Basing Theories Of Crime On The Individual

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Basing Theories Of Crime On The Individual Characteristics Of Offenders Is Like Blaming Sick People For Their Diseases Essay, Research Paper Many theories have been developed which address the issue of whether people are born criminals in terms of their physical, genetic, or psychological profile, Or whether as sociologists would argue criminals are made by the environment and circumstances which they encounter during their life. There have been theories put forward to suggest that a persons physical characteristics can determine how he/she behaves. The earliest theories were in the eighteenth century, Lavater study on physiognomy this suggests that you can tell persons character by their facial characteristics. Some of these finding still exist in modern day prejudices / old

wives tales i.e. he s got shifty eyes. Or his eyes are too close together Later the study of phrenology also looked at the development of people s heads. Gall, did an extensive study of the brain and how the brain worked. He developed the theory that the lumps on the skull were where in some people certain areas of the brain were disproportionate and this caused the lumps. His study identified 26 functions of the brain and those relevant to criminology were destructiveness, secretiveness, acquisitiveness and combativeness. Lombroso an Italian doctor, while examining the skull of a criminal had the thought that the nature of criminology lay in atavism (an evolutionary throwback.) He felt the physical characteristics such as enormous jaw, high cheekbones, and protruding ears

supported his theory as these characteristics were found in criminals, savages and apes. Lombroso later developed this theory further and produced a list of physical characteristics found in criminals. The list included physical features such as; asymmetry of the face, irregularity in the eyes, ears. Nose, lips, teeth or chin, supernumary nipples, fingers and toes, and excessive arm length. Lombroso then tested his theory on a number of convicted criminals and found that 21% had one anomaly and 43% had five or more this he suggested showed that criminals were born criminals. He did other test with soldiers and criminals and again the criminals had more anomalies. Lombroso published his theories in his book The Criminal Man . He later developed his theories further by including

the insane criminal, the epileptic criminal and the occasional criminal who could be influenced by environmental factors. These early theories were not properly evaluated or objectively compared to wider groups in society but these theories formed the basis for future theories in criminology. Others were critical of Lombroso and one of these was an English doctor Charles Goring. He went on to do his own research as a way of challenging Lombroso s theories. Goring own research found that criminals were shorter and lighter than others were and he therefore suggested they were of lower intelligence. There was criticism of Goring work as in his eagerness to disprove Lombroso he may have overlooked fact, which could have proved Lombroso s theory. Again this was a wider study and

looked at more factors but it failed to be objective as it set out to disprove a theory rather than evaluate and look for alternative explanations. Hooton then tested Goring s theory and researched a large number of prisoners with a much smaller number of non-criminals. He selected people for the research based on their physical characteristics. He found that some feature were found more commonly in criminals than in others these were; low foreheads, sloping shoulders, thin lips and tattoos. He also went on to suggest that certain physical types committed different types of crimes. Those smaller in character he said would steal while those with stockier build would commit more violent crimes. Hooton also believed that criminals with unusual physical characteristics were also