute. One rape occurs every 2 minutes. One vehicle theft occurs every 20 seconds. One burglary occurs every 10 seconds. So all of us are somewhat involved in crime either as victims or as offenders or as witness.
For the year 2010, UNODC made a study regarding intentional homicides. It presumed a number of 468,000 intentional homicides for this year. That would correspond to a worldwide rate of 6.9 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The graph below depicts intentional homicide rates in various regions of the world.
Recent studies show that during the last 5 years, 60 percent of the entire world’s city residents have, directly or indirectly, been a victim to violence, crime and felony. Thus, the increasing crime rate, violent or non-violent, is a serious threat for all the urban societies of the world. In such a situation, official control means, like the police and judicial system, will not suffice for fighting against crime. To put it simply, it’s neither feasible nor reasonable to assign a police officer to every single resident for creating the feeling of safety. Sociologists and education experts suggest social prevention for addressing this issue, using official and unofficial education and other social policies in order to try to instill values and norms into each person.
Violent crimes reported to the police take place on average once every 20 to 30 seconds in the United States. Fifty-five percent of all crimes in the United States are committed by people under the age of twenty-five. Individuals in this age group commit approximately 44 percent of all violent crimes and 58 percent of all property crimes. Seventy-eight percent of all people arrested are men. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), approximately twenty-three million households in the United States are “touched” by crime annually. This represents approximately one-fourth of all homes, resulting in over thirty-one million victims of crime each year. Individuals who live in urban areas are two times more likely to be the victim of crime than are those who live in rural settings. The majority of crimes in the United States occur in poor urban areas, and the majority of crime victims are poor. According to U.S. statistics in 1993, the violent crime rate was estimated at 50 victimizations per 1,000 persons. In 2000 the estimated rate was 28 victimizations per 1,000 persons. This represents a 44% decline in violent victimizations over the seven year period. Although crime and victimization rates have steadily declined since the early 1990’s, society’s perception and fear of crime is still very high. Forty-one percent (41 %) of inhabitants report feeling afraid of walking home alone at night within a mile radius of their own neighborhood.
Police reports on crime contribute significantly to any analysis of the incidence and prevalence of crime, its location and who might be involved. Reliable statistical data on crime rates and trends are a central component of knowledge-based prevention, but are not always easily obtainable, or sufficient for a well-founded understanding of crime problems. It is universally acknowledged that police statistics do not provide an accurate account of the crime that people experience. Rates of crime reported to the police are highly dependent on the willingness of people to report them, on the capacity of the police to record them and on data-collection systems themselves. In all countries, regardless of the level of income, the majority of crime is not reported to the police for a variety of reasons, including fear of the consequences, or mistrust of the police. In other cases some police forces may not maintain reliable and routine police statistics, and there may be problems of overlapping jurisdictions when state and city police, for example, collect information in different ways. Difficulties in accessing police data can be common. Further, certain types of crime are more likely to be underreported than others, including violence against women, crimes against children and young people, drug offences, corruption, white collar crime and fraud, and organized crime, including trafficking in persons, drugs or guns.
So there are limitations of crime statistics. Significant biases exist in the reporting and collecting of crime data, and problems occur when people interpret these criminal statistics. Some of these biases include the following:
1) Many crimes go unreported, which makes the validity of crime statistics limited at best.
2) Victims are often unwilling to cooperate with authorities.
3) Complaints do not always translate into reported crimes. That is, while some victims of crime may complain to police, this does not mean that their complaint ends up in investigations or brought up before competent court of law.
4) Many people do not know how properly to interpret social science statistical data, including criminal statistics. For example, one very common error is attributing cause-and-effect to correlational data.
5) White-collar crime committed by high-status individuals during the course of business, tends not to appear in the police registry. Typical white-collar crimes include embezzlement, bribery, criminal price-fixing, insurance fraud, Medicare theft, and so forth.
6) Some police and government officials exaggerate or downplay criminal statistics for political purposes. An incumbent politician may report “less crime” statistics in a re-election campaign, while a social service agency may report “more crime” statistics in a proposal for funding.
Compiling and comparing International Crime Statistics:
Statistics reported to the United Nations in the context of its various surveys on crime levels and criminal justice trends are incidents of victimization that have been reported to the authorities in any given country. That means that this data is subject to the problems of accuracy of all official crime data. The variety of potential problems with recorded crime statistics is illustrated in the diagram below.
Unreported and unsolved crime statistics:
Various studies say something to the effect of 40% of the instances of crime go unreported. These “40%” figure probably comes from dividing the reported crimes over the number of crimes reported in the various victimization surveys. Now look at the clearance rates (clearance rate means that there was an arrest) of various reported crimes. The American statistics: for murder, which has the clearance rate for 2001 is 62.4 percent. The overall clearance rate for violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) is 46.2 percent. The clearance rate for property crimes is 16.2 percent, and the overall clearance rate for all crimes is 19.6 percent. These figures have remained relatively steady for years; in fact, in an era where law enforcement resources have dramatically increased, the clearance rates have decreased slightly. In other words, more than a third of murders and well more than half of other violent crimes go unsolved. The number of perpetrators roaming the streets is predominately due to the fact that they are not arrested due to lack of leads or failure to follow leads or whatever other factor. In UK, in 2003-04 there were 5.9 million recorded crimes, of which 1.4 million were solved, leaving 4.5 million unsolved. If these are the statistics of developed nations, developing nations would have far worst records of unreported and unsolved crimes.
Various studies found that higher arrest rates and conviction rates consistently and dramatically reduce the crime rate. The results from these studies also imply that increasing the arrest rate, independent of the probability of eventual conviction, imposes a significant penalty on criminals. That means if a criminal feels that he is likely to be arrested for the crime he has perpetrated even though he may be acquitted later on, he is unlikely to commit crime. This is a lesson for investigative agencies like FBI and CBI. By increasing the arrest rates of all criminal offences, you are likely to deter future would-be criminal to commit a crime.
All countries experience crime, violence and victimization. This may lead to some of the following situations: countries with high proportions of young men who are killed before they become adults; societies with families who lose a parent or have members in prison, who are living in poverty and without access to support or legitimate sources of income; neighborhoods experiencing gang wars or where there seems to be little public protection and security; women who are subjected to violence in their homes, or who are at risk of sexual assault in public spaces; neighborhoods where levels of crime and insecurity have led businesses and families to cut themselves off from other citizens and public life behind gates and using private security; and migrants and minority groups living in dilapidated and isolated areas or informal settlements and subject to racial harassment and victimization.
Legal definition of crime:
Crime is defined as an act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction. Crimes refer to violations of norms that are formally enacted into criminal law by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal justice system refers to the formal system that responds to alleged violations of the law using police, courts, and punishment. According to a generally accepted principle, there can be no crime without a law. Law is the organization of social life in its most stable and precise form. All the essential varieties of social solidarity are reflected in law. Individual human societies may each define crime and crimes differently, in different localities (state, local, international), at different time stages of the so-called “crime” (planning, disclosure, supposedly intended, supposedly prepared, incomplete, complete or future proclaimed after the “crime”). Crime is a social phenomenon that involves both how individuals conceive crime and how populations perceive it, based on societal norms. When informal relationships and sanctions prove insufficient to establish and maintain a desired social order, a government or a state may impose more formalized or stricter systems of social control. With institutional and legal machinery at their disposal, agents of the State can compel populations to conform to codes and can opt to punish or attempt to reform those who do not conform. It includes Criminal Code Offences against a person or property, drug offences, motor vehicle offences and other provincial or federal statute offences. While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime; for example: breaches of contract and of other civil law may rank as “offences” or as “infractions”. Modern societies generally regard crimes as offences against the public or the state, as distinguished from torts (wrongs against private parties that can give rise to a civil cause of action). Disorderly behavior such as aggressive panhandling, public urination and sleeping in the street are not necessarily criminal acts, but they do affect communities by a gradual erosion of the quality of life.
It is generally accepted that only humans can commit crimes and non-human animals cannot commit crime. However, as pointed out in Demonic Males (Wrangham and Peterson 1996), males’ propensity toward violence is noticeably shared by the common chimpanzee, in which males of one troop gang up on and kill a lone male of another.
The statement “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is an ancient legal doctrine. If a defendant were allowed to escape legal responsibility for his acts, merely by saying “I didn’t know it was wrong/illegal”, the system of using law to regulate human conduct would collapse. So the doctrine is a practical necessity.
The word crime is derived from the Latin root cernō, meaning “I decide, I give judgment”. Originally the Latin word crīmen meant “charge” or “cry of distress.” The Ancient Greek word krima, from which the Latin cognate derives, typically referred to an intellectual mistake or an offense against the community, rather than a private or moral wrong. In 13th century English crime meant “sinfulness”, according to etymonline.com. Whether a given act or omission constitutes a crime does not depend on the nature of that act or omission. It depends on the nature of the legal consequences that may follow it. An act or omission is a crime if it is capable of being followed by what are called criminal proceedings. High levels of crime pose a serious threat to our emergent democracy. Violent crime often leads to a tragic loss of life and injury, and the loss of possessions and livelihood due to crime is incalculable. Crime results in the deprivation of the rights and dignity of citizens, and poses a threat to peaceful resolution of differences and rightful participation of all in the democratic process.
There have been many theories as to why people become criminals. Criminologists—persons who study crime—believe that there is not any single cause, but many. Among these are poverty; poor and overcrowded housing; families broken by separation and divorce; parents who neglect their children; mental illness or mental deficiency; alcoholism or drug addiction; and racial or religious prejudice. Juvenile delinquency is often the first step toward a life of crime.
Sociological definition of crime:
A normative definition views crime as deviant behavior that violates prevailing norms – cultural standards prescribing how humans ought to behave normally. This approach considers the complex realities surrounding the concept of crime and seeks to understand how changing social, political, psychological, and economic conditions may affect changing definitions of crime and the form of the legal, law-enforcement, and penal responses made by society. These structural realities remain fluid and often contentious. For example: as cultures change and the political environment shifts, societies may criminalize or decriminalize certain behaviors, which directly affects the statistical crime rates, influence the allocation of resources for the enforcement of laws, and (re-)influence the general public opinion. Classical example would be homosexuality considered as a crime in India until high court intervened. It cannot be overemphasized that behavior can be controlled and influenced in many ways without having to resort to the criminal justice system. Indeed, in those cases where no clear consensus exists on a given norm, the drafting of criminal law by the group in power to prohibit the behavior of another group may seem to some observers an improper limitation of the second group’s freedom, and then ordinary members of society would have less respect for the law or laws in general — whether the authorities actually enforce the disputed law or not. Since society considers so many rights as natural (hence the term “right”) rather than man-made, what constitutes a crime also counts as natural, in contrast to laws (seen as man-made). Adam Smith illustrates this view, saying that a smuggler would be an excellent citizen, “…had not the laws of his country made that a crime which nature never meant to be so.” Natural-law theory therefore distinguishes between “criminality” (which derives from human nature) and “illegality” (which originates with the interests of those in power). Lawyers sometimes express the two concepts with the phrases malum in se and malum prohibitum respectively. They regard a “crime malum in se” as inherently criminal; whereas a “crime malum prohibitum” (the argument goes) counts as criminal only because the law has decreed it so. This view leads to a seeming paradox: one can perform an illegal act without committing a crime, while a criminal act could be perfectly legal. The label of “crime” and the accompanying social stigma normally confine their scope to those activities seen as injurious to the general population or to the State, including some that cause serious loss or damage to individuals. Those who apply the labels of “crime” or “criminal” intend to assert the hegemony of a dominant population, or to reflect a consensus of condemnation for the identified behavior and to justify any punishments prescribed by the State (in the event that standard processing tries and convicts an accused person of a crime). Indeed, despite everything, the majority of natural-law theorists have accepted the idea of enforcing the prevailing morality as a primary function of the law. This view entails the problem that it makes any moral criticism of the law impossible: if conformity with natural law forms a necessary condition for legal validity, all valid law must, by definition, count as morally just. Thus, on this line of reasoning, the legal validity of a norm necessarily entails its moral justice.
State and crime:
One can view criminalization as a procedure deployed by society as a pre-emptive, harm-reduction device, using the threat of punishment as a deterrent to anyone proposing to engage in the behavior causing harm. The State becomes involved because governing entities can become convinced that the costs of not criminalizing (through allowing the harms to continue unabated) outweigh the costs of criminalizing it (restricting individual liberty, for example, to minimize harm to others). Therefore the State controls the process of criminalization because:
1) Even if victims recognize their own role as victims, they may not have the resources to investigate and seek legal redress for the injuries suffered: the enforcers formally appointed by the State often have better access to expertise and resources.
2) The victims may only want compensation for the injuries suffered, while remaining indifferent to a possible desire for deterrence.
3) Fear of retaliation may deter victims or witnesses of crimes from taking any action. Even in policed societies, fear may inhibit from reporting incidents or from co-operating in a trial.
4) Victims, on their own, may lack the economies of scale that could allow them to administer a penal system, let alone to collect any fines levied by a court. Researchers however warn that a rent-seeking government has as its primary motivation to maximize revenue and so, if offenders have sufficient wealth, a rent-seeking government will act more aggressively than a social-welfare-maximizing government in enforcing laws against minor crimes (usually with a fixed penalty such as parking and routine traffic violations), but more laxly in enforcing laws against major crimes.
5) As a result of the crime, victims may die or become incapacitated.
History of crime:
Some religious communities regard sin as a crime; some may even highlight the crime of sin very early in legendary or mythological accounts of origins. The earliest known civilizations had codes of law, containing both civil and penal rules mixed together, though not always in recorded form. The Sumerians produced the earliest surviving written codes. Urukagina (reigned 2380 BC–2360 BC) had an early code that has not survived; a later king, Ur-Nammu, left the earliest extant written law-system, the Code of Ur-Nammu (2100-2050 BC), which prescribed a formal system of penalties for specific cases in 57 articles. The Sumerians later issued other codes, including the “code of Lipit-Ishtar”. This code, from the 20th century BC, contains some fifty articles, and scholars have reconstructed it by comparing several sources. Successive legal codes in Babylon, including the code of Hammurabi (1790 BC), reflected Mesopotamian society’s belief that law derived from the will of the gods (see Babylonian law). Many states at that time functioned as theocracies, with codes of conduct largely religious in origin or reference. The Romans systematized law and applied their system across the Roman Empire. When a more centralized English monarchy emerged following the Norman invasion, and when the kings of England attempted to assert power over the land and its peoples, did the modern concept emerge, namely of a crime not only as an offence against the “individual”, but also as a wrong against the “State”.
The following classes of offences are used, or have been used, as legal terms of art:
1) Offence against the person
2) Violent offence– A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, (including criminal ends) such as robbery. Violent crimes include crimes committed with and without weapons. With the exception of rape (which accounts for 6% of all reported violent crimes), males are the primary victims of all forms of violent crime. Murder is defined as the willful and unlawful killing of one human being by another. This does not include deaths caused by negligence, suicide, attempted murder, accident, or justifiable homicide.
3) Sexual offence– Sexual acts which are prohibited by law in a jurisdiction are also called sex crimes. Sex crimes are forms of human sexual behavior that are classified as a crime by law. Someone who commits one is said to be a sex offender. Some sex crimes are crimes of violence that involve sex. Others are violations of social taboos, such as incest, sodomy, indecent exposure or exhibitionism. There is much variation among cultures as to what is considered a crime or not, and in what ways or to what extent crimes are punished. In general, laws proscribe acts which are considered either sexual abuse, or behavior that societies consider to be inappropriate and against the social norms. In addition, certain categories of activity may be considered crimes even if freely consented to. Sex laws vary from place to place, and over time. Consensual sex below the legal age of consent is also a sex crime.
4) Offence against property– Property crime is a category of crime that includes, among other crimes, burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, shoplifting, and vandalism. Property crime only involves the taking of money or property, and does not involve force or threat of force against a victim. Crimes against property are usually motivated by financial gain. Although robbery involves taking property, it is classified as a violent crime, as force or threat of force on an individual that is present is involved in contrast to burglary which is typically of an unoccupied dwelling or other unoccupied building.
5) Forgery, impersonation and cheating
6) Firearms and offensive weapons
7)Offences against the State/ Government/Political offences– Treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s sovereign or nation or government. In a political crime, the state perceives itself to be the victim and criminalizes the behavior it considers threatening.
8) Harmful or dangerous drugs
9) Offences against religion and public worship
10) Offences against public justice
11)Public order offence—Public order crime is defined as “…crime which involves acts that interfere with the operations of society and the ability of people to function efficiently”, i.e. it is behavior that has been labeled criminal because it is contrary to shared norms, social values, and customs e.g. private recreational drug use, prostitution, gambling etc.
12) Commerce, financial markets and insolvency
13) Offences against public morals and public policy
14) Motor vehicle offences
15) Incitement and attempt to commit crime
16) Inchoate offence– An inchoate offense or inchoate crime is the crime of preparing for or seeking to commit another crime. The most common example of an inchoate offense is conspiracy.
17) Juvenile Delinquency– Juvenile delinquency refers to antisocial or illegal behavior by children or adolescents. A Juvenile Delinquent is a person who is typically under the age of 18 and commits an act that otherwise would’ve been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Youth crime is an aspect of crime which receives great attention from the news media and politicians. The level and types of youth crime can be used by commentators as an indicator of the general state of morality and law & order in a country. Family factors which may have an influence on offending include; the level of parental supervision, the way parents discipline a child, parental conflict or separation, criminal parents or siblings, parental abuse or neglect, and the quality of the parent-child relationship. Individual psychological or behavioral risk factors that may make offending more likely include intelligence, impulsiveness or the inability to delay gratification, aggression, empathy, and restlessness. Children with low intelligence are likely to do worse in school. This may increase the chances of offending because low educational attainment, a low attachment to school, and low educational aspirations are all risk factors for offending in themselves. Juvenile delinquents sometimes have associated mental disorders and/or behavioral issues such as post traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder, and are sometimes diagnosed with conduct disorder partially as both the cause and resulting effects of their behaviors. Sex crimes are defined as sexually abusive behavior committed by a person under the age of 18 that is perpetrated against the victim’s will, without consent, and in an aggressive, exploitative, manipulative, or threatening manner. Researchers indicate that juvenile males contribute to the majority of sex crimes, with 2-4% of adolescent males having reported committing sexually assaultive behavior, and 20% of all rapes and 30-50% of all child molestation is perpetrated by adolescent males.
The “Lander approach” (Lander 1954) defines social disorganization as delinquency, and vice-versa, and examines these intercorrelations for clues into the total “general complex” of factors that lead to delinquency, crime, broken homes, and other socio-pathological conditions. Since correlations are quite commonly found in this area of criminology (more so than “true” causes), there is a need to make sense of them in some way without being ethnocentric in any way. According to this line of research, the following correlations with delinquency are fairly well-established:
Percent low education
Additionally following types of crime can be added to the list above.
18) White-collar crime (vide infra):
White-collar crimes are offenses that persons commit while acting in their legitimate jobs and professions. White-collar criminals behave in unethical ways for self-gain (for example, embezzlement, tax evasion, fraud) or for the benefit of a business (for example, corporate price-fixing). Victims of white-collar crime include the economy, employers, consumers, and the environment.
19) Organized crime (vide infra):
The term “organized crime” refers to the unlawful activities of members of criminal organizations that supply illegal goods and services.
20) Hate crimes (vide infra):
Committing a crime against a person because of that person’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics.
21) Identity theft (vide infra):
Unlawfully using a person’s identifying information (e.g., Social Security number, driver’s license information, credit card number) to obtain financial gain.
22) Terrorism (vide infra):
Using or threatening to use violence against civilians to achieve political or ideological goals.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is the major source of information on crimes reported in the United States. The UCR focuses on eight major crimes, called index crimes:
6) Motor Vehicle Theft
Felony – A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. Felonies include but are not limited to the following: Murder; Rape; Aggravated assault and/or battery; Arson; Robbery; Burglary; etc.
Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a “lesser” criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines. A misdemeanor is considered a crime of low seriousness, and a felony one of high seriousness. The distinction between felonies and misdemeanors has been abolished by several other common law jurisdictions (e.g. Australia).
Infarction – Infraction as a general term means a violation of a rule or local ordinance or regulation, promise or obligation. An ‘infraction’ in legal sense is a “petty” violation of the law less serious than a misdemeanor, and usually does not attach certain individual rights such as a criminal trial. Examples of infractions include jaywalking, littering, violations of municipal codes (such as building or housing), disturbing the peace, or falsification of information, minor traffic violations etc.
A tort in common law jurisdictions is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty (other than a contractual duty) owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general. Though many acts are both torts and crimes, prosecutions for crime are mostly the responsibility of the state, private prosecutions being rarely used; whereas any party who has been injured may bring a lawsuit for tort.
Crimes committed on the spur of the moment under heavy provocation (such as serious insult or slander) are generally not punished as severely as crimes committed after careful thought and preparation. These premeditated crimes are sometimes called first-degree crimes.
Crimes in international law: Crimes defined by treaty as crimes against international law include:
Crimes against peace
Crimes of apartheid
Waging a war of aggression
International criminal court (ICC):
From the point of view of State-centric law, extraordinary procedures (usually international courts) may prosecute such crimes against international laws. Here comes the role of the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although it cannot currently and will in no way before 2017 be able to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression). Unlike the International Court of Justice, the ICC is legally and functionally independent from the United Nations. However, the Rome Statute grants certain powers to the United Nations Security Council. Article 13 allows the Security Council to refer to the ICC situations that would not otherwise fall under the Court’s jurisdiction (as it did in relation to the situations in Darfur and Libya, which the ICC could not otherwise have prosecuted as neither Sudan nor Libya are state parties).
Crimes against humanity:
Crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape; political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion.
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict (also known as international humanitarian law) giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. Examples of such conduct include murder, rape, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps, the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the killing of prisoners, the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity.
Crime of apartheid:
UN defines the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The term apartheid, from Afrikaans for “apartness,” was the official name of the South African system of racial segregation which existed in past and nowadays the term more generally refers to racially based policies in any state.
UN defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Classical examples are Darfur-Sudan, Khmer rule in Cambodia and Rwanda.
War of aggression:
A war of aggression is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense usually for territorial gain and subjugation. Wars without international legality (e.g. not out of self-defense nor sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council) can be considered wars of aggression; however, this alone usually does not constitute the definition of a war of aggression; certain wars may be unlawful but not aggressive (a war to settle a boundary dispute where the initiator has a reasonable claim, and limited aims, is one example).
Crime and deviance:
Many people are likely to be the victim of a crime at some time in their life: phone theft, car theft, domestic burglary, or, in extreme cases, a rape or murder. Many of those who do not become victims—and some who do—will be the perpetrators of crime. Some crime seems to be the result of a long-term profession of crime. How are we to understand this growth of criminality and deviance, and how are we to explain how some people come to identify with their deviant acts and come to see themselves and to be seen by others as criminals?
Deviance is nonconformity to social norms or expectations. For many people, the word ‘deviance’ is used only in relation to moral, religious, or political norms. The ‘deviant’ is seen as someone whose behavior departs from normal moral standards (for example, those concerned with sexual behavior), or who deviates from a political or religious orthodoxy. The sociological concept of deviance, however, takes a broader point of view and recognizes that there can be deviation from social norms of all kinds.
Norms are the specific behavioral standards, ways in which people are supposed to act, paradigms for predictable behavior in society. They are not necessarily moral, or even grounded in morality; in fact, they are just as often pragmatic and, paradoxically, irrational. (A great many of what we call manners, having no logical grounds, would make for good examples here.) Norms are rules of conduct, not neutral or universal, but ever changing; shifting as society shifts; mutable, emergent, loose, reflective of inherent biases and interests, and highly selfish and one-sided. They vary from class to class, and in the generational “gap.” They are, in other words, contextual. It is the purview of sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and criminologists to study how these norms are created, how they change over time and how they are enforced.
Any discussion of deviance remains incomplete without a discussion of crime, which is any act that violates written criminal law. Society sees most crimes such as robbery, assault, battery, rape, murder, burglary, and embezzlement as deviant. But some crimes, such as those committed in violation of laws against selling merchandise on Sundays, are not deviant at all. Moreover, not all deviant acts are criminal. For example, a person who hears voices that are not there is deviant but not criminal. You need to distinguish between deviant behavior and criminal behavior. Those who exhibit deviant behavior act and dress in a way that differs to the norms and values of wider society. One example of a deviant group is goths. Most cases of deviant behavior are legal, but in some cases their behavior can result in criminal activity. A group of people who exhibit deviant behavior share their own norms and values that form a distinct subculture. Deviant groups are often labeled by the media in a negative manner.
|Crime consists of behavior that breaks the law (e.g. murder, theft)||Deviancy consists of behavior that differs from the norms and values of wider society|
Deviance refers to behavior or characteristics that violate significant social norms and expectations and are negatively valued by large numbers of people as a result. Deviants are those who violate these shared expectations. Conformity refers to behavior that is universally accepted, approved, or expected within society. Norms, which guide action and behavior, help to ensure conformity. Social controls are mechanisms for maintaining social norms. They may be either:
1) Informal (internal) social controls – include significant others and relies on successful socialization. These are generally effective and inexpensive.
2) Formal (external) social controls – include structures or institutions that enforce norms or laws of society (e.g., police and courts). These are generally ineffective and expensive.
Agents of formal control
Agents of informal control
|Agents that enforce the rules of society, such as the police and the judiciary.||Includes most agents of secondary socialization, such as peer groups and religious institutions. Parents are also a significant agent of informal control.|
There are three levels of explanation in the study of deviant behavior. A first level of explanation is concerned with the existence of the many different forms of human behavior that occur in any society. Biology may contribute towards an explanation of this diversity, but it can never provide the whole explanation. It is always necessary to take account of processes of socialization. A second level of explanation is concerned with the variation in norms between social groups, as manifested particularly in cultural and subcultural differences. Socialization takes place within particular social groups, and it is the norms of these groups that provide the standards for the identification of particular kinds of behavior as deviant. The third and final level of explanation is concerned with the ways in which particular individuals are identified as deviants by others and so come to develop a deviant identity. This is about social reaction and control.
Two key concepts in the study of deviance are primary deviation and secondary deviation. Primary deviation is the object of the first two levels of explanation that we identified above. It is behavior that runs counter to the normative expectations of a group, and is recognized as deviant behavior by its members, but which is ‘normalized’ by them. That is to say, it is tolerated or indulged as an allowable or permissible departure from what is normally expected. It is ignored or treated in a low-key way that defines it as an exceptional, atypical, or insignificant aberration on the part of an otherwise normal person. The normalization of the deviant behavior defines it as something that is marginal to the identity of the deviator. Many justifications for the normalization of deviant behavior are employed: a man is seen as aggressive because he is ‘under stress’ at work, a woman behaves oddly because it is ‘that time of the month’, a child is being naughty because he or she is ‘overtired’, an elderly woman steals from a supermarket because she is ‘confused’, a middle-aged man exposes himself in public because he has a ‘blackout’ and ‘did not know what came over him’, and so on. The secondary deviation, or deviance proper, is the object of our third level of explanation. It arises when the perceived deviation is no longer normalized and is, instead, stigmatized or punished in some way. The social reaction and its consequences become central elements in the deviator’s day-to-day experiences and it shapes future actions. When public opinion, law enforcement agencies (police, courts, and tribunals), or administrative controls exercised by the welfare and other official agencies react in an overt and punitive way, their reaction labels the person as a deviant of some kind (a thief, a welfare fraudster, a junkie, and so on). This labeling stigmatizes the behavior and the person, who must now try to cope with the consequences of the stigma. Stigmatization is a social reaction that picks out a particular characteristic and uses this to devalue a person’s whole social identity.
There is also a possibility of false accusation. Someone who has not violated expectations may, nevertheless, be labeled as a deviant and processed accordingly. Such people will experience many of the same consequences as those who have been correctly labeled. Although they may feel a sense of injustice about their wrongful accusation, they may, as a result of their experience of stigmatization, come to act in ways that are quite indistinguishable from other deviants. Such highly publicized cases of wrongful imprisonment for terrorist bombings as those of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four highlight the more general situation of false accusation that is apparent in, for example, the child who is wrongly punished by a teacher for cheating or the political dissidents in the Soviet Union who were officially designated as mentally ill. When Indian Supreme Court declared criminal charge against me under IPC 498-A as false, Indian regime did not like it and they went overboard by providing supreme court taped conversation between me and estranged wife stating that I got angry on her. However, Indian Supreme Court held that merely raising voice in otherwise decent conversation does not amount to cruelty on wife. Indian regime has a habit of hitting me under the belt but Indian supreme court must be congratulated for being objective and unbiased.
Nonconformity (deviance) as one of the traits of creativity and dark side of creativity vis-à-vis crime has been discussed by me in my article on “creativity”.
Theories of criminal behavior:
Theory: In simple terms, theory is an explanation of something.
Theories of Criminal and Deviant Behavior: Theories in this category attempt to explain why an individual commits criminal or delinquent acts.
Theories of Law and Criminal Justice: Theories in this category attempt to explain how laws are made, and how the criminal justice system operates as a whole.
Theories are useful tools that help us to understand and explain the world around us. In criminology, they help us to understand the workings of the criminal justice system and the actors in the system. Theories suggest the way things are, not the way things ought to be. They are not inherently good or bad; however, they can be used for good or bad purposes. A theory can try to explain crime for a large social unit or area (macro), or it can attempt to explain crime at the individual or smaller unit level (micro). Because we are dealing with human behavior, the social sciences will never be like the hard sciences. In the hard sciences, the theory of gravity will not change. In the social sciences, however, we deal with probabilities. The social scientist will say things such as, “A severely neglected child will probably commit, or tend to commit delinquent acts.” To be used for maximum effectiveness, theories must make sense (logical consistency), explain as much crime as possible (scope), and be as concise as possible (parsimony). Most important, the theory must be true or correct (validity). Having met these basic goals, the theory must then have some real world applications and policy implications. No one theory of crime explains all criminal activity and most theories are complementary to one another. You should approach crime causation with a multidimensional view because of the vast complexities involved in human actions and interactions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some prominent theories.
Crime theories can be classified in three broad groups:
1) Biological Theories – explain crime in terms of genetic flaws, regressive physical features, racial or sex differences, or hormonal imbalances.
2) Psychological Theories – describe crime in terms of moral flaws, psychological personality disorders, or personal incompetencies.
3) Sociological Theories – view crime in terms of social and cultural context and examines structural factors.
In criminology, the Positivist School has attempted to find scientific objectivity for the measurement and quantification of criminal behavior. As the scientific method became the major paradigm in the search for all knowledge, the Classical School’s social philosophy was replaced by the quest for scientific laws that would be discovered by experts. It is divided into Biological, Psychological and Social.
Social and societal theories:
Rational choice theory -The rational choice theory adopts a utilitarian belief that man is a reasoning actor who weighs means and ends, costs and benefits, and makes a rational choice. The emphasis is placed on the expected reward for committing a crime, and other associated costs and benefits surrounding criminal activity. Thus, one way for society to prevent crime is by the threat of punishment which enhances the cost of crime. The deterrent effect of this is much debated.
Subcultural theory – Subcultural theories are a set of theories arguing that certain groups or subcultures in society have values and attitudes that are conducive to crime and violence.
Social disorganization theory – Social disorganization theory links high crime rates to neighborhood ecological characteristics.
Social learning theory – Social learning theory explain deviancy by combining variables which encouraged delinquency (e.g. the social pressure from delinquent peers) with variables that discouraged delinquency (e.g. the parental response to discovering delinquency in their children).
Differential association – Differential association theory is a theory proposing that through interaction with others, individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior.
Social control theory – Social control theory proposes that exploiting the process of socialization and social learning builds self-control and reduces the inclination to indulge in behavior recognized as antisocial.
Strain theory – Strain theory states that social structures within society may encourage citizens to commit crime.
Labeling theory – Labeling theory holds that deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the linguistic tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from norms.
Early biological theories view criminal behavior as the result of a defect in the individual. This defect can be biological or genetic in nature, and serves to separate the criminal from the law abiding citizen. Contemporary biological theories concentrate more on variations in genetic and other biological factors in interaction with the environment, and are less likely to refer to biological defects or abnormalities.
1) Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): Mednick’s theory that individuals who inherit a slower than normal autonomic nervous system learn to control aggressive or antisocial behavior slowly or not at all. This leads to increased violence and criminal activity.
2) Biological School: A view of crime also referred to as biological positivism claims that criminal behavior is the result of biological or inborn defects or abnormalities. This view directly conflicts with classical criminology, which claims that criminal activity is the result of free will. Under a biological perspective, deterrence is of little value.
3) Biosocial Arousal Theory: This theory states that an individual’s level of arousal works in conjunction with the social environment. Those with low levels of arousal are less likely to learn appropriate ways to deal with aggression and violence and thus are more prone to commit crime.
4) Evolutionary Theory: A broad-based view that certain types of criminal behavior are genetic and passed down from one generation to the next through evolutionary processes of natural selection and survival
Psychological theorists believe that criminal behavior is the result of a mental disturbance. It is a perspective that looks to the psychological functioning, development, and adjustment of an individual in explaining criminal or deviant acts. Under this approach, the criminal act itself is only important in that it highlights an underlying mental issue. Psychopathic is a general term referring to a variety of antisocial personality disorders. Personality theory believes that criminal activity is the result of a defective, deviant, or inadequate personality. Examples of deviant personality traits include hostility, impulsiveness, aggression, and sensation-seeking. By the late twentieth century the general public had not accepted that criminal behavior is a psychological disorder but rather a willful action. The public cry for more prisons and tougher sentences outweighed rehabilitation and the treatment of criminals. Researchers in the twenty-first century, however, continued to look at psychological stress as a driving force behind some crimes.
In Marxist theory, the cause of crime is capitalism. The capitalist system is meant to protect the interests of the capitalist elite. It is about the crimes committed by the lower class against the upper class elite. This theory focuses upon the division between the ruling-class elite and the laborers.
Feminist theory is still in development, and no one version has gained prominence over the others. While there are different versions of feminist theory, similarities remain. Feminist theory examines the role of patriarchy in society, and the manner in which women are put in a subservient position to men. Feminist theorists seek to explain why men commit more crime than women, and they question whether theories developed by men and for men adequately explain female crime and deviance. In contrast to earlier theories, feminist theorists examine the role society puts women in, identify their strengths and vulnerabilities, and seek to use that basis to understand female criminality. Feminist theorists then predict future rates of female offending, and propose system reactions to female offending.
The table below gives summaries of various theories of crime:
|Classical||Crime occurs when the benefits outweigh the costs—when people pursue self-interest in the absence of effective punishments. Crime is a free-willed choice.||Beccaria|
|Positivist||Crime is caused or determined. Lombroso placed more emphasis on biological deficiencies, whereas later scholars would emphasize psychological and sociological factors. Use science to determine the factors associated with crime.||Lombroso–
|Individual Trait||Criminals differ from noncriminals on a number of biological and psychological traits. These traits cause crime in interaction with the social environment.||Glueck & Glueck–
|Social Disorganization||Disorganized communities cause crime because informal social controls break down and criminal cultures emerge. They lack collective efficacy to fight crime and disorder.||Shaw & McKay–
Bursik & Grasmick
|Crime is learned through associations with criminal definitions. These definitions might be generally approving of criminal conduct or be neutralizations that justify crime only under certain circumstances. Interacting with antisocial peers is a major cause of crime. Criminal behavior will be repeated and become chronic if reinforced. When criminal subcultures exist, then many individuals can learn to commit crime in one location and crime rates—including violence—may become very high.||Sutherland & Cressey–
Sykes & MatzaAkers–
Wolfgang & Ferracuti–
|The gap between the American Dream’s goal of economic success and the opportunity to obtain this goal creates structural strain. Norms weaken and ‘anomie’ ensues, thus creating high crime rates. When other social institutions (such as the family) are weak to begin with or also weakened by the American Dream, the economic institution is dominant. When such an institutional imbalance exists—as in the United States—then crime rates are very high.||Merton–
Messner & Rosenfeld
|When individuals cannot obtain success goals (money, status in school), they experience strain or pressure. Under certain conditions, they are likely to respond to this strain through crime. The strains leading to crime, however, may not only be linked to goal blockage (or deprivation of valued stimuli) but also to the presentation of noxious stimuli and the taking away of valued stimuli. Crime is a more likely response to strain when it results in negative affect (anger and frustration).||Cohen–
Cloward & Ohlin–
General Theory of Crime–
|Asks the question, “Why don’t people commit crime?” They assume that criminal motivation is widespread. They key factor in crime causation is thus the presence or absence of control. These controls or containment might be rooted in relationships (e.g., social bonds) or be internal (e.g., self-control). Exposure to control also might differ by social location and by the historical period, such as the changing level and type of control given to males and females.||Hirschi–
|Building on classical theory, crime is seen as a choice that is influenced by its costs and benefits—that is, by its “rationality.” Crime will be more likely to be deterred if its costs are raised (e.g., more effort required, more punishment applied), especially if the costs are certain and immediate. Information about the costs and benefits of crime can be obtained by direct experiences with punishment and punishment avoidance, and indirectly by observing whether others who offend are punished or avoid punishment.||Stafford & Warr–
Cornish & Clarke–
|Routine Activities||Crime occurs when there is an intersection in time and space of a motivated offender, an attractive target, and a lack of capable guardianship. People’s daily routine activities affect the likelihood they will be an attractive target who encounters an offender in a situation where no effective guardianship is present. Changes in routine activities in society (e.g., women working) can affect crime rates.||Cohen & Felson|
|People become stabilized in criminal roles when they are labeled as criminal, are stigmatized, develop criminal identities, are sent to prison, and are excluded from conventional roles. Reintegrative responses are less likely to create defiance and a commitment to crime.||Lemert–
|Critical||Inequality in power and material well-being create conditions that lead to street crime and corporate crime. Capitalism and its market economy are especially criminogenic because they create vast inequality that impoverishes many and provides opportunities for exploitation for the powerful.||Bonger–
|Peacemaking||Crime is caused by suffering, which is linked to injustice rooted in inequality and daily personal acts of harm. Making “war on crime” will not work. Making peace is the solution to crime.||Quinney|
|Feminism||Crime cannot be understood without considering gender. Crime is shaped by the different social experiences of and power is exercised by men and women. Patriarchy is a broad structure that shapes gender-related experiences and power. Men may use crime to exert control over women and to demonstrate masculinity—that is, to show that they are “men” in a way consistent with societal ideals of masculinity.||Adler–
|Crime causation is a developmental process that starts before birth and continues throughout the life course. Individual factors interact with social factors to determine the onset, length, and end of criminal careers. They key theoretical issues involve continuity and change in crime. Some theories predict continuity across the life course; others predict continuity for some offenders and change for other offenders; and some predict continuity and change for the same offenders.||Moffitt–
Sampson & Laub
|Integrated||These theories use components from other theories—usually strain, control, and social learning—to create a new theory that explain crime. They often are life-course theories, arguing that causes of crime occur in a sequence across time.||Elliott–
Crime, edited by two of the most highly-regarded authorities on the subject, James Q. Wilson of UCLA and Joan Petersilia of UC Irvine, is a collection of 20 scholarly essays by experts, summarizing the current academic understanding of street crime. Although the authors either ignore the implications of race or speak of it sotto voce, it is clear that criminologists are shedding some of the social science illusions from previous decades. Among their findings:
1) Criminals almost always share certain characteristics, both genetic and environmental.
2) Poverty and unemployment do not cause crime.
3) Rehabilitation does not work.
4) The only practical benefit of prison is that it keeps criminals from committing more crime.
5) Drug treatment, “crime prevention,” and alternatives to imprisonment do not work.
6) Early “intervention” to reform juvenile delinquents does not work.
What this boils down to is that certain people are going to commit crimes no matter what society does. Only middle age and not punishment cures them.
Criminologists are virtually unanimous in agreeing that offenders cannot be rehabilitated. The personality of the typical criminal is already established by age two or three. He is aggressive, refractory, impulsive, unaffectionate, and difficult to rear. Criminals tend to have sex and try drugs at an early age, and start offending when they are young, breaking windows and setting fires before they are teenagers. Nearly every career criminal had a long juvenile record, and nearly every juvenile with a long record becomes an adult criminal. These are the chronic offenders who terrorize society; about six percent of the male population accounts for 50 percent of all arrests in the U.S. These same proportions have been found in other countries.
Nature versus Nurture: A Criminological Perspective:
The terms “biological” and “genetic” are often confused, in part due to the fact that they represent overlapping sources of influence. Biological factors are more inclusive, consisting of physiological, biochemical, neurological, and genetic factors. Genetic factors refer to biological factors that are inherited.
Are criminals born or made? This question has baffled psychologists, sociologists and criminologists for many years, and is the very essence of trying to establish the nature of criminality. The born or made argument, known as the “Nature versus Nurture” debate, asks whether criminality is due to genetic/biological factors, and therefore unavoidable, or whether it is the product of social situationalism, environmental surroundings and other external factors.
Lombrosso(1836 – 1909) the criminal anthropologist, regarded by many as the father of criminology, and heavily influenced by Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” developed a theory that some people are genetically closer to their primate ancestors than others, he thus proposed that some people are born with an innate predisposition to criminality and anti-social behavior. Lombrosso believed that the criminal was a separate species that had not evolved in the same way as “normal” humans. He believed that this species was genetically halfway between modern man and his primate ancestors; he called them “Homo Delinquens” and considered them to be mutations or natural accidents living amongst Homo Sapiens. Lombrosso collected large amounts of data, using Italian prisoners and the military. He concluded that criminals had distinguishing physical features that set them apart from the non-criminal population. It must be noted however that Lombrosso did not use a “normal” control group, and thus the methodology can be seen to be questionable. The features Lombrosso identified were; flat nose, large ears, fat lips, large jaw bone, and high cheek-bones. He claimed that the “born Criminal” also had a liking for tattoos and cruel & wicked games. Sheldon followed on from this type of research looking at body type and delinquency. Sheldon called this method Somatotyping, and identified three basic body types; the Endomorphic (fat and rounded), the Ectomorphic (thin and fragile), and the Mesomorphic (hard and muscular). Sheldon argued that the mesomorph is likely to have a high pain threshold, will be aggressive & callous and may be ruthless. Sheldon tested his theory on delinquent boys and “normal” college students over an eight year period; he found a strong connection suggesting a link between the mesomorph and crime. Later research showed little or no connection between crime and physique.
Biological theories in criminology deal with evolutionary and genetic influences on criminal behavior. These theories attribute human and societal change to genes that are passed on from generation to generation. Ernest Mayr (1963), a leader in 20th century evolutionary theory, makes the distinction between genetics and evolution quite clear: geneticists focus on individual traits and the interaction of genes with the environment, while evolution deals with the larger scale and the change of an entire species over time.
Some earlier theorists have introduced the idea that there is a specific gene that may lead to criminal behavior. This belief would be considered both deterministic and positivistic. Determinism is the idea that humans are born with unmanageable traits, and that people are compelled to act rather than act out of free choice. This principle can lead to disastrous outcomes in crime control policy, such as eugenics movements to “purify” a population. Positivism is the concept that scientific method could be used to explain all human behavior, and assumes that these behaviors are the function of forces that are beyond an individual’s control. These forces can include both biological and structural factors, making positivism a study that triggers scientific research to find both internal and external causes of crime. Biological theories are positivistic since they attribute criminal behavior to internal factors that are beyond individual control, however positivism does not argue that these factors are unmanageable. Rather, positivism argues that criminal behavior is caused by interaction between biology (genes) and environment (society), which leaves theories open to the possibility of intervention. Public policy resulting from positivistic theory is therefore more likely to adopt a rehabilitative approach than deterministic-based policy, where the focus might turn to sterilization and institutionalization. If biological theories had remained positivistic but not deterministic, it is possible that structural theories would have included genetic factors a long time ago.
Twin studies on crime:
The twin method for ascertaining whether a given trait is to any extent heritable makes use of the fact that monozygotic (MZ) or “identical” twins are genetically identical, having 100 percent of their genes in common with one another. Conversely, dizygotic (DZ) or “fraternal” twins are less genetically alike than MZ twins, and are in fact no more alike genetically than non-twin siblings. When the trait being measured is a dichotomy (for example, criminal/noncriminal), “concordance” rates are calculated for MZ and DZ twins separately. A 70 percent concordance for crime in a set of MZ twins, for example, would mean that if one of the MZ pair is criminal, then the chance of the co-twin being criminal is 70 percent. Similar concordance rates can be calculated for DZ twins. If MZ twins have higher concordance rates for crime than DZ twins, then this constitutes some evidence for the notion that crime has a heritable component. The difference between these correlation coefficients, when doubled, gives an estimate of heritability, or the proportion of variance in criminality that can be attributed to genetic influences.
Are identical twins more concordant for criminality than fraternal twins? The answer from many reviews conducted on this expanding field is undoubtedly yes. A review of all the twin studies of crime conducted up to 1993 showed that although twin studies vary widely in terms of the age, sex, country of origin, sample size, determination of zygosity, and definition of crime, nevertheless all thirteen studies of crime show greater concordance rates for criminality in MZ as opposed to DZ twins (Raine 1993). If one averages concordance rates across all studies (weighting for sample sizes), these thirteen studies result in concordances of 51.5 percent for MZ twins and 20.6 percent for DZ twins. Furthermore, the twin studies that have been conducted since 1993 have confirmed the hypothesis that there is greater concordance for antisocial and aggressive behavior in MZ relative to DZ twins (for example, SlutSkeet al.1997; Eley, lichenstein, and Stevenson 1999).
A very common criticism of twin studies is that MZ twins may share a more common environment than DZ twins. For example, parents may treat MZ twins in a more similar fashion than DZ twins, thus artificially raising concordance rates in MZ twins. If this were true, the greater concordance for crime in MZ twins may be due more to environmental than genetic factors. Grove et al. (1990) studied thirty-two sets of monozygotic twins who were separated and reared apart shortly after birth, and found statistically significant heritabilities for antisocial behavior in both childhood (0.41) and adulthood (0.28). Such evidence for heritability cannot be due to being raised in the same environment.
Adoption studies also overcame the problem with twin studies because they more cleanly separate out genetic and environmental influences. We can examine offspring who have been separated from their criminal biological parents early in life and sent out to other families. If these offspring grow up to become criminal at greater rates than foster children whose biological parents were not criminal, this would indicate a genetic influence with its origin in the subject’s biological parents. A classic adoption study conducted by Mednick et al. (1984) is illustrated in the table below.
Results of Cross-Fostering Analyses (Percentages refer to the proportion of adoptees who had court convictions.)
These researchers based their analyses on 14,427 adoptions that took place in Denmark between 1927 and 1947. Infants were adopted out immediately in 25.3 percent of cases, 50.6 percent within one year, 12.8 percent in the second year, and 11.3 percent after age two. Court records were obtained on 65,516 biological parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees in order to assess which subjects had convictions. When both adoptive and biological parents were noncriminal (neither genetic nor environmental predispositions present), 13.5 percent of the adoptees had a criminal record. This increased to 14.7 percent when adoptive parents only were criminal, meaning that an environmental but not genetic effect was operating. When only the biological parents were criminal, the conviction rate in the adoptees increased to 20.0 percent. When both adoptive and biological parents were criminal (both genetic and environmental predispositions present), the conviction rate increased to 24.5 percent. The effect of an adopted child having a criminal biological parent was associated with a statistically significant increasing the likelihood of the adoptee becoming criminal. While this is but one example, a review of fifteen other adoption studies conducted in Denmark, Sweden, and the United States shows that all but one found a genetic basis to criminal behavior (Raine 1993). Importantly, evidence for this genetic predisposition has been found by several independent research groups in several different countries.
The only study whose conclusion was contrary to all above studies was performed (Mednick, Gabrielli, and Hutchings, 1984) where family psychology versus biological heredity in determining criminal behavior was examined. This study was done using identical twins that were adopted by two different families and raised apart from each other. It was observed that adopted children are as aggressive as their adoptive parents rather than their biological parents. The results from this study indicate that environment and genetic disposition are equally as responsible in shaping human behavior. Nonetheless, various studies findings that support genetic influence cannot be ignored. Adoption studies have been one of the major focuses in research that relates to criminal behavior and genetic influence. Adoption studies confirmed the hypothesis that parents with a predisposition to antisocial behavior may pass on these genes to their offspring, and these offspring would then have an increased risk in developing similar antisocial tendencies regardless of social factors.
The graph below shows crime rates related to adoptee and biological parent:
The graph above shows how adoption studies have consistently shown a relationship between a biological parent and their child who was raised by another family, with regards to criminal behavior regardless of the environment in which the adopted child is raised.
Another series of adoption studies in which the criminal history of an adopted male was compared with the criminal history of both his biological and his adoptive fathers found that genetic influences were significant in cases of property crime but not in cases of violent crime.
Family studies are the third type of instrument used to assess the relationship between genetics and environmental influences on criminal or antisocial behavior. Research in this field has probably been the least accepted by psychologists and other scholars because of the degree of difficulty in separating out nature and nurture in the family environment. Children experience both the influence of their parents’ genes and also the environment in which they are raised, so it is difficult to assign which behaviors were influenced by the two factors. Twin studies have this flaw, as stated earlier, but it is more prevalent in family studies. An additional concern with family studies is the inability to replicate the results, therefore leading to a small number of studies. Regardless of these drawbacks, one family study in particular should be acknowledged for its findings. Brunner, Nelen, Breakefield, Ropers, and van Oost (1993) conducted a study utilizing a large Dutch family. In their study they found a point mutation in the structural gene for monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), an enzyme in brain metabolizing neurotransmitters, which they associated with aggressive criminal behavior among a number of males in that family. These males were reported to have selective MAOA deficiency, which researchers allege can lead to decreased concentrations of 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid (5-HIAA) in cerebrospinal fluid. Evidence suggests that low concentrations of 5-HIAA (a metabolite of serotonin) can be associated with impulsive aggression. My view is contrary to the view of researchers. MAOA deficiency would increase serotonin level and increase CSF 5-HIAA level because neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are metabolized by MAOA.These results have not been confirmed in any additional family studies, which lead to a need for more studies to determine if other families share similar result. Although the defect in the gene for monoamine oxidase A is likely to be responsible for the learning disabilities and possibly the abnormal behaviors in the Dutch family, there is little prospect that a better understanding of this condition will improve our understanding of criminality. The primary effect of the mutation is learning disability; the aggressive behavior, which does not appear in all the males with the genetic abnormality, may result from the learning disability and its attendant problems rather than directly from the altered gene. However, this one family study does seem to suggest that genetics play an important role in antisocial or criminal behavior.
Until recently it was thought that the causes of crime lay just in social factors like poverty and unemployment. Yet repeat offending criminal behavior is a clinical disorder, with brain impairments playing a key role. Traditionally, psychopathic behavior has been blamed on familial or sociological factors. Increasing evidence indicates, however, that psychopathic behavior stems not from bad parenting or a poor environment, but from fundamental differences in the psychopathic brain. To many people the very idea of psychopathy in childhood is inconceivable. Yet, we have learned that elements of this personality disorder first become evident at a very early age. New research is now showing that genetic and biological factors play an equal, if not greater, role than social factors in crime causation. Within this new field of biocriminology, brain imaging findings are revealing dramatic new insights into the criminal mind. There are now 71 brain imaging studies showing that murderers, psychopaths, and individuals with aggressive, antisocial personalities have poorer functioning in the prefrontal cortex – that part of the brain involved in regulating and controlling emotion and behavior. In one recent study, scientists examined 21 people with antisocial personality disorder — a condition that characterizes many convicted criminals. Those with the disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong. They may often violate the law and the rights of others. Brain scans of the antisocial people, compared with a control group of individuals without any mental disorders, showed on average an 18-percent reduction in the volume of the brain’s middle frontal gyrus, and a 9 percent reduction in the volume of the orbital frontal gyrus — two sections in the brain’s frontal lobe. Another brain study, published in the September 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry, compared 27 psychopaths — people with severe antisocial personality disorder — to 32 non-psychopaths. In the psychopaths, the researchers observed deformations in another part of the brain called the amygdala, with the psychopaths showing a thinning of the outer layer of that region called the pre-frontal cortex and, on average, an 18-percent volume reduction in this part of brain. “The amygdala is the seat of emotion. Psychopaths lack emotion. They lack empathy, remorse, guilt,” said researchers. What’s more, as the study of 3-year-olds and other research have shown, many of these brain differences can be measured early on in life, long before a person might develop into actual psychopathic tendencies or commit a crime. Yet her research showed that these traits aren’t fixed, and can change in children as they grow. So if psychologists identify children with these risk factors early on, it may not be too late. Intervention can be implemented to support and help children and their families. Violent offenders just do not have the emergency brakes to stop their runaway aggressive behavior. Literally speaking, bad brains lead to bad behavior.
EEG and crime:
Most of these studies were based on visual inspection of EEG tracings (rather than on computerized EEG analyses). The subjects were typically prisoners. One of the best studies of this type (Williams, 1969) used 333 prisoners who had committed violent crimes. The subjects were divided into two groups: repeated violent offenders and those who had committed a single violent act. EEG abnormalities occurred in 64% and 24% of the first and second group, respectively. When subjects with mental retardation, clinical epilepsy, or a history of major head injury were removed from both groups; the distribution of EEG abnormalities then changed to 57% and 12% in the first and second group, respectively. These findings suggest that EEG abnormality was related to violent crime in this prisoner sample even after the researcher accounted for the effects of gross organic brain disease. The relation between epilepsy, EEG, and aggression has been debated for several decades. Mark and Ervin (1970) reported that patients with temporal lobe epilepsy are prone to aggression during or immediately after their seizure states.
Genetics and crime:
One of the most used theories of why criminals commit crimes is the person’s ability to commit crime is pre-determined. If that is so criminals have no choice of what they do. Some of the genetic abnormalities that would make someone pre-determined would be the XYY chromosomal structure (not effective in women, just men). A chromosomal test in prisons had an outcome of 27Y, which means some of the prisoners had that many Y chromosomes. This is a chemical imbalance caused by extra Y chromosome. Chromosomes contain genetic information and control physical characteristics such as color of eyes etc. The sex chromosomes determine the sexual characteristics of individuals. The normal female sex chromosomes are XX, normal male chromosomes are XY. In certain cases an individual may be born with an extra chromosome. For example, abnormal males may be XXY (an extra ‘X’ female chromosome is present) or XYY (an extra ‘Y’ male chromosome is present). The XXY individual does not appear to demonstrate any connection with criminality. However, the XYY individual has popularly be linked to criminality. The argument was that an extra male chromosome would make the individual more aggressive and more criminal. Jacobs, Brunton and Melville (1965) discovered such an irregularity was found more often in mental institutions than the general population. The fact that such people were in institutions was taken as proof of their enhanced criminality because it was thought connected to increased violence. Jacobs described them as having ‘dangerous, violent or criminal propensities’. Sarbin and Miller (1970) later questioned the validity of this conclusion. They claimed XYY individuals were less aggressive than normal males. Watkin and associates (1977) confirmed this assertion. Their research showed that although a high proportion of XYY men had committed crimes, they were mosty petty offences, and that XYY male were no more likely to commit dangerous crimes than normal XY males. The reason for there being more XYY men in institutions is due to their slight mental retardation. There now appears to be some agreement that chromosome abnormality and criminality are not closely linked. In any case, the incidence of XYY and XXY males is so rare that it is of little importance as regards crime.
The genetic evidence indicates that there is no single gene, or even a small number of genes, that predict an increased risk of antisocial behavior. Genetic studies are used as diagnostic criteria for various personality disorders that are associated with an increased risk of criminal activity, namely, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). ASPD is characterized by a persistent disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. It can only be diagnosed in individuals over the age of 18. Three childhood disorders — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) — are also often assessed because they have been identified as risk factors for development of ASPD. ADHD is distinguished by frequent inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, while individuals with CD display behavioral characteristics that are comparable to ASPD (violation of societal norms or rules). ODD is similar to CD in that it involves disobedient or hostile behavior, but if more serious forms of behavior are present, the diagnosis of CD takes precedence.
In keeping with the polygenic pattern of inheritance proposed for antisocial behaviors, the amount that each individual gene contributes to an individual’s overall liability is likely to be small. This is evident in the table above which summarizes the relative risks (RR) and odds ratios (OR) for the candidate genes reviewed above. These measures of risk indicate that an individual with a susceptibility variant of one of these genes will only have ~1.5times the risk of antisocial behavior compared to an individual from the general population. Thus an individual will only have a significantly increased risk of engaging in antisocial behavior if they carry a large number of variant genes. This average RR is consistent with the results of meta-analyses of associations between individual genes and risk of developing a range of disorders and diseases.
Personality Disorders and Traits vis-à-vis crime:
A critical aspect that must be examined regarding antisocial or criminal behavior is the personality characteristics of individuals. Certain personality traits that can be shown to have an association with antisocial or criminal behavior are impulsivity and aggression (Morley & Hall, 2003). According to the article written by Holmes et al. (2001), antisocial behavior between the ages of nine and fifteen can be correlated strongly with impulsivity and that aggression in early childhood can predict antisocial acts and delinquency. One statistic shows that between seventy and ninety percent of violent offenders had been highly aggressive as young children (Holmes et al., 2001). These personality traits have been shown to be heritable as discussed earlier. Personality traits and disorders have recently become essential in the diagnosis of individuals with antisocial or criminal behavior. These traits and disorders do not first become evident when an individual is an adult, rather these can be seen in children. For that reason it seems logical to discuss those personality disorders that first appear in childhood. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD), and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) are three of the more prominent disorders that have been shown to have a relationship with later adult behavior (Holmes, Slaughter, & Kashani, 2001).
ODD is characterized by argumentativeness, noncompliance, and irritability, which can be found in early childhood (Holmes et al., 2001). When a child with ODD grows older, the characteristics of their behavior also change and more often for the worse. They start to lie and steal, engage in vandalism, substance abuse, and show aggression towards peers (Holmes et al., 2001). Frequently ODD is the first disorder that is identified in children and if sustained can lead to the diagnosis of CD (Morley & Hall, 2003). It is important to note however that not all children who are diagnosed with ODD will develop CD.
ADHD is associated with hyperactivity-impulsivity and the inability to keep attention focused on one thing (Morley & Hall, 2003). Holmes et al. (2001) state that, “impulse control dysfunction and the presence of hyperactivity and inattention are the most highly related predisposing factors for presentation of antisocial behavior”. They also point to the fact that children diagnosed with ADHD have the inability to analyze and anticipate consequences or learn from their past behavior. Children with this disorder are at risk of developing ODD and CD, unless the child is only diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), in which case their chances of developing ODD or CD are limited. The future for some children is made worse when ADHD and CD are co-occurring because they will be more likely to continue their antisocial tendencies into adulthood (Holmes et al., 2001).
Conduct Disorder (CD) is characterized with an individual’s violation of societal rules and norms (Morley & Hall, 2003). As the tendencies or behaviors of those children who are diagnosed with ODD or ADHD worsen and become more prevalent, the next logical diagnosis is CD. What is even more significant is the fact that ODD, ADHD, and CD are risk factors for developing Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). ASPD has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of criminal activity. Therefore, it is of great importance that these early childhood disorders are correctly diagnosed and effectively treated to prevent future problems.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and crime:
Recent studies of twins and adoptees have begun to clarify how genetic and environmental factors interact in the development of antisocial behavior. Juvenile delinquency and conduct disorders, adult criminality and antisocial personality disorder, and substance abuse are partly overlapping syndromes, but their genetic relation to one another is uncertain. Antisocial behavior is more common in men than in women, and this sex difference has been helpful to those attempting to understand the transmission and expression of risk for antisocial behavior. For the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, the individual must be at least 18 years old and have a history, before the age of 15, of three or more symptoms that include truancy, expulsion or suspension from school, delinquency, running away, lying, substance abuse, thefts, vandalism, fights, and so on. Antisocial personality (ASP) is a disorder manifested by recurrent antisocial and delinquent behavior during adolescence, such as running away from home, fighting, and getting into trouble at school (truancy, suspension, expulsion) as well frequent criminality, poor job performance, and marital instability during adulthood (Guze, 1976; Robins, 1966). Most individuals with uncomplicated ASP commit a small number of petty property offenses during adolescence and early childhood and show little overt criminal behavior after middle age (Bohman, Cloninger, Sigvardsson, & von Knorring, 1982). Those who commit repeated or violent crimes often have alcohol or drug abuse as a complication of their personality disorder.
Heredity and crime: bad genes or bad research?
Whether the observed relationship between heredity and crime is a function of bad genes or bad research, Glenn D. Walters and Thomas W. White offers the following general conclusion. Genetic factors are undoubtedly correlated with various measures of criminality, but the large number of methodological flaws and limitations in the research should make one cautious in drawing any causal inferences at this point in time. Their review leads us to the inevitable conclusion that current genetic research on crime has been poorly designed, ambiguously reported, and exceedingly inadequate in addressing the relevant issues. This criticism applies to studies that are generally supportive of the crime-heredity hypothesis as well as to studies that fail to substantiate the basic tenets of the genetic argument. Perhaps even more significant, however, these studies have muddied the already turbid waters of genetic research on crime. Researchers also need to eliminate alternative explanations of their findings by controlling for important intervening and confounding variables, such as social class, intelligence, and time spent with the natural mother prior to adoption. Such variables should be integrated into future research designs so that their effect on the crime-heredity connection can be investigated. More sophisticated designs, such as the longitudinal/cross-situation model used to study temporal stability, cross-situational consistency, and longitudinal change of genetically mediated personality characteristics, should also be implemented. Finally, genetic research on crime must be better organized theoretically.
Low arousal and crime:
Arousal refers to our state of consciousness or awareness. Someone who is in danger, or is moving at high speed, is in a high state of arousal, and someone who is about to fall asleep is in a low state of arousal. A person with low arousal (even when not sleepy) reacts less to stimuli than one without. Such persons have low sweat and low heart rates. Why should low arousal and low heart rate predispose to antisocial and criminal behavior? There are two main theoretical interpretations. Fearlessness theory indicates that low levels of arousal are markers of low levels of fear (Raine 1993; Raine 1997). A fearlessness interpretation of low arousal levels assumes that subjects are not actually at “rest,” but that instead the rest periods of psychophysiological testing represent a mildly stressful paradigm and that low arousal during this period indicates lack of anxiety and fear. Lack of fear would predispose to antisocial and violent behavior because such behavior (for example, fights and assaults) requires a degree of fearlessness to execute; while lack of fear, especially in childhood, would help explain poor socialization since low fear of punishment would reduce the effectiveness of conditioning. Fearlessness theory receives support from the fact that autonomic underarousal also provides the underpinning for a fearless or uninhibited temperament in infancy and childhood. A second theory explaining reduced arousal is stimulation-seeking theory (Eysenck 1964; Quay 1965; Raine 1993; Raine, Reynolds, Venables, et al. 1998). This theory argues that low arousal represents an unpleasant physiological state; antisocials seek stimulation in order to increase their arousal levels back to an optimal or normal level. Antisocial behavior is thus viewed as a form of stimulation-seeking, in that committing a burglary, assault, or robbery could be stimulating for some individuals. Before leaving this theory, the possibility has to be considered that fearlessness theory and stimulation-seeking theory may be complementary rather than competing theories. That is, low levels of arousal may predispose to crime because it produces some degree of fearlessness and encourages antisocial stimulation-seeking. Indeed, behavioral measurement of stimulation-seeking and fearlessness both taken at age three in a large sample, predict to aggressive behavior at age eleven (Raine, et al.1998). The combined effect of these two influences may be more important in explaining antisocial behavior than either influence taken alone. Electro-encephalogram (EEG) readings of the brain show unusual rates of theta or slow alpha waves in the brain, which indicate low levels of arousal. EEG abnormalities of this kind, which appear to be congenital, are found in 25 to 50 percent of violent criminals but in only 5 to 20 percent of non-offenders.
Nutrition and crime:
There is extensive experimental evidence in animals that the offspring of rats fed a diet containing marginal levels of either zinc or protein throughout pregnancy and lactation showed impaired brain development. In humans, zinc deficiency in pregnancy has been linked to impaired DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis during brain development, and congenital brain abnormalities. Similarly, protein provides essential amino acids for the rapid growth of fetal tissue. PET studies of violent offenders have revealed deficits to the prefrontal cortex and corpus callosum, and it is of interest that the offspring of rats fed a low-protein diet during pregnancy show a specific impairment to the corpus callosum and reduction in DNA concentration in the forebrain. The amygdala, which also shows abnormal functioning in PET imaging of violent offenders is densely innervated by zinc-containing neurons, and males with a history of assaultive behavior were found to have lower zinc relative to copper ratios in their blood compared to non-assaultive controls. Consequently, protein and zinc deficiency may contribute to the brain impairments shown in violent offenders which in turn are thought to predispose to violence.
Testosterone and crime:
The critical question in this literature concerns whether testosterone violence relationships are causal. Little doubt exists that castration decreases aggression in animals and administration of testosterone increases aggression. Few experimental studies have been conducted in humans, but there is nevertheless evidence of a causal relationship. Olweus et al. (1988) assessed their finding of higher testosterone in male adolescents with high levels of self-report aggression using path analysis and concluded that testosterone had causal effects on both provoked and unprovoked aggressive behavior. One study that comes close to such an ideal experiment is that of Wille and Beier (1989), who showed that ninety-nine castrated German sex offenders had a significantly lower recidivism rate eleven years post-release (3 percent) compared to thirty-five non castrated sex offenders (46 percent). There is in addition some limited evidence that less drastic methods of reducing testosterone levels such as administration of anti-androgens and progesterone derivatives have some effect in lowering violence and sexual aggression (Rubin 1987; Brain 1990; Archer 1991). One double-blind, crossover hormone replacement study administered testosterone to male adolescents with delayed puberty and found that medium doses increased aggressive behavior twenty-one months later (Susman and Ponirakis, 1997). It could be argued that extreme alterations in testosterone are not a good model for the less severe variability found in the general population, and that moderate changes of this hormone do not significantly influence aggression. On the other hand, Loosen, Purdon, and Pavlou (1994) found that mild reductions in testosterone in men were associated with reductions in outwardly directed anger, thus suggesting that mild changes in testosterone can modulate aggression. Testosterone levels are in part heritable (Turner et al. 1986), and it is conceivable that the genetic predisposition to crime may in part be expressed through the hormonal system. On the other hand, it is also known that environmental influences such as success in competition, the perception of winning, exposure to erotic films, and social dominance can increase circulating levels of testosterone (Brain 1990; Archer 1991). Clearly, links between testosterone and aggression are complex, and simplistic explanations of this link are probably incorrect. By the same token, it would be equally erroneous to discount the evidence for the role of hormones in influencing aggression merely because hormones are influenced by the environment.
Cortisol and crime:
Cortisol is another hormone linked to criminal behavior. Research suggested that when the cortisol level is high a person’s attention is sharp and he or she is physically active. In contrast, researchers found low levels of cortisol were associated with short attention spans, lower activity levels, and often linked to antisocial behavior including crime. Studies of violent adults have shown lower levels of cortisol; some believe this low level serves to numb an offender to the usual fear associated with committing a crime and possibly getting caught. On the other hand, extremely high levels of steroids can produce “steroid rage”.
Neurotransmitters and crime:
A meta-analysis of twenty-nine studies examined the relationship between norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, and antisocial behavior (Raine 1993). Results indicated a relatively large effect size (-0.75) between reduced central serotonin and antisocial behavior, and a medium effect size of -0.41 between reduced norepinephrine and antisocial behavior, with no effect for dopamine. Subanalyses were conducted in an attempt to specify to which subgroups of antisocials these findings pertain. These analyses indicated that serotonin was lowest in antisocials with a history of alcohol abuse, borderline personality disorder, and violence, while cerebrospinal fluid norepinephrine was lowest in those with alcohol abuse, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Serotonin is a neurochemical that plays an important role in the personality traits of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder (Larsen & Buss, 2005). It is also involved with brain development and a disorder in this system could lead to an increase in aggressiveness and impulsivity (Morley & Hall, 2003). As Lowenstein (2003) states, “studies point to serotonin as one of the most important central neuro-transmitters underlying the modulation of impulsive aggression”. Low levels of serotonin have been found to be associated with impulsive behavior and emotional aggression. In addition, children who suffer from conduct disorder (which will be discussed later), have also been shown to have low blood serotonin (Elliot, 2000). Needless to say, there is a great deal of evidence that shows serotonin is related to aggression, which can be further associated with antisocial or criminal behavior. Humans low in social class have also been found to have reduced serotonin, and it is possible that reductions in serotonin produced by a fall in dominance triggers impulsive aggression as a way of raising the individual in the dominance hierarchy. In evolutionary terms this would be adaptive as increased dominance gives greater access to food and sex, thus increasing the individual’s ability to reproduce and pass on their genes. Yet again, poor diet may play a role. Diets low in or otherwise blocking, the uptake of tryptophan or tyrosine (the precursors of serotonin and norepinephrine respectively) have been found to lower the levels of these transmitters in the brain (see Weisman 1986). In addition, even when returned to a normal diet, brain serotonin levels are never fully compensated (Timiras, Hudson, and SegalI1984). Poor nutrition possibly occurring in individuals of lower socioeconomic status (including poor dietary care during pregnancy) could conceivably influence neurotransmitter levels throughout life.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure and is also one of the neurotransmitters that is chiefly associated with aggression. Activation of both affective (emotionally driven) and predatory aggression is accomplished by dopamine (Elliot, 2000). Genes in the dopaminergic pathway have also been found to be involved with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Morley & Hall, 2003). In one study cited by Morley and Hall (2003), a relationship was found between the genes in the dopaminergic pathway, impulsivity, ADHD, and violent offenders.
Crime reduction vis-à-vis biological intervention:
The biological and genetic findings are now incontrovertible; the evidence is too strong to ignore. These new breakthroughs have important implications for crime prevention. One of the reasons why we have repeatedly failed to stop crime is because we have systematically ignored the biological and genetic contributions to crime causation. We instead need to focus efforts on new interventions that will improve brain structure and function. New research has just shown that childhood malnutrition is linked to poor brain functioning (low IQ) and conduct disorder in early adulthood. Giving three-year-olds better nutrition (and more physical exercise) for just two years results in better brain functioning (EEG) at age 11, and a 35% reduction in crime 20 years later at age 23. Prisoners given fish oil (rich in omega-3, a long-chain fatty acid that is critical for brain structure and function) show reduced aggressive and antisocial behavior. Low physiological arousal (e.g. low sweat and heart rates) is a well-replicated risk factor for crime and violence, but stimulants (drugs which increase arousal) are effective in reducing aggressive and antisocial behavior in children. If we really want to stop crime, the best investment society can make is to intervene very early on. Better prenatal and perinatal health care, better nutrition early in life, and medication for severely aggressive children can be implemented right now. The next decade will reveal new research resulting in new drugs to correct the neurotransmitter brain abnormalities that cause violence.
Mental illnesses and crime:
Several large cohort studies have found an association between crime and major mental disorders. For example, Hodgins examined the criminal and mental health records of a Swedish birth cohort that was followed up to the age of 30. Mentally ill men were 2.5 times more likely to be registered for a criminal offense than same-sex comparison subjects. Similarly, mentally ill women were four times more likely to be registered for a criminal offense than same-sex comparison subjects. Another large cohort study found that men and women who had been in a psychiatric hospital were convicted for significantly more crimes than their nonhospitalized peers.
Mental illness, substance abuse and crime:
A report says that substance abuse, not mental illness, causes violent crimes. Illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are not the reason why violent crimes are committed by mental health patients, a study showed. An exhaustive study which tracked more than 8,000 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and another 3,700 identified as having bipolar disorder over three decades in Sweden found that the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol caused mentally ill people to perpetrate crimes of murder, manslaughter and sexual violence. Researchers said rates of violent crime among people who were mentally ill and abused substances were no different from those among other people who abused substances. People with mental illnesses who abuse substances have violent crime rates which are six to seven times higher than the general population – as do people with no mental health issues who have similar drink or drugs problems. The data also showed that those who were mentally ill but did not abuse substances were only at “minimally increased risk” of committing violent crime. Around 0.9% to 1% of the general population suffers from bipolar disorder while 0.4% to 0.5% have schizophrenia. Research has shown that around 20% of people with bipolar disorder abuse alcohol and drugs compared with about 2% of the general population. Researchers looked at two reasons why this figure is higher. One is whether patients attempt to self-medicate with substance abuse. The other is that there is a possibility of genetic predisposition towards substance abuse given that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both have an element of genetic predisposition.
Structural Criminology (criminology vis-à-vis society, culture, economy, education etc i.e. nonbiological criminology):
The premise of structural theories says that the meaning and explanation of crime is found in its social structure. Social structure includes how society is organized by a variety of social institutions such as family, education, culture and religion. Structural theories are positivistic in the sense that they blame external factors that are beyond individual control for criminal behavior. Furthermore, structural criminology incorporates other prominent criminological paradigms such as labeling, strain, and social control theories into its processes. Structural theories acknowledge that while each of the aforementioned concepts may seem unrelated to one another, they all “call attention to the role of social structure in defining and explaining crime”.
Structural theories offered a new way of dealing with antisocial behavior and this “competing and powerful vision of crime emerged – a vision suggesting that crime, like other behavior, was a social product”. These criminologists rejected the idea that criminals were biologically inferior, and had therefore fallen to a lower social class because of this inherent trait (Lilly et al., 2002: 33). Merton’s theories involved anomie and strain which “detailed the social sources of strains potent enough to generate high rates of nonconformity” (Lilly et al., 2002: 51).
Currie’s (1997) arguments stand out within structural criminology due to his understanding and explanation of the many factors that work together to make a “market society so volatile as a social formation”. Currie states that a market society is peculiarly conducive to violent crime, for reasons that are analytically separable but, in the real world, closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing – operating simultaneously on the levels of material well-being, social support, and cultural meaning.
Currie identifies seven closely intertwined mechanisms that are “profoundly criminogenic” and “intrinsic to the logic of market society itself”:
1. The progressive destruction of livelihood;
2. The growth of extremes of economic inequality and material deprivation;
3. The withdrawal of public services and supports, especially for families and children;
4. The erosion of informal and communal networks of mutual support, supervision and care;
5. The spread of a materialistic, neglectful, and ‘hard’ culture;
6. The unregulated marketing of the technology of violence;
7. And, not least, the weakening of social and political alternatives.
These factors are a result of the social adaptation of market principles, which might otherwise be confined to specific aspects of economy under different cultural circumstances. Currie argues that these mechanisms are instrumental in the collective efficacy of an environment, which in turn directly affects the learning patterns of youth in a specific neighborhood. Furthermore, these factors contribute directly to causes of economic strain by increasing the gap between the wealthy and the poor, and making goals less attainable for those in poverty-stricken areas. Currie’s identification of factors influence the process by which individuals conforms or deviates by essentially removing free will and replacing it with conditional free will where the goals that society holds are unrealistic for most of the population. The market society also removes social support mechanisms for those who feel economic or status strain, and this directly affects childcare and childrearing methods. With the need for dual-income families and no proper daycare, children are neglected and problems that may have otherwise been avoidable develop and are left untreated.
Generally, in every society (or each country or region) the “phenomenon of committing crime” with respect to cause and effect is always influenced by a series of interdependent environmental factors all of which play a role in the emergence of criminal behavior in society. These can be divided into:
1- Social factors include family, education, substance abuse, community & peers etc.
2- Economic factors
3- Cultural factors
A useful approach to conceptualize the various influences on crime and violence is the so-called ecological model as seen in the figure below, which is broad enough to encompass a wide variety of theories from economics, sociology, and public health.
The ecological model identifies four levels of influence on criminal and violent behavior. Individual factors include characteristics such as education level, marital status, and biological endowments. Relationship factors cover relations with peers, partners, and family. At a higher level, community factors include the broader context of social relationships in environments such as schools and neighborhoods. Finally, at the broadest level, there are societal factors such as cultural norms and economic conditions that also influence violence.
As shown in the figure below, in all societies, undesirable social, economic, and cultural conditions and factors cause social, economic and cultural abnormalities that, alone or in their interaction, lead to criminal acts.
CB= Criminal Behavior
UEF= Undesirable Economic Factors
USF=Undesirable Social Factors
UCF= Undesirable Cultural Factors
This is macro-level societal factors for criminal behavior. However, at micro-level as shown in the figure below, criminal behavior might be surrounded by three basic elements (the three sides of a triangle): offender, victim, and situation.
A crime needs a suitable location and situation, an offender, and a victim in order to be committed. The situation and circumstances can be assumed as one side of the triangle. The researchers of the CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) concept believe that by defining and reforming the spatial and physical parameters as well as the circumstance of each place, it is possible to reduce the offensive conditions that exist in various places.
The cycle of decay:
This concept was developed way back in 1981 by two American criminologists, James Q. Wilson and George F. Kelling in a famous article called ‘Broken Windows’. It amounts to the idea that crime in a particular area is part of a local “cycle of decay” which can be conceived of as a number of stages roughly illustrated as follows.
Stage 1- Economic decay: jobless youth on the streets.
Stage 2-Increase in incivilities (Anti-social behavior): vandalism, drunks, rowdyism, aggressive begging, drug dealing.
Stage 3- Responsible adults withdraw from street: residents avoid people, don’t go out at night, increased fear of crime, withdraw from community activities and move through area only by car. Stable families with kids/ older traditional working class families with local leadership skills etc move out.
Stage 4 – General weakening of social control: people don’t intervene/assist police in street incidents (they know fewer bystanders, they assume no one will help them if they do intervene), general reduction in flow of information to police, people identify with less of the territory as ‘their’ space -refuse litter increase, lack of support for improvement projects. Local authorities may start to ignore the area.
Stage 5 – Further decline in the economic base of the area: fall in spending/ people go out less—retailers, restaurants and cafes close down reducing even further the general presence on the streets.
Stage 6 – Further changes in social composition of the area: only problem people/transients with little long term commitment to the area accept housing there, estate agents zone out/red line the zone out for respectable house purchasers. Makes social control/neighborhood organization even harder.
Stage 7 – Crime rates rise rapidly: offenders from outside the area move in knowing that surveillance and local control are weak, local kids join in. Twilight enterprises move in (massage parlors/ vice/ drugs).
Stage 8 – Consolidation of the criminal area: no social control against crime, locals frightened intimidated, fearful of reprisals if call on the police or give information, police activity is episodic and often involves force. Police may stereotype whole area as bad rather than making alliances with locals (e.g. racial prejudice) & reduction in information flow/ willingness to assist police leads to general decline in efficiency of orthodox crime control methods.
Crime, society and culture:
Ferri the founder of modern criminal sociology harks back to this ancient tradition. The social factors examined by Ferri are population density, public opinion, manners and customs, morals and religion. He also touches upon family educational standard, degree of industrialization and alcoholism. But this does not exhaust the list: to be complete the analysis must also cover economic and social conditions, the working of public institutions such as the law, politics, police and prisons. In short, he is concerned with all the collective pressures acting on the individual. While suggesting that social factors are predominant in criminality, he nevertheless maintains that factors constantly interact, producing an overall effect upon the phenomenon of crime. All crimes—he states—are the product of individual and social conditions. The influence of these factors varies according to specific local conditions. Crimes against the individual show greater regularity in their development than others, thus illustrating the extent to which they reflect constant factors of the human personality, whereas other types of crime depend much more on social conditions. At each stage of development and at every level of society, there is a fairly constant relationship between physiological, biological and social factors of delinquency. Ferri calls this relationship the law of criminal saturation. This definition of criminal sociology contains two strands of early sociological thought: a synthetic element based on data drawn from other disciplines and an analytic element consisting of a study of one aspect of social life. All societies distinguish between two forms of social phenomena: those which are general and apply to the entire species, i.e., if not to every individual at least to most of them (and when they are not absolutely identical in all cases, there are very strict limits to the permissible variations); and those which are exceptional, which Durkheim refers to as ‘pathological’. Consequently, crime can have no meaning except in relation to a specific society and culture—culture covering not only material elements but specific and ordained moral standards which are meaningful in relation to its own particular system of values. Durkheim’s main contribution is thus the demonstration that a pathological phenomenon—such as crime—is not accidental and that its causes are not fortuitous; on the contrary, it is ‘normal’ to society, forms part of its culture, and hence ‘normally’ arises from its functioning. The most recent major contribution to the history of criminal sociology was made by Sutherland. Following up Durkheim’s ideas, Sutherland, who is rightly regarded as the founder of American criminal sociology, considers crime as a socio-cultural process inherent in all societies. Crime as a socio-cultural process by Sutherland hypothesizes explanation of criminal behavior in the light of the following assumptions:
1. Criminal behavior results from a process that is in no way different from a normal behavior process.
2. Criminal behavior is rooted in the associations of a society, as is normal behavior. Each has its own social world systematically organized in more or less permanent groups, sets or unions integrated by a scale of values that is respected.
3. The criminal personality takes shape within a corporate system—the underworld. The same basic processes of learning and social assimilation typical of the integration of a personality in a culture are present in the formation of the criminal personality, and the moral standards of that culture condition the attitude towards ‘offences’. These standards contain no condemnation of theft, for instance, which in this context is a ‘normal’ activity.
4. The importance of individual differences in the development of the criminal personality depends on how closely the delinquent participates in the criminal culture.
5. The socio-cultural conflicts which led to the creation of these nonconformist associations are also at the root of the criminal personality. The criminal is a member of associations and groups, into which he fits as a ‘normal’ member of society.
6. Social disorganization, i.e., the breakdown of society into several sectors in conflict with each other; the weakening of the cohesive force of the culture as a whole; and the appearance of individual cultures, or subcultures, are the basic causes of criminal behavior, which makes sense only in a situation that involves conflicts.
Criminal behavior is, in fact, related to non-conformist associations and develops in a conflict situation arising from social disorganization, which is itself a product of cultural disintegration. Sutherland’s definition of crime derives from his theory of criminal behavior. In his view, crime occurs whenever an individual infringes the rules that apply within a culture. The existence of crime presupposes three factors: (a) the values which are ignored or repudiated by the criminals must be values which are respected by the society as a whole or, as is often the case, by its politically most prominent members; (b) the isolation of certain groups causes them to deviate from the standards of the culture as a whole and to come into conflict with it; (c) the majority imposes sanctions upon the minority. This approach led Sutherland to speak of other forms of crime which usually escape prosecution by law, such as violations of the standards applicable in a particular culture, e.g., the white-collar criminality of economically privileged circles, when the rules governing group conduct are transgressed, this behavior being similar to any other type of criminal behavior, except for the absence of legal penalization. This approach implies a much wider definition of crime: any violation of the laws, standards and values in force in a particular culture is regarded as a criminal. The part played by psychological and sociological factors in the formation of criminal behavior can be emphasized by distinguishing between the psycho-genetic and socio-genetic features of the criminal: the former account for individual behavior while the latter explain it in the context of socio-cultural models. Here we reach the point of intersection of individual and social factors at which the problem of the motivation of the criminal act arises. The motivation of an act which makes its author a delinquent is always strictly individual. Biological and socio-cultural conditions cannot displace the motives inherent in the individual consciousness. According to Lagache, the psychologist must use behavior, individual, situation and group concepts to analyze criminogenesis; most of the situations which man has to deal with and which influence his development are social situations. Jeffery’s starting point is a gap he notes in the explanation of the phenomenon of crime: neither psycho-analysis (Freud) nor sociology (Sutherland’s theory) can explain all crimes and all forms of criminal behavior. All criminals are not neurotic and not all of them learn their criminal behavior in gangs or other criminal associations. Instead of starting from the subconscious or from social groups external to individual consciousness, Jeffery bases his theory of social alienation on the concept of the individual in society.
First, what constitutes an offence is defined by the law, which is itself an expression of the aspirations of a fairly important section of the various social levels which compose society. Thus, criminal legislation is not a rational structure based on logical criteria, but the result of the evolving morals of a particular society. The relative persistence of certain laws is simply a reflection of the particularly slow evolution of moral notions. Consequently, it seems idle to look for a single principle which would govern the behavior of an adolescent who steals a car to impress his girl-friend, the behavior of a professional gunman, or that of a big-time crook, of whom only a small percentage are under lock and key. It would be much simpler to propound a general theory of deviant behavior in which fairly reliable physiological, psychological and sociological criteria would make some kind of scientific reasoning possible. Our second consideration concerns the present stage of maturity of sociological theory. Deviant behavior is essentially relative; there are few human acts which have not, at some point in history, been regarded as criminal. For this reason, acts should be viewed as situated in a continuum, ranging good to bad, some of the latter being considered ‘criminal’. This designation and the degree of gravity attached to it depend on the ambient culture. In a society which sets great value on individual liberty and private property, the socio-cultural (and legal) definition of a criminal act will be different from that of cultures whose values exalt collective property and the subordination of individual activity to the common interest.
The above figure shows that it is the culture of a particular society determines the type of human behavior which is regarded as criminal. Since cultures can be broken down into sub-cultures and since modern industrial societies are characterized by a wide variety of cultural conflicts, the cultural coefficient of every deviant act must be established for every level in the social scale. Who committed the act? How was it judged by the individual’s own sub-culture, by the culture of society as a whole, by the police, the courts, the prosecution and such supervisory bodies as the probation service? It is because these cultural distinctions, which affect the very definition of criminal conduct, are not brought out that existing etiological explanations leave so much to be desired. Deviant behavior may be regarded as the product of social, ethnic and other factors, each of which, to some extent, governs the individual’s access to the culturally defined ends. Under the pressure thus generated, some individuals will choose non-legitimate means to achieve their ends.
Mathematical methods in criminology:
Utilizing an interdisciplinary team of operations analysts, working with mathematical techniques, including mathematical modeling, mathematical programming, game theory, Markov process theory, queueing theory, etc., may help to improve the operations of various crime control activities. Police operations and the risk-reward system of committing crime and being subjected to the probabilities of social sanctions are analyzed by mathematical methods in criminology so that they can be applied to find solutions to criminological problems.
From the viewpoint of social psychology, criminal acts may be divided into normal and abnormal behavior. The extreme position that all crime is normal or that all crime is abnormal could perhaps be defended, but our approach defines a dichotomy requiring research. By normal we do not mean rational or free of neurotic aggression. A criminal act involves some risk of detection and punishment; it may also involve some reward. It may well be that the expected risk involved in any criminal behavior exceeds the expected reward, so that any criminal behavior is irrational. It is also possible that because of their contra-cultural character, criminal acts are intrinsically manifestations of neurotic hostilities and aggressions. It must, however, be acknowledged that people are generally not rational in their decisions involving objective risk and reward. A person may willingly trade certainty of gaining or retaining a small amount for a small probability of gaining a large amount even when the expectation (the product of the probability and the amount) is smaller. The success of gambling enterprises and lotteries is dependent precisely on this ‘irrational behavior’. There is considerable evidence that such irrationality is also characteristic of ordinary legitimate business decisions. It can scarcely be characterized as abnormal. Moreover, some legitimate businesses are at best of questionable social utility and are such that success in them is heavily dependent on anti-social hostilities and aggressions. We shall not therefore categorize hostile and aggressive criminal behavior as abnormal when it is connected with the attainment of a goal. It seems that a reasonable criterion of normality might be to consider the expected risks involved in an activity and the expected benefits to be derived and to ask whether the trade would normally be an appealing one, apart from questions of legitimacy to the persons involved. Thus, shoplifting might prove to be a normal crime among the very poor, in the sense that it presents a subjectively perceived risk-reward structure normally acceptable in legitimate enterprises for these people, but might prove to be abnormal for the relatively wealthy, in the sense that a comparable risk in legitimate enterprise would be rejected. It may be that the relative appeal of a high-risk high reward venture is a function of socio-economic class. Also, the subjective magnitude of a reward may be strongly dependent on this factor. It is widely believed, for instance, that gambling for relatively small sums at unfavorable odds is more common among the poor. Let us suppose that the risk-reward structure of some criminal activities is such as to make them normally attractive to individuals from some segments of society, in the sense that a legitimate activity presenting an equivalent risk-reward structure would be attractive. For such crimes, increasing the probability or the severity of punishment should act as a deterrent. For crimes which have a risk-reward structure which would normally make them unattractive to all segments of society, such an approach would probably have little effect. Criminal homicide, for instance, usually has high risk and small reward, so its risk-reward structure is normally not attractive. Moreover, the volatile, visceral character of this offence is such that there are fewer cognitive variables operating than in most and certainly acquisitive crimes. It might therefore be expected that increasing the risk by an increase in severity or probability of punishment would have little effect as a deterrent to homicide.
Let us refer to crimes with risk reward structures ordinarily unattractive to an individual as abnormal crimes. Because a given crime may be classified normal or abnormal depending on the particular criminal, the model suggests that a change in the rate of normal crimes can be induced either (a) by changing the risk-reward structure or (b) by manipulating the social structure in order to change the number of people to whom the risk-reward structure will normally be appealing. The model suggests no a priori method for changing the rate of abnormal crimes. But in addition to being useful in examining and affecting change in rates of normal crime, the classification of crimes as normal and abnormal might be helpful in choosing methods for treatment of apprehended criminals. Although a presumption of the model is that the rate of commission of abnormal crimes will not be affected by further increasing the probability or severity of punishment, this rate may be affected by changes in other sociological variables. A difference in economic class or education of parents, for instance, may change the statistical rate of occurrence of home environment conditions correlated with delinquent behavior of the children. Social welfare policies, therefore, could eventually have an effect on both normal and abnormal crime rates.
Crime vis-à-vis economy:
Potential risk factors for crime victimization encompass conditions at the individual, relationship, community, and societal levels. Economists have traditionally conceptualized criminal behavior as a rational decision made taking into account the expected benefits compared to the expected costs. Both murder and robbery rates are higher in countries with low economic growth. Murder rates are also higher in poor countries and in communities that are poor and have large populations of young men. In general, the analysis implies that policies to reduce crime should focus on improving economic conditions, providing opportunities to young men, and improving trust in law enforcement. The economic approach tends to lead to a focus on factors which directly affect the costs and benefits of participating in criminal activity: the relative returns of crime versus legal activities, the probability of being apprehended and convicted, and punishments for those convicted. However, some studies show that increases in wealth are associated with lower levels of violent crime and higher levels of property crime.
Crime and poverty:
There is a direct correlation between poverty and criminality (Kelly, 2000; Block and Heineke, 1975). Becker’s economic theory of crime (1968) assumes that people resort to crime only if the costs of committing the crime are lower than the benefits gained. Those living in poverty, therefore, have a much greater chance of committing property crime (Kelly, 2000, Chiu and Madden, 1998) than the general population. However, some researchers think otherwise. According to them, poverty has been virtually eliminated in the Western world but yet there are plenty of crimes. Furthermore many countries, in which real poverty does exist, such as India and China, don’t exhibit this social pathology overtly. None of this is very surprising when you consider that the human animal was designed to live in a world where poverty, want and famine were the norm, not the exception. Nonetheless, around the world, the countries with relatively low levels of violent crime tend to be not only among the most prosperous but also those where prosperity has become most general, most evenly distributed throughout the population. The countries where violent crime is an endemic problem are those in which prosperity, to the extent that it is achieved at all, is confined to some sectors of the population and denied to others (vide infra-Gini Coefficient). Similar results are seen in the U.S. In areas having large economic disparities between rich and poor, rates of crime and violence tend to be high. And the rates are highest in the poorest of the poor areas. Moreover, countries providing a comparatively generous “safety net” for the poor have lower crime levels. Based on studies of crime in the U.S. and throughout the world, it can be pointed out that links between extreme deprivation, delinquency, and violence . . . are strong, consistent, and compelling. There is little question that growing up in extreme poverty exerts powerful pressures toward crime and the relation between poverty and crime “holds without regard to creed or color.”
Crime vis-à-vis income inequality:
The Gini Coefficient measures the income inequality among the entire population of the country, a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality. The higher the number, the more income is being taken in by a small group. Likewise if most of the money is being made by the majority of the population, the lower the Gini Coefficient will be. It’s important to note that the Gini Coefficient does not measure poverty or wealth. It’s also not a great idea to compare the coefficients of various countries for anything other than income inequality. Egypt may have less inequality than the US, but the quality of living in the US is substantially better than in Egypt. Gini coefficients for income range from approximately 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia). The Gini coefficients of various countries are depicted in the picture below.
The relationship between income inequality and the incidence of crime has been an important subject of study since the early stages of the economics literature on crime. According to Becker’s (1968) analytical framework, crime rates depend on the risks and penalties associated with apprehension and also on the difference between the potential gains from crime and the associated opportunity cost. These net gains have been represented theoretically by the wealth differences between the rich and poor, as in Bourguignon (2000), or by the income differences among complex heterogeneous agents, as in Imrohoroglu, Merlo, and Rupert (2000). The relationship between inequality and crime has also been the subject of sociological theories on crime. Broadly speaking, these have developed as interpretations of the observation that “with a degree of consistency which is unusual in social sciences, lower-class people, and people living in lower-class areas, have higher official crime rates than other groups” (Braithewaite 1979, 32). One of the leading sociological paradigms on crime, the theory of “relative deprivation,” states that inequality breeds social tensions as the less well-off feel dispossessed when compared to wealthier people. The feeling of disadvantage and unfairness leads the poor to seek compensation and satisfaction by all means, including committing crimes against both poor and rich. Figures below plot the simple correlation between the Gini index and, respectively, the homicide and robbery rates in a panel of cross-country and time-series observations.
The main conclusion of the above study is that income inequality as measured by the Gini index has a significant and positive effect on the incidence of crime. This result is robust to changes in the crime rate used as the dependent variable (whether homicide or robbery), the sample of countries and periods, alternative measures of income inequality, the set of additional variables explaining crime rates (control variables), and the method of econometric estimation. In the process of arriving at this conclusion, researchers found other interesting results. The following are some of them. First, the incidence of violent crime has a high degree of inertia, which justifies early intervention to prevent crime waves. Second, violent crime rates decrease when economic growth improves. Since violent crime is jointly determined by the pattern of income distribution and by the rate of change of national income, it can be concluded that faster poverty reduction leads to a decline in national crime rates. And third, the mean level of income, the average educational attainment of the adult population, and the degree of urbanization in a country are not related to crime rates in a significant, robust, or consistent way.
In a period of growing unemployment during the 1990s, there was much discussion about the link between unemployment and crime. What conclusions would you draw about crime from graphs below showing figures for unemployment and recorded crime over the period 1994–2006?
Obviously crime rates and unemployment rates go hand in hand. Even employment at minimum wage or below living wage does not help deter criminal activity. Even with government social services, such as public housing, food stamps, and medical care, the income of a minimum wage household still falls short of providing basic needs. People must make a choice between continued long-term low income and the prospect of profitable crime.
A person weighing the risks of crime considers factors like how many police officers are in sight where the crime will take place. Studies of New York City records between 1970 and 1999 showed that as the police force in the city grew, less crime was committed. A change in a city’s police force, however, is usually tied to its economic health. Normally as unemployment rises, city revenues decrease because fewer people are paying taxes. This causes cutbacks in city services including the police force. So a rise in criminal activity may not be due to fewer police, but rather rising unemployment.
Crime and Socialization:
One of the most important environmental factors during childhood development is that of socialization or the way a child is ‘taught’ how to act. This refers to the period of childhood development when children learn the rules and values of their society. This model hypothesizes that initially children learn to merely obey the rules of their society. Certain actions are repeated because of directly correlated consequences. A child does not intuitively know that stealing is wrong; they have to be taught through negative consequences that this behavior is not acceptable. They then internalize these rules and eventually believe them to be fundamentally correct. In other words, socialization refers to the developmental period where the ideals of morality and socially acceptable behavior are instilled in a child. If a child is consistently taught how to act through both positive and negative reinforcement, the child will begin to exhibit certain characteristics because they believe them to be inherently correct. If a child is not taught how to properly act or inconsistently reinforced, clear-cut moral obligations may not be instilled leading to effected social judgment and a disposition towards criminal behavior.
Crime and Education:
An important point to make is that levels of education have been determined to be significant in the manifestation of criminal behavior. Individuals with learning disabilities have been shown to be more prone to violent behavior. The major reason for this is given in an interrelated causal pattern of events with education at the center. School achievement is predictive of pro-social behavior or behaviors designated as upholding the moral values of a society. This is because academic achievement is interrelated in our society with several other variables such as financial success, high self-esteem and an internal locus of control. This particular model may account for reasoning behind the general idea that individuals with a high IQ generally have fewer tendencies for criminal behavior than individuals with a low IQ. The hypothesis is that having a higher IQ results in easier achievement in school. As stated above, doing well academically is associated with several societal factors as well. Individuals with a lower IQ may not succeed as much academically which would result in lower self-esteem and not as much financial success, resulting in an increased disposition for criminal behavior. It is important then to stress education and to address issues with learning disabilities at an early age to disallow the appearance.
Conforming to Merton’s earlier sociological theories, a survey of inmates in state prisons in the late 1990s showed very low education levels. Many could not read or write above elementary school levels, if at all. The most common crimes committed by these inmates were robbery, burglary, automobile theft, drug trafficking, and shoplifting. Because of their poor educational backgrounds, their employment histories consisted of mostly low wage jobs with frequent periods of unemployment. It cannot be overemphasized that while education can provide the chance to get a better job, it does not always overcome the effects of abuse, poverty, or other limiting factors.
The skeptics point out that the negative correlation between education and crime is produced by unobserved individual characteristics, such as low risk aversion, lack of patience, or low ability, that simultaneously place individuals at high risk of both crime and low educational outcomes. Also, individual’s criminality itself can reduce educational attainment. So how crime is correlated vis-à-vis education?
Prevent school dropout to reduce crime:
Is it possible to reduce crime rates by raising the education of potential criminals? If so, would it be cost effective with respect to other crime prevention measures? Despite the enormous policy implications, little is known about the relationship between schooling and criminal behavior. Theoretically, there are a number of reasons to expect an increase in education causes a decrease in crime. First, education increases wages and, therefore, the opportunity costs of committing a crime. Second, as highlighted by Lochner and Moretti (2004) and Lochner (2010), young people may learn to be more patient through schooling and place more weight on their potential future earnings. Becker’s (1968) economic model of crime implies that the increased opportunity costs and patience associated with higher education would decrease criminal activity. Third, those with more education may be more attached to legitimate society. Further, higher-educated people tend to have higher-educated peers, which can lead to a social multiplier or peer effect that further decreases criminal activity. All these data sources produce similar conclusions: schooling significantly reduces criminal activity. Economic theory implies a negative correlation between educational attainment and most types of crime. Schooling increases the returns from legitimate work (relative to most types of crime) and may also socialize youth. Youth who plan to engage frequently in crime benefit little from a good education. When making their schooling decisions, youth may not consider the important negative costs they impose on society if they choose to drop out of high school in favor of a life of crime. Thus, policies to promote schooling may benefit society through reduced crime, in addition to the more obvious gains from increased productivity. Lochner and Moretti (2004) estimate that a one percent increase in high school graduation rates would save the U.S. economy nearly $2 billion from reduced costs associated with criminal activity. Empirically, an increase in educational attainment significantly reduces subsequent violent and property crime yielding sizeable social benefits. Schooling has small positive effects on white collar crime. Another study found that one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of conviction by 7.5% for males and by 11% for females. It can be further argued that the impact of education on crime implies that there are benefits to education not taken into account by individuals themselves, so the social return to schooling is larger than the private return. The estimated social externalities from reduced crime are sizeable. A 1% increase in the high school completion rate of all men ages 20-60 would save the United States as much as $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime incurred by victims and society at large. Such externalities from education amount to $1,170-2,100 per additional high school graduate or 14-26% of the private return to schooling. It is difficult to imagine a better reason to develop policies that prevent high school dropout.
Another study focused on graduation versus crime rates in three Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino. The results showed that there is “a distinct link between growth in the state’s graduation rate and a drop in crime.” Statistics from the study estimate that a mere 10% increase in graduation rates could yield an estimated 20% drop in crime. The study has offered suggested numbers of homicides and aggravated assaults that could be eliminated or prevented in the three counties with those increased graduation rates. Interesting information and statistics:
1) People who go to school have a chance to make an honest living. That’s one of the basic, most fundamental things.
2) The vast majority of crimes are being committed by people who did not graduate from high school.
3) High school dropouts are more than three times as likely as graduates to be arrested and eight times as likely to go to jail or prison.
4) Policymakers need to pay more attention to improving the dropout rate, which would keep communities safer.
Crime and Peer influence:
Most of the criminals did start at an early age thus showing that they had the desire to comment crime, which is most likely produced by the biology (discussed earlier) or the environment which includes peer pressure. Peer pressure means the desire to commit crime is influenced by the children that they hang around. Do these children affect the way we think what we do, how we do it and why? The answer that most studies conclude is that of yes, it does affect the way we act, but in 99% of the studies done to this day, it only works in boys not in girls. Still today the scientist are trying to figure out why this is so and how to find out if there is a way to curb it in them. A person’s peer group strongly influences a decision to commit crime. For example, young boys and girls who do not fit into expected standards of academic achievement or participate in sports or social programs can sometimes become substance abusers. Drugs and alcohol impair judgment and reduce inhibitions, giving a person greater courage to commit a crime. Children of families who cannot afford adequate clothing or school supplies can also fall into the same trap. Researchers believe these youth may abandon schoolmates in favor of criminal gangs, since membership in a gang earns respect and status in a different manner. In gangs, antisocial behavior and criminal activity earns respect and street credibility. Like society in general, criminal gangs are usually focused on material gain. Gangs, however, resort to extortion, fraud, and theft as a means of achieving it. The fear of young people, mostly boys, joining gangs influenced many government projects in the last half of the twentieth century including President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Crime” programs.
Lead and crime:
A study in 1970 showed that even though the children had no visible signs of lead poisoning, they had significantly lower scores on IQ tests. Exposure to lead may be one of the most significant causes of violent crime in young people, according to one of the leading researchers on the subject. When environmental lead finds its way into the developing brain, it disturbs neural mechanisms responsible for regulation of impulse. That can lead to antisocial and criminal behavior. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, humans can encounter lead through deteriorating paint and dust, air, drinking water, food and contaminated soil. The brains, particularly the frontal lobes, are important in the regulation of behavior. Exposure to lead, at doses below those which bring children to medical attention, is associated with increased aggression, disturbed attention and delinquency. A meaningful strategy to reduce crime is to eliminate lead from the environment of children.
Ayurvedic medicines and crime:
Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine practiced in India and other South Asian countries. Ayurvedic medications can contain herbs, minerals, metals, or animal products and are made in standardized and nonstandardized formulations. A research study found that one-fifth of both US-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines purchased via the internet contain detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic. Most patients of lead poisoning due to ayurvedic medicines complain of diffuse abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting; and blood tests revealed microcytic anemia, moderate basophilic stippling, and no identifiable source of blood loss. All of them have high blood lead level. Since ayurvedic medicines are routinely prescribed in India, I wonder whether lead in these medicines contribute to aggression and crime in Indian population.
Drugs, alcohol and crime:
When it comes to crime, alcohol use has a big impact. Recent crime statistics show that in 45 per cent of all violent crimes, the victims believed their attackers had been drinking. 37 per cent of domestic violence cases involve alcohol. Alcohol plays a role in nearly two-thirds of all murders.
Alcohol frequently plays a role in certain kinds of crime including:
Some social factors pose an especially strong influence over a person’s ability to make choices. Drug and alcohol abuse is one such factor. The urge to commit crime to support a drug habit definitely influences the decision process. Both drugs and alcohol impair judgment and reduce inhibitions (socially defined rules of behavior), giving a person greater courage to commit a crime. Deterrents such as long prison sentences have little meaning when a person is high or drunk. Substance abuse, commonly involving alcohol, triggers “stranger violence,” a crime in which the victim has no relationship whatsoever with his or her attacker. Such an occurrence could involve a confrontation in a bar or some other public place where the attacker and victim happen to be at the same time. Criminologists estimate that alcohol or drug use by the attacker is behind 30 to 50 percent of violent crime, such as murder, sexual assault, and robbery. In addition drugs or alcohol may make the victim a more vulnerable target for a criminal by being less attentive to activities around and perhaps visiting a poorly lighted or secluded area not normally frequented perhaps to purchase drugs. The idea that drug and alcohol abuse can be a major factor in a person’s life is why there are numerous treatment programs for young people addicted to these substances. Treatment focuses on positive support to influence a person’s future decision making and to reduce the tendency for antisocial and criminal behavior.
A person who has taken drugs, in addition to the physical factors involved, retains mental image pictures of those drugs and their effects. Mental image pictures are three-dimensional color pictures with sound and smell, with all other perceptions, plus the conclusions or speculations of the individual. They are mental copies of one’s perceptions sometime in the past, although in cases of unconsciousness or lessened consciousness they exist below the individual’s awareness. For example, a person who had taken LSD would retain “pictures” of that experience in his mind, complete with recordings of the sights, physical sensations, smells, sounds, etc., that occurred while he was under the influence of LSD. When a person uses a drug such as marijuana, peyote, opium, morphine or heroin, mental image pictures of past times can “turn on” or stimulate below the individual’s conscious awareness, causing him to perceive something different than what is actually going on.
Child abuse and crime:
Cleckley’s ideas on sociopathy were adopted in the 1980s to describe a “cycle of violence” or pattern found in family histories. A “cycle of violence” is where people who grow up with abuse or antisocial behavior in the home will be much more likely to mistreat their own children, who in turn will often follow the same pattern. Children who are neglected or abused are more likely to commit crimes later in life than others. Similarly, sexual abuse in childhood often leads these victims to become sexual predators as adults. Many inmates on death row have histories of some kind of severe abuse. The neglect and abuse of children often progresses through several generations. The cycle of abuse, crime, and sociopathy keeps repeating itself. The cycle of violence concept, based on the quality of early life relationships, has its positive counterpart. Supportive and loving parents who respond to the basic needs of their child instill self-confidence and an interest in social environments. These children are generally well-adjusted in relating to others and are far less likely to commit crimes.
Breakdown of family and crime:
Poor parenting skills – erratic or harsh discipline; lack of parental control, supervision and monitoring; parental conflict, family dysfunction/breakdown; criminal, anti-social and/or alcoholic parents; and fatherlessness are causes of crime. The professional literature of criminology is surprisingly consistent on the real root causes of violent crime: the breakdown of the family and community stability. The sequence has its deepest roots in the absence of stable marriage. Policymakers also need to appreciate another strong and disturbing pattern evident in scholarly studies: the link between illegitimacy and violent crime, and between the lack of parental attachment and violent crime. A review of the empirical evidence in the professional literature of the social sciences gives policymakers an insight into the root causes of crime. Consider, for instance:
1) Over the past thirty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers.
2) High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers.
3) State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.
4) The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.
5) The type of aggression and hostility demonstrated by a future criminal often is foreshadowed in unusual aggressiveness as early as age five or six.
6) The future criminal tends to be an individual rejected by other children as early as the first grade who goes on to form his own group of friends, often the future delinquent gang.
On the other hand:
1) Neighborhoods with a high degree of religious practice are not high-crime neighborhoods.
2) Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.
3) Criminals capable of sustaining marriage gradually move away from a life of crime after they get married.
4) The mother’s strong affectionate attachment to her child is the child’s best buffer against a life of crime.
5) The father’s authority and involvement in raising his children is also a great buffer against a life of crime.
Fatherlessness and crime:
Yet for all this talk about the root causes of crime, there is one factor which overwhelms all of the others: fatherlessness. The link between fatherlessness and crime is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime, and between low income and crime. Fatherless children are:
5 times more likely to commit suicide;
32 times more likely to run away;
20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders;
14 times more likely to commit rape;
9 times more likely to drop out of high school;
10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances;
9 times more likely to end up in a mental institution;
20 times more likely to end up in prison.
Fatherless children are also, according to one British study, about 33 times more likely to be abused. In 1983, the US Department of Health and Human Services found that 60% of child abuse is inflicted by mothers with sole custody of their children. Almost all of the rest comes from other members of her entourage, especially boyfriends and second husbands.
Easy access of information:
The increased availability of free information on the Internet also makes it easy to commit certain kinds of crime. Web sites provide instructions on how to make bombs and buy poisons; all this information is easily available from the comfort of a person’s home. Easy access, however, will not be the primary factor in a person’s decision to commit a crime. Other factors – biological, psychological, or social will also come into play.
It has long been known by police officers that cold winter nights keep criminals off the streets and crime levels down. Crime scientists speculate that one of the hidden consequences of global warming will be an increase in street crime during mild winters. Studies have suggested that warmer temperatures boost aggression hormones such as epinephrine and testosterone.
American FBI has devised a list of the factors which contribute to crime:
1. Population density and degree of urbanization.
2. Variations in composition of the population, particularly youth concentration.
3. Stability of population with respect to residents’ mobility, commuting patterns and transient factors.
4. Modes of transportation and highway systems.
5. Economic conditions, including median income, poverty level and job availability.
6. Cultural factors and educational, recreational and religious characteristics.
7. Family conditions with respect to divorce and family cohesiveness.
9. Effective strength of law enforcement agencies.
10. Administrative and investigative emphases of law enforcement.
Variables affecting crime listed above provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime across the globe. This ranking leads to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that could create misleading perception. Many variables, while having significant impact on crime, are not readily measurable or applicable on all locations. In order to make valid assessments of crime, one needs to take into considerations geographic and demographic factors specific to each jurisdiction. The transience of the population, its racial and ethnic makeup, its composition by age and gender, educational levels, and prevalent family structures are all key factors in assessing and comprehending the crime issue.
Note that there is no mention of “access to firearms” in the FBI’s list above. This can be a cue to anyone claiming gun-control laws would help solve the crime. However, another factor many criminologists consider key to making a life of crime easier is the availability of handguns in U.S. society. Also, many firearms used in crimes are stolen or purchased illegally (bought on what is called the “black market”). Firearms provide a simple means of committing a crime while allowing offenders some distance or detachment from their victims. Of the 400,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 1998 in the U.S.; over 330,000 involved handguns. By the beginning of the twenty-first century firearm use was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.
Gun ownership and crime:
The problem with gun-control laws is that they take away guns from law-abiding citizens, while would-be criminals ignore them, leaving potential victims defenseless. On the other hand, there are cases on the other side of the ledger where the presence of guns almost certainly led to killings. In the end, one must acknowledge that there are both costs and benefits to either allowing or prohibiting the carrying of handguns, and the task for the scholar is to try to determine which effects dominate.
Several studies have examined the correlations between rates of gun ownership and gun-related as well as overall homicide and suicide rates within various jurisdictions around the world. Martin Killias, in a 1993 study covering 21 countries, found that there were substantial correlations between gun ownership and gun-related suicide and homicide rates. A later 2001 Killias study however, reported that no significant correlations with total suicide or homicide rates were found, leaving open the question of possible substitution effects. This study indicates correlation, but no causality. That is to say it could mean that the easier access to guns lead to more violence, or it could mean that larger amounts of violence lead to a higher level of gun ownership for self defense, or any other independent cause. Criminologist Gary Kleck found that crime victims who defend themselves with guns are less likely to be injured or lose property than victims who either did not resist, or resisted without guns. Rape research studies found that women having gun were less likely to be raped. There is no evidence that victim use of a gun for self-protection provokes offenders into attacking the defending victim or results in the offender taking the gun away and using it against the victim. Gun control advocates argue that the strongest evidence linking availability of guns to injury and mortality rates comes in studies of domestic violence. The risk of a crime of passion or other domestic dispute ending in a fatal injury was much higher when a gun was readily available. According to statistics available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, of nearly 31,000 firearm-related deaths in 2005, suicides account for 55 percent of deaths in the United States whereas homicides account for 40 percent of deaths, accidents account for three percent, and the remaining two percent were legal killings.
Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns:
In another study using cross-sectional time-series data for U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992, researchers found that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths. If those states which did not have right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly. On the other hand, concealed handguns forced criminals to substitute into property crimes involving stealth and where the probabilities of contact between the criminal and the victim are minimal. The largest population counties where the deterrence effect on violent crimes is greatest are where the substitution effect into property crimes is highest. Concealed handguns also have their greatest deterrent effect in the highest crime counties. The estimated annual gain from allowing concealed handguns is at least $6.214 billion.
An Integrative Approach (biology vis-à-vis social structure):
Criminological theory has rarely incorporated both biological and structural factors into the process theories on why individuals become criminal. These process theories, however, must include all possible causes of antisocial behavior, and I would thereby argue that theorists who neglect genetic factors are misinformed regarding the nature of biological determinism. Although I believe that inherited traits directly affect an individual’s predisposition towards antisocial behavior, I do not believe that all biological traits are unmanageable. I therefore suggest that process theories should incorporate inherited traits since these biological factors may, in the presence of a poor social environment, be a major factor in later antisocial behavior. Without recognizing the early social and structural influences that may directly override biological tendencies, theorists will be unable to establish a complete theory regarding the causes of crime. Furthermore, it is imperative that biological theories acknowledge structural factors and their interaction with an individual’s genes to avoid the potential for human rights violations based purely on the presence of a biological trait. In my article on “The stress”, I have shown that environment (society) consistently modify genetic expressions. It is important for theories to incorporate both biological and structural perspectives in order to establish comprehensive crime control and prevention policies. Once policy makers incorporate biological findings into their mandates, social programs can be developed with a focus on accepting, educating, and nurturing individuals who are born with genetic differences. With these modified programs in place, criminal activity will be reduced over a long-term basis.
An integrative approach is important in criminological theory because studies have consistently shown that there are multiple factors contributing to deviant behavior. Specifically, studies in both biological and structural criminology have resulted in ‘empirical evidence’ that seems to confirm that tested variables correlate to the likelihood of antisocial behavior. It would therefore be reasonable to assume that both genetic and social variables interact with one another in the process by which individuals become criminal. I believe that theories must include both nature and nurture in order to establish crime control and prevention strategies that will reduce criminal activity. Fishbein (1990) and other biostructural criminologists argue that a multidisciplinary approach is key to enhancing “capabilities to predict, prevent and manage antisocial behavior”.
Social processes that influence frequency of inherited traits:
Both structural and biological factors should play an integral part in a criminological process theory. For example, structural factors can directly influence criminality by increasing or decreasing the number of children born with genetic inconsistencies such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which itself directly influences the process by which individuals may become criminal. Currie (1997) argues that societies with poor social support and low employment rates encourage criminal behavior. Stressors such as these may lead to a higher rate of excessive or binge drinking within a ‘market society’. Higher drinking rates would therefore directly influence the number of children born with FAS. As Fishbein (1990, 2001) indicates, a biological predisposition such as being born with FAS is only one of many factors that may affect a child’s propensity towards criminal behavior. This belief is indicative of the biosocial approach in which criminology is structured on an idea that “both biological and environmental conditions are powerful predictors of antisocial behavior and drug abuse” (Fishbein, 2001: 63). Taking the above example, an individual with FAS may become an outcast in society during his or her teen years. If this individual makes friends with deviant peers, he or she may learn criminal behavior through a structural process. As Sutherland’s (2003) theory of differential association explains, a child with deviant peers interacts in an environment with a high number of definitions unfavorable towards the law, and the child would learn these definitions and deviant behavior in the same manner as most other behavior is learned. Furthermore, a lack of collective efficacy (Sampson et al., 1997) may allow the deviant group to exist and engage in criminal and deviant behavior. This lack of collective efficacy could be the result of a number of structural factors, including the mechanisms that Currie (1997) suggested in his conceptualization of a market society. Therefore, it is completely possible that it is a combination of both structural and biological factors that work in the process of becoming criminal. In this example, ignoring biological factors would take away one of the initial steps in the process of criminality.
Structural processes that manage abnormal pathology:
A paradox of crime exists in the fact that although most offenders have a history of antisocial behavior, most individuals with antisocial behavior do not become criminal (Sampson, 2000: 712). This paradox suggests that criminal activity is correlated to but not caused by antisocial behavior. Therefore, we must acknowledge the process by which people become antisocial as a factor in the process of becoming criminal. Fishbein (2001) specifically argues that research into the processes and multiple causes of criminal and antisocial behavior requires a developmental approach which in turn is directly influenced by both environmental and biological factors. Furthermore, Fishbein (2001) then specifies that family situations, peer interactions, school settings, and work environments are typically not static in an individual’s lifetime, and produce measurable changes in biological systems and behavioral outcomes as the individual ages. Specifically Fishbein (1990) explains how an individual with a biological predisposition to antisocial behavior may be directly affected by his or her surroundings and eventually become criminal as a result of a process rather than time-stable of biological or structural factors. For example, a child born with FAS may have “growth retardation, cognitive deficits, behavior problems and learning difficulties” (Barr & Streissguth, 2001; Hamilton et al., 2003, in Barlow & Durand, 2005: 387). Such problems and characteristics may be exaggerated if the child continues to grow and develop in an unstable environment. An unstable environment may include lack of parental supervision and support, or scarce educational programs. Without this proper support, the child may develop further problems and may be more prone to maladaptive behaviors as a result of being outcast within his or her school environment. Once excluded from his or her surroundings, the child has an increased probability of antisocial behavior which Fishbein (1990) identifies as a cumulative disadvantage.
Dramatic advances are also being made in the areas of molecular and behavior genetics. Over 100 twin and adoption studies have convincingly shown that genetic processes account for 50% of antisocial and criminal behavior. Of the remaining half that is environmental, biology accounts for part of this. For example, physical child abuse can cause brain damage that in turn results in antisocial, aggressive behavior. Genetic processes are also at play in shaping aggressive behavior in children. There is exciting new evidence that an abnormality in one specific gene (monoamine oxidase A), when combined with child abuse, predisposes to violent offending in adulthood. In a similar fashion, birth complications, when combined with maternal rejection in the first year of life, results in higher violence at age 34.
Recent findings to support an integrative approach:
The General Evolutionary Ecological Paradigm (GEEP) is a model that integrates structural and biological factors in a process approach to determine the causes of criminal behavior (Vila, 1994, in Savage and Vila, 2002: 52). GEEP uses a multilevel approach to explain deviancy. The model focuses on childhood development including “the importance of experiences and environment early in life, especially those that affect child development and the transmission of biological traits and family management practices over generations” (Savage and Vila, 2002: 52). GEEP also stresses the influence of larger structural factors which are affected directly by public health, educational and other such problems which are often considered to be outside and irrelevant to crime control policy. The GEEP predicts that structural factors such as social programs will in turn reduce levels of crime ten to fifteen years down the road when children affected by these positive changes reach adolescence and young adulthood.
The ‘lagged nurturance hypothesis’ predicts that ‘nurturant’ factors at the aggregate level (maternal and infant health care, positive parenting, and early education, for example) will have an impact on crime rates when children exposed to a given set of ‘nurturant ‘ conditions reach their high-crime adolescent and young adult years. Better-nurtured cohorts of children are expected to commit less crime (Savage and Vila, 2002: 53). Results from various studies indicate that the ‘lagged nurturance hypothesis’ can be supported, despite methodological difficulties often associated with cross-cultural data. Therefore, this finding essentially supports the concept those individuals born with biological deficiencies can be raised in such a way that the developmental processes overcome genetic differences, but only when the proper nurture and social support are present.
Interaction of social and genetic factors for criminality:
Cloninger, Sigvardsson, Bohman, & Von Knorring (1982) reported in a study of Swedish adoptees where the adoptees (N = 862) were divided into four groups depending on the presence or absence of (1) a congenital predisposition (that is, whether biological parents were criminal) and (2) a postnatal predisposition (how the children were raised by their adoptive parents). When both heredity and environmental predispositional factors were present, 40 percent of the adoptees were criminal compared to 12.1 percent with only genetic factors present, 6.7 percent for those with only a bad family environment, and 2.9 percent when both genetic and environmental factors were absent. The fact that the 40 percent rate for criminality when both biological and environmental factors are present is greater than the 18.8 percent rate given by a combination of “congenital only” and “postnatal only” conditions indicates that genetic and environmental factors are interacting. This, it is suggested, shows that the interaction between environment and genetics is more influential than either factor on its own, and suggests that environmental factors are far more influential when interacting with genetics and heritability.
Both structural and biological theories have contributed significantly to advancements in criminological theory over time. Empirical studies have found links to genetic and evolutionary factors in twin and adoption studies, whereas structural and environmental factors have been found statistically significant in other studies. By taking the importance of the processes by which individuals become criminal into account, we must accept that both biology and structure have an influence over deviant behavior. It is only once theories acknowledge both factors that proper social programs geared towards diminishing and eliminating any genetic predisposition towards antisocial behavior can be put forth. Simply put, an increase in collective efficacy might keep individuals who have genetically based behavioral or physical differences included in the community rather than pushing them away, which may result in antisocial and criminal behavior.
Conclusion of integrative approach:
Both genes and environment do play a role in the criminality of an individual. This evidence has been generated from a number of twin, family, and adoption studies as well as laboratory experiments. Furthermore, the research has stated that it is more often an interaction between genes and the environment that predicts criminal behavior. Having a genetic predisposition for criminal behavior does not determine the actions of an individual, but if they are exposed to the suitable environment, then their chances are greater for engaging in criminal or anti-social behavior.
Computer analogy would not be inappropriate. The hardware is biological factors and the software is environmental factors. What you see on computer screen is interaction between hardware and software. Criminal behavior (for that matter any behavior) is interaction between biological factors and environmental factors. However, in contrast to computer, biological factors (hardware) are not inflexible in the sense that biological factors can vary since inception of life till death. So the hardware is not that hard. As already discussed in my previous article “The Stress”, genes can modify the response to change in environment and vice versa environment can also modify genetic makeup. In the same way, for any behavior including criminal behavior, biology and environment are constantly interacting with each other and modify each other. A person with antisocial personality can alter peaceful environment to make it offensive, and hostile environment can change a serene personality to become aggressive. So the interaction between biological factor and environmental factors is complex, variable and unpredictable.
Do criminals think differently than ‘normal’ people?
Yochelson & Samenow (1976, 1984) have studied the cognitive styles of criminals to look for patterns or aberrations in how they process information. These researchers believe thought patters are more important than biology or environment in determining who becomes a criminal. Yochelson & Samenow described the criminals in their research sample as being ‘master manipulators’, compulsive liars, people in control of their own behavior. They claim that criminal thinking had an internal logic and is consistent, but is erroneous and irresponsible. A serious discrepancy exists between a criminal’s view of reality and societies shared view of reality. Researchers developed this profile based on one-n-one interviews with hardened and psychologically disturbed criminals (limited generalizability).
Types of criminal behavior:
A research study focuses on three types of violent offenders: the violent psychopath, the offender with an antisocial personality disorder (APD), and the offender who suffers from an intermittent explosive disorder (IED). Below, these types of criminals are briefly introduced and commonalities and differences between them are discussed:
1) Violent psychopaths do not have feelings like the rest of us. They lack the normal mechanisms of anxiety arousal, which ring alarm bells of fear in most people. Their kind of violence is similar to predatory aggression, which is accompanied by minimal sympathetic arousal, and is purposeful and without emotion. Moreover, they like to exert power and have unrestricted dominance over others, ignoring their needs and justifying the use of whatever they feel compelling to achieve their goals. They do not have the slightest sense of regret.
2) Persons with APD have characteristics that are similar to the psychopath. However, they may experience some emotions towards other persons, but these emotions are mainly negative: they are very hostile and intolerant.
3) Persons with IED, in contrast, appear to function normally in their daily life. However, during some short periods (referred to as episodes), their brain generates some form of miniature epileptic fit. Such episodes can be triggered by minor negative experiences. As a result, some very aggressive impulses are released and expressed in serious assault or destruction of property. After these episodes, IED persons have no recollection of their actions and show feelings of remorse.
These three types of criminals can be distinguished by taking a number of aspects into account as seen from the table above for an overview.
Poor fear conditioning as a marker of potential criminal:
Gao and colleagues, using data rooted in a study that was initiated more than 20 years ago, tested whether abnormal fear conditioning predisposes to crime. Fear conditioning is a basic form of learning in which fear is associated with a previously neutral stimulus. Experimentally, this is done by pairing a neutral stimulus with an aversive one, such as an unpleasant loud noise. Eventually the previously neutral stimulus alone will evoke a fear response that can be quantified with physiological measurements such as electrodermal responses. The study by Gao et al. is based on the hypothesis that fear conditioning is the mechanism by which we learn to link antisocial acts with negative consequences such as punishment or social exclusion. By leading to a failure in such social learning, poor fear conditioning would thus predispose an individual to antisocial behavior. Crucially, if poor fear conditioning has a causal role in crime, it should be detectable early in life, before antisocial behavior becomes manifest. In the framework of a large birth cohort study, Gao et al. tested fear conditioning in children at age 3. Twenty years later, they probed the association of poor fear conditioning in early childhood with adult criminal behavior. A group of 137 individuals who had been convicted of committing crimes by age 23 was compared with a carefully matched group from the same cohort who showed no evidence of criminal behavior. Strikingly, skin responses to the conditioned stimulus were significantly smaller in children who became criminal later on. In fact, on average, there was no evidence for any conditioning at all in the criminal group, as skin responses to the conditioned stimulus were statistically indistinguishable from responses to a stimulus that was not conditioned. The implications of this finding are at least twofold. First, it provides new insights into the etiology of criminal behavior; second, it may help to guide early therapeutic interventions in children at risk for antisocial behavior. The central brain structure in the circuitry underlying fear conditioning and the perception of threatening stimuli in the environment is the amygdala. Deficient amygdala function has been proposed to render individuals unable to recognize cues that signal threat, making them relatively fearless. Less sensitive to any negative consequences of their behavior, fearless individuals engage more readily in antisocial behavior. Indeed, the relationship between antisocial behavior and amygdala dysfunction is supported by a number of findings in adults and adolescents, including deficits in recognizing fearful facial expressions, poor fear conditioning, and reduced amygdala responses to negative emotional stimuli as measured with functional neuroimaging. While such findings in adults and adolescents are ambiguous as to whether they represent cause or consequence of repetitive antisocial behavior, the results reported here by Gao et al. now point to an early deficit in amygdala function as a causal mechanism. However, the notion of a generally hyporesponsive amygdala would be too simplistic. The amygdala is a small yet complex structure comprising a number of subnuclei with distinct functional properties. Moreover, some studies have shown increased amygdala responsiveness in antisocial individuals and in those with a genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior. Contrasting with the fearlessness hypothesis outlined above, such findings point to a different pathomechanism whereby pathological aggression may be related to heightened anxiety. Increased amygdala responsiveness is a well-established finding in anxiety disorders and is thought to be the basis for exaggerated fear conditioning. This is nicely demonstrated by another study. Using a simple but elegant modification of classical fear conditioning, Lissek et al. show that in panic disorder, fear responses are more easily generalized—that is, fear responses are evoked more easily by stimuli that resemble the conditioned stimuli in patients with panic disorder compared with healthy individuals. The heterogeneity of findings from neuroimaging studies suggests that the amygdala might be differentially involved in different etiologies of antisocial behavior. This exemplifies the necessity of taking into account the whole spectrum of possible pathogenetic factors and developmental pathways if we are to develop a more complete understanding of antisocial behavior. Especially when it comes to developing targeted preventive or therapeutic interventions, it will be crucial to identify subgroups of at-risk individuals in whom different neurobiological mechanisms underlie antisocial behavior. The Gao et al. study is an important step toward this goal, as it identifies a biological marker that may help to identify subgroups with a distinct neurobiological profile even in early childhood. Clearly, the scope for changing behavior will be greatest in the early years because of the greater plasticity of the brain in childhood.
Is poor fear conditioning at age 3 likely to represent an innate trait? While this question cannot be answered with certainty, it is clear that a wealth of environmental influences can already have taken effect during the first 3 years and even in utero. Reduced fear conditioning in 3-year-olds may thus represent not just a genetic predisposition but rather the early manifestation of gene-environment interactions. The researchers of the study aimed to minimize the chances that differences in fear conditioning were due to adverse environmental factors by matching the two groups for social adversity. However, some important issues were not systematically assessed and may have gone unnoticed, such as differences in nutrition, parenting style, and maternal stress during infancy. Finally, crime is a multifaceted behavioral outcome of complex interactions among multiple biological and environmental factors and cannot possibly be explained by a single neurobiological factor such as fear conditioning. If not handled with great caution, neurobiological markers can easily be misused to stigmatize individuals who are perceived as a potential threat to society.
Human weakness theory for crime:
People are not bad by nature, but sometimes simply too timid to resist the vicious demons that play on their weaknesses and cut their bond with the source of their Power. Humans are good by default, but not everyone is made of steel so as to defend themselves against the demonic forces – destructive emotions and detrimental attitudes: fear, ignorance, hatred, worry, revenge, envy, attachment, greed, lust, selfishness, doubt, prejudice, pride, vanity, impatience, sloth, discrimination, arrogance, ambition, addiction, gluttony, criticism, blame, anxiety, frustration and so on. We all get attacked by those faulty ethereal goblins of our minds and hearts, but most of us succeed to resist them. It’s easy to act on anger, greed, revenge or any of highlighted above, but it takes courage and strength to determine that there is something more important than that. I personally disapprove human weakness theory. I assert that all human beings are neither equal nor same nor good by default. Yes, outwardly all human beings are same having human cells with 46 chromosomes, 23 each from each parent but even identical twins do not have identical fingerprints. There are good human beings and there are bad human beings in every society, every race, every culture and every religion. Yes, what is good and what is bad can be debated, and differentiation between goodness and badness varies from one society to another society and from one time to another time. But to say that all human beings are good by default is unacceptable to me.
Kleptomaniacs are people who insist on stealing objects. Shoplifting gives kleptomaniacs a rush. In many cases kleptomaniacs are not poor, but middle-class citizens. There are no explanations why kleptomaniacs like to shoplift. There are some theories that state that there is something mentally wrong with the kleptomaniac. Another theory of why kleptomaniacs steal is that they have an extra chromosome. This extra chromosome makes the victim feel like he or she needs to steal. Also they gain a sense of control in shoplifting. It gives them a rush of adrenaline that they can’t obtain otherwise. Some kleptomaniacs do not like stealing, but for some reason they still shoplift. They need psychotherapy in groups or as individuals.
The peak age of criminal activity is during the years 16-25. This may be due to the following factors;
1) Boys often have to ‘prove’ their masculinity which can, at times, result in criminal activity.
2) The likelihood of a young person belonging to a subculture is high, and some subcultures engage in criminal behavior.
3) Young people may have few legitimate means available of acquiring material goods.
4) Less responsibilities.
5) Teenage rebellion can lead to people breaking the law.
Causes and correlates of crime:
Many different causes and correlates of crime have been proposed with varying degree of empirical support. The Handbook of Crime Correlates (2009) is a systematic review of worldwide studies on crime publicized in the academic literature. The results of a total of 5200 studies are summarized. In order to identify well-established crime correlates, consistency scores were calculated for the factors which many studies have examined. The authors argue that the review summaries most of what is currently known of variables associated with criminality.
1) Age – Crime is most frequent in second and third decades of life.
2) Gender- Males commit more overall and violent crime. They also commit more property crime except shoplifting, which is about equally distributed between the genders. Males appear to be more likely to recidivate.
3) Arousal- Measures related to arousal such as heart rate and skin conductance are low among criminals.
4) Body type- Mesomorphic or muscular body type is positively correlated with criminality.
5) Hormones- Testosterone is positively correlated to criminality.
6) Biochemical markers- Low monoamine oxidase activity and low 5-HIAA levels are found among criminals.
B) Race, ethnicity, and immigration:
There is a relationship between race and crime. Many different theories have been proposed for the relationship between race and crime in the United States. Ethnically/racially diverse areas probably have higher crime rates compared to ethnically/racially homogeneous areas. Most studies on immigrants have found higher rates of crime. However, this varies greatly depending on the country of origin with immigrants from some regions having lower crime rates than the indigenous population.
C) Early life:
1) Pregnancy- Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with later criminality. Low birth weight and perinatal trauma/birth complications may be more prevalent among criminals. Children whose births result from an unintended pregnancy are more likely to be delinquents or commit crimes.
2) Family- Child maltreatment, low parent-child attachment, marital discord/family discord, alcoholism and drug use in the family, and low parental supervision/monitoring are associated with criminality. Larger family size and later birth order are also associated.
3) Enuresis- Nocturnal enuresis or bed wetting correlates with criminality.
4) Bullying- Bullying is positively related to criminal behavior.
5) School- School disciplinary problems, truancy, low grade point average, and dropping out of high school are associated with criminality.
D) Adult behavior:
1)Alcohol and illegal drug use- High alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, as well as high illegal drug use and dependence are positively related to criminality in general.
2) Sex- Early age of first intercourse and more sexual partners are associated with criminality.
3) Friends- Few friends, criminal friends, and gang membership correlate positively with criminality.
4) Religion- High religious involvement, high importance of religion in one’s life, membership in an organized religion, and orthodox religious beliefs are associated with less criminality. Areas with higher religious membership have lower crime rate. I have a different view on this aspect as discussed in my article on “Science of religion”.
E) Physical health:
1) General morbidity- Criminals probably suffer from more illnesses.
2) Epilepsy- Epilepsy appears to have a positive correlation with criminality.
3) Accidental injuries- Criminals are more frequently accidentally injured.
F) Psychological traits:
1) Conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder- Childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial personality disorder are associated with one another and criminal behavior.
2) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder correlates positively with criminality.
3) Depression and suicide- Minor depression and probably clinical depression is more likely among offenders. Depression in the family is associated with criminality. Criminals are more likely to be suicidal.
4) Schizophrenia- Schizophrenia and criminality appear to be positively correlated.
5) Intelligence quotient and learning disabilities- There is also a relationship between lower IQ and crime. A learning disability is a substantial discrepancy between IQ and academic performance. It has a relationship to criminal behavior. Slow reading development may be particularly relevant.
6) Personality traits- Several personality traits are associated with criminality: High impulsivity, high psychoticism, high sensation-seeking, low self control, high aggression in childhood, and low empathy and altruism.
G) Socioeconomic factors:
Higher total socioeconomic status (usually measured using the three variables income (or wealth), occupational level, and years of education) correlate with less crime. Longer education is associated with less crime. Higher income/wealth have a somewhat inconsistent correlation with less crime with the exception of self-report illegal drug use for which there is no relation. Higher parental socioeconomic status probably have an inverse relationship with crime. High frequency of changing jobs and high frequency of unemployment for a person correlate with criminality. Somewhat inconsistent evidence indicates that there is a relationship between low income, percentage under the poverty line, few years of education, and high income inequality in an area and more crime in the area. The relationship between the state of the economy and crime rates is inconsistent among the studies. The same for differences in unemployment between different regions and crime rates. There is a slight tendency in the majority of the studies for higher unemployment rate to be positively associated with crime rates.
H) Other geographic factors:
Cities or counties with larger populations have higher crime rates. Poorly maintained neighborhoods correlate with higher crime rates. High residential mobility is associated with a higher crime rate. More taverns and alcohol stores, as well as more gambling and tourist establishments, in an area are positively related to criminality. There appears to be higher crime rates in the geographic regions of a country that are closer to the equator.
I) Weather, season and climate:
Crime rates vary with temperature depending on both short-term weather and season. The relationship between the hotter months of summer and a peak in rape and assault seems to be almost universal. For other crimes there are also seasonal or monthly patterns but they are more inconsistent across nations. One explanation for this is that heat affects the body which may cause effects such as discomfort; another is that temperature changes to way people socially interact. On the other hand for climate, there is a higher crime rate in the southern US but this largely disappears after non-climatic factors are controlled for.
J) Victims and fear of crime:
Risk of being a crime victim is highest for teens through mid 30s and lowest for the elderly. Fear of crime shows the opposite pattern. Criminals are more often crime victims. Females fear crimes more than males. Blacks appear to fear crime more. Blacks are more often victims, especially of murder.
K) Cultural and societal – Specific factors:
1) Media violence- Media violence research examines whether links between consuming media violence and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior exists.
2) Gun politics- The effects of gun politics on crime is another controversial research area.
3) Drugs- Both legal and illegal drugs are implicated in drug-related crime.
4) Being an unwanted child- Children whose parents did not want to have a child are more likely to grow to be delinquents or commit crimes. Such children are also less likely to succeed in school, and are more likely to live in poverty. They also tend to have lower mother-child relationship quality. Children who’s births were unintended are likely to be less mentally and physically healthy during childhood.
Criminal profiling is a method of identifying the perpetrator of a crime based on an analysis of the nature of the offense and the manner in which it was committed. Criminal profiling is a behavioural and investigative tool that is intended to help investigators to profile unknown criminal subjects or offenders. The basic premise is that behavior reflects personality. Various aspects of the criminal’s personality makeup are determined from his or her choices before, during, and after the crime. This information is combined with other relevant details and physical evidence, and then compared with the characteristics of known personality types and mental abnormalities to develop a practical working description of the offender. Another phase of criminal profiling (crime scene investigation) is case linkage. Case linkage or linking analysis refers to the process of determining whether or not there are discrete connections between two or more previously unrelated cases through crime scene analysis. The three main goals of criminal profiling are to provide law enforcement with a social and psychological assessment of the offender; to provide law enforcement with a “psychological evaluation of belongings found in the possession of the offender and to give suggestions and strategies for the interviewing process.
In a homicide case, for example, FBI profilers try to collect the personality of the offender through questions about his or her behaviour at four phases:
1. Antecedent: What fantasy or plan, or both, did the murderer have in place before the act? What triggered the murderer to act some days and not others?
2. Method and manner: What type of victim or victims did the murderer select? What was the method and manner of murder: shooting, stabbing, strangulation or something else?
3. Body disposal: Did the murder and body disposal take place all at one scene, or multiple scenes?
4. Post-offense behaviour: Is the murderer trying to inject himself into the investigation by reacting to media reports or contacting investigators?
There are controversies associated with criminal profiling. Investigators may find an early suspect who appears to fit the profile, and ignore or foreclose investigating other leads. Some experts in criminal psychology have questioned its scientific validity. Many profilers and FBI agents are not psychologists, and some researchers who looked at their work found methodological flaws. Some psychologists question the basic presumption that you can draw conclusions about a person from a single instance of behavior under such special circumstances. Popular use of the term criminal profiler has led to the proliferation of many self-described profilers offering their purported expert opinions on cable news shows in response to incidents capturing national attention.
Forensic science or Forensics is the application of different sciences and latest technology (Medical and engineering) to convert the clues into evidence or validate the evidence related to a crime or a civil action which are of interest to the legal system. Forensic scientist collect evidence like blood, finger prints, foot prints, hair from comb or hair brush, saliva from the tooth brush ,explosive chemicals or residuals, poison from the crime spot or from the victim; bring them to their laboratory ,analyze them and help the police, CID or court to catch and punish the culprit. The word forensic comes from the Latin forēnsis, meaning “of or before the forum.” In Roman times, a criminal charge meant presenting the case before a group of public individuals in the forum. Both the person accused of the crime and the accuser would give speeches based on their sides of the story. The individual with the best argument and delivery would determine the outcome of the case. In a typical criminal investigation, crime scene investigators will gather material evidence from the crime scene, victim and/or suspect. Forensic scientists will examine these materials to provide scientific evidence to assist in the investigation and court proceedings, and thus work closely with the police. Examples of forensic science include the use of gas chromatography to identify seized drugs, DNA profiling to help identify a murder suspect from a bloodstain found at the crime scene, and laser Raman spectroscopy to identify microscopic paint fragments etc.
Did you know that over half of all £5 banknotes in the UK are estimated to be contaminated with detectable traces of cocaine?
This illustrates one of the key principles of forensic science; that every contact leaves a trace, hence minutes traces of cocaine are transferred from hand-to-banknote and from banknote-to-banknote and so on (the same principle enables forensic scientists to establish links between crime scenes and suspects). Secondly it illustrates the phenomenal power of detection of modern techniques of chemical analysis. Gas Chromatography combined with Mass Spectroscopy (GM-MS), for example, can detect as little as 0.000000000001g (or a million-millionth of a gram!) of cocaine.
Did you know that cigarette butts and even sweet wrappers found at the scene of a crime can often provide invaluable forensic evidence?
The need for a cigarette or a piece of chewing gum, perhaps taken to help calm the nerves whilst involved in some stressful criminal activity, has proved the undoing of a number of individuals over the years. Criminals are often known to discard their cigarette butts, sweet wrappers or expired chewing gum at or near the crime scene before departing, whether though ignorance, arrogance or sheer carelessness. Cells from the saliva extracted from a cigarette butt or a piece of chewing gum can provide enough DNA to obtain a DNA profile of the individual, thereby linking them to the crime scene. Sticky sweet wrappers act as ‘magnets’ to hairs and fibers, and sometimes enable forensic scientists to match those found at the crime scene with those found on the suspect’s person or clothing.
Did you know that bare footprints and palmprints are unique to the individual in just the same way as fingerprints are?
In Israel in 1968 failure to recognize this simple fact cost a young burglar a two-year prison sentence. Before entering the premises he had removed his shoes and socks, placing the socks over his hands so as not to leave any latent fingerprints at the scene. Instead he left a nice clear set of incriminating latent footprints!
Crime scene investigations:
Crime scene investigation (CSI) is the meeting point of science, logic and law. “Processing a crime scene” is a long, tedious process that involves purposeful documentation of the conditions at the scene and the collection of any physical evidence that could possibly illuminate what happened and point to who did it. There is no typical crime scene, there is no typical body of evidence and there is no typical investigative approach. It is helpful to secure an area that is larger than the crime scene. Forensic photographs are essential for investigating and prosecuting a crime. This is because most evidence is transitory: fingerprints must be lifted; bodies must be taken away and examined; and homes or businesses must be returned to their normal state. Photographs help preserve not only the most fleeting evidence — like the shape of a blood stain that will soon be mopped up — but also the placement of items in a room and the relation of evidence to other objects. Such images can prove vital to investigators long after the crime scene is gone. The goal of the evidence-collection stage is to find, collect and preserve all physical evidence that might serve to recreate the crime and identify the perpetrator in a manner that will stand up in court. Evidence can come in any form. Some typical kinds of evidence a CSI might find at a crime scene include:
1) Trace evidence (gunshot residue, paint residue, broken glass, unknown chemicals, and drugs)
2) Impressions (fingerprints, footwear, tool marks)
3) Body fluids (blood, semen, saliva, vomit)
4) Hair and fibers
5) Weapons and firearms evidence (knives, guns, bullet holes, cartridge casings)
6) Questioned documents (diaries, suicide note, phone books; also includes electronic documents like answering machines and caller ID units)
Biometrics is a technology that identifies you based on your physical or behavioral traits. Biometrics can use physical characteristics, like your face, fingerprints, irises or veins, or behavioral characteristics like your voice, handwriting or typing rhythm. Unlike keys and passwords, your personal traits are extremely difficult to lose or forget. They can also be very difficult to copy. For this reason, many people consider them to be safer and more secure than keys or passwords. Everybody knows fingerprinting but fingerprinting isn’t the only way to catch a criminal and there are many other biometrics-driven technologies now available. Eye scans, voice fingerprints and even DNA are now providing means of identification, as well as access to everything from ATMs to cars.
Ever since scientists discovered that every person’s fingerprints are unique and police officers realized this singularity could help them catch criminals, fingerprints have been an integral part of the law enforcement process. Today, fingerprints are also used to prevent forged signatures, identify accident victims, verify job applicants and provide personalized access to everything from ATMs to computer networks. Modern fingerprinting techniques can not only check millions of criminal records simultaneously, but can also match faces, backgrounds and other identifiable characteristics to each perpetrator. Today, digital scanners capture an image of the fingerprint. To create a digital fingerprint, a person places his or her finger on an optical or silicon reader surface and holds it there for a few seconds. The reader converts the information from the scan into digital data patterns. The computer then maps points on the fingerprints and uses those points to search for similar patterns in the database.
People have tiny ridges of skin on their fingers because this particular adaptation was extremely advantageous to the ancestors of the human species. The pattern of ridges and “valleys” on fingers make it easier for the hands to grip things, in the same way a rubber tread pattern helps a tire grip the road. Like everything in the human body, these ridges form through a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The genetic code in DNA gives general orders on the way skin should form in a developing fetus, but the specific way it forms is a result of random events. The exact position of the fetus in the womb at a particular moment and the exact composition and density of surrounding amniotic fluid decides how every individual ridge will form. So, in addition to the countless things that go into deciding your genetic make-up in the first place, there are innumerable environmental factors influencing the formation of the fingers. Just like the weather conditions that form clouds or the coastline of a beach, the entire development process is so chaotic that, in the entire course of human history, there is virtually no chance of the same exact pattern forming twice.
Consequently, fingerprints are a unique marker for a person, even in an identical twin. And while two prints may look basically the same at a glance, a trained investigator or an advanced piece of software can pick out clear, defined differences. So fingerprints are even more unique than DNA, the genetic material in each of our cells. Although identical twins can share the same DNA — or at least most of it — they can’t have the same fingerprints.
A minor scrape, scratch or even burn won’t affect the structure of the ridges in your fingerprints — new skin reforms in its original pattern as it grows over the wound. But each ridge is also connected to the inner skin by small projections called papillae. If these papillae are damaged, the ridges are wiped out and the fingerprint destroyed. Some criminals have tried to evade capture by tampering with their own fingerprints. But as fingerprint technology becomes a common form of authentication from bank vaults to luxury cars, law enforcement officials worry that would-be criminals might try to steal entire fingers for the prints. In one case, robbers in Malaysia cut off a man’s fingers so they could steal his Mercedes.
Both the retina (the layer of tissue in the back of the eye that converts light into nerve signals) and the iris (the colored part of the eye) have unique characteristics that make them highly accurate biometrics. For a retinal scan, a person holds his or her eye close to the scanning device for 10 to 15 seconds while a low-intensity light and sensor analyze distinct patterns. Although retinal scans are used in very high-security institutions like power plants and the military areas, they are currently too expensive to be practical for widespread use. Irises have more than 200 different unique identifying characteristics (about six times more than fingerprints) ranging from rings to freckles. Iris identification systems take only about two seconds to scan the iris and look for patterns. They’re used in some prisons and a few airports.
Every time a new Osama bin Laden tape comes out, the FBI Audio Lab runs it through a voice analyzer, which captures the frequency, intensity and other measurements to determine whether the tape is authentic. These so-called “voice fingerprints” aren’t as definitive as fingerprints or DNA, but they can help distinguish one person from another.
In human cells, DNA is tightly wrapped into 23 pairs of chromosomes. One member of each chromosomal pair comes from your mother, and the other comes from your father. In other words, your DNA is a combination of your mother’s and your father’s DNA. Unless you have an identical twin, your DNA is unique to you. This is what makes DNA evidence so valuable in investigations — it’s almost impossible for someone else to have DNA that is identical to yours. While you can change your appearance, you can’t change your DNA. Today, the gold standard is DNA evidence because DNA can be collected from virtually anywhere. Even criminal wearing gloves may unwittingly leave behind trace amounts of biological material. It could be a hair, saliva, blood, semen, skin, sweat, mucus or earwax. All it takes is a few cells to obtain enough DNA information to identify a suspect with near certainty. Because of this, scientists are starting to use DNA analysis to link suspects to blood, hair, skin and other evidence left at crime scenes. DNA fingerprinting is done by isolating the DNA from human tissues. The DNA is cut using special enzymes, sorted and passed through a gel. It’s then transferred to a nylon sheet, where radioactive probes are added to produce a pattern — the DNA fingerprint. DNA evidence is powerful, but it does have limitations. One limitation is related to misconceptions about what a DNA match really means. A contributing factor to public misconception is how DNA analysis is portrayed in movies and television. Matching DNA from a crime scene to DNA taken from a suspect is not an absolute guarantee of the suspect’s guilt. Instead, forensic experts prefer to talk about probability. For example, they might make a statement like this: The chance is 1/7,000 that an unrelated person would by chance have the same DNA profile as that obtained from the evidence. Combine that statistical analysis with other evidence, and you can see how prosecutors can make strong cases against a suspect. Even more troubling are cases of DNA fraud — instances where criminals plant fake DNA samples at a crime scene. Planting fake DNA obtained from someone else is only part of the problem. Scientists recently reported that they could, with access to profiles stored in DNA databases, manufacture a sample of DNA without obtaining any tissue from that person. So there are grey areas in DNA fingerprinting which every investigating officer, every prosecutor and every judge must know.
Biometric systems don’t just look at how you shape each letter; they analyze the act of writing. They examine the pressure you use and the speed and rhythm with which you write. They also record the sequence in which you form letters like whether you add dots and crosses as you go or after you finish the word.
Humans have always had the innate ability to recognize and distinguish between faces, yet computers only recently have shown the same ability. In the mid 1960s, scientists began work on using the computer to recognize human faces. Since then, facial recognition software has come a long way.
As with irises and fingerprints, a person’s veins are completely unique. Twins don’t have identical veins, and a person’s veins differ between their left and right sides. Many veins are not visible through the skin, making them extremely difficult to counterfeit or tamper with. Their shape also changes very little as a person ages.
New Forensic Tool to help investigators identify “age” with Fresh and not-so-Fresh Blood:
Dutch researchers have managed to come up with a method that will estimate the age of a suspect and/or missing persons just by examining the blood that has been collected from that crime scene, even if the blood is not fresh. What’s done is that the science turns on a specific molecular process that’s coupled with the blood’s T-cells. The T-cells ability to identify foreign threats depends on the variety of receptors that will match up to uniqueness seen in the invaders. This variety is obtained by rearranging the T-cells DNA over a period of time. This ends up being a process that generates discernible circular DNA molecules as a side-effect. As a person ages, these molecules will reduce in numbers. When the amount of these molecules is counted and compared to the number of some other reference gene that will stay constant in a person’s life, experts can presume with a fair amount of accuracy the age of the person whose blood is being tested. In cases where investigators have been unable to gather leads about a missing or wanted person, this process can help them establish a more precise profile of the person they’re trying to find. It should be noted that the test is far from perfect and has a nine year margin of error, no matter the direction. Thus, if the test says a person is 35, that person may actually be between 26 and 44 years of age. In short, from a drop of blood, fresh or old, researchers can roughly establish the age of a person.
Blood stain analysis:
We’ve become used to hearing how blood samples are used to identify someone through DNA. But the blood itself — where it lands, how it lands, its consistency and the size and shape of the blood droplets, or spatter — can determine a lot of significant aspects of the crime. A well-trained and seasoned bloodstain pattern analyst can often provide key information that leads to arrest and conviction. Blood spatters can lead to the recreation of a crime because of how blood behaves. Blood leaves the body as a liquid that follows the laws of motion and gravity.
After close analysis, blood spatters can indicate important information such as:
Type and velocity of weapon
Number of blows
Handedness of assailant (assailants tend to strike with their dominant hand on the opposite side of the victim’s body)
Position and movements of the victim and assailant during and after the attack
Which wounds were inflicted first
Type of injuries
How long ago the crime was committed
Whether death was immediate or delayed
Besides above mentioned crime scene investigations, biometrics and blood stain analysis, there are other methods to catch criminals including lie detector polygraph test, narcoanalysis, and brain mapping etc which are already discussed by me in my article “The lie”.
The forensic autopsy or medico-legal autopsy is the medical examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death when the person is suspected of dying due to unnatural causes of death e.g. homicide, suicide or accident. The forensic autopsy spends almost as much time on the external surfaces of the body as it does on the internal surfaces because that’s where evidence is. Forensic autopsies try to find answers to the cause of death as part of an overall police investigation.
Dogs and crime:
Dogs have proven effective deterrents to burglars. Researchers say when they asked absolute “no go” factors, most burglars responded by saying dogs were second only to occupants. The sight or sound of dog at potential site invariably resulted in “no go at target” decision. Professional dog handlers suggest that some breeds of dogs are better at “watch dog” duties than other breeds. Everybody knows that dogs are integral to crime scene investigations. Dogs’ sense of smell is far more acute than that of humans – the nose of a German shepherd contains about 200 million olfactory cells, while a human nose has about 20 million. This superior canine sense has been put to use in criminal investigations for centuries. For one thing, their sense of smell is almost 50 times more sensitive than a human’s. A dog can sniff out criminals, drugs, weapons, and bombs in situations where a human officer would have to search every inch, a dangerous task. Dogs used in law enforcement today have an impressive range of skills, from sniffing out explosives to locating earthquake survivors – as in recent weeks in China – and matching criminal suspects to their scent trails – but the speciality in the spotlight is the human cadaver dog. The use of the cadaver detection dogs played an integral part in locating a missing piece of a skeleton some distance from a scene. A trained human cadaver dog will not signal a living person or an animal (except pigs), but it will signal a recently deceased, putrefying or skeletonised human corpse. Dogs’ noses are so sensitive that they are even capable of detecting bodies that are under running water. There is also a dark side of dog & crime. There are many reports that suggest that dangerous dogs are used for criminal activity. The types of animals used vary from Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pitbull-types, and American bulldogs to so-called Canary dogs. These dogs are trained to attack victims.
Novel way to improve crime detection rate (crooks help police boost crime detection rate):
South Yorkshire Police have for many years operated a robust policy around offences taken into consideration which affords suspects, when arrested, the opportunity to admit responsibility for all their offending. Defendants in court accused or convicted of an offence gain credit for owning up to other crimes in order to wipe the slate clean and avoid prosecution for them later on. Police in South Yorkshire solved one fifth of the county’s crimes last year by getting to criminals to confess to all their offences. The force had the highest number of offences wiped off its books through criminals asking for offences to be ‘taken into consideration’ – with 19 per cent of all detected crimes solved that way. However, the system should not be abused simply to obtain better detection rates. Also, allowing offenders to admit additional crimes is only useful if they are committed to reforming, according to a senior Surrey Police figure.
Detrimental effects and impact of crime on society:
Crime has many detrimental effects on society. Victims of crime can suffer fear, stress, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, personal financial costs, medical costs, and health problems. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that the cost of crime to victims is approximately $17.6 billion a year in the U.S. This estimate does not include the direct cost to the criminal justice system to process and punish/rehabilitate offenders.
The trauma of victimization can have a profound and devastating impact on crime victims and their loved ones. It can alter the victim’s view of the world as a just place and leave victims with new and difficult feelings and reactions that they may not understand. It is important for victim assistance professionals to understand the different ways that crime can affect victims. Victims of either violent or nonviolent crimes can face a multitude of challenges as the result of their victimization. Crime affects victims and their families on a variety of levels: physical, physiological, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, financial, social, and spiritual. Victim assistance programs may offer resources to deal with many or all of these issues.
Everyone is affected by crime, either as a direct victim or a friend or family member of a victim. Even individuals who are not direct victims of crime can be negatively affected in a variety of ways, such as developing an increased fear of crime or experiencing the financial impact of crime (e.g., higher insurance rates, lost work days). While primary victims of crime might be identified easily, secondary victims such as family and clan members may not be so readily identifiable and may not receive needed services.
The term “trauma” often is used to describe the experience of crime victims. Trauma refers to both a medical and a psychiatric condition. Medically, ‘trauma’ refers to a serious or critical bodily injury, wound, or shock. Psychiatrically, ‘trauma’ has assumed a different meaning and refers to an experience that is emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.
Short-term trauma occurs during or immediately after the crime and lasts for about 3 months. Few crime victims are anticipating a violent assault as the crime occurs, so most are shocked, surprised, and terrified when it happens. Crime victims often have feelings of unreality when an assault occurs and think, “This can’t be happening to me.” People who have been victimized in the past are at greater risk of developing emotional problems than newly victimized individuals. Victims do not “get used to it.” Many victims of violent crime describe experiencing extremely high levels of physiological anxiety, including rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, and stomach distress. Crime victims often experience cognitive symptoms of anxiety, including feeling terrified, helpless, guilty, or out of control. Such physiological and emotional reactions are normal “flight or fight” responses that occur in dangerous situations. In the days, weeks, and first 2 or 3 months after the crime, most victims of violent crime continue to have high levels of fear, anxiety, and generalized distress.
Most victims of crime are able to cope with the trauma of victimization. This is especially true of those who receive counselling, other supportive services, and/or information about justice processes and their relevant rights. However, if victim trauma is neither identified nor addressed with mental health assistance, the initial and short-term trauma reactions can exacerbate and turn into long-term trauma reactions, including:
1) Major depression.
2) Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts.
3) Use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
4) Ongoing problems with relationships.
5) Anxiety disorders.
6) A changing view of the world as a safe place.
7) Increased risk of further victimization.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and crime:
I have already discussed PTSD in my article on “The stress”. Rates of PTSD are much higher among those who have been victims of violent crime than those who have been victims of other types of traumatic events. For example, one study found that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 25.8 percent among crime victims compared to 9.4 percent among victims of other traumatic events. Victims of crimes that resulted in physical injuries, and who believed they might have been killed or seriously injured during the crime, were much more likely to suffer from PTSD than victims whose crimes did not involve life threat or physical injury (45.2 percent compared to 19 percent). Rates of PTSD appear to be higher among victims who report crimes to the justice system than among non-reporting victims, probably because these crimes are more serious or more likely to result in injury. Evidence shows that many crime victims with PTSD do not spontaneously recover without treatment, and some crime victims experience PTSD years after they were victimized.
A victim’s ability to cope with the impact of crime depends on a variety of factors (National Institute of Mental Health, 2006):
1) A history of victimization increases trauma following a new crime.
2) A history of mental health problems increases trauma following a new crime, particularly a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
3) A higher degree of threat to life and physical injury increases the risk of difficulty in coping.
4) Generally, violent crime victims have a more difficult time coping than property crime victims.
5) Research also indicates two key post-victimization factors that can increase the likelihood of victims to develop mental health problems:
a) A lack of or poor social support systems.
b)The degree of exposure to the justice system.
Victim service providers need to understand the dynamics of trauma and the vital role victim service providers have in trauma response and victims’ rights advocacy:
1) Remember that every victim is unique.
2) Never make assumptions concerning how a victim will react.
3) Recognize that a person’s reaction to victimization will be influenced by a variety of factors.
4) Try to identify the specific needs of individual victims and develop a plan to meet them.
5) Know and use the wide range of community, cultural, and justice system resources to meet the myriad needs of victims.
6) Become familiar with the culture and traditions of the populations being served.
Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, and Financial impact of crime:
Brief summaries of the physical, spiritual, emotional/psychological, and financial impacts of crime are shown in tables below which provide an overview of the range of possible reactions that victims may experience.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL IMPACT OF CRIME ON VICTIMS:
|Physiological anxiety (including rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, and stomach distress)–
Physical injuries (such as gunshot wounds, lacerations, broken bones, sprains, and burns)–
Physical injuries that lead to other health conditions (such as heart attack, stroke, fractures from falling, and loss of dexterity)–
Increased risk of cardiac distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic pain–
Immune disorders that increase the potential for infectious diseases–
Substantial lifestyle changes, including restriction of activities once enjoyed–
Lethargy and body fatigue–
Loss of appetite, excessive appetite, or eating disorders–
Decreased libido and sexual dysfunction–
Inability to work–
Increased risk of future victimization–
For sexual assault victims: possible exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, exposure to HIV, and unwanted pregnancy
|In an attempt to understand events that make no sense, people who do and do not engage in religious practice often turn to the spiritual beliefs with which they were raised. These spiritual insights are sometimes helpful; more often than not, however, victims express disappointment in the reactions of their faith communities.–
All religions accept suffering as a component of the human experience but understand its role differently. Hindus and Buddhists understand the role of karma in tragic events and seek to accept what has happened rather than seek justice. Jews believe that God expects human beings to act in kindness to one another; when they do not, justice is sought and forgiveness must be earned. The wide gamut of Christianity practiced in the United States includes all perspectives, from acceptance of suffering as “God’s will” and forgiveness of offenders to strong drives for justice in the secular arena. Muslims believe they have a special mission from Allah to create a just society. They typically condemn violence and willingly participate in the justice system.
EMOTIONAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL AND FINANCIAL IMPACT OF CRIME ON VICTIMS:
Estimates of financial costs of crime:
Some of the financial costs of crime—such as property damage, replacement of stolen or damaged items, medical bills, lost days at work, and therapy expenses—are easy to identify. However, emotional pain and suffering, fear, damage to interpersonal relationships, community-wide fear and loss, and other intangible costs can be difficult to measure. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice published a study of the costs and consequences of crime victimization that attempted to quantify both the monetary costs of crime victimization as well as the psychological/emotional costs. Among the findings were:
1) Personal crime is estimated to cost $105 billion annually in medical costs, lost earnings, and public program costs related to victim assistance.
2) Including pain, suffering, and the reduced quality of life increases the cost of crime to victims to an estimated $450 billion annually.
3) Violent crime (including drunk driving and arson) accounts for $426 billion of this total, with property crime at $24 billion.
One method for assigning value to fear, pain, suffering, reduced quality of life, and other intangible costs is to use the amount of money given in jury awards for these losses. This method is imperfect; however, as it does not take into account the impact on a person’s extended family or clan nor the impact on the wider community. Some crimes, such as hate crimes, may negatively affect every member of a particular group in a city or state or even the entire country. In fact, one of the purposes of a hate crime is to affect all members of the targeted group.
Crime has an impact not only on primary and secondary victims but also on the entire community. High-profile major crimes, such as school shootings or multiple-victim molestations, understandably will have an impact on all community members. Other crimes, such as kidnappings, sexual assaults, or drunken driving crashes can also have a wide effect.
Impact of crime trauma on brain development in children:
A variety of research studies have examined the impact of trauma on brain development (DeBellis, 1999; Perry, 1997; van der Kolk, 1994). The research strongly suggests that physiological changes take place in a child’s developing brain due to the experience of trauma. Changes in the developing brain can even take place in utero, based on the mother’s experience of trauma or stress. Traumatic experiences before age 5 may alter the development of neural pathways, sensitizing pathways that are related to fear and arousal. This sensitization predisposes the child to react to external stimuli in a certain way. A child who has been exposed to traumatic events may be predisposed to react to all situations as potentially dangerous. Physiological changes, such as the release of stress hormones, can cause the child to become hypervigilant, fearful, and anxious. The parts of our brains that control higher order functions such as social skills, emotional control, and logical thinking are among the last areas to develop. If a child experiences trauma in the early years, normal brain development may be affected, making it more difficult to develop these higher order skills.
There are several negative impacts of crime upon an area. They include;
1) Depopulation, particularly in urban areas.
2) High levels of crime may damage community spirit and result in less neighborliness. People may simply want to ‘keep themselves to themselves’ for fear of harassment.
3) High crime levels can contribute to environmental poverty.
4) Once a region with a high level of crime is labeled as a bad area, it might become a ghetto.
Four Justifications of Criminal Punishment:
1) Retribution – imposes a penalty on the offender. Retribution is based on the premise that the punishment should fit the crime.
2) Deterrence – seeks to reduce criminal activity by instilling a fear of punishment. Criminologists have debated whether imprisonment has a deterrent effect, given that 30 to 50 percent of those released from prison become recidivists (i.e., repeat offenders).
3) Rehabilitation – seeks to return offenders to the community as law-abiding citizens.
4) Social protection – focuses on restricting offenders so that they cannot commit further crimes. Imprisonment prevents offenders to commit additional crimes.
I have already discussed death penalty in my article on “The death”. The purpose of punishment is to discourage a person from committing a crime. Punishment is supposed to make criminal behavior less attractive and more risky. Imprisonment and loss of income is a major hardship to many people. It is axiomed that the choice of crime will be discouraged by the length of imprisonment. After the 1960s many believed more prisons and longer sentences would deter crime in the U.S. However, despite the dramatic increase in number of prisons and imposing mandatory lengthy sentences, however, the number of crimes continued to rise. The number of violent crimes doubled from 1970 to 1998. Property crimes rose from 7.4 million to 11 million, while the number of people placed in state and federal prisons grew from 290,000 in 1977 to over 1.2 million in 1998. Apparently longer prison sentences had little effect on discouraging criminal behavior. According to the database, the U.S. has the world’s largest prison population: 2,245,189 prisoners (including pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners) as of mid-2006. China followed with 1,565,771; Russia 889,598; Brazil 419,551; and India 332,112.
Crime prevention is the attempt to reduce victimization and to deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice. Criminologists, various commissions and international organizations (WHO & UN) agree that governments must go beyond law enforcement and criminal justice to tackle the risk factors that cause crime because it is more cost effective and leads to greater social benefits than the standard ways of responding to crime. Interestingly, multiple opinion polls also confirm public support for investment in prevention. The core problem of crime is similar in every country, but the way we try to deal with crime can vary considerably. Because we experience similar crime problems, it is useful to learn from each other about the best ways to prevent crime and create safe communities. Let me clarify that, in the segment below, I will be looking at how to prevent the high volume crimes that affect neighborhoods where people live, play and work. These are mostly thefts (such as burglary, shop thefts and car crime) and violence (against people or property). I will not be talking directly about organized crime or corporate crime which will be discussed in later segments.
Wherever you go in the world, you will find that there are three main ways to prevent crime:
|1||Using the Criminal Justice System (police, courts, prisons etc.) to deter people from committing crime or to remove them from circulation so that they cannot commit any more crimes;|
|2||Reducing the opportunities for crime to occur. In Britain and North America this is called situational crime prevention and usually entails improvements to the physical security or design of buildings and neighborhoods;|
|3||Reducing the motivation to offend. This is sometimes called criminality prevention or social crime prevention.|
I want to concentrate my presentation on the third of these, but, first of all, a brief discussion and critique of the first two. Using the Criminal Justice System (CJS) to deter crime and Situational Crime Prevention (SCP) assumes that we are all potential criminals who need to have our instincts curbed. Although this may be true for some, I do not think it is true for all of us. Let me explain this by once more creating three categories, but this time for types of people rather than types of crime prevention:
|This type of person does not offend because they know it is “wrong” to steal from or hurt another person. They have an internal moral code that makes them want to do right.||This type of person will commit a crime if there is an easy opportunity and they think they can get away with it. They have a philosophy of “looking after themselves, at the expense of others”.||This type of person is a persistent and prolific offender. They are so deeply into crime and anti-social behavior that they have very little to lose by desisting. They are not deterred by sanctions and see SCP as a challenge.|
What proportions of the population fit into each of the three categories? Well “outlaws” usually make up a small minority of the population, but their negative impact on communities is out of all proportion to their numbers. In most civilized societies one would hope that there are more “self-regulators” than “rational choosers” , but there is not a rigid demarcation between the two – where you sit may be affected by time and circumstance. The important thing to recognize is that the boundaries between the three categories are not fixed – people can move over time (hopefully leftwards rather than rightwards!) and this is where the potential for social crime prevention comes in, as we shall see shortly.
The point I want to make before we move on to looking at the content of social crime prevention, is that application of the CJS and SCP are only really effective for the middle group – the rational choosers. This is a necessary group to restrain, so we must keep the CJS in place and continue to make crime more difficult to commit and get away with, but we should not be concentrating too high a proportion of our precious crime control resources on just these two approaches. There is a danger that we will reach saturation point, where putting more resources into policing, incarceration and fortification not only produces diminishing returns but leads to negative consequences for the quality of life of the population as a whole. I believe this is the case in many countries including the superpowers of the USA and Russia. SCP is discussed in detail later on.
I believe we should invest much more time and effort into the third category of crime control – social crime prevention (SCP). This has the potential to both rescue the “outlaws” from the margins and to build up the proportion of “self-regulators” in the population. If we can reduce the number of “outlaws” and increase the proportion of “self-regulators” we will, in time, need to spend less time and money on the criminal justice system and situational crime prevention.
So what does “social crime prevention” consist of? Good social crime prevention is an interlocking series of interventions that enables people to lead a life where they do not have the inclination, motivation or need to offend against others, whether for expressive or acquisitive reasons. To put it crudely, social crime prevention ensures that babies grow up to be considerate children, pro-social adolescents and responsible adults. A tall order? Yes, but not impossible. A comprehensive social crime prevention program would contain most of the following elements:
1) Support for parents before and after child-birth, by health workers;
2) Parenting skills training and family support, by people trained in developmental psychology;
3) Good quality nursery and pre-school provision;
4) Personal, social and moral education in schools;
5) Adequate play and youth activities (of the type that children and young people want);
6) Training and employment for useful or meaningful work;
7) Supported accommodation for people with particular needs or vulnerabilities;
8) Help to overcome or reduce the damage caused by alcohol and other drug dependencies;
9) Mediation and other community based conflict resolution services.
Ideally, such a public service program would be offered universally to the entire population (as happens in varying degrees in the Scandinavian countries), but in reality, due to limited resources, interventions have to be targeted at the most vulnerable or problematic neighborhoods.
The main difficulty of implementing social crime prevention measures should not be their cost (it has been calculated that they accrue huge savings in other types of public expenditure from the obvious reduction in victim losses and crime processing, to more oblique benefits such as reduced medical treatment expenses and less vandalism). The main challenge is to hold steadfast over the long-term pay-off from social crime prevention. Unfortunately SCP requires substantial early input to achieve a benefit that may only become apparent over a long time scale. For example the early intervention program such as “Healthy Start” in Hawaii and “Sure Start” in England, and the Schools/police/social services liaison scheme in Denmark may only pay off (in terms of overall public service savings) in ten or fifteen years’ time.
The attraction of criminal justice and situational interventions, such as police crackdowns, building new prisons, installing CCTV in public places or constructing gated communities for upper income residents, is that they produce an immediate visible and drastic result. However, such interventions may merely stem the tide of crime or force it to gush out somewhere else. We will not reduce crime in any sustainable way until we make serious impacts on the reasons why some people are tempted or driven to offend in the first place. The good news is that personal and social interventions that reduce the motivation to commit crime, if offered as help and with sensitivity, can, at no extra cost, lead to people growing up to be happier, healthier and more self-fulfilled altogether, rather than just making them law-abiding.
Finally, it is important to point out that citizens will be more inclined to do the right thing if the social, economic and political system they live in is perceived as fair and just. National and local government policies and practices need to exemplify and model the kind of fair, responsible and equitable behavior that is expected of the citizenry. In England bad parents say to their children “Do as I say, not as I do” – no wonder their children become delinquents!
_ _ _
Risk factor for crime vis-à-vis crime prevention:
Determining what factors are associated with different types of crime can lead to the development of a set of strategies and programs to change those factors, and prevent or reduce the incidence of those crimes. These underlying or causal factors are often termed risk factors. “Risk factors” is a term used especially in the area of developmental prevention, to refer to characteristics affecting individuals or crime patterns. It is used here in a wider sense. They include global changes and trends that affect the social and economic conditions of regions and countries; factors affecting individual countries and local environments and communities; those relating to the family and close relationships; and those that affect individuals. Knowledge about the factors that put populations, communities and individuals at risk enables prevention program to be targeted to areas and neighborhoods at high risk, or to groups of individuals who are already involved in offending or at risk. At the national level, this assists Governments in prioritizing crime problems, and in targeting program to the regions, cities or sectors that seem most vulnerable. Such targeting of programs and funds to tackle the greatest needs has been shown to be an effective and economical way of reducing levels of crime and victimization. The Figure below illustrates the multifaceted nature of the factors influencing crime and violence:
At the global level, major population movements, rapid urbanization, environmental disasters, economic recessions and changes in patterns of trade and communications or in patterns of organized crime can all have serious consequences for regions and countries. Such events can influence the state of a region or a country’s political economy, and the infrastructure and capacity to govern may also be affected. International organized crime often capitalizes on weak government structures and institutions, and increased trafficking in drugs, guns or people can greatly exacerbate levels of crime and violence. The impacts of such global patterns are also affected by regional or national policies that can exacerbate or ameliorate them. Migration policies, for example, may affect the extent of trafficking in persons and the numbers of victims and perpetrators of that crime.
At the national level, the extent of the disparity in household income between the poorest and the wealthiest populations of a country, levels of corruption, the quality of the infrastructure & institutions, and social & cultural patterns can all create situations that increase the risks of crime and victimization. I have already discussed the relationship between Gini coefficient and crime.
At the local level, inadequate infrastructure, fiscal & administrative powers, poor housing and neighborhood conditions, lack of facilities such as good education and health services, high unemployment and easy access to drugs or small arms can all increase risks. Within cities, there are often marked discrepancies and inequalities between different geographical sectors. Poor or disorganized schools can result in poor achievement, dropping out of school, bullying behavior and exclusion from school, all of which have been identified as risk factors for offending and victimization among children and young people.
At the individual level, risk factors for offending and victimization include biological and personal factors that may lead to early aggressive behavior or serious substance abuse, for example. Risk factors connected with relationships include family characteristics such as harsh or erratic parenting, family conflict and violence and abuse, family circumstances such as poverty and isolation, and relationships with friends and peers that can lead to risk-taking and law breaking. There is always a tendency, nevertheless, to overemphasize the role of individual factors in prevention programs, by focusing on the disruptive or offending behavior of individual young men or youth gangs, for example. This leads to a neglect of the wider social and economic factors, which may seem more difficult to address. A well-planned prevention strategy will work to address all individual, social and economic issues.
Resilience for prevention of crime:
There are protective factors help to build or strengthen the resilience of communities and individuals to risks. They include factors such as well-governed cities with low levels of inequality, and effective and fair leadership, effective and transparent criminal justice systems, adequate funding for social, environmental and economic programs and citizen participation. For local communities, the availability of appropriate education and employment, strong community links and relationships, including those associated with cultural and faith-based groups or respected elders and good recreation, transport and other facilities are important. For children and youth, caring and consistent parenting, good role models and staying in school are all important. This resilience does help avoiding crime and victimization in spite of their circumstances.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CTPED):
Research has shown that the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in both the opportunity for crime and fear of crime. Through their involvement in design and construction, architects, planners and builders can influence the creation of safer neighborhoods and communities. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is about the places and things, the “built environment,” which can be either targets of criminal activity or the location where crime takes place. The proper design, effective use and maintenance of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, and an improvement in quality of life. CPTED is complementary to and inter-related with crime prevention through social development strategies as people live in the built environment and the built environment influences how people behave. CPTED is based on the premise that much crime is opportunistic and contextual. Inadvertently, nuisance and criminal behavior can be facilitated by poorly planned and designed space, leading to actual opportunities for crime, as well as increased levels of fear. Through the effective use of CPTED principles crime, nuisance behavior and the fear of crime can be reduced. Application of CPTED principles to new developments prevents future problems; and using CPTED enhances problem-solving capability for existing developments.
There are four key CPTED design principles:
1) Natural access control – design that directs and influences the flow of people to naturally maximize control and surveillance (e.g., exterior and interior design of a building, landscaping, lighting, and traffic calming).
2) Natural surveillance – design to maximize visibility and ensure legitimate users can observe and monitor activities around them in a formal or casual manner (e.g., office or apartment windows with unimpeded sightlines to parking areas or other areas where crime is likely to occur).
3) Territoriality – design of the physical environment to extend a perceived sense of influence or territory. People taking ownership of their surroundings makes it more difficult for offenders to carry out crimes or disorder.
4) Maintenance – enhancement, maintenance and management of the built environment encourages the users of the area to respect their surroundings (e.g., removing graffiti and litter, avoiding overgrowth of hedges, fixing inoperative lighting, installing good locks).
Obstacles to the adoption of CPTED:
First is a lack of knowledge of CPTED by environmental designers, land managers, and individual community members. For this reason, allocating substantial resources to community educational programs are often required. The second major obstacle is resistance to change. Many specifically resist the type of cooperative planning that is required to use CPTED. The third obstacle is the perception that CPTED claims to be a panacea for crime that will be used to displace other more traditional approaches rather than a small, but important, complementary tool in deterring offender behavior. The fourth obstacle is that many existing built areas were not designed with CPTED in mind, and modification would be expensive, politically difficult, or require significant changes in some areas of the existing built environment.
Situational crime prevention (SCP):
Situational crime prevention covers approaches that aim to reduce the opportunities for people to commit crimes, to increase the risks and costs of being caught and to minimize the benefits. Such approaches help prevent the occurrence of crimes by reducing opportunities, increasing risks of being apprehended and minimizing benefits, including through environmental design, and by providing assistance and information to potential and actual victims.
Five specific categories of situational prevention strategies have been identified:
1. Those that increase the effort of offenders.
2. Those that increase the risks for offenders.
3. Those that reduce the rewards for offenders.
4. Those that reduce the provocation to offend.
5. Those that remove the excuses for offending.
It always focuses on putting in safety measure that help to protect people by making criminals feel like they will be unable to commit crimes or that it would be a situation they would be easily caught or discovered in and make them not want to commit a crime in areas with these methods in place. The reasoning behind these methods is rooted within the idea of rational choice regarding crime. By using the idea that every criminal will look at the situation of a possible crime, look at the balance of how much they can gain, and stand it against how much they can loose and how likely they are to fail, they will act accordingly. So if there is a large amount of safeguards put in place to cause a very high probability of failure or capture, then the rational choice for a criminal will be to not commit the crime. The central concepts of this theory are deeply rooted within the thought process of a rationally thinking criminal.
There are technique categories that revolve around increasing the risks criminals have to face in committing their crimes. Formal surveillance is a very common type of security in almost all places with anything to protect. It entails using a security system that is being consistently monitored by personnel to ensure increased security. By having cameras and the eyes of a security force that can notify the police at a moment’s notice always watching, there is a much higher risk for a criminal. Natural surveillance is the final type of risk increasing technique. This is one of the biggest techniques regarding residential protection. Enhancing natural surveillance is a prime objective of defensible space, and also, more explicitly, of ‘neighborhood watch’. By allowing anyone to look at a building or a home and see if there is something obviously wrong going on, they have the ability to rush and get help instead of there being no knowledge about what is happening.
Reducing the rewards is the next technique set of situational prevention. Identifying property is a technique that has been used for a very long time. VIN numbers on automobiles and all theirs largest components are common ways to identifying a person’s property as their own. Inventions such as LOWJACK are also ways to have your property identified and easily located to get it retrieved before it is damaged terribly, and possibly catch the criminals in the act of dismantling it or driving it. Removing inducements is a bit of a more complex technique. It focuses on removing certain items or situations that would be conducive to crimes being committed. By not having items or situations that might invite crimes to happen, vandalism of targets or theft of very obvious and open targets like gold jewelry or cars can be prevented. The final strategy is rule setting. These are a very basic measure of protection. By placing very clear rules, that will cover any kind of ambiguity or any kind of specifically dictated condition that the law should be carried out under, the clientele or employees will know what they can be and will be punished or reprimanded for. The more vague and unspecific a rule is however, and then people will very often find ways to exploit that for their own gain.
Another way of implementing SCP is to focus on increasing the guilt and shame a criminal will feel in committing an illegal act. Here aforementioned technique of rule setting does fit. The three new types of techniques are strengthening moral condemnation, controlling disinhibitors, and facilitating compliance. Strengthening moral condemnation covers information campaigns that stress how bad it is to do something like steal or drink and drive, so everyone feels that it is a deplorable act, so the guilt you might feel if others you know find out, you would be heavily judged and thought badly of, which would prevent you from committing the crime in the first place. Controlling disinhibitors are things like the legal drinking age, ignition interlocks in cars and other such devices that will always be known or felt, so that a criminal would be aware that he is obviously going against the set legal settings, either mentally or physically. The final addition is facilitating compliance, wherein by adding things such as increased checkouts, and public lavatories & waste receptacles, rather than commit a minor crime by stealing or putting somewhere it shouldn’t, there is an acceptable outlet to place such things and the methods of complying with the law do not feel cumbersome and unnecessarily long.
An example of situational crime prevention might address problems associated with intoxicated people leaving bars at closing time, such as fights and impaired driving. Situational solutions include education of bar staff and patrons about responsible drinking; regulations addressing the number, size and location of bars and their closing times; police presence at closing times; and availability of public transport. Problems with credit cards might be addressed by increased security features on the cards themselves, business practices which require verification that the person presenting the card is the owner, bank procedures to rapidly cancel stolen cards, to limit the profit the thieves can make, and police action which targets known credit card thieves.
Crime prevention through reintegration refers to all programs that work with children, young people or adults already involved in the criminal justice system, including those in custody and returning to the community. Those convicted of offences run the greatest risk of re-offending, given that they have already broken the law, have few opportunities and skills to pursue legitimate non-criminal lifestyles, and may have strong links with other offenders and offending lifestyles. Providing them with life and job skills, training, education, alternative lifestyles and role models and good support and housing in the community are all ways to assist with their reintegration.
Combining crime prevention approaches:
No one approach (or underlying theory of intervention) is inherently better than the others. All of them have advantages and disadvantages. Some social development approaches can be long-term and require commitment and investment continuing over a number of years. Community or locally based approaches can require considerable patience with the difficulties of engaging citizens in positive ways, or maintaining the momentum of projects. They are more difficult to evaluate, so clear and rapid results from interventions may be hard to identify. Situational prevention has often been criticized for focusing too much on opportunistic crime and target-hardening techniques or surveillance, (because it can displace crime and disorder to other areas); for encouraging unequal access to security (for example, with the development of private space and gated communities); and for failing to tackle the social or economic causes of crime problems. No specific crime prevention approach should be considered superior to the others. Rather, any approach selected should form part of a strategic and balanced plan, and the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in a particular context should be considered. Thus, a project in a city neighborhood, for example, may combine a range of initiatives such as changes to traffic layout, better lighting, employing and training young people to act as guardians and local mediators, providing support to low income families and providing better recreation facilities and opportunities in disadvantaged residential apartments.
Timing of crime prevention strategies:
Specific terms are sometimes used to refer to the stages at which crime prevention programs can be applied, regardless of the approach used. The public health inspired typology, using the terms primary, secondary and tertiary prevention to reflect the stages of (possible) entry into the criminal justice system, is still commonly used, but does not fully reflect the range of issues involved in preventing crime and developing safe communities:
1) Primary prevention refers to programs or initiatives aimed at those who have never been involved in the criminal justice system, such as programs to educate or alert the general public or young people about domestic violence or bullying in schools. At the primary level, crime prevention refers to universal, population-based programs such as public education and healthcare.
2) Secondary prevention refers to programs specifically targeted to children and young people who are identified by the social services, educational or justice systems as being at risk of involvement in crime. At the secondary level, crime prevention refers to programs that target those at higher risk for criminal activity. This level would include programs for youth at risk of leaving school and parenting programs for high-risk parents.
3) Tertiary prevention refers to programs for those who are in the criminal justice system and/or returning to the community, with the aim of preventing re-offending. At the tertiary level, crime prevention refers to rehabilitative and supervision programs for offenders to reduce re-offending.
Crime prevention types can be classified in another way as shown in the pictures below:
Finally, it is important to point out that citizens will be more inclined to do the right thing if the social, economic and political system they live in is perceived as fair and just. National and local government policies and practices need to exemplify and model the kind of fair, responsible and equitable behavior that is expected of the citizenry. In England bad parents say to their children “Do as I say, not as I do” – no wonder their children become delinquents!
Crime rates vis-à-vis public safety resources:
A research study presented a statistical analysis of the relations between crime rates and the level of public safety resources, controlling for the major conditions that affect each variable. Major findings include the following:
1) Crime in the United States is much higher than that reported to police but has probably not increased over the past 20 years.
2) An increase in police appears to have no significant effect on the actual rate of violent crime and a roughly proportionate negative effect on the actual rate of property crime.
3) An increase in corrections employees appears to have no significant effect on the violent crime rate and a small positive effect on the property crime rate.
4) Crime rates are strongly affected by economic conditions. For example, an increase in per capita income appears to reduce both violent and property crime rates by a roughly proportionate amount.
5) Crime rates are also affected by demographic and cultural conditions. For example, the violent crime rate increases with the share of births to single mothers.
6) The demand for police and corrections employees is a negative function of the average salary of public employees, a positive function of per capita income and federal aid, and a positive function of the crime rates
How to avoid common criminals:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” that saying is as true for crime, as it is for health. The easiest and most effective way of dealing with crime is not be a victim of it in the first place. This is easier said than done, and no matter how cautious you are you can still be a victim. Nothing will give you a 100% guarantee; however, there are things you can do to at least limit your odds of being a victim.
Passive thieves are those who steal but are not aggressive towards their victims. They prefer their victims not to be around. These people usually are the ones who will break into your car, home, business etc. They are impulsive and really do not think much about the penalties they will face if they get caught. Sometimes they preplan to do a crime, but other times they see an opportunity and go for it. Some of the common items they steal are cash, cheques, credit cards, purses, laptops, or if they break into your home they will also target: desktop computers, TV’s, VCR’s, DVD player, tools, and jewelry, basically anything they think they can turn into cash. These types of criminals are some of the easiest to deal with from a preventative nature. Because they are always looking for an easy opportunity, your best defense is not to give them one. Some of the common things people (potential victims) inadvertently do which create easy opportunities are listed below.
Leaving their keys in the car
Leaving the house unlocked
Leaving the car unlocked
Making it obvious that they are gone for an extended period of time
Leaving valuables in the car that are in plain view
Leaving their vehicle running while unattended
Leaving their purse in the shopping cart while shopping
These types of criminals are much more dangerous and much harder to prevent against. They mostly focus on doing armed robberies, and expect their victims to be there. They are violent in nature and very unpredictable. They care nothing about the victim, and lately it appears that they are more than willing to kill. The do preplan their crimes somewhat but not usually very well, their main tool of control is their intimidation, and the weapon they carry. Even without a weapon they can be dangerous and will fight ferociously. They usually won’t stay around long if they are just robbing a business, or an individual on the street. However; if they take the victim somewhere or get them in an isolated area, then the crime may turn to rape, aggravated assault, or murder. Here are some activities which may invite this type of problem.
Not being aware of your surroundings
Being alone late at night, or in unsafe areas
Displaying large amounts of cash or valuables
Working at convenience stores, or gas stations
Letting people in your home that you do not know
These are your date rape type. They are not actively aggressive however they are sneakier. They preplan their attacks, or take advantage of someone who has put themselves in a vulnerable position (for example someone who is passed out from intoxication or drug use). They will appear to be your friend and then slip something in your drink (date rape drug) to knock you out, where they can then take advantage of you. Any traveler can also fall victim to these criminals.
Alcohol induced troublemakers:
These types of people are normally pretty decent people, but when they drink they become a monster. You will encounter these types at the bar, sporting events, large parties, and unfortunately sometimes weddings. The best defense against these types is just stay clear of them, and don’t get into any confrontations with them.
These are typically your domestic violence types. They are outwardly pretty meek and mild, where most people that know them outside of the home would never think they are domestic abusers; however, inside the home structure they are very controlling, and that control is enforced through physical assaults and psychological degradation. Many times red flags will appear early in the relationship that are signs that the person could be a domestic abuser.
These are criminals who are better known as con artists. They preplan their scams and are usually very good at them. They are normally non-violent, very good at getting your trust, and talking their way out of situations. They offer free trips, discounted services, money, etc… Whatever they offer, it is just front to get you interested, in the end they are going to take your money. They may also pose as your Medical Insurance carrier, Bank, Credit Card Company, etc, and con you into telling them your personal information. These con artists attempt their scams in person, over the phone, and through the internet.
Crime reduction is different from crime prevention. The perspective or starting point for crime reduction is people, places or situations already known for criminal activity. This can be a group of offenders who have racked up a long record of assaults and robbery. It might be a residential neighborhood that has been plagued by break-ins. Or it could be a situation, such as out-of-control house parties where the peace is disturbed and underage drinking and sexual exploitation may take place. Crime reduction starts with assessing the current problem and developing strategies to decrease the amount of criminal activity, or minimize the harm it causes. Because crime reduction is focused on existing criminals, crime locations and situations, it relies heavily on information or intelligence which describes those people, places and situations in great deal. What are the characteristics of the offenders, and the factors that support their criminal activity? What are the patterns of criminal activity – the frequency, times, locations, targets, and circumstances of the activity? In crafting a response that will reduce the activity, a number of partners are typically involved, and the timeliness and integration of the response is important. Examples of crime reduction include:
1) Prolific offender management is a people-oriented strategy that focuses on offenders who are seen as the generators of the most offences. Generally, about 10 per cent of offenders are believed responsible for about 50 per cent of crime. Prolific offender management projects bring together resources from enforcement agencies (police, corrections and government), as well as health and social services to provide services to offenders. The goal is to address factors in offenders’ lives that can increase their likelihood of offending, such as drug or alcohol use, and ensure an effective response when they re-offend or relapse.
2) Targeting crime “hot spots” or geographic areas where there are high levels of crime, is primarily a place-oriented strategy. This could include increasing police presence or applying CPTED principles, such as changing traffic patterns. Hot spot strategies can align with people-oriented strategies. For example, offenders who have court-ordered restrictions on where they can be, when they can be out, and who they can associate with, may be checked by police more frequently in hot spots, thus discouraging attendance.
3) Managing major public gatherings that have a history of problems such as public intoxication, accidents and fights, is a situational strategy. Careful planning of the event from a crime reduction perspective would involve event organizers, police, municipal officials, first aid providers and others to ensure opportunities for crime are minimized, supervision and deterrence is maximized and rapid response to emergencies is available.
Personal self-defense device:
This will help yourself to stay safe and to protect & defend yourself & your loved ones. There are large varieties of self defense devices that are easily available. These products can give you protection against human assailants, burglars, emergency situations, potential crimes, wild bears and animals, vicious dogs and many other unexpected events. If you ever find yourself in a confrontation with a criminal, you may be forced to defend yourself. A personal self defense device could make the difference between being OK and becoming a victim.
Pepper spray is an easy, effective, non-lethal personal protection weapon that will effectively stop an attacker with just one spray to the face. Since these types of personal security products do not cause death, you can safely keep them in your home, office, backpack, purse or pocket and use them in an assault situation without hesitation. Unlike a hand gun, most states have no laws and few restrictions against buying, carrying and using pepper spray products in self defense situations to avoid violent crime, physical assault or for protection against vicious animals like dogs and bears. The active ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) and is made from the strongest, hot cayenne and other peppers. Percentages of this OC active ingredient range from 10% in most standard pepper sprays, 5% in most animal repellent sprays and 18% in Wildfire brand sprays. All concentrations are effective in stopping most animals and humans in their tracks with just one spray to the face. Pepper spray is most effective when sprayed into the face of an attacker. Upon contact with the mucus membranes of the body (commonly the eyes, nose and mouth) an intense, debilitating burning sensation will begin. Other inflammatory responses that can follow within several seconds are temporary blindness, restricted breathing, coughing, choking, nausea and disorientation. One great thing about carrying pepper spray is that it can be used from a distance. Most canisters are effective from several feet away. This means you can protect yourself from a point that is far enough away from your attacker that they will not be able to strike back at you. It is one of the most effective long distance personal defense weapons you can carry. These non-lethal involuntary responses will last from 15 minutes to over an hour giving you time to immediately escape to a safe location and contact the local police department. Anyone over the age of 18, who wants to feel more at ease and confident in their ability to stay safe should consider buying this non-lethal self defense item.
A Taser Gun is designed to temporarily disable an assailant. Although the effects it has are very dramatic, they are not life threatening and only last for a short time. Using a Taser against someone who is attacking you will give you the chance you need to get away safely. Taser guns fire out two electrified prongs that attach to your attacker and send a powerful electric shock through their body. The voltage is high enough to completely stun anyone who is endangering you and put them out of commission for up to 20 minutes. When a person is hit by the prongs, they will receive an intense shock to their central nervous system that will completely incapacitate them, but they will not suffer from any long term damage.
A stun gun is a very potent device for senior safety. The gun emits a tremendous electrical shock, and touching the tip of the weapon to an assailant will send the electricity coursing throughout their body. As soon as the stun gun makes physical contact, the criminal will be down for the count. The weapon can temporarily disable any person, and will usually leave them incapacitated for several minutes. These devices must be used in close proximity to an attacker, but they are very effective when a predator is close to you.
Cost effectiveness of crime prevention:
Nations are spending increasing amounts on health and property as well as on the police, prosecution, court and prisons. Crime control uses up about 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in developed countries and up to 14 per cent in developing countries, according to a recent study. But this spending has done little to reverse crime rates or reform offenders. The number of repeat offenders among former prisoners -over 50 per cent in many countries- remains discouragingly high. There is a growing body of literature showing that crime prevention is successful and may be more cost effective than traditional, punitive approaches. Not only are these strategies important in reducing conventional crime, but they can protect young people from the recruiters of organized crime.
There is clear evidence that well-planned crime prevention strategies not only prevent crime and victimization, but also promote community safety and contribute to the sustainable development of countries. Effective, responsible crime prevention enhances the quality of life of all citizens. It has long-term benefits in terms of reducing the costs associated with the formal criminal justice system, as well as other social costs that result from crime. Crime prevention offers opportunities for a humane and more cost-effective approach to the problems of crime.
The costs of crime and the benefits of crime prevention:
Investing in crime prevention programs saves money. For example, the costs of prevention programs have been shown to be lower in the long run than those of criminal justice interventions.
The above figure illustrates the estimated costs of crime in Canada in 2003, some Can$ 70 billion. This was broken down into expenditure on criminal justice resulting from crime (police, courts, prosecution and corrections—Can$ 13 billion), on defensive measures such as improved locks or closed-circuit television cameras (Can$ 10 billion), and the economic, social and health costs to victims of crime (Can$ 40 billion).Thus, victims bore the largest share of the costs of crime. Various studies have shown that early intervention programs to provide support to children and families at risk, or working with young people to encourage them to stay in school and complete their education, lead to considerable reductions in long-term criminal, social and economic costs that exceed the sums invested in those programs. As a return on the money invested, prevention programs not only reduce expenditure on the criminal justice sector, but also on social service interventions. They also bring other social and economic benefits, such as increased earned income or lower health costs.
The above figure shows that crime prevention strategies can contribute to sustainable development. Crime prevention is linked to the notions of sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods, in the sense that it should meet the needs of the present, without compromising those of future generations. This is especially relevant in middle-and low-income countries.
National crime policy:
The rights and freedoms which the constitution entrenches are threatened every time a citizen becomes a victim of crime.
For these reasons, every Government should regard the prevention of crime as a national priority. We accept that some of the causes of crime are deep rooted and related to the history and socioeconomic realities of our society. For this reason, a comprehensive strategy must go beyond providing only effective policing. It must also provide for mobilization and participation of civil society in assisting to address crime. To effectively reduce crime, it is necessary to transform and reorganize government and facilitate real community participation. We need to weave a new social fabric, robust enough to withstand the stresses of rapid change in a new-born society. To expect this to happen too quickly is to sabotage proper planning and solid construction of new criminal justice machinery. Most fundamentally this strategy requires that government moves beyond a mode of crisis management and reaction. Government must ensure that effective planning and sustainable success in reducing crime will reach well into the next century.
Framework for the National Crime Prevention Strategy
Criminal Justice Process=Certain and Rapid Deterrence
Community Values and Education = Community pressure and public participation in crime prevention
Environmental Design = Limit Opportunities and Maximize Constraints
Transnational Crime = Regional co-operation, stability and address cross-border crime
The Criminal Justice Process aims to make the criminal justice system more efficient and effective. It must provide a sure and clear deterrent for criminals and reduce the risks of re-offending.
Reducing Crime through Environmental Design focuses on designing systems to reduce the opportunity for crime and increase the ease of detection and identification of criminals.
Public Values and Education concern initiatives aimed at changing the way communities react to crime and violence. It involves programs which utilize public education and information in facilitating meaningful citizen participation in crime prevention.
Trans-national crime programs aim at improving the controls over cross border traffic related to crime and reducing the refuge which the region offenders to international criminal syndicates.
Crime and gender:
Men are not the only criminals and let us have insight into criminal behavior in women:
In the U.K. nine out of 10 street crimes, knife crimes and gun crimes are committed by men rather than women.
Having a genetic predisposition for criminal behavior and the right environment can definitely increase the likelihood of criminal activity. Criminologists took criminal behavior further to describe actions relating to antisocial behavior. This identification of an antisocial personality with criminal behavior leads to the idea that criminal mischief is more prevalent in males. Although our justice system is heavily loaded with male criminals, women are still part of the criminal “world.” It has been determined that men are much more physically violent than women. However, women should not be entirely eliminated from the spectrum of criminality just because of their smaller predisposition toward aggression. Also, women are just as capable as men of committing a violent act. Certain neurochemicals are associated with criminal behavior and these neurochemicals might be more active in men, but women can still grow up in environments in which certain tendencies are brought on. Family environment is crucial in the development of a child’s brain and personality. Genetics can only go so far, and environment works to shape a child’s mind after the child has left a mother’s womb. Poor communication and weak family bonds are correlated with the development of aggressive and criminal tendencies. Financially unstable family and child abuse or neglect are associated with criminal behavior. Environment is important for a child to grow and develop into a normal, prospering adult. Without proper nurturance, guidance, and support, no child, male or female, will learn coping strategies, learn life skills, or grow up with a strong sense of right and wrong and respect other people. Whether one is male or female, growing up in an environment in which one is beaten or neglected is going to cause serious traumatic repercussions. The aggressive tendencies in males lead them to become more aggressive in adulthood, which in turn is why they are more apt to commit violent crimes. Yet women have been known to commit those same violent crimes, regardless of the prevalence relative to males–women are capable of criminal behavior. Men have committed more crimes and are known to be more violent, yet women should not be eliminated from the discussion.
Why women are less involved in crime?
Women are more-likely than men to have primary responsibility for child-care, which restricts opportunities for various types of criminal behaviour. Generally speaking, women have lesser opportunity than men for committing crimes. Where female crime most-closely approximates to male crime is in relation to shop-lifting and it’s no coincidence that in this area of their social lives, women have similar opportunities for crime to men. In areas where females have similar opportunities to men, they appear as likely to break laws. Where opportunity structures differ, so too does the pattern of crime: For example, burglary is predominantly a male crime and one way of explaining the difference is that this type of crime tends to be a relatively solitary pursuit that takes place late at night. A female alone late at night is both more-likely to: attract attention and/or involve some degree of personal danger. As far as employment related crimes are concerned, fewer women than men work, therefore, less opportunity exists.
This form of explanation focuses upon the idea that females in our society are socialised and controlled differently to males. Female socialisation stresses passivity as a feminine characteristic (which might help to explain something about the relative lack of female violence). Male gender socialization prompts men to be more aggressive and more-likely to solve problems using violence. Female gender socialization prompts women to be less aggressive and more-likely to seek non-violent solutions to problems. Peer pressure has different influences for males (e.g. gang/street-corner behaviour) and females (bedroom culture). Male socialisation stresses active, individualistic behaviour. Female socialisation stresses passive, sharing /caring behaviour. Media emphasises male role as “breadwinner”/ “family provider” may increase pressure on men. Media emphasises female role as “carer” decreases pressure on women to act as family provider. In the world of organised professional crime, sex-segregation is the norm. Women are likely to be viewed in terms of traditional sex-role stereotypes as unreliable, emotional, and illogical and so on. Moreover, males tend to see the crimes they commit as too dangerous for women, or too difficult, or their masculine pride may not be willing to accept women as crime “bosses”.
3) Social control agency:
Men have greater freedom within the family than women, giving more opportunity to commit crimes. Young women’s parents restrict who they associate with as friends. For adult women, freedom may be limited by family responsibilities. As females are given more freedom we would expect them to become involved in various forms of criminal behaviour. Female sexuality is more heavily “policed” than young male sexual behavior. Much young female crime involves “sexual delinquency” (especially “status offences” – running away from home, being in “moral danger” and so forth). It involves behaviour which, in the adult world is not classified as criminal /delinquent. This may account for a great deal of young female “crime” and also explains why older females do not appear to commit as much crime as older males.
4) Police stereotyping:
Police stereotypes are a factor. If control agents have stereotyped views about “typical criminals”, they may not place women so easily into this type of category. They may, therefore, be less likely to suspect/ arrest females. Underestimation of female involvement in crime occurs because of stereotyped beliefs about women harassed by men.
5) Judicial stereotyping:
Courts may deal more-leniently with female and less likely to punish females through jail sentences (since women may not be perceived as “real criminals”). Courts are more-willing to adopt a “medical model” of female crime, whereby women who commit crimes are believed to be acting “abnormally”; therefore a medical explanation for their behaviour appears “more-appropriate” in this context – women “couldn’t help themselves” and they therefore require treatment rather than punishment – a form of “reverse sexism”, whereby women receive lighter punishment for their behaviour than men.
6) Crime visibility in society:
Female forms of crime may be “less visible” to the police .This is especially true in relation to crimes of violence, where women tend to be the victims rather than the perpetrators (especially in relation to domestic violence where it is estimated that 95% of violence within the family is directed by males at females – how reliable such a statistic might be, I leave to you to judge). Much male crime (e.g. crimes of violence, petty theft) involves clear victims and is likely to be witnessed.
7) Life style factor:
Men are more-likely to out at night, in clubs, pubs, etc. where alcohol/illegal drugs are used. It may lead to “loss of control” and relatively minor forms of crime as well as violence. Women are less likely to be in public areas at night.
Crime against women:
Although women may be victims of any of the general crimes such as ‘Murder’, ‘Robbery’, ‘Cheating’, etc, only the crimes which are directed specifically against women are characterized as ‘Crimes Against Women’. The United Nations General Assembly defines “violence against women” as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” Several studies have shown a link between poor treatment of women and international violence. These studies show that one of the best predictors of inter- and intranational violence is the maltreatment of women in the society. Women and girls are often the targets of violence including stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking. The unequal position of women relative to men and the normative use of violence to resolve conflicts are strongly associated with both intimate partner violence and sexual violence by any perpetrator. The picture below illustrates world map showing countries by women’s physical security, 2011.
The graph below shows crime against women in India between 2005 to 2009.
Over 32000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7500 dowry deaths and 36500 molestation cases are the violent crimes reported in India in 2006 against women. There are many instances of crime against women go unreported in India. Equally horrific are reports of foreign tourists being sexually assaulted.
The figure below shows crime against women in India in 2009 vis-à-vis percentage distribution.
Is India a safe country for offenders of sexual assault?
From the year 1971, the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) began collecting data on rape cases and it has shown an eight-fold increase. In 2008, over 21000 rape complaints were recorded in the country with various agencies conceding that over 80 per cent of the cases never get reported. Incest has shown a 30 per cent increase— these are disturbing social trends, which need to be researched and addressed. This stands in marked contrast to the other serious and violent crimes like murder, robbery, dacoity, kidnapping and rioting. The NCRB has also concluded that only one in 69 rape cases get reported and only 20 per cent of the reported cases result in convictions. Sakshi, an NGO, had released a study called ‘Gender and Judges’, in which it analyzed the views of 119 judges from all over India, along with experiences of female lawyers, complainants and observations on court room trials. Most judges found it impossible to believe that men could perpetrate the rape without any element of consent or provocation. Judges were of the view that penetration of a woman is physically impossible without her ‘consent’ and that in any case women are ‘partially to blame for such abuse.’ Another ludicrous idea often encouraged by the judiciary is that of compromise. Whenever witnesses turn hostile, victims are advised to accept a compromise, which the court witnesses, but is unable and unwilling to act upon. The court thus ‘restores’ her chastity in the public eye. Fortunately, the courts are prohibited from compounding a rape case. Being a non-compoundable offence, compromise in rape cases has been confined to the bargains between community elders, victims’ kin, local authorities and the police, with judges looking the other way for the most part. It is sad the way we treat this kind of abuse of women—with total disregard for the feelings of a woman. The society has to change—this is not something outside us, they come from within us. We need to shame the perpetrators; we need to talk more and more—in the open about these issues because, as we know, a rapist gets caught usually after a number of successful or unsuccessful attempts. What makes the rapist so daring is the silence of the women.
Risk factors for both intimate partner and sexual violence include:
1. Lower levels of education (perpetrators and victims);
2. Exposure to child maltreatment (perpetrators and victims);
3. Witnessing parental violence (perpetrators and victims);
4. Antisocial personality disorder (perpetrators);
5. Harmful use of alcohol (perpetrators and victims);
6. Males who have multiple partners or are suspected by their partners of infidelity (perpetrators);
7. Attitude that is accepting of violence (perpetrators and victims).
Risk factors specific to intimate partner violence include:
1. Past history of violence as a perpetrator or victim;
2. Marital discord and dissatisfaction (perpetrators and victims).
Risk factors specific to sexual violence perpetration include:
1. Beliefs in family honor and sexual purity;
2. Ideologies of male sexual entitlement;
3. Weak legal sanctions for sexual violence.
Reported more frequently today than ever before, sexual harassment is legally defined as unwanted sexual advances, suggestions, comments, or gestures—usually ongoing in nature and involving a supervisor-supervisee relationship (that is, a situation involving unequal power). Sexual harassment takes many forms, such as:
1. Verbal harassment or abuse.
2. Sexist remarks about a person’s body, clothing, or sexual activities.
3. Unwanted touching, pinching, or patting.
4. Leering or ogling at a person’s body.
5. Subtle or overt pressure for sexual activity.
6. Demanding sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning one’s job or student status.
7. Constant brushing against a person’s body.
8. Physical assault.
Women are most often the objects of sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. One review of the literature found that 42 percent of women reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, compared to 15 percent of men. The practice is so pervasive in work sites throughout the United States that many women have come to expect it, and the vast majority (over 95 percent) never files a formal complaint. Others simply find another job.
Sexual harassment is not confined to the workplace. For example:
1) College students may come under sexual pressure from their instructors, with grades, graduation, and letters of recommendation used as threats or bribes. One survey of university undergraduates found that 29 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment from instructors.
2) Patients of physicians and psychologists may also become the object of unwanted sexual attention from their providers.
3) Lawyers may coerce clients into sex in exchange for legal services.
4) Even pastors may convince parishioners that sex with the clergy is a viable road to finding spirituality and true peace of mind.
Apparently, no profession, institution, or individual is immune from sexual harassment, as situations of unequal power can exist anywhere. Fortunately, most companies and universities now have policies and reporting structures in place to deal with complaints of sexual harassment, and some states have passed laws prohibiting sexual activity, for example, between therapists and their clients.
Sexual Violence against women and girls as war crime:
When I saw this picture, I was shocked. I was in two minds whether to publish in my website. To portray women as victims of war crimes, I felt that this picture depicts the truth. By 1993, the Zenica Centre for the Registration of War and Genocide Crime in Bosnia-Herzegovina had documented 40,000 cases of war-related rape. Of a sample of Rwandan women surveyed in 1999, 39 percent reported being raped during the 1994 genocide, and 72 percent said they knew someone who had been raped. An estimated 23,200 to 45,600 Kosovar Albanian women are believed to have been raped between August 1998 and August 1999, the height of the conflict with Serbia. Based on the outcomes of a study undertaken in 2000, researchers concluded that approximately 50,000 to 64,000 internally displaced women may have been sexually victimized during Sierra Leoneís protracted armed conflict. Between October 2004 and February 2005, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) treated almost 500 rape victims in Darfur, Sudan.
According to a 2002 report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, that women and children are disproportionately targeted and constitute the majority of all victims of contemporary armed conflicts. The motivation for rape committed during armed conflict varies. The violence can be more or less random; a by-product of the collapse in social and moral order that accompanies war. Rape has become so indiscriminate as to be referred to as murderous madness. Sexual violence also can serve to quell resistance by instilling fear in local communities or in opposing armed groups. In such cases women bodies are used as an envelope to send messages to opponents. Rape is a means of subduing foes and civilians without having to engage in the risky business of battle. Faced with rape, civilians flee, leaving their land and property to their attackers. Particularly in conflicts defined by racial, tribal, religious and other divisions; sexual violence may be used to advance the goal of ethnic cleansing. At worst, rape is a tool of ethnic cleansing and genocide, as in Bosnia, Darfur and Rwanda. Public rapes in Bosnia, for example, were used to instigate the flight or expulsion of entire Muslim communities. Muslim women were herded into “rape camps” where they were raped repeatedly, usually by groups of men. After the war some perpetrators said that they had been ordered to rape—either to ensure that non-Serbs would flee certain areas, or to impregnate women so that they bore Serb children. In the Rwandan genocide, rape was “the rule and its absence the exception”, in the words of the UN. Many other instances have been identified where women and girls are abducted for the purposes of supplying combatants with sexual services as a part of sexual slavery. For combatants who know little about each other, complicity in rape can serve as a bond. For the victims and their families, rape does the opposite. The shame and degradation of rape rip apart social bonds. In societies where a family’s honor rests on the sexual purity of its women, the blame for the loss of that honor often falls not upon the rapist, but the raped. People can sit around and talk about the importance of removing the stigma in the abstract, but when it comes to their own wives or daughters or sisters, it is a different story. Many are rejected by their family and stigmatized by their community after being raped. There is little prospect of justice for the victims of rape when rape is committed as war crime.
Rape prevention device-Rapex:
We’re all for rape prevention, but when you can’t stop the crime, why not score immediate payback with the help of a little latex and some barbed plastic? That’s the idea behind rape-prevention condoms, the Rapex. The Rapex is a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing barbs that would be worn by a woman in her vagina like a female condom. If an attacker were to attempt vaginal rape, his penis would enter the latex sheath and be snagged by the barbs, causing the attacker excruciating pain during withdrawal and giving the victim time to escape. The condom would remain attached to the attacker’s body when he withdrew and could only be removed surgically, which would alert hospital staff and police. Like most condoms, Rapex also usually prevents pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted Infections. Looking at mass rapes that happened in Bosnia, Darfur and Rwanda; I urge UN to distribute Rapex freely in all war-torn countries to women who could be target of rape.
Crime against children:
There is no separate classification of offences against children. Generally, the offences committed against children or the crimes in which children are the victims are considered as crime against children. Child sexual molestation and sexual abuse consists of inappropriate and illegal touching of a child in a sexual manner or the sexual exploitation of children by taking pictures and videos of children posed or acting in a sexual manner. Child molestation ranges from having the child undress, to touching the child’s genitals in a sexual manner, to forcing the child to perform oral sex, to actual sexual intercourse with the child.
It’s nearly unthinkable, but every year thousands of children become victims of crime—whether it’s through kidnappings, violent attacks, or sexual abuse. The literature suggests that 60 to 70% of child molesters target only girls, about 20 to 33% boys, and about 10% children of either sex. The majority of perpetrators sexually assault children known to them, with about 80% of offences taking place in the home of either the offender or victim. Overall, it is estimated that in only about 25 to 40% of offenders is there a recurrent and intense sexual attraction to children that would attract a label of “paedophilia”. Travelling sex offenders, also known as “sex tourism” is a type of crime involving the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there. The relative wealth of the offender coupled with lack of understanding or effective legislation means that the abuse of children is easier in these countries. This type of crime is linked to child trafficking, organized crime and murder. The steps to prevent crimes against children are threefold: first, to decrease the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation; second, to develop a nationwide capacity to provide a rapid, effective, and measured investigative response to crimes against children; and third, to enhance the capabilities of state and local law enforcement investigators through programs, investigative assistance, and task force operations. The strategy involves using multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams to investigate and prosecute crimes that cross legal, geographical, and jurisdictional boundaries; promoting and enhancing interagency sharing of intelligence, specialized skills, and services; and widely offering victim/witness services.
The graph below shows crime against children in India between 2005 to 2009.
The figure below shows crime against children in India in 2009 illustrating crime head-wise percentage distribution.
Crimes against children by Babysitters:
As mothers entered the workforce and fewer families lived with other relatives, more and more parents relied on babysitters to care for their children. Although only 14 percent of U.S.’s 18.5 million children less than 5 years old are cared for regularly by a nonrelated in home childcare or family daycare provider, many perhaps most have been cared for by a babysitter on occasion. The fact that babysitters account for approximately 4 percent of crimes committed against children less than 6 years old—a rate below that of complete strangers—helps put the matter in perspective. Males were disproportionately involved in sex offenses (77 percent of offenders known to police). Females committed the majority of the physical assaults (64 percent of offenders). The impact of these crimes on young victims can be devastating, and the violent or sexual victimization of children can often lead to an intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse.
Inequality of crime:
We are encouraged to see murder as a particular act involving a very limited range of stereotypical actors, instruments, situations and motives. Other types of avoidable killing are either defined as a less serious crime, or as matters more appropriate for civil proceedings… it may be just a strange coincidence that the social characteristics of those persons more likely to commit these types of avoidable killings differs considerably to those possessed by individuals more likely to commit killings legally defined as murder. Millions of Indians die every year due to malaria and tuberculosis, both of them are avoidable deaths but nobody calls them murders. Hundreds of people die every day due to drunken driving but yet it is not a murder. Thousands of innocent Iraqis died in American bombing but nobody consider it as murder, instead a collateral damage. The criminal law defines only some types of avoidable killing as murder; it excludes, for example, deaths resulting from acts of negligence, such as employers failure to maintain safe working conditions; or deaths which result from governmental agencies giving environmental health risks a low priority; or deaths resulting from drug manufacturers failure to conduct adequate research; or deaths from a dangerous drug that was approved by health authorities on the strength of a bribe; or deaths resulting from car manufacturers refusing to recall defective vehicles because they calculate that the costs of meeting civil damages will be less. Humans have shown that they are intellectually impaired species and definition of crime is the classical example. The criminal law sees only some types of property deprivation as robbery or theft, it excludes, for example, manufacturer’s malpractices or advertiser’s misrepresentation; it excludes shareholders losing money because managers behaved in ways that benefited only themselves; it excludes the extra tax citizens have to pay because the wealthy are able to avoid tax, or because drug companies overcharge the NHS. If an employee’s hand slips into the boss’s pocket and removes any spare cash, that is theft; if the boss puts his hand into the employee’s pockets and takes their spare cash by reducing wages even below the legal minimum, that is the labor market operating reasonably. The criminal law includes only one type of non-consensual sexual act as rape. It excludes sexual intercourse between husband and wife (not now though)… It excludes sexual acts achieved by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. It excludes men who use economic or social power rather than force. The outcome is that men who have few resources other than physical ones are more likely to commit legally defined rape. Thus criminal laws against murder, rape, robbery and assault do protect us all but they do not protect us all equally. They do not protect the less powerful from being killed, sexually exploited, deprived of what little liberty they possess, or being physically or psychologically damaged through the greed, apathy, negligence and unaccountability of the relatively more powerful. Isn’t it time to raise serious questions about the assumptions underlying the definitions of the field of criminology, when a man who steals a paltry sum can be called a criminal while agents of the state can, with impunity, legally reward men who destroy food so that price levels can be maintained whilst a sizeable proportion of the population suffers from malnutrition. Much police behavior seems most easily explained when one considers that whenever there is a conflict of interests between the dominant classes in a society and less powerful groups, the police protect the interests of the former and regulate the behavior of the latter.
Some sociologists have… come to the conclusion that criminal law categories are ideological constructs… designed to criminalize only some behaviors, usually those committed by the relatively powerless, and to exclude others, usually those frequently committed by the powerful against subordinates. Criminal law categories are resources, tools, instruments, designed and then used to criminalize, demoralize… and sometimes eliminate those problem populations perceived by the powerful to be potentially or actually threatening the existing distribution of power, wealth or privilege. Not every criminal law represents the interests of the ruling class. Some laws are passed purely as symbolic victories which the dominant class grants to inferior interest groups, basically to keep them quiet; once passed they need never be efficiently or systematically enforced. Occasionally, the ruling class is forced into tactical retreat by organized subordinate groups… but these victories are short lived. Powerful groups have ways and means of clawing back the spoils of tactical defeats. In the last instance, definitions of crime reflect the interests of those groups who comprise the ruling class. Some criminal laws are in all our interests. None of us wants to be murdered… none of us wants our property stolen… in that sense criminal law against murder, for example, is in all our interests. But this is not all the truth… some groups of people benefit more than others from these laws. It is not that they are less likely to be murdered or raped, for example, although the best evidence shows this to be true – but that in the criminal law, definitions of murder, rape, theft and other serious crimes are so constructed as to exclude many similar acts, and these are just the acts likely to be committed more frequently by powerful individuals.
White-collar crime and corporate crime:
‘Now as through this world I ramble, I see lots of funny men, some rob you with a six gun, and some with a fountain pen.’ Committing it doesn’t require a gun or a knife. You may not see an apparent victim. It’s easily covered up. It can secure your financial future for life and you may have plenty of opportunity. This is the case for white-collar crime — a class of crimes associated with various types of sophisticated fraud. Within the field of criminology, white-collar crime has been defined by Edwin Sutherland as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation” (1939). Sutherland was a proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, and believed that criminal behavior was learned from interpersonal interaction with others. White-collar crime, therefore, overlaps with corporate crime because the opportunity for fraud, bribery, insider trading, securities fraud, antitrust violations, embezzlement, computer crime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, tax evasion and forgery are more available to white-collar employees. Less traditional examples of white collar crime includes environment law violations, economic espionage and trade secret theft, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, telemarketing fraud, internet fraud, counterfeiting etc. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has adopted the narrow approach, defining white-collar crime as “those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence”. It is estimated to cost the United States somewhere between $300–$660 billion annually according to the FBI. Corporate crime deals with the corporation or the company as a whole and benefitting the investors or the individuals who are in high positions in the company or corporation. The relationship white-collar crime has with corporate crime is that they are similar because they both are involved within the business world. The difference is that white-collar crime benefits the individual involved, and corporate crime benefits the company or the corporation. The real criminals in this society are not all the people who populate the prisons across the state, but those people who have stolen the wealth of the world from the people. What can be done to reduce significantly the volume of killing, maiming and economic deprivation caused by corporate crime?
Crime against nature:
Crime against nature is a legal term and normally defined as a form of sexual behavior that is not considered natural and is seen as a punishable offense in dozens of countries. Nowadays, homosexuality is legalized in many countries. “Crime against nature” means “sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature.” Sexual practices that have historically been considered to be crimes against nature include:
1) Bestiality – the act of sexual intercourse between a human being and an animal.
2) Sodomy – anal intercourse between a man and either a man or a woman or oral intercourse between 2 members of either sex. Anal intercourse is sometimes called buggery.
3) Pederasty – anal intercourse between a man and a young boy.
4) Fellatio – the oral stimulation of the male sex organ.
5) Cunnilingus – the oral stimulation of the female sex organ.
Green crimes are crimes committed against the environment, such as deforestation and pollution. Environmental crime is traditionally ”not viewed with the same moral repugnance” as property or personal crime – perhaps because it is perceived as victimless or does not always have immediate consequences. The recognition and acceptance of environmental crime as a genuine criminal offence … has perhaps been more problematic than other crime types. Internationally, environmental crime, including disposal of hazardous waste and wildlife trafficking, is often linked to other illegal activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering. The leniency … with which environmental offenders are treated trivializes the nature and gravity of the offence. The tendency towards low penalties has produced endemic recidivism among particular groups of offenders. “An environmental September 11” and “an act of environmental terrorism” are the terms the President of the United States used to describe the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. By resorting to criminal terminology, politicians are falling in line with the growing movement in favor of the criminalization of environmental law. There is no doubt that we now need criminal law that is more effective and dissuasive towards activities that are detrimental to the environment. We need some legislation on an international level to settle on a common definition of ecocide, either by adding this crime to the statute of the International Criminal Court or on a specific international convention.
Computer crime (cybercrime):
Computer crime or cybercrime refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network. Computer crime means an attack on the computer itself–or, more likely, the information it stores. Computer crimes range from the catastrophic to the merely annoying. A case of computer-driven espionage might wreak devastating losses to national security. A case of commercial computer theft might drive a company out of business. A cracker’s prank might not actually cause damage at all–but might cause a video game company or another computer user some annoyance. Some computer crimes are perpetrated for kicks, and some for social or political causes; others are the serious business of professional criminals. There is perhaps no other form of crime that cuts so broadly across the types of criminals and the severity of their offenses. Many experts believe that in the coming years, cybercrime will reach epidemic proportions and substantially impact businesses and individuals’ bottom line, with losses estimated to be over $1 trillion a year. While many cybercriminals steal money and information, there are those who also seek to destroy, disrupt and threaten the delivery of critical services. There are many ways to categorize computer crimes. You might divide them according to who commits them and what their motivation might be (e.g., professional criminals looking for financial gain, angry ex-employees looking for revenge, crackers looking for intellectual challenge). Or, you might divide these crimes by how they are perpetrated (e.g., by physical means such as arson, by software modifications, etc.). Computer crimes can also be classified by the types of computer security that ought to prevent them.
1) Physical security:
Protection of the physical building, computer, related equipment, and media (e.g., disks and tapes). Terrorist bombings on buildings housing computer equipment, arson, and theft and destruction of computer equipment fall into this category.
2) Personnel security:
Protection of the people who work in any organization, and protection of computer equipment and data from these people and others outside the organization. It includes masquerading (masquerading occurs when one person uses the identity of another to gain access to a computer), harassment (sending threatening e-mail) and software piracy.
3) Communications security:
Protection of software and data, especially as it passes from computer to computer. It includes attacks on data, theft of data and virus attacks.
4) Operations security:
Protection of the procedures used to prevent and detect security breaches, and the development of methods of prevention and detection. It includes data diddling (false data entry), IP spoofing (IP stands for Internet Protocol), password sniffing, scanning etc.
In some cases, the boundaries between these categories may be rather fuzzy, and some attacks may overlap several categories.
Internet security tips to preventing Cybercrime:
Cybercrime now impacts more than 50,000 people an hour. It’s a scary statistic, and one worth noting as the holiday shopping season approaches. As more shoppers turn to their laptop, iPads and mobile phones to get items crossed off their list, thieves are on the prowl to hack into systems to obtain customer information—email addresses, passwords, credit card data, PayPal account info, etc. And worse, a recent Verizon study finds that nearly 80 percent of retailers in the U.S. do not comply with PCI (payment card industry) regulations, leaving consumers particularly vulnerable to data theft. Various studies report that a disproportionate number of scams, fraud and identity theft related incidents occur during the holiday rush.
The best solution for fighting against cybercrime is through education, enforcement of laws and highly developed security services. Technical expertise in online security is necessary, which can ensure that people of all the ages including children, teenagers, students, parents and business community are always safe. There are several software programs that can help. Today, it is not only viruses that are a threat to your computer system; even a simple surfing of a normal website can potentially bring unwanted issues and even steal all your personal account information. The most devastating internet banking fraud scams can be launched online. Here are some easy to use internet securities tips that help protect you from the growing threats when using computers:
1. Terminate Your Online Session Completely:
Closing your browser window or typing in a new website address without logging out may give others a chance of gaining access to your account information. Always terminate your online session by clicking on the “Log out or Sign Out” button to terminate your online session. Avoid using the option of “remember” your username and password information.
2. Create Backup of Important Data:
Backup of all the important files whether personal or professional should be created. Getting used to back up your files regularly is the first step towards security of your personal computer.
3. Use Security Programs:
If your system does not have data protection software to protect you online, then by all means buy internet security program for your computer. Today, almost all new computer systems come with some kind of security programs installed.
4. Protect Your Password:
Try creating a password that consists of a combination of letters (both upper case and lower case), numbers and special characters. Password should be changed regularly. Do not share your password with other people.
5. Participation in Social Networking:
Participating in most social networking sites, however, expose your personal information to others. And all of these sites have a certain intensity of control over security issues. Use these privacy settings to prevent and update your personal information being broadcast.
6. Use Your Own Computer:
It’s generally safer to access your financial accounts from your own computer only. If you do use some other computer, always delete all of the “Temporary Internet Files”, cookies and clear all of your “History” after you log off your account.
7. Update Your Software Package Regularly:
Frequent online updates are needed for all the Internet security software installed on your computer system.
8. Using Email:
A simple rule in using this communication tool is not to open any links in emails from people you do not know. Hackers do use E-mail as the main target seeking to steal personal information, financial data, security codes and other. Do not use the link sent to you if you need access to the website, visit the website by typing the address in your menu bar. Do not open email attachment from unknown or unauthenticated source.
Internet friendship and chatting:
It’s important to know how to stay safe when you’re using the internet. You should never give out any personal information when you’re online, no matter who you think you’re talking to. There are lots of sites around that allow you to talk to other people on the web. Chat rooms give you the chance to have a conversation with other people and get instant replies. Online message boards and forums let you post questions or comments and ask other users to give their opinion in their own time. It can be a great way to chat to other people who share your interests, but you should always be careful not to pass on any of your personal details. You should always keep in mind that internet users can pretend to be anyone they like. They can lie about their age, their interests and whether they’re male or female. No matter how long you’ve been chatting, remember that they’re still strangers; you don’t really know them at all. Social networks are a great way of keeping in touch but you should think carefully before adding someone to your list of online friends or posting a blog entry that could get you into trouble at school, college or work. Remember: you can never be sure that other users are being truthful about their online identities, so be careful about what information you give out; to think about whether you know someone well enough before accepting someone into your group of linked friends and to make sure you know who to contact to report abuse or bullying on your page and how your complaint will be dealt with.
Children and teenagers can and do become victims of internet crimes. Predators contact teenagers and children over the internet and victimize them by:
1) Enticing them through online contact for the purpose of engaging them in sexual acts.
2) Using the internet for the production, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography.
3) Using the internet to expose youth to child pornography and encourage them to exchange pornography.
4) Enticing and exploiting children for the purpose of sexual tourism (travel with the intent to engage in sexual behavior) for commercial gain.
Statistics of cybercrime against youth/children:
1) One in 5 youth received a sexual approach or solicitation over the internet in the past year.
2) One in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation in the past year. This means a predator asked a young person to meet somewhere, called a young person on the phone, and/or sent the young person correspondence, money, or gifts.
3) One in 4 youth had an unwanted exposure in the past year to pictures of naked people or people having sex.
4) One in 17 youth was threatened or harassed in the past year.
5) Only a fraction of all episodes was reported to authorities such as the police, an internet service provider, or a hotline.
6)25% of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online.
7) Only 1/3 of households with internet access are actively protecting their children with filtering or blocking software.
8)75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services.
9) Only approximately 25% of children who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told it to a parent or adult.
Unique characteristics distinguish internet crimes from other crimes committed against children:
1) Physical contact between the child and the perpetrator does not need to occur for a child to become a victim or for a crime to be committed. Innocent pictures or images of children can be digitally transformed into pornographic material and distributed across the internet without the victims’ knowledge.
2) The internet provides a source for repeated, long-term victimization of a child that can last for years, often without the victim’s knowledge. Once a child’s picture is displayed on the internet, it can remain there forever. Images can stay on the internet indefinitely without damage to the quality of the image.
3) These crimes transcend jurisdictional boundaries, often involving multiple victims from different communities, states, and countries. The geographic location of a child is not a primary concern for perpetrators who target victims over the internet. Often, perpetrators travel hundreds of miles to different states and countries to engage in sexual acts with children they met over the internet. Many of these cases involve local, state, federal, and international law enforcement entities in multiple jurisdictions.
4) Many victims of internet crimes do not disclose their victimization or even realize that they have been victims of a crime. Whereas children who experience physical or sexual abuse may disclose the abuse to a friend, teacher, or parent; many victims of internet crimes remain anonymous until pictures or images are discovered by law enforcement during an investigation. The presumed anonymity of internet activities often provides a false sense of security and secrecy for both the perpetrator and the victim.
A fundamental advance in crimeware was its ability to evade detection by anti-virus software and other security technologies. Crimeware anti-detection capabilities (sometimes termed stealth) prevent detection by either signature-based (i.e., anti-virus) or behavioral-based (i.e., intrusion detection/prevention) techniques. Crimeware achieves this by varying any feature (registry locations, file names, CLSIDs, signatures, protocols, etc.) that could be used to detect the crimeware. Stealth techniques have all but rendered traditional anti-virus products useless since it is impossible for them to detect and remove tens of millions of variants that are generated each year. There are few viable options to combat crimeware’s success in undermining today’s technologies. One proposed approach fights fire with fire, using malware’s own techniques in hand-to-hand combat for the ultimate control of processors. This anti-crimeware approach defeats crimeware by disabling its methods of harvesting data from within PCs, but makes no actual inroads into removing crimeware. Intel and McAfee recently proposed scrapping current processor technology and starting again to design new impenetrable processors. One can only imagine the time and cost necessary to replace and update our entire processor infrastructure. In either case, it is important to know how seriously crimeware has undermined our technologies and the radical thinking required to fight crimeware.
Identity Theft (identity fraud):
Identity (ID) theft involves any instance where a person uses someone else’s identification documents or other identifiers in order to impersonate that person for whatever reason. According to a September 2003 survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, an estimated 10 million people in the United States found out they were victims of identity theft in the previous year. More appropriately titled identity fraud; your identity might be stolen in order for someone to commit:
1) Financial fraud:
This type of identity theft includes bank fraud, credit card fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, social program fraud, tax refund fraud, mail fraud, and several more. In fact, a total of 25 types of financial identity fraud are investigated by the United States Secret Service. While financial identity theft is the most prevalent (of the approximate 10,000 financial crime arrests that Secret Service agents made in 1997, 94 percent involved identity theft), it certainly isn’t the only type. Other types of identity theft, however, usually involve a financial element as well — typically to fund some sort of criminal enterprise.
2) Criminal activities:
This type of identity fraud involves taking on someone else’s identity in order to commit a crime, enter a country, get special permits, hide one’s own identity, or commit acts of terrorism. These criminal activities can include: computer and cyber crimes, organized crime, drug trafficking, alien smuggling and Money laundering.
Identity fraud is when somebody pretends to be you. They may do this in order to buy things in your name and leave you and your bank with the bill. There are many ways that someone can steal your identity, including:
1) Finding out your bank details.
2) Taking your passport or driving license, or copying the details.
3) Copying your credit card details.
4) Accessing your personal information through a fraudulent website or email.
5) Taking junk mail that has your personal information on it.
6) Going through your dustbin to find receipts or other information.
You may not know straight away that your identity has been stolen. It is important that you make sure to protect your details and be aware of any signs that your identity might have been stolen.
Signs that you have become a victim of identity theft might include:
1) Unusual payments or direct debits appearing on your bank statements.
2) Important mail going missing – you should know when to expect a bank statement or a new cheque book, and if it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank.
3) Contents of recycling bins and rubbish bags being tampered with.
4) Bills arriving for things that you haven’t bought or for services you haven’t ordered.
5) New credit cards appearing on your credit record.
How to stay safe from ID theft:
Using just a few of your personal details, criminals can apply for bank accounts, credit cards, benefits and official documents in your name. Here are some tips to help you stay safe both online and offline:
Online tips –To stay safe online to prevent ID fraud:
1) Delete suspicious-looking emails without opening them.
2) Keep a good firewall on your home computer.
3) Don’t use the same password on all websites.
4) Refuse to give personal information to any company that emails or calls you unexpectedly
5) Keep your credit card within view when paying at restaurants or shops.
6) Don’t respond to emails that seem to be from your bank asking you to ‘re-enter’ your personal details; your bank will not ask you to do that.
7) Don’t buy online unless you see the golden padlock on the payments page, and a web address beginning with ‘https’.
8) Install all security updates and ‘patches’ offered by your computer software company.
Offline tips –To stay safe offline to prevent ID fraud:
1) Shred all personal information before throwing it away in your rubbish; this includes bank statements, anything containing National Insurance details, salary information, and even old membership cards.
2) Tear off and destroy the name and address on the envelopes you receive before throwing them away.
3) Never give out your personal information when you could be overheard.
4) Don’t leave personal documents visible in your home; keep them somewhere safe.
5) Tell your utility company and local council when you move house.
6) Keep your banking and credit card Passwords safe – no bank will ever phone you to ask for your Password.
7) Make sure your letterbox is secure, and that post can get through and fall safely to the floor.
8) If you live in a shared building, ask your bank if you can pick up new debit cards or cheque books at your branch.
9) If you think your credit card has been used fraudulently you should contact your card issuer immediately.
In crime and law, hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, caste, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, social status or political affiliation. A hate crime is a legal category used to describe bias-motivated violence. Current American federal law defines hate crimes as any felony or crime of violence that manifests prejudice based on “race, color, religion, or national origin”. Hate crimes can be understood as criminal conduct motivated in whole or in part by a negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons. Hate crimes involve a specific aspect of the victim’s identity (e.g., race). Hate crimes are not simply biases, they are dangerous actions motivated by biases (e.g., cross burnings, physical assault). Hate crimes have an effect on both the immediate target and the communities of which the individuals are a member, which differentiate them from other crimes. While violent crime victimization carries risk for psychological distress, victims of violent hate crimes may suffer from more psychological distress (e.g., depression, stress, anxiety, anger) than victims of other comparable violent crimes. Survivors of violent hate crimes are also at risk for developing a variety of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Hate crimes are different from other crimes in that the offender—whether purposefully or not—is sending a message to members of a given group that they are unwelcome and unsafe in a particular neighborhood, community, school, workplace, or other environment. Thus, the crime simultaneously victimizes a specific individual and members of the group at large. Hate crimes are often intended to threaten entire communities and do so. In addition to race, color, national origin, and religion, individuals are targeted because of other aspects of their identity as well; including, disability status, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. Hate crime laws are designed to protect all individuals. While hate groups can pose a serious threat to communities, research suggests that the vast majority of offenders are not members of organized hate groups.
Examples of hate crime:
Many reported hate crimes are motivated by racial bias. In the United States, racist anti-black bias is the most frequently reported hate crime motivation. In 2007, more than half of the 7,621 single-bias crimes reported to the FBI (50.8 percent) were racially motivated. FBI says that hate crimes target blacks in 70 percent of race-based cases and blacks were the group most likely to be the targets of race-based hate crimes, according to a recent federal report. The report, compiled by the FBI’s civil rights division, found that the large majority of racial bias crimes were “motivated by anti-black bias.” Bias and violence against Arab & Muslim Americans reached its height after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It is estimated that there were more than 700 violent incidents targeting Arab and/or Muslim Americans or those perceived to be Arab or Muslim Americans in the first nine weeks following September 11’th. Due to a lack of understanding of religious differences, Sikhs have been mistakenly targeted as Muslims. In 2007, there were 1,460 hate crimes based upon sexual orientation reported to the FBI, of which 59.2 percent were classified as anti-male homosexual bias. Even though massacre of Jews during Nazi rule, ethnic conflicts in Bosnia & Herzegovina and genocide in Rwanda can be described as mass hate crimes, they are better classified as genocide.
Race and crime:
Blacks are victims of hate crimes as discussed earlier but on the other hand, most of violent crimes are committed by blacks. Twelve per cent of London’s men are black. But 54 per cent of the street crime along with 46 per cent of the knife crimes and more than half of the gun crimes are thought by the Metropolitan Police to have been committed by black men in London. In the U.S.; of those arrested for violent crimes and street crimes, including predatory crime, the number of African Americans arrested is roughly the same as, or higher than, the number of Caucasians. This is a major concern because African Americans make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population while Caucasians make up 80 % of population.
The picture above shows homicide offending by race between 1976 to 2005 in the U.S.
The relationship between race and crime in the United States has been a topic of public controversy and scholarly debate for more than a century. Since the 1980s, the debate has centered around the causes of and contributing factors to the disproportional representation of racial minorities (particularly African Americans, hence “Black crime”) at all stages of the criminal justice system, including arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations. There are various theories to support causation of black dominance over crime. These theories are conflict theory, strain theory, social disorganization theory, social control theory, police discrimination theory, IQ theory and hormonal theory.
Organized crime means “a structured group of three or more persons existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with the convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit”. In a very broad sense, then, we can define organized crime as any criminal activity involving two or more individuals specialized or nonspecialized, encompassing some form of social structure, with some form of leadership, utilizing certain modes of operation, in which the ultimate purpose of the organization is found in the enterprises of the particular group. Organized-crime groups supply goods and services that are in most places illegal but for which there is a large demand, such as gambling, illicit drugs, pornography, and prostitution. Armed robbery, burglary, automobile theft, and other common street crimes may also involve organized-crime groups, but these activities do not usually fall under the definition of organized crime. Most countries of the world have organized crime.
1. Has no political goals
2. Is hierarchical
3. Has a limited or exclusive membership
4. Constitutes a unique subculture
5. Perpetuates itself
6. Exhibits a willingness to use illegal violence
7. Is monopolistic
8. Is governed by explicit rules and regulations
Organized crime is characterized by a strong and ruthless leader, a hierarchy, a strong code of conduct for its members and, above all, the goal of power and profit. Corrupt police and public officials, attorneys and judicial officers, political leaders and businessmen comprise the protectors. The specialist support is provided by sharp-shooters, telecom experts, casino operators, computer wizards and so on. What makes organized crime organized is its ability to serve as a government for the underworld, providing services, allocating resources & territories and settling disputes. Although there is little empirical research specifically focusing on the link between organized crime and corruption, abundant circumstantial evidence indicates frequent collusion between organized criminals and corrupt officials at all levels of government. Through corruption, criminals can obtain protection from public officials, influence political decisions and infiltrate state structures and legitimate businesses.
Four kinds of groups in the United States are involved in organized crime—the syndicate, local “mobs,” motorcycle gangs, and international drug rings. The syndicate controls to some degree the other three groups and usually demands a percentage of the profits from their illicit activities.
The Syndicate (Mafia):
The largest and best-known group is the nationwide organization variously known as the syndicate, the “outfit,” the “mob,” the “Mafia,” and the “Cosa Nostra.” Most of its members are of Italian— especially Sicilian—ancestry. The name Mafia refers to the syndicate’s descent from the Mafia groups of Sicily, many of whose members first immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. Most historians trace the origin of organized crime in the United States back to the 1880’s, when many members of the Mafia in Sicily immigrated to this country and formed gangs. Cosa Nostra (Italian for “our thing”) is a term originally used by syndicate members. Today, Mafia is a term used to describe a number of criminal organizations around the world.
The current structure of the Mafia took centuries to develop. It all began on the island of Sicily. Although there are major organized crime groups from other parts of Italy, the Sicilian Mafia is generally considered to be the blueprint for all other Mafia organizations. Several unique factors contributed to the development of organized crime on Sicily. The island is located at an easily accessible and strategically important place in the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, Sicily was invaded, conquered and occupied by hostile forces many times. This led to an overall distrust of central authority and codified legal systems. The family, rather than the state, became the focus of Sicilian life, and disputes were settled through a system in which punishment was dealt beyond the limits of the law.
In the United States, “the Mafia” generally refers to the Italian American Mafia. All inducted members of the Mafia are called “made” men. This signifies that they are untouchable in the criminal underworld and any harm brought to them will be met with retaliation. With the exception of associates, all mobsters are “made” official members of a crime family. The three highest positions make up the administration. Below the administration, there are factions each headed by a caporegime (captain), who lead a crew of soldiers and associates. They report to the administration and can be seen as equivalent to managers in a business. When a boss makes a decision, he rarely issues orders directly to workers who would carry it out, but instead passed instructions down through the chain of command. This way, the higher levels of the organization are insulated from law enforcement attention if the lower level members who actually commit the crime should be captured or investigated. This provides what the intelligence community calls plausible deniability.
For legal officials to arrest and prosecute organized criminals, they need to find out what’s going on in the organization. They can bust drug dealers or truck hijackers, but the family will just find new ones. They need to reach the top to really crack a family. And the best way to do that is by sending someone into the family undercover. An FBI agent working undercover as a mob associate is an incredibly dangerous job but this is the best way to catch mafia bosses.
The syndicate is especially involved in the following activities:
1) Gambling: This is the greatest source of revenue for the syndicate, which is especially active in bookmaking for sports events and in running dice games and numbers and policy lotteries. The syndicate also operates legal gambling casinos.
2) Loan sharking: The lending of money, at exorbitant rates of interest, to persons who cannot qualify for a loan from a legitimate source. Collection of overdue payments is enforced by ruthless methods, including beatings and torture.
4) Illicit drugs
5) Racketeering, the dishonest operation of a legal business or a labor union. Syndicate-operated businesses gain customers and drive legitimate competitors out of business through threats or the use of force. By controlling a union, the syndicate can extort funds from businesses by threatening labor stoppages; in addition, the syndicate may loot the pension and strike funds of unions it controls.
6) Violence: The commission of violent crime may form part of a criminal organizations ‘tools’ used to achieve criminogenic goals (for example, its threatening, authoritative, coercive, terror-inducing, or rebellious role), due to psychosocial factors (cultural conflict, aggression, rebellion against authority, access to illicit substances, counter-cultural dynamic), or may, in and of itself, be crime rationally chosen by individual criminals and the groups they form. Assaults are used for coercive measures, to “rough up” debtors, competition or recruits, in the commission of robberies and in connection to other property offences, as an expression of counter-cultural authority; and as a principle violence is normalized within criminal organizations (in direct opposition to mainstream society) and the locations they control. Whilst the intensity of violence is dependent on the types of crime the organization is involved in (as well as their organizational structure or cultural tradition), aggressive acts range on a spectrum from low-grade physical assaults to murder. Bodily harm and grievous bodily harm, within the context of organized crime, must be understood as indicators of intense social and cultural conflict, motivations contrary to the security of the public, and other psychosocial factors.
7)Counterfeiting: In 2007, besides currency notes, the OECD reported the scope of counterfeit products to include food, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, electrical components, tobacco and even household cleaning products in addition to the usual films, music, literature, games and other electrical appliances, software and fashion.
8) Human trafficking
10) Tax evasion
11) Extortion and protection racket
12) Vote buying
14) Bid rigging
15)Organised crime is switching to food fraud from activities such as drug trafficking, because detection methods are less developed and penalties are softer.
The ultimate point of the Mafia is to make money. This is the bottom line.
Almost all syndicate leaders own legitimate businesses. Such ownership does not always involve racketeering, because heading a business run honestly enables mobsters to acquire at least a facade of respectability and allows them to invest profits from their illegal activities.
Local Mobs: Below the syndicate in size and scope of activities are local criminal groups in various cities. Members of each local mob usually belong to the same ethnic group.
Motorcycle Gangs: In the United States there are about a half-dozen large motorcycle gangs. These gangs are heavily involved in prostitution and control much of the illicit drug trade involving distribution to users and small-time dealers (pushers).
International Drug Rings: The drug trade involving the importation and sale, from overseas, of such drugs as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana is controlled by rings operating in several countries. They sell to syndicate “families” and other large-scale drug dealers.
The picture above shows an X-ray of a Nigerian human courier who swallowed 150 cocaine pellets, weighing about 7g each. The pellets are the regular shaped objects filling the entire digestive system. Couriers from Nigeria typically earn $3,000. The street value of this cocaine was 70 times greater. The courier is a lowest member of organized crime syndicate.
A review of United Nations documents (HDR, 1999) and the 2004 report on high-level political signing conference for UN convention against transnational organized crime which was held in Palermo, Italy on 12 December 2000, and research papers (Bequai, 2002 and Braithwaite, 1979) show that a crime can be said to be a global problem if it meets any one of the two criteria:
1) If a particular crime has an accentuating character in most nations on the globe. This crime does not necessarily need to have actors inducing it across frontiers or
2) The crime is occurring across frontiers and there are social actors inducing who traverse frontiers.
Given this description, the following are considered as critical global crimes:
1) Dealing In illicit drugs
2) Illegal trafficking in weapons
3) Illegal trafficking in human beings
4) Money Laundering
6) Violent Crimes including terrorism
7) War crimes
Effects of global crime:
The growing influence of organized crime is estimated to gross $1.5 trillion a year, rivaling multinational corporations as an economic power. It has been seen that global crime groups have the power to criminalize politics, business and the police, developing efficient networks, extend their reach deep and wide. The illegal drug trade in 1995 was estimated at $400 billion, about 8% of world trade, more than the share of iron and steel or of motor vehicles, and roughly the same as textiles (7.5%) and gas and oil (8.6%). This is an alarming picture. There are now 200 million drug users, threatening neighborhoods around the world. The September 11 attacks is linked to political terrorism under the hand of terrorist or armed organizations through drug trafficking. According to TNI (2003) many armed conflict taking place may be financed by illegal sources, of which a part derives from drugs. It is the money that they draw from money-laundering, credit card frauds, check-kiting, securities scams, and much more, that enable international terrorists to traverse the globe at will, and buy the requisite equipment and armaments to inflict havoc on organized society. With this funding, international terrorist organizations are able to get sophisticated weaponry. Money laundering tends to allocate dirty money around the world on the basis of avoiding national controls, in that the tainted money tends to flow to countries with less stringent controls. Global money laundering imposes significant costs on the world economy by damaging the effective operations of national economies and by promoting poorer economic policies. As a result, financial markets slowly become corrupted and the public’s confidence in the international financial system is eroded. Eventually, as financial markets become increasingly risky and less stable, the rate of growth of the world economy is reduced. Other than these effects, money laundering has been noted to be linked to terrorism. This is because the economic need to reinvest the products of drug trafficking in the legal economy has made money laundering a necessary consequence of drug trafficking and ultimately strengthening the power of organized crime worldwide. Corruption is not only damaging in itself, but it also furthers other noxious activities. This is clear when international criminal organizations use corruption to further drug production and trafficking, or when corruption is used to create havens for terrorists. Russia is an example of how corruption becomes a main factor in the expansion of organized crime. The United Nations estimates that human trafficking is a US$5–7 billion operation annually, with 4 million persons moved from one country to another and within countries. According to the director general of the United Nations’ Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, reliable estimates indicate that 200 million people may be under the control of traffickers of various kinds worldwide. The Organization of Migration (IOM) has estimated that 500,000 women and children are trafficked in Europe annually. Raymond (2002) further states that in the South Asian region alone, 500 Bangladeshi women are illegally transported monthly to Pakistan; 150,000 Filipino women are trafficked annually to Japan; and 7000 Nepali women and girls are sold yearly into the brothels of India. In Asia, millions of women and children have been led into systems of prostitution, such as street prostitution, sex entertainment clubs, luxury establishments, sex tourism, and prison-like brothels. One of the largest industries, if not the largest, doing business over the internet is pornography, a business that is estimated to exceed the $100 billion annual mark. Terrorists, their ideology aside, have been fast to see it as a source of income. With a minimal investment of funds, and working though corporate fronts and moneymen, terrorist organizations have been reaping millions (if not billions) of dollars annually from the world of pornography (Bequai, 2002). The internet is also an easy vehicle for trafficking in drugs, arms and women through nearly untraceable networks. Money laundering—which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates at equivalent to 2–5% of global GDP—hides the traces of crime in split seconds, with the click of a mouse. Illegal trafficking in weapons is a growing business—destabilizing societies and governments, arming conflicts in Africa and Eastern Europe.
Terrorism: is it a crime or more than it?
Was the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a crime or an act of war? Commentators have disagreed. Presumably, if it is a crime then the appropriate response is to apprehend the guilty and to try them in a court of law, constrained by the standards of evidence and the rules of procedural justice of the criminal law. By contrast, if it is an act of war, then we may retaliate against the enemy with military means and need not be burdened with the criminal law’s demanding standards of proof. Some have argued that the attack cannot be an act of war as only states can fight war. But this argument is fallacious: wars took place long before states existed, and civil wars are genuine wars. Was the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. an act of war or a war crime?
The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” Within this definition, there are three key elements—violence, fear, and intimidation—and each element produce terror in its victims.
I have defined terrorism as death and destruction of any human being or property, intentionally, in order to achieve political goals. Spread of fear and publicity are the two things most terrorist master minds want and we must deny it. If bombs are planted in trains, all trains must run full. If bombs are planted on high court, all courts must run full house. By this way we can combat terrorism. Media must not give publicity to terrorists by showing terrorist acts 24 hours on television or talking to terrorists on phone and showing it “live”. Take the fear and the publicity out, and you will find terrorist becomes an ordinary criminal. I have also differentiated terrorism from freedom fight in my article “Terrorism versus freedom fight” published earlier.
Among the multitude of causes that may lead a person to resort to terrorism, there is none that conclusively links a sole cause to the act. Ethnicity, nationalism/separatism, poverty and economic disadvantage, globalization, (non)democracy, western society, disaffected intelligentsia, dehumanization, and religion all have arguments confirming a possible existing link, as well reservations against a causal relation.
Oppositional political terrorism due to grievances:
Over the past quarter of a century there has been an increase in the amount of oppositional political terrorism. This phenomenon stimulated a large amount of research. Grievances are directed against a variety of individuals, groups, organizations, classes, races, and ethnicities, both public and private (e.g. the government, businesses, unions, military, police, religious organizations, political parties). Grievances unheeded can lead to the development of a social movement, interest group, political party, or in extreme cases an individual, cell, group or organization that engages in terrorist actions. Alternatively, in a non-violent organization, the intensification of grievances or lack of success in obtaining the group’s objectives may lead to organizational splits, and the development of different organizational levels that engage in terrorism. Finally, grievances can lead to support of terrorism. A third party, aware of the grievances, may seize an opportunity for influence by giving support to likely candidates who would engage in terrorism. Presence of other forms of unrest, social, cultural, and historical facilitation, and organizational split and development, heighten the intensity of already felt grievances. Naxalism in India is a classical example of oppositional political terrorism.
The figure above shows structural causes of oppositional political terrorism. Acts of terrorism may be caused by individuals alone or as members of a group, regardless of the complexity of the command structure and the size of the organization. The model is general enough to accommodate all of these organizational contexts. The proposed relationships among various variables are diagrammed in the figure above.
Use or threat of use of violence has long caused concern among those responsible for public health. Examples include indiscriminate violence, such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City and the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and targeted violence, such as attacks on facilities for the termination of pregnancy or on those who work in such facilities. In Japan, the chemical warfare agent Sarin was released by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Matsumoto in 1994 and in the Tokyo subway in 1995. In 1984, an Oregon cult allegedly contaminated salad bars with a biological agent, salmonella. Terrorism is the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or its threat. The relationship between the terrorist and the guerrilla is complex. Not all guerrillas are terrorists: many have striven to represent themselves as irregular forces fighting a regular war, while their opponents have consistently sought to portray them as terrorists in order to deprive them of legitimacy. Yet the guerrilla’s military weakness and his dependence on popular support both tend to drive him towards terrorism. The former encourages him to get the maximum publicity—especially in and beyond the media-rich 1960s—from the meager means at his disposal, and the latter drives him to use both stick and carrot in his dealings with the population. International terrorism took a new turn in 1968. The PLO had been founded in 1964 from Palestinian pressure groups who wished to recover their homeland. Israeli victory in the six day war of June 1967 resulted in the Jordanians losing Jerusalem and the West Bank of the Jordan, swelling the number of Arab refugees. The more radical elements of the PLO reacted violently, beginning in July 1968 with the hijacking of an El Al airliner. The Israelis released sixteen Arab prisoners, but this only encouraged more hijacks, and the PLO (and its splinter groups) mounted ever more daring and bloody attacks. These culminated with the kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where all eleven hostages and five terrorists were killed. In Europe, the IRA in the UK and the Basque separatists ETA in Spain both generated publicity out of all proportion to the number of activists engaged. The nationalist splinter group that detonated the bomb at Omagh in Northern Ireland in 1998 probably killed more people than it had activists. Similarly, although the terrorist groups of the 1970s, like the Baader-Meinhof gang in West Germany, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Japanese Red Army Faction, consisted of very few individuals with little popular support, their activities were nothing if not headline-grabbing. Other extremist groups, such as animal rights campaigners, anti-abortionists, and some extreme ecologists, have also used terrorism, justifying it with the familiar ‘state terrorism’ arguments. On 11’th September 2001, in the most murderous terrorist attack American history had yet witnessed, almost three thousand people were killed. Nineteen Middle Eastern terrorists hijacked four airplanes; one crashed into the Pentagon, two destroyed the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, and one, possibly headed for the White House, crashed in a wooded area of Pennsylvania. Although the hijackers left no message, they were clearly motivated by hatred of the United States and by a desire to force a change in American policy in the Middle East. In trying to assess the significance of terrorism, the most difficult problem is the lack of an agreed-upon understanding of what the word terrorism means. Political scientists tend to restrict terrorism to acts of violence carried out by non-state actors against civilians. Historians, sociologists, and experts in international humanitarian law, however, tend to use a broader definition that includes all premeditated acts of violence against civilians, whether carried out by non-state political groups or by states. Governments – especially those confronting armed opposition groups – and the media generally use the political-science definition of terrorism, often expanding it to include violent acts against military as well as civilian victims. In contrast, the non-state perpetrators of violence consider their actions to be legitimate forms of resistance to state terrorism aimed at suppressing self-determination, even though they may be directed against civilians. The notion of a legitimate right to resist state oppression is controversial, and no international legal convention addresses this matter.
Terrorism versus Crime:
1) While terrorism as an international phenomenon is a more recent phenomenon, crime has always been there in societies.
2) One can deal with criminals through a process of trials in courts and sentencing criminals into prison, it is hard to deal with terrorists as they have a strong motivation to indulge in heinous crimes and never plead guilty even when caught.
3) Terrorists are also criminals but they commit crimes against humanity more than against individuals whereas ordinary criminals do it more for their own benefit.
4) The terrorist is often well trained and state-supported. He or she has a specific goal in mind, often more symbolic than opportunistic. On the other hand, it is a fair statement that the “ordinary” criminal is one who seeks opportunistic targets, has little backing, is selfish, lacks discipline and may be deterred relatively easily.
5) Terrorists are more likely to believe in their cause, so much, that they are even willing to die for it. This is very unlike mainstream violence, where for example, the criminal perpetrator runs for cover when being chased by the police, while the terrorist may confront the police with a bomb strapped to his/her chest.
6) Criminals tend to hide after they commit a crime, but terrorists often like to take credit and bask in the media’s propaganda.
Link between criminals and terrorists:
Links between terrorism and ordinary crime groups are well established already in the19th century. Alliances between revolutionary-political movements and underworlds can be found already in the 19th century; alliances can then be observed in the 20th century in the new terrorist movements in Germany as well as in North-America. Recent years saw a growing interest in exploring the relationships between terrorist movements and organized crime, in particular on the basis of network approaches. The only terrorist caught and sentenced for 26/11 attack on India, Ajmal Amir kasab was a petty criminal in Pakistan before he became terrorist. The underworld dons of India (living in Pakistan) have allegedly provided financial support to terrorist group Al-Qaeda and were also involved in Mumbai blast of 1993. Using the same logic worldwide, one can say that criminals do have connections with terrorist outfits as both are against civilized society.
Greatest crime of all time will be nuclear terrorism:
According to the report of Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) at 18th September, 2001, followings assumptions can be made, which could result in the security collapse of the Pakistani nukes and the nuclear terrorism scenario can be build. In this regard, the instability in Pakistan can appear as the vulnerable tool utilized by the militants for the theft of the nukes. Secondly, the sympathetic behavior of the security forces towards the Islamic Fundamentalists and leakage of the sensitive information may proceed for nuclear sabotage on reactors or the acquisition of components. Lastly, in case of civil war situation in Pakistan, it may happen that the control on storage facilities may be jeopardized. However, if terrorist are being able to acquire the nuclear weapon, then this acquisition of nuclear weapon cannot itself lead to nuclear terrorism. Because only its acquisition could not cause the nuclear explosion. It requires the proper delivery system to get operational. Also, it requires certain code to detonate it which definitely is not already being written on that. If a state has a capability to make nuclear weapons, then it surely ought to have a capacity to secure them. Pakistan says that under highly advanced command and control system, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are apparently safe and secure. Nonetheless, the contemporary security situation in Pakistan and the militants attack at General Head Quarters (GHQ) and Mehran Naval Base in Karachi has initiated another debate that what would be the consequences at state and international level for security breach at nukes.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, terrorism has replaced crime as the greatest perceived threat to social order and, in the first 2 or 3 years after the attacks, it seemed as though intelligence agencies had usurped the police’s role as the guardians of society. In the United States, this change in status was reflected in a diversion of funds from police to homeland security programs. More recently, things have begun to change again. Police leaders such as Kelling and Bratton (2006) have argued that police play a critical role in counter-terrorism because they are in the best position to learn about the emergence of local terrorist threats, to know which targets are most at risk, and to coordinate the first response to attacks. It can be argued that an extension of community policing principles can best serve the first function (gathering intelligence), while situational crime prevention provides a useful framework for serving the second (the protection of vulnerable targets). To accommodate these functions, some police forces, especially in large cities with many attractive targets, might have to make considerable changes in their operating practices. They should embrace these changes because they are consistent with best practices in policing. They put a premium on prevention, on service to the community, on making full use of data and analysis, and on forming partnerships with other agencies and organizations, public and private. These practices will not only help meet the threat of terrorism, but will also help the police better serve their goals of fighting crime, protecting victims and providing reassurance to the public. In my view, the police needs to do two things well to tackle the menace of terrorism. First is better intelligence gathering & sharing and second is to infiltrate terrorist’s outfits. Double agents have to be created who are parts of police force but work in terrorist network. This is the only way to prevent future terrorist strikes. Remember, if you want to prevent/solve a crime, you have to think like a criminal.
A serial killer, as typically defined, is an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with a “cooling off period” between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is usually based on psychological gratification. The motives for serial murder include sex, anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking. Serial killers are not the same as mass murderers, nor are they spree killers. Serial killers suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder and appear normal or charming, sometimes referred to as the “mask of sanity.” With all of them, their motives tend to be total, deep and personal. They feel no guilt, no remorse and have an attitude of total disdain towards their victims. There’s a self-importance that runs in all of them. Prostitutes, runaways, and others who lead transient and anonymous lives are usually not reported missing promptly and receive little police or media attention, making them excellent targets.
Serial murder is a relatively rare event, estimated to comprise less than one percent of all murders committed in any given year. However, there is a macabre interest in the topic that far exceeds its scope and has generated countless articles, books, and movies. This broad-based public fascination began in the late 1880s, after a series of unsolved prostitute murders occurred in the Whitechapel area of London. These murders were committed by an unknown individual who named himself “Jack the Ripper” and sent letters to the police claiming to be the killer. One of the most studied aspects of serial murder is “why?” A number of theories have been set forth as potential explanations. But “unraveling the making of a serial killer is like aligning a Rubik’s cube”. In other words, there is no one answer. There are three possible theories: childhood neglect and abuse, mental illness and brain injury.
Myths about serial killer:
1) Myth: Serial killers are all dysfunctional loners.
Fact: The majority of serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities. Serial murderers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community. Because many serial murderers can blend in so effortlessly, they are oftentimes overlooked by law enforcement and the public.
2) Myth: Serial killers are all white males.
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, serial killers span all racial groups. There are white, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian serial killers. The racial diversification of serial killers generally mirrors that of the overall population.
3) Myth: Serial killers are only motivated by sex.
Fact: All serial murders are not sexually-based. There are many other motivations for serial murders including anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking.
4) Myth: All serial murderers travel and operate interstate.
Fact: Most serial killers have very defined geographic areas of operation. They conduct their killings within comfort zones that are often defined by an anchor point (e.g. place of residence, employment, or residence of a relative). Serial murderers will, at times, spiral their activities outside of their comfort zone, when their confidence has grown through experience or to avoid detection. Very few serial murderers travel interstate to kill.
5) Myth: Serial killers cannot stop killing.
Fact: It has been widely believed that once serial killers start killing, they cannot stop. There are, however, some serial killers who stop murdering altogether before being caught. In these instances, there are events or circumstances in offenders’ lives that inhibit them from pursuing more victims. These can include increased participation in family activities, sexual substitution, and other diversions.
6) Myth: All Serial killers are insane or are evil geniuses.
Fact: Another myth that exists is that serial killers have either a debilitating mental condition, or they are extremely clever and intelligent. As a group, serial killers suffer from a variety of personality disorders, including psychopathy, anti-social personality, and others. Most, however, are not adjudicated as insane under the law. The media has created a number of fictional serial killer “geniuses”, who outsmart law enforcement at every turn. Like other populations, however, serial killers range in intelligence from borderline to above average levels.
7) Myth: Serial killers want to get caught.
Fact: Offenders committing a crime for the first time are inexperienced. They gain experience and confidence with each new offense, eventually succeeding with few mistakes or problems. While most serial killers plan their offenses more thoroughly than other criminals, the learning curve is still very steep. They must select, target, approach, control, and dispose of their victims. The logistics involved in committing a murder and disposing of the body can become very complex, especially when there are multiple sites involved. As serial killers continue to offend without being captured, they can become empowered, feeling they will never be identified. As the series continues, the killers may begin to take shortcuts when committing their crimes. This often causes the killers to take more chances, leading to identification by law enforcement. It is not that serial killers want to get caught; they feel that they can’t get caught.
Holmes and De Burger categorize serial murderers into 4 main types:
1. Visionary Motive Type:
– Serial murderer kills because ‘commanded’ to do so by voices or visions.
– Rarest type of serial murderer. Perhaps suffers from psychotic mental problem and out of touch with reality.
– Victims tend to be strangers and seen as part of target category of persons.
– Killing is spontaneous and disorganized.
2. Mission-Oriented Motive Type:
– Murderer has a goal (to rid world of certain type of person) but goal comes from within not in response to voices.
– Murderer not psychotic but needs to solve a particular problem.
– Aware of what he is doing and knows that action is wrong and is condemned by society for it.
– Appears normal to people and often successful.
– Chooses groups seen as ‘unworthy’ (prostitutes, tramps etc)
– Act is well planned and victims usually strangers.
3. Hedonistic Type:
– Person kills for pleasure.
– Two types: 1) thrill-oriented killer and 2) lust killer
– Thrill-oriented killer: enjoyment at excitement of killing. Victims are strangers chosen randomly with no particular characteristics. The murder is spontaneous and disorganized. Sometimes element of sadism.
– Lust killer: central element of crime is sexual. Sexual pleasure increased by amount of pain and mutilation inflicted. Gratification gained by abuse of victim. Usually lead normal lives with normal relationships except of problem of sexual gratification. Lead-up to crime part of the pleasure. Victim is usually a complete stranger. Act usually planned.
4. Power/Control Oriented Type:
-Difficult to distinguish from lust or thrill-seeking type. Same traits. But criminal act based on desire to show total control over other human being.
-Power is main factor behind crime. Sometimes sexually abuse victim but only really to demonstrate power.
-The killing is often sadistic.
Can you identify the serial killer below?
He is Ted Bundy. The most frightening of serial killers: a handsome, educated psychopathic law student who stalked and murdered dozens of young college women who looked very much like a young woman who broke off her relationship with him. Bundy was a very adept and glib con artist who faked a broken arm in a sling to convince young women to help him carry his textbooks to his car. Once there, he battered them with a baseball bat and carried them off for ghoulish rituals.
Serial murderer is different from mass murderer. The difference is a temporal one. Serial killers kill several people over a period of days, weeks, months, and even years. It is not a one-time event. The serial killer kills in cycles, shifting between an active period and a cooling off period. A mass murderer, conversely, kills several people in a matter of hours at most, murdering in an outburst without a cooling off period. Usually mass murderers take all of their victims from one location. Can you identify the mass murderer below?
He is Anders Behring Breivik. During a 90-minute rampage at a youth camp not far from Oslo, 32-year-old Anders Breivik – an anti-Islamist – shot to death 69 people. Earlier that afternoon he set off an ANFO bomb in the capital’s Government Quarter that killed eight people and injured hundreds of others. When police arrived at the camp, the coward who had laughed as he gunned down defenseless children dropped his weapons and raised his arms in surrender. Recently, a panel of psychiatrists found him insane, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Media and violence:
Public knowledge of crime and justice is largely derived from the media. The society is fascinated with crime and justice. From films, books, newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts, to everyday conversations, we are constantly engaging in crime “talk”. The mass media play an important role in the construction of criminality and the criminal justice system. The public’s perception of victims, criminals, deviants, and law enforcement officials is largely determined by their portrayal in the mass media. Research indicates that the majority of public knowledge about crime and justice is derived from the media (Roberts and Doob, 1990; Surette, 1998). Therefore, it is imperative to examine the effects that the mass media have on attitudes toward crime and justice. As a result, it is imperative that we understand how the media influences public attitudes. Although there are limitations within the data set and the findings are weak, a study found that regular viewing of crime shows is related to fear of crime. However, crime show viewing is not related to punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness. Popular media focused overwhelmingly more often on ‘interpersonal’ conflicts and deviance, but ‘quality’ ones included many items on such social deviance as rights violations, or on policy debates about criminal justice or corporate conduct.
Research into the media and violence examines whether links between consuming violence shown on media and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior exists. Some social scientists support this link. Although organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association have suggested that thousands of studies have been conducted confirming this link, others have argued that this information is incorrect. A 2008 editorial in medical journal the Lancet concluded that discussions of media violence effects were exaggerated. There are many explanations of aggressive behavior which do not emphasize the role of the media.
The constant news attention on the investigation inevitably results in conflicts with law enforcement. Often the relationship between law enforcement and the media is not a close one. In some law enforcement agencies, there is a long history of distrust and resentment underpinning this relationship. From the law enforcement perspective, the media publishes unauthorized information from investigations, hypothesizes on investigative progress, and uses talking heads to critique the investigative efforts. So there is a parallel media trial apart from criminal trial. From the media’s standpoint, law enforcement withholds too much information and does not communicate adequately with the media. It is counterproductive for law enforcement to sustain contentious relationships with the media, while attempting to develop an overall strategy for a successful serial murder investigation. The only party who benefits from this negative relationship is the criminal, who may continue to avoid detection. A respectful, cooperative relationship between law enforcement and the media will serve the missions of both. It becomes essential for law enforcement personnel involved in a serial murder investigation to design and implement an effective media plan. The plan should provide timely information on a regular basis, without compromising the investigative endeavors. It is essential for media releases to be closely coordinated with investigative strategies. This helps determine the best times to both educate and solicit information from the public concerning certain aspects of the investigation. Once a media plan is established, law enforcement can be more proactive than reactive in its media strategy.
In 1956, researchers took to the laboratory to compare the behavior of 24 children watching TV. Half watched a violent episode of the cartoon Woody Woodpecker, and the other 12 watched the non-violent cartoon The Little Red Hen. During play afterwards, the researchers observed that the children who watched the violent cartoon were much more likely to hit other children and break toys. A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2003 found that nearly half (47 per cent) of parents with children between the ages of 4 and 6 report that their children have imitated aggressive behaviors from TV. However, it is interesting to note that children are more likely to mimic positive behaviors — 87 per cent of kids do so. These studies are tip of the iceberg and there are hundreds of studies documenting effects of media violence (TV) on children.
In her final report, Martinez concluded that most studies support a positive, though weak, relation between exposure to television violence and aggressive behavior. Although that relationship cannot be confirmed systematically, she agrees with Dutch researcher Tom Van der Voot who argues that it would be illogical to conclude that a phenomenon does not exist simply because it is found at times not to occur, or only to occur under certain circumstances. The lack of consensus about the relationship between media violence and real-world aggression has not impeded ongoing research.
Here’s a sampling of conclusions drawn to date, from the various research studies:
1) Children who consume high levels of media violence are more likely to be aggressive in the real world.
2) Children who watch high levels of media violence are at increased risk of aggressive behavior as adults.
3) The introduction of television into a community leads to an increase in violent behavior.
4) Media violence stimulates fear in some children.
5) Media violence desensitizes people to real violence.
6) People who watch a lot of media violence tend to believe that the world is more dangerous than it is in reality.
7) International terrorist organizations would find it hard to operate and pose a challenge to any nation-state without media publicity.
Observers or players? The media vis-à-vis crime:
There is strong evidence that media images can influence criminal behavior, but overall their direct effect is small relative to other factors. This is largely because people vary in their interpretation of representations according to demographic, generational, and other life-course factors. There is a variety of ways theoretically in which media representations could influence crime rates and patterns. For example, the overall volume of property crime is likely to be affected by media portrayals of material success as the acme of the good life in a context of structural inequalities of opportunity. Then there are media trials on TV and print media which prejudges issues and outcomes. These media trials label someone as criminal even though he may be innocent. Then there is a media hype of crime to increase TRP rating of a TV channel. So the media are no longer, if they ever were observers of the scene but they are players in the game. Recently, Mumbai police arrested a journalist for allegedly involved in the murder of another journalist using underworld. Indian media was involved in telephone tapping scandal of my telephone which is a criminal offence but I see no regret or remorse on their faces on television. I fully concur with the new Chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju regarding his comments on media.
Indian media crime news and upper class bias:
By now none of us are very surprised when the media goes overboard over murders which take place in metro areas and the victims are upper class people…and even more so if the killers are upper class people. G. Krishnan, CEO of Aaj Tak, a Hindi news channel from India said at a FICCI meeting just this May that “Today, the consumer demands the 4 C’s, namely cricket, cinema, comedy and crime…” The media has helped solve murders and uncover scams. That’s really wonderful, but I think it’s time that homicides in the country are projected the way they really are. Unfortunately and sadly, Indian media went overboard in projecting crimes right from Neeraj Grover murder case to Aarushi Talwar murder case. Whether the distortions (poor analysis) projected by media are intentional or incidental is a matter of debate but Indian media has lost objectivity in crime reporting. We readers and viewers deserve more. We deserve to get a balanced picture about crimes committed in the whole country…villages, semi-urban areas and in the poorer city areas and it doesn’t matter if the victims are poor and/or the killers are poor. Crime news needs to be suitably balanced.
Social networking and crime:
The popularity and near necessity of social media sites has grown tremendously in the last few years, helping small businesses make connections, giving freelancers and students the chance to network with people they’d never be able to meet otherwise, and allow a place for all kinds of interest groups to chat and make friends online–from gardeners to book lovers to sports junkies. There is a dangerous and corrupt side to social media creators and users however, and the ability to create fake profiles and violate privacy and copyright rules is still more than possible. From Facebook’s big lawsuits to MySpace hackers demanding pay-back from celebrities, these copyright, privacy and blackmail cases can get ugly. Tragically, social media sites also serve as an easy venue for sex predators and bullies to track their victims. These grisly crimes have affected innocent teenagers and kids. There are reports of assaults and murders following contents published on social network.
We have seen people on YouTube charged with crimes for years but today people are using Facebook photo recognition software to catch criminals involved in high-profile crimes. On the other hand, some people are using Twitter & Facebook to incite violent attacks and evade authorities. It has been reported that Blackberry Messenger was used to coordinate the London riots. Facebook crimes ranging from scams to online bullying are on the rise, and they are getting more sophisticated, experts warn. However, the rise of these Facebook crimes isn’t limited to just scams, phishing activities and cyber bullying but also sexual predation and even robberies that occur after users post GPS location about their whereabouts to inform others they are out of town. These types of crimes are designed to use your own actions or weaknesses against you. As humans, and for good reason, we put trust in others more often than not because most people at most times are worthy of that trust. The online world is no different than the offline world in that sense. A recent Pew Internet & American Life study found that Facebook users are more trusting than people who are not members of the social networking site. In fact, a Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day is 43 percent more likely than other internet users and more than three times as likely as non-internet users to feel that most people can be trusted. According to Paul Zak, a professor at Claremont College, scammers prey on Facebook users not only because they are an easy target, but because they also don’t know their victims.
The real fear, of course, is that social media will be used a tool to recruit new militants by terrorist organizations. Experts currently disagree on how effective the internet is at cultivating terrorists, especially given the newness of the trend. Modern terrorists have often operated using isolated cells, a method that makes them harder to track and to destroy. The ease of wireless communication only accelerates communication. “Jihad Jane” is an American woman who contacted and raised funds for Pakistani militants through Twitter.
Tips for protecting senior citizens against crime:
Be sure that all doors, locks, and windows are strong and cannot be broken.
Keep all doors and windows locked especially when out of the house.
Make a list of valuable belongings, with pictures if desired, and keep track of this list by keeping it in a safe place.
Ask the local police department to mark valuable property with an I.D. number.
When strangers are at the door, check through a peephole or ask for identity before opening the door.
Do not keep large amounts of money at home.
Know your neighbors. You can watch out for each other.
Stay alert in public places.
If you drive, lock the doors at all times.
Do not open car door or roll down windows for strangers – ever.
Park in well-lit parking areas.
Carry your purse close to your body when walking outdoors with the strap over the shoulder and across the chest.
If you are in the process of being robbed, do not resist and hand over belongings to avoid getting hurt.
Avoid a regular banking routine that involved transporting money on the same day of the week during the same times. Note, social security checks and pension can be directly deposited into your bank account.
Never carry large amounts of cash on your person, and put credit cards or wallets within inside pockets.
Do not keep credit cards and chequebooks together so as to prevent signature forging if the two are stolen together.
How you can help tackle crime:
If you want to make sure your community is as safe as possible, one of the best things to do is to get involved and help. The starting point is to report crime if you see it, but there are lots of ways you can tackle crime and protect your neighborhood. The police and other public services can’t tackle crime and anti-social behavior alone. If people don’t report crime or come forward as witnesses, it can be hard for them to solve cases and bring criminals to justice. You can help play your part by reporting crime and anti-social behavior when you see it. Hold regular open meetings with residents in neighborhood to discuss what’s being done about crime, and to ensure that new problems are dealt with. One of my doctor friend had burglary every year in his house four times but never reported it to police. According to him, police will never find the stolen valuables but on the contrary, he will be harassed and financially exploited. In my view, we can never solve crimes if we never report it.
How can you tell if your child is going to be a criminal?
There are several things that you can look for in your child to tell if he is headed for a life of crime. They are:
1) If your child has deviant behaviour prior to the age of twelve.
2) Prior to the age of 12 your child had a tendency to argue, or show violence toward other children.
3) As a child your adolescent is anti-social and has a tendency to avoid adults.
4) If your child experiences defiance toward authorities in school, or towards parents
5) If you see sudden changes in his behaviour over the adolescent’s years frequently
Always remember, small crimes are just the beginning, ignore them now and your child will be headed for a life of crime. A study conducted by Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Southern California and the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Denmark discovered that that more than 25% of males that mothers had smoked when they were pregnant with them had been arrested for performing a violent crime. So you should never smoke in pregnancy if as a mother you feel that your child should not become a criminal.
The Genetic Defense: Excuse or Explanation?
The conference was to bring together historians, scientists, sociologists, philosophers, criminal justice experts, and legal scholars. The experts were to focus on the “role of genetic research and technology in predicting, explaining and controlling criminal behavior. The heated debate over the 1992 conference was generated largely by the growing body of scientific reports suggesting links between human biology and antisocial behavior and the theory that one may be born with a genetic predisposition for crime. Just as society defines certain acts as criminal, it also exempts certain conduct from criminal liability Exculpation is available when an actor can show either a justification or excuse for his behavior. An act is justified, for instance, when the surrounding circumstances make the person’s actions, although technically a violation of the law, the right thing to do. An excuse, by contrast, denies culpability despite the fact that the individual has acted in a socially unacceptable manner. In the latter case, some disability in the person’s freedom to choose right over wrong make punishment inappropriate. The classical conceptions of legal and moral responsibility presuppose humans to be free and autonomous agents who make deliberate choices and who, depending upon resulting consequences, are ultimately praiseworthy or blameworthy for their chosen actions. Modern science and psychiatry, by contrast, understand humans to be products of the laws of nature, whose behavior is ultimately understandable and predictable as a function of the causal matrix that governs everything in the universe. Three examples are sufficient.
Example 1) XYY anomaly:
Although most news media discussion of the XYY anomaly conveyed the impression that a causative link between the XYY chromosome defect and criminal behavior had been established conclusively and that “genetic criminals” were present in society, medical data neither supported nor refuted these propositions. Whereas links between chromosomal defects and physical abnormalities were well known, direct evidence linking genetics with mental and behavioral problems was relatively new. Scientists were aware that the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the human brain was associated intimately with behavioral changes, but they remained uncertain as to the degree of causation or correlation. In light of these shortcomings, courts consistently rejected the XYY condition as a sufficient ground for excusing criminal behavior.
Example 2) Alcoholism and Chemical Addiction:
Whereas relatively unexplored chromosomal aberrations like the XYY condition have met with judicial skepticism, courts more readily have addressed hereditary afflictions such as alcoholism and chemical addiction as potentially relevant factors in determining moral culpability and appropriate sentencing. Still, although the American Supreme Court has held that the “status” or condition of chemical addiction cannot be considered in and of itself a criminal offense, various courts have been reluctant to absolve completely those whom the state has proven guilty of actus reus. Whereas mere physical status of chemical addiction may not be deemed a criminal offense, various courts held that chronic alcoholism did not constitute a defense for active wrongdoing. The courts also stressed the distinction between an “exceedingly strong influence” and a “completely overpowering” compulsion. In short, a degree of compulsion was not the same as a complete lack of control.
Example 3) Psychopathic brain:
Because the brain of a psychopath is compromised, Adrian Raine, chair of the Department of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania said, one could argue that they don’t have full responsibility for their actions. That – in effect – it’s not their fault. In fact, that reasoning has been argued in a court of law. Raine recounted a case he consulted on, of a man named Herbert Weinstein who had killed his wife. Brain scans subsequently revealed a large cyst in the frontal cortex of Weinstein’s brain, showing that his cognitive abilities were significantly compromised. The scans were used to strike a plea bargain in which Weinstein’s sentence was reduced to only 11 years in prison. Imaging was used to reduce his culpability, to reduce his responsibility. Yet is that not a slippery slope to Armageddon where there’s no responsibility in society?
Most legal precedents rejecting genetic or physiological conditions as legitimate grounds for excuse or mitigation have been based on the premise that human behavior is predominantly the product of free will. Although courts have acknowledged that certain severe mental disorders, such as insanity, may effectively suppress volition or control and thereby relieve criminal responsibility, they have not extended the exception to other forms of biological aberration. The reluctance to expand the list of valid defenses reflects both judicial malaise over the current state of scientific knowledge and lack of evidentiary certainty The resistance may also be attributable to the fear of undermining social control and allowing potentially dangerous individuals to remain unchecked by adopting a theory of biological determinism.
Insanity as an excuse of criminal liability:
An insanity defense means that at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and the quality or the wrongfulness of his acts. Mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense. Basically, an accused arguing “not guilty by reason of insanity” must prove that he did not understand right from wrong at the time of offense.
Are genes partly to blame for a person’s risk of becoming a crime victim?
Studies show that your genes influence the odds that you’ll become a criminal. But could they also affect your risk of being a victim of a crime? To find out, Kevin Beaver and colleagues studied data collected from identical and same-sex fraternal twins participating in a large national study of adolescents. The data included information on the participants’ family life, social life, romantic involvements, extracurricular activities, drug and alcohol use, and personal victimization. The researchers found that genetic factors explained 40 to 45 percent of the variance in adolescent victimization, while non-shared environment (environmental influences that weren’t the same for both twins) accounted for the rest. Shared environment—for instance, poverty experienced by both twins—did not account for any of the variance. Moreover, genetic factors accounted for 64 percent of the variance when the researchers analyzed data from adolescents who reported being victimized repeatedly. It is possible that they detected this genetic effect on victimization because it is operating indirectly through behavior. The same genetic factors that promote antisocial behavior may also promote victimization, because adolescents who engage in acts of delinquency tend to have delinquent peers who are more likely to victimize them. In turn, these victims are more likely to be repeatedly victimized, and to victimize others. The strong genetic influence they detected for repeat victims is of particular importance, the researchers say, because most victimization research views victims solely as innocent bystanders. If the results of the current study are to be believed, then victimization researchers will need to reexamine their theories and research and begin to integrate genetic factors.
Empathy, mirror neurons and crime:
Recent research suggests that empathy plays an important role in normal social awareness and behavior. Moral psychologists argue that a capacity for empathy is necessary for the development of moral emotions – compassion, shame, guilt, feelings of justice and the like. If someone lacks the capacity for empathy, he is not capable of precisely those emotions that form the foundations of ethics and criminal law. Humans are social creatures. Dating back over 2 million years, humans have travelled and hunted in packs, relying upon group cohesion and intelligence to survive in a myriad of environments despite their slow gait, fragile anatomy and scant fur. At the root of this sociability is our uncanny ability to empathize; to recognize and identify with the feelings or experiences of others. Individuals with diminished empathy often withdraw themselves socially, as is the case with autism, or may use social interaction for selfish and manipulative purposes, as is the case with psychopaths. Neither of these behavior patterns is conducive to the retention of durable relationships.
Humans have multiple mirror systems that specialize in carrying out and understanding not just the actions of others but their intentions, the social meaning of their behavior and their emotions. These neurons grasp the implications of the behavior they process via direct simulation. The person fully experiences another person’s behavior, rather than just contemplating it. This is at the heart of how children learn and why certain experiences are shared archetypally across cultures. People respond to what others model if it’s behavior common to that species. It may also explain why media violence influences certain people. A study published in 2006 in Media Psychology indicated that mirror neurons were activated in children who watched violent television programs, and the prediction was that they would be more likely than others who did not watch to act more aggressively afterward. It’s been found, however, that the more active the mirror neurons, the more empathy we feel. It may be the case, then, that children with “broken” or less active mirror neurons who also watch violent programs might behave aggressively because they don’t have the inhibiting experience that comes with empathy. But this connection is merely suggestive; it has not yet been studied scientifically. It cannot be overemphasized that mirror neurons are living cells guided by their DNA and influenced by their experience in environment. If you are genetically primed to be aggressive, your mirror neurons will copy violence and execute violence as you have lesser empathy due to deviant mirror neuron system. The idea is that a criminal possess an altered mirror neuron system for pain. Instead of empathizing and feeling bad when viewing someone in pain, a criminal’s altered mirror neuron system could cause him to feel pleasure when viewing suffering. A growing body of evidence pins our levels of empathy on the activity of mirror neurons. These mirror neurons may be at the root of the empathic response, and therefore act as the basis for the intense sociability of the human race. Individuals can gain emotional insight (and empathy) from works of art. With that, perhaps, art can help a one become a better person. As children, we are immersed in a variety of mediums (e.g. novels, movies, visual arts, music) all of which help us develop a theory of mind and empathy through examination of others. As possible neurological basis for empathy is mirror neurons, then perhaps, through art, criminals could exercise their mirror neurons and develop stronger feelings of empathy. A prison rehabilitation program could contain an arts initiative that could help foster the development of these neurons. It could help create empathy in criminals who otherwise lack it.
Medical treatment of criminal mind and antisocial personality (ASP) disorder:
There is no specific medical treatment of criminal mind. However, treatment is available for antisocial personality disorder. Drug therapy of antisocial behavior has yielded limited and inconsistent benefits in the past, but recent advances in diagnosis, neurophysiology, and neuropharmacology now offer considerable promise. Despite optimism about recent advances, two points must be emphasized. First, antisocial behavior is developmentally complex with many different genetic and environmental determinants, so drugs are always merely an adjunct in a comprehensive treatment program. Second, all available treatment recommendations must be considered preliminary and tentative until long-term, double-blind, controlled trials are conducted that take into account available knowledge. Nevertheless, the recommended diagnostic and treatment procedures should both help clinicians refine their treatment strategy and stimulate further research in this important and challenging area. Psychotherapy is the main way to treat antisocial personality disorder. Psychotherapy is a general term for the process of treating a condition by talking about it with a mental health provider.
Types of psychotherapy used to treat antisocial personality disorder may include:
1) Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of therapy helps to uncover unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones.
2) Psychodynamic psychotherapy: This approach aims to raise awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors and — by bringing them to light — change their negative impact.
3) Psychoeducation: This education-based therapy teaches about all aspects of a condition, including treatments, coping strategies and problem-solving skills.
There are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat antisocial personality disorder. However, several types of psychiatric medications may help with certain conditions sometimes associated with antisocial personality disorder. The best-documented medication is lithium carbonate, which has been found to reduce anger, threatening behavior and combativeness among prisoners. More recently, the drug was shown to reduce behaviors such as bullying, fighting and temper outbursts in aggressive children. Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant, has also been shown to reduce impulsive aggression in prison settings. Other drugs have been used to treat aggression primarily in brain-injured or mentally retarded patients. These include carbamazepine, valproate, propranolol, buspirone and trazodone. Antipsychotic medications also have been studied in similar populations. They may deter aggression, but potentially induce irreversible side effects. Tranquilizers from the benzodiazepine class should not be used to treat people with ASP because they are potentially addictive and may lead to loss of behavioral control. Medication may help alleviate other psychiatric disorders that coexist with ASP, including major depression, anxiety disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, thus producing a ripple effect that can reduce antisocial behavior. Mood disorders are some of the most common conditions accompanying ASP and are among the more treatable. For reasons that remain unknown, depressed patients with personality disorders tend to not respond as well to antidepressant medication as depressed patients without personality disorders. Antisocials with bipolar disorder may respond to lithium carbonate, carbamazepine or valproate, which can help stabilize moods and may lessen antisocial behavior as well. Stimulant medication can be used to reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder, a condition that can compound the aggression and impulsivity that may accompany ASP. Stimulants must be considered judiciously because they can be addictive. Uncontrollable and dangerous forms of sexual behavior may be targeted by injections of medroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic hormone that reduces testosterone levels.
Addiction and Family Counseling:
Alcohol and drug abuse present major barriers for treatment of a person with underlying ASP. Although abstinence from drugs and alcohol does not guarantee a reduction in antisocial behavior, people with ASP who stop abusing drugs are less likely to engage in antisocial or criminal behaviors and have fewer family conflicts and emotional problems. Pathological gambling (a separate disorder that is quite different from social or professional gambling) is another addictive behavior common to antisocials. Although few formal treatment programs exist for people so preoccupied with gambling that nothing else matters, antisocials with the disorder should be encouraged to attend Gamblers Anonymous. Antisocials with spouses and families may benefit from marriage & family counseling. Bringing family members into the process may help antisocial patients realize the impact of their disorder. Therapists who specialize in family counseling may help address the antisocial person’s trouble maintaining an enduring attachment to his spouse or partner, his inability to be an effective parent, problems with honesty and responsibility, and the anger and hostility that can lead to domestic violence. Antisocials who were poorly parented may need help learning appropriate parenting skills.
Neurosurgery of ASP (psychosurgery):
In 1967, despite escalating international hostility towards psychosurgery, a program of amygdaloid neurosurgery for the reduction of aggressive and self-harming behavior commenced in Sydney. The goal of the project was to ameliorate aggressive or self-harming behavior by selective ablative surgery on the amygdaloid nucleus. In 1974, researchers reported that 39% of the first 18 patients treated had persisting improvement. Ethical issues became the focus of hostile media and government attention in 1977 and precipitated the project’s demise. Neurosurgery is mainly considered in extreme cases after all other forms of treatment have failed, and is largely reserved for patients that have brain deformity or brain trauma that has resulted in acquired sociopathy. The selective procedure targets minute amounts of brain tissue in precise areas, such as the neural circuit that links the amygdala (associated with fear and aggression) and hypothalamus. Neurosurgery is primarily used to treat brain trauma victims who develop anti-social personality disorder.
The moral of the story:
1) What is good and what is bad is determined by culture of a society at a given moment of time. The differentiation between goodness and badness varies between different cultures and between different times. So what is crime varies from one society to another and from one time to another. If one country allows transfer of one article into it legally, the entry of that article is non-criminal. However if the same country then bans the entry of this article, its transfer in becomes smuggling. Consensual homosexual relationship between two adults was a crime in India but now things are otherwise. The American Mafia rose to power through its success in the illicit liquor trade during the 1920s prohibition era but after end of prohibition, the same liquor trade became legal and the same criminal act became permissible act.
2) Criminality is a multifaceted behavioral outcome of complex constant interactions among multiple biological and environmental variables that modify each other. Nobody is born criminal and nobody is made criminal.
3) Crime is an area of disagreement between what the law says and what the science says. The criminal laws are based on the assumption that human behavior is result of so called “free will” of an individual and crime is a deliberate choice of an individual and therefore the individual must bear the resulting consequences of his/her actions. On the other hand, science understands that human behavior is as a result of interaction of biological factors & environmental factors, and therefore the so called “free will” is not free.
4) Criminal behavior is a deviant behavior which is harmful to society but all deviant behaviors are not crime. Crime is a violation of law but all violations of law are not crime.
5) One out of every five families is a victim of crime every year.
6) 40 % of all crimes are never reported and out of all reported crimes, 75 % of all crimes are never solved. Statistically speaking, this world is suitable for criminals rather than civilized people.
7) There is no ideal culprit and there is no perfect crime. To prevent/solve crime, we have to think just in the same way as the criminals think.
8) There is overwhelming evidence to show inequality of crime in the sense that criminal laws do not protect everybody equally, and criminal laws inadvertently or purposely excludes many acts similar to crime.
9) A good education is an effective way to steer people away from crime.
10) Poor nutrition does increase criminal behavior.
11) Investing in crime prevention strategies result in sustainable development of a society in the long run.
Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.
December 9, 2011
Despite having adverse Indian environment and despite having genetic predisposition to antisocial behavior, I did not become a criminal. Now what interaction between genes, biology and environment made me who I am and whether it was my “free will” that I did not become a criminal is a matter of debate and research. Nonetheless, nobody expected an experimental human to educate people through internet. I am grateful to my biological parents for their DNA and Indian family for the education I received. This article is the biggest article I have ever written/edited. I wish Merry Christmas to everybody and hope that the year 2012 shall bring peace and prosperity throughout the world.
Designed by @fraz699.