Crim 101 Week 4
Today we focus on theory. Time, place, and people involved. Chapter 4
General (rather than individual) explanations of crime patterns.
Theories should also be falsifiable - we should be able to test or measure them.
-Before the classical school
A presumption of guilt, unless proven innocent.
Confession of guilt, or proof of innocence, through inquisition, often involving torture.
Physical torture as punishment for the few crimes that did not result in the death penalty.
CLASSICAL SCHOOL important figures
-Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)
Torture was unfair - confession might have nothing to do with innocence or guilt.
If you were innocent, you were tortured anyway; if you were guilty, you were tortured too,
The death penalty was used often at random
The presumption of innocence.
Specific criminal codes. (Wrote down the laws)
Limitations on the severity of punishment (Different degree of crime, different
The duration of punishment as a more effective deterrent. Need an end point for
Public (Visible) punishment as a more effective deterrent.
-Jeremy Benthan (1748 - 1832)
People were rational, and exercised free will.
Would employ a hedonistic calculus in deciding whether a certain action was more likely
to result in pleasure than in pain.
What is the classical school closely aligned with
After the classical school came the positive school
Used "scientific" methods to explain criminal behaviour
Involved notion of "determinism", as opposed to "free will" or "rational choice"
Behaviour of criminals was pre-determined by their genes or evolutionary condition. -Cesare Lombroso (1835 - 1909)
Founder and most prominent member of the Positive School
The atavistic criminal - a degenerate throwback on earlier forms of evolution.
Modern Biological Approaches
Generally ignored in criminology
Recent resurgence based on the idea that biology might predispose a person to criminal
behaviour, but the social environment has an influence on whether those predispositions
result in crime
Idea that genes passed from parents to child result in criminal behaviour.
Nature versus Nurture
#Parents and children may share genes, but the also share a similar social environment.
Which maters more? (Nature -> Genes. Nurture -> Environment)
Possibility that what a person eats can affect their mental state and/or their behaviour.
"Twinkie defence" - too much sugar can make a person hyperactive and aggressive.
Vitamins and Omega-3s
-Intelligence and Crime
Lower IQ could have negative effect on school performance
Poor school performance leads to an increased risk of delinquency
Five different hypotheses
-The school failure hypothesis
Learning disabilities may contribute to school failure
Student may become frustrated, angry, and aggressive as a consequence
Ends up being identified by teachers as "troublemaker"
-The susceptibility hypothesis
Learning disabilities may result in impulsiveness, irritability, and inability to see the
consequences of certain actions
These characteristics may lead to delinquent behaviours
-The differential arrest hypothesis
Individuals with learning disabilities more likely to be arrested, because they are less able
to conceal their criminal activities
Less able to interact effectively with the police due to poor social perceptions
-The differential adjudication hypothesis
More likely to be convicted because they cant understand/cope with compliated court
-The differential disposition hypothesis More likely to receive harsher sentence
Often school drop-outs
Less employable and appear to be at higher risky of recidivating.
Often used to describe serial killers, sexual predators and other offenders we consider to
be exceptionally dangerous
Considered "different" from "normal" people
"Psychopath" used interchangeably with "sociopath" and anti-social personality disorder
"Psychopaths" are not only criminals.
Idea that people (and other organisms) evolve in ways that benefit them and this explains
much human behaviour
o Related to eliminating competition for females
o Related to increased social status
Female aggression avoidance:
o If she dies, the kids die