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CRIM 2650 (97)
Anita Lam (58)
Lecture

L5 2650.docx

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Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRIM 2650
Professor
Anita Lam

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Lombroso’s legacy: Contemporary biosocial theories Lecture overview 1. Recap: Lombroso and the born criminal 2. Policy implications 3. Lombroso’s legacy: Contemporary biosocial theories  Biosocial theories of crime causation  Evolutionary psychology 1. Recap: Lombroso and the born criminal  Born criminals have inherited criminal traits  Deterministic theory and degeneration –(families, ancestors, and children) to determine the kinds of people and the kinds of children they would have  E.g., Richard Dugdale’s (1875) The Jukes:  “Fornication is the backbone of their habits, flanked on one side by pauperism, on the other by crime. The secondary features are prostitution, with its complement of bastardy; exhaustion, with its complement intemperance (lacking self-control) and its resultant unbalanced minds”  1200 descendants of the Jukes: 7 murderers, 60 habitual thieves, 90+ criminals, 50 prostitutes and 280 paupers  Vs. the Edwards family Lombroso and the born criminal  Inherited biological traits are visibly manifested on the criminal’s body (savagery visible on body)  Criminal types— born criminal, habitual criminal, passionate criminal, and occasional criminal. Punishment for the born criminal is incapacitation because they will always reoffend and they don’t feel remorse, but the rest of the criminals like female criminals, occasional criminals and etc they don’t pose danger to society.  Physiognomy— external corporal features, like facial characteristics, they match the individuals internal moral personalities. Criminals are physically unattractive.  Phrenology— examine bumps and indentations on head and skull, which are related to intellectual and personality traits Lombroso and the born criminal –they are natural but abnormal because it happens in a natural world, it is a natural thing, but society has progressed so if you are a criminal you are not normal.  Born criminals suffer from atavistic anomalies –born criminals are evolutionary throwbacks to times where there were savages  Darwinian evolutionary theory  Criminal anthropology: scientific study  Positivist school of criminology— with lombroso, he would say that most crime are not committed by normal people, but abnormal people.  Abnormality  Pathological perspective: bad  sick.  Under classical school= some people were bad because they made bad choices  Under positivist school= people were bad because they were sick and they cannot control their sickness, so we cannot hold them fully responsible for their actions. Weaknesses in lombroso’s conclusions  Did not use a rigorous scientific method: no control group—when he concludes that born criminals are atavists, he looked at prison population and said they were healthy individuals, but the problem is that they came from the Italian army which had a particular body shape, and so all the external corporal features did not match up with the general population. Since he never compared his criminal sample to the general population as a control group, critics have dismissed his conclusion as not being rigorously tested.  Skewed sample of criminals—by criminals, he meant all the people he studied in prison, but what about the criminals and their traits who have not been caught and have not made it in your prison sample? So he used a skewed sample of criminals.  Biological traits that Lombroso might not be purely hereditary— some critics say that some of the biological traits might not be purely hereditary and might be a product of environmental conditions. Bumps can be a result of the environment like poor health care.  Might be due to environmental conditions: e.g., poor health care or poor nutrition  Biochemical conditions associated with criminal behaviour—biochemical conditions are intertwined with genetics and the environment The “Twinkie defence”  Dan White—alleged with first degree murder. His defence council made an argument that while he was murdering he was suffering from diminished capacity like serious depression and this amounts to a major mental disorder (pathological). During his diet, he changed to eating sugary foods like twinkie so the eating of twinkies was a symptom of his depression and the cause for antisocial behaviour. He was found guilty of a lesser offence of manslaughter, rather than first degree murder. But does our diet really predispose us to criminality?  Connection between violent behaviour and diet high in sugar and carbohydrates  Hypoglycemia—a condition where you have low blood sugar levels; in particular sugar levels in your blood that are lower than normal. 2. Policy implications  Criminal types and offender profiling—demographic characteristics of people, and biological traits that may predispose them to crime. So his theory made possible of offender profiling. Punishment should vary on the basis of their crimes. We should save our harshest punishments for dangerous criminals like born criminals. He recommended permanent segregation from the community in the form of incapacitation, like the death sentence.  Indeterminate or indefinite sentencing— indeterminate: mentally ill disorders  Mentally disordered offenders—serve more time in hospital detention, than non-mental offenders who committed the same crime. We are more punitive to mentally ill offenders.  Dangerous offenders  Born criminal—they are encouragable and there’s no way to correct them. Therefore, there is no point of treatment. The best we can do is to separate them on the logic of social defence.  Incapacitation  Prison as warehouse Policy implications: when scientific theory is used to justify normative theory  Dangerous state policies  Social Darwinism:  Concerned with reproduction among ‘degenerates’ (alcoholics, criminals, lower classes, ‘coloured’ races, the feeble-minded, etc.) – white upper middle class men justified their superiority and implemented policies.  Eugenics: improve the genetic composition of the overall population—concerned about degenerates reproducing which would contaminate the general population.  Nazi Germany and the creation of a ‘pure’ German race  Canada: Alberta and British Columbia—acted on the basis that our gene pool consists of desirable traits, so passe
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