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Biology and Crime.docx

Course Code
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

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Jan. 23/2012
Biology and Crime
1. Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909)
“Theory of Criminal Man”
- Some ties with biology and crime
o Believed males and females who got tattoos predicted their criminal
o Physical traits
- Wanted to use positivism: can we predict crime?
- Atavism as an idea: evolutionary throwback
o Criminals are lower on evolutionary scale, less developed, non-deviants have
o Some people are born criminals, morally inferior
- Who were considered atavistic?
o Flat noses, hooked nose, few lines on palms of hand, short or long arms, short
- Stigmata: term for certain physical characteristics of atavism
o Robbers have small, shifty, quick-moving eyes, bushy eyebrows, receding
foreheads, thin beards
o Women more deceitful but have more self-control
- Born criminal
2. Lombroso’s classification of criminals
- Page 24 of text
3. Solutions? Crime Prevention Strategies
- Prison: keeps criminals off the streets
4. Origins of theories on biology and crime
- Evolutionary theory
o Survival of the fittest
- Physical traits and links to crime? (born criminals)
5. Born Criminal Theory: Physiognomy
- Developed by John Caspar Lavater (1741-1801)
- Facial features used to judge moral character
- Nose, earlobes, eyes, chin lines, beards, etc.
6. Born Criminal Theory: Phrenology
-Founders: Franz Joseph Gall (1776-1828) and Johann Casper Spurzheim (1776-1832)
-Mapped areas of the outside skull: see what the dominate traits of the individual are
-Areas indicative of brain function
-Certain areas indicate criminality: predictability of future criminal behavior
7. Born Criminal Theory: Craniometry
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