Criminality has been sociologically defined as a form of deviant behavior from the norm and the acceptable rules of society. A more generic definition of criminality is a behavioral predisposition that disproportionately favors criminal activity. It is based on the premise that the act or acts committed by an individual violates the natural rights that are given to the person by birth and or by right. The statement “Are criminals born, or made?” is wide reaching and still the subject of many debates. Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities—news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation—use reported Crime Index figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents. To assess criminality and law enforcement's response from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, one must consider many variables, some of which, while having significant impact on crime, are not readily measurable nor applicable pervasively among all locales. (1)
In various societies the idea of criminality differs and therefore makes the definition of criminality very broad. Criminality could be stated that it is a political idea rather than a moral form of behavior. An act that is considered immoral may not be criminal but an act that is moral may also be criminal depending upon the culture and political foundation. In context of such a theory then, criminality can be understood using various sociological contexts. Through this we will attempt to understand or explain criminality and whether criminals are born or made. Beginning over a hundred years ago in the late 18th century social and criminal anthropologists began to speculate at the causes of criminality and delinquency and set about to investigate. There are still many disagreements connected with the definition of criminality as sociologists and anthropologists struggled to understand and attempt to produce a universal understanding of criminality. Most theorists at the time believed that it had to be a deep-rooted trait, or an innate tendency. Over the years that followed, many other sociologists and psychologists have tried to determine this complicated question. Some sociologists and psychologists would remain on the side of biological causes, and some would look further into environmental and social causes. There are many factors surrounding the arguments for all sides, a few of which will be addressed. Known as the father of criminology, Lombroso studied phys¬ical characteristics of convicted prisoners and found that there were many physical features that were common among criminals. Though he later modified his views, he originally concluded that what was common to the criminals that he studied were their atavistic or primitive features such as: receding foreheads, prom¬inent chins, and long arms. He would describe these criminals as either insane or "criminaloid" (criminal types). He further maintained that their criminal tendencies were the result of these inherited characteristics. Lombroso believed that a particular physical characteristic or attribute could predict criminality, thus creating a “born” criminal. Lombroso theorized, a result of certain atavisms whereby the criminal would be both mentally and physically inferior to normal human beings, and that they would bear a resemblance to our predecessor, the ape. He used certain physical characteristics as indicators of criminality, and measured them. If a person were to portray five or more of these atavisms, then they were seen to be a born criminal. He also added other factors to this theory,...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document