Biological Explanations of Criminal Behavior
Nature and nurture contribute to the way a person behaves.
This can be applied to the behaviors of criminals. According to Fishbein (1990, pg.37), “behavior [is] primarily attributed to inherited predispositions and genetic influences.” Nurture is the environmental influence that shape human behavior (Fishbein, 1990, pg.37). Human genetics and environmental factors contribute to the uniqueness to a person’s behavior. However, there are underlying qualities in a criminal’s historical background. Aspects of the nature and nurturing of a criminal behavior includes some problems with earlier biological explanations and some recent biological explanations which have overcome the weaknesses of the earlier ones. These two aspects can be applied in criminology for the prevention of the development of criminal minds.
Early biological explanations of criminal behavior had two different perspectives which came from the classical school and the positive school. Before the classical school, an offender was said to be guilty unless proven innocent. Whether proven guilty or innocent, torture was implicated upon the accused (Cartwright, 2009). Cesare Becarria and Jeremy Bentham were the early criminologists that were opposed to this treatment. They argued that the punishments and death penalty of an accused person were harsh and inappropriate. The accused that were guilty were tortured twice as much as the people proven innocent. Nonetheless, the innocent were still tortured. Becarria thought that the death penalty was unfair because it went against an individual’s freedom and social contract (Sacco & Kennedy, 2008, pg. 113). Before the classical school, criminal offences and punishments were not written down. Therefore, people of authority would execute them as they pleased. This is when Becarria thought that there should be specific criminal codes that state the legalities and illegalities of criminal actions and just...
References: Cartwright, B. (2009). Criminology 101 lecture on Biological, Psychological and Sociological
Theories of Crime, delivered at Simon Fraser University on October 8, 2009.
Fishbein, D.H. (1990). Biological Perspectives in Criminology. Criminology, 28(1), 27-72.
Sacco, V. F. & Kennedy, L.W. (2008). Psychological Conditions and Criminal Motivations.
The Criminal Event: An Introduction to Criminology in Canada
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