Person as a Born Criminal? Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1982 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … person as a born criminal? What does the research show?

Definition of a born criminal:

Criminology is a study of behavior of human beings that make them violate existing law and tries to find out the reasons for their violations of law. There are different studies in sociology of law to find out the reasons for the origin of laws which end up defining certain behavior as criminal behavior. This is certainly important to know as why certain behavior is being talked as criminal behavior, though even the knowledge is often lacking in explanation of the causes of the law in question. At the same time, it is also important to know why some individuals violate those laws, while others do not. In simpler terms, it is important to know why some people steal, while others do not steal, and why some use force against their victims during a robbery while the others do not. In short, it is a study of the behavior of human beings under certain conditions. (Criminology)

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The study of born criminals is the focus of this paper, and to decide whether there is a person who can be a born criminal, we have to first decide what exactly the definition of a born criminal is. According to the encyclopedia, "A Born Criminal is someone who was born in to, or raised in circumstances that would facilitate their entry to criminal life at a young age. This can also refer to someone who repeatedly commits crimes." (Born criminal) The definition is quite clear and it says that the situation at birth or development as a child develops some individuals in a way that they tend to become criminals. The next question to be seen is whether the different types of crimes in themselves have a way in which people can become criminals through 'birth or development'.

Types of crimes:

TOPIC: Term Paper on Person as a Born Criminal? What Does Assignment

It is clear that many types of behavior in society that is deemed to be criminal cannot be due to the influence of birth or bringing up. The clearest case is of careless or inconsiderate driving or causing death by dangerous driving. Careless driving is seen when a person is noted to be driving a motor vehicle without caring for the safety and security of other road users. It does not say that the person is not trained in driving or does not have a driving license. Certainly the responsibility in a case like this is more of the persons who gave the individual license to drive rather than the situations of his birth. It may also be the condition, both due to drinking or use of any other intoxicants or the mental situation under which the individual is driving. How can one relate such crimes to situations of birth or bringing up? Continuing on the same theme, we have the crime of causing death by dangerous driving and this means causing death by bad or dangerous driving without the desire to kill the person. (Careless or inconsiderate driving)

Similar is the situation with child abuse which is a term described to define the indecent physical contact with a child carried out by a parent, guardian or adult. As we are all aware, the sexual drive comes to human beings only when they reach a certain age, and this cannot exist in a child. A child cannot obviously also enjoy the acts described under this criminal act. So, it is almost impossible for the child to learn these acts as a child, and it has also not been seen that parents or adults teach the child of using these acts when they grow up. There is also criminal damage which means the intentional or reckless destruction or damage of properties belonging to another person without lawful excuse. (Careless or inconsiderate driving) This again is a type of crime that is difficult to link up to situations at birth or bringing up. The reason for this is that the criminal code today has many clauses which are related to the societal conditions of today, and the concept of a born criminal was not developed today.

There are also situations which may result in development of criminals. There was a person in Texas who was convicted of selling in methamphetamines in 1980 which resulted in 22 months in prison for him. After release he went into opening a pool hall in Jackson. The day's collections would be deposited in the bank every night by him and for safety he used to carry a small 0.22 caliber pistol. When the pistol was stolen in 1992, he bought a new one after filling out the required forms. There was an investigation and a case which forced the judge concerned to sentence him to a fifteen year sentence even though at the time of this conviction he was a law abiding citizen. (Washington's Biggest Crime Problem)

Who is a born criminal?

The regular and scientific study on 'born criminals' was first done by Lombroso who lived from 1835 to 1909. He completed his medical studies in 1859 and joined the Italian army as a physician. He spent four years in the army and studied nearly 300 soldiers during this period and observed then closely with systematic measurements. According to his studies, he noted a relationship that soldiers with tattoos had with criminal activity. He then went on to working at different mental institutions and continued on with the same sort of measurements that he used on the soldiers and this resulted in his publication of his thinking in 1876 regarding the physical make-up of the individual and the individual's propensity to crime. The results of his studies are today called 'atavism'. (Biological, Physiological and Bio-Social Theories)

According to him, there were four basic types of criminals -- born criminals, criminal by passion, insane criminal and occasional criminal. The term of 'born criminal' was started not by Lombroso but by one of his students named Enrico Ferri. The characteristics of the born criminals were used by Lombroso for individuals who had not fully developed according to genetics, and thus reflected forms of life in earlier primates or men. He found in the skulls and brains as also other parts of skeletons, muscles and viscera of these criminals various anatomical peculiarities. Again these differences were felt to bring them more in similarity to earlier prehistoric men, more primitive people and monkeys. Finally, according to him the principle cause of criminal tendencies was organic in nature and the reason for the differences was heredity. Though he had started off as a Biological theorist, yet he changed his opinions at a late stage of his life and ended up by saying that crime had a variety of causes. (Biological, Physiological and Bio-Social Theories)

The studies of Lombroso were carried on by his student, Ferri, and he developed the concept of 'born criminal' even further. According to him, 'born criminals' constituted one -- third of all criminals and as persons, they are both imbeciles and epileptics. Again, the connection between criminality and epilepsy is a derived connection rather an identity situation. According to him epilepsy is a genus that reflects both criminality and moral insanity. The theories of Ferri were called theories of criminal causation and came out in his publication called "Studies in Criminality in France, 1876-1878." This theory talks about three major factors as the reasons for the cause of crimes related to the physical or geographical environment of the crime, the constitution of the individual, and the social environment. He also outlined criminals in types like his mentor and these types are similar to those outlined by Lombroso. His definition of types of criminals is six and the first set is 'born criminals'. They are defined as those with a heredity that makes them respond easily to criminal stimuli.

The second group is insane criminals and they suffer from some mental disease or neurotic disturbances. The third set is passionate criminals and these are again of two types -- those who suffer from a prolonged and chronic mental disturbance and those who are suffering from a mental outburst. The fourth group is the vast majority of criminals and they can be called occasional criminals who commit crimes due to the result of family situation or social milieu. The fifth set are habitual criminals and they commit crimes due to social milieu, and for them crime is an acquired habit. The sixth set is the involuntary criminals who do not really understand the difference between crime and normal human action. (Biological, Physiological and Bio-Social Theories)

Getting out of theories and into real world, the criminals by passion may be male or female, but the differences of these individuals with others are not due to gender, but due to their impetuosity and ferocious nature. When the crime is committed, the criminals keep feeling that they are being generous to the person on the victim. Examples of this type of criminals are wives killing unfaithful… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Person as a Born Criminal?" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Person as a Born Criminal?.  (2005, July 10).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Person as a Born Criminal?."  10 July 2005.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Person as a Born Criminal?."  July 10, 2005.  Accessed September 26, 2021.