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Biology and Crime.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Biology and Crime 1. Cesare Lombrosso (1835-1909) – worked as a doctor with the Italian military “Theory of Criminal Mind”  Some ties with biology and crime  Looked at external factors or criminal behavior; could it be body shape, eye colour? Studied 3000 soldiers, along with mental patients and male and female prisoners and wanted to see if there was a different between them. Found that there are links between certain characteristics and criminal behavior in individuals. Concerned with the biological causes of crime: physical traits became the way to find deviance in individuals, along with various types of “abnormalities” in the deviant population.  Wanted to use positivism: can we predict crime?  Atavism as an idea -negative, pessimistic views of people who have tendencies to become deviant. Categorization between soldiers, mental patients ect.. believed atavism was the missing link: it explains why we have deviance in society. Such as eyebrow shape, four lines above eyebrow, proceeding eyebrow Atavism: physical traits, abnormalities in face and believed people were born criminals. ex: people who are labelled deviant are highly atavistic. Throwbacks to earlier age of evolution. People who are criminals have not evolved with the rest of society, savages. Deformed morally and biologically. Heavily influenced by Social Darwinism.  Who were considered atavistic -people with flattened noses, hooked nose -few lines on palm of hands -disproportionate arms -short hands -scanty beard(not full) -tattoos -small shifting, quick moving eyes, thin nose, receding hairlines, proceeding forhead.  Stigmata- physical signs of atavism ex. Soilders had less atavistic stigmata as prisoners murderers: glass, cold, emotionless eyes -women has lower crime rates due to maternal instincts, more controlled emotions. -women could be vengeful, deceitful, and jealous  Born criminal- born criminals in the major ideas in born criminology based on the physical features people were born with. 2. Lombroso’s classification of criminals 3. Solutions? Crime Prevention Strategies -Prisons: keep criminals off the streets -Prison may not always reform individuals 4. Origins of theories of biology and crime -heavily ties to issues of Darwin Evolutionary theory: survival of the fittest -physical traits and links to crime? (both criminals) 5. Born Criminal Theory: Physiognomy -developed by John Casper Lavater (1741-1801) Facial features used to judge moral character -nose, earlobes , eyes, chin lines, beards, receding hairlines ect. Ex. bump on nose=violent tendencies -classified as a tendency to have shifty eyes, bum chins, large noses, complexion. 6. Born Criminal Theory: Phrenology  Founders: Franz Joseph Gall (1776-1828) and Johann Casper Spurzhiem (1776-1
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