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Theory of Crime Causation

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Merits of the Idea That Genetics are a Source for Criminal Behavior

There has been an ongoing debate about the connection between genetics and criminal behavior. This is in an attempt to clarify whether there are inherited genes that make a person commit crime. There are some researchers who believe that there is criminal gene that would give evidence why people commit crime. Other researchers believe that committing a crime is the choice of a person out of passion and, thus, it is a real choice.

Genetic studies that are linked with criminal behavior, for example studies concerning adopted children, twin studies, and testosterone studies, prove that there is a genetic connection to criminal behavior and support that there is no inheritance of criminal behavior (CIBA Foundation Symposium, 1995).

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Criminologists and investigators have been looking at the factors that make a person commit a crime. A research that was conducted by Walker and Montagle proposed the connection between genetic factors and criminality. The research showed that there was XYY genotype, which was found in twenty percent more prisoners, as compared to other people in the general public. Since the introduction of XYY theory, plenty of studies have been accomplished to merit the thought that genetics influence criminal behaviors (Hubbard & Wald, 1993).    

Twin studies were conducted by evaluating identical twins. After a detailed evaluation, the research showed that the identical twins who suffered from antisocial behaviors being children shared this similarity at adulthood, so they must have inherited the behavior genetically from their parents.

In the adoption studies, evaluation of the connection between criminal behavior and the adopted children was conducted to find the genetic contribution to criminal behavior. The study showed that children who were born of females who were incarcerated had higher criminal rate as adults, as compared to those who were born by females who were not incarcerated. Additionally, in a study of adopted children who were born by criminal father who committed property crime showed that the children committed those types of crimes nd did not commit other violent crimes.

The outcome of hereditably influence studies showed that there is high risk of criminal behavior in children who were adopted from incarcerated women and those whose fathers involved in property crime to violate the law with the same types of crime when they grow up.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Evidence Surrounding Genetics and Crime

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The idea that there is a genetic connection to crime behavior is a controversial, since many criminologists insist that the core causes of crime are environmental factors like poverty for example. Some researchers argue that the genes with which people are born may contribute to them becoming criminals later in life. A study in University of Texas showed that there is no single gene that causes criminal behavior, but there are chances of existence of a range of genes that contribute in small portions either to lowering or raising the probability of a person to commit crime.

Current research shows that genetic features of criminal behavior have multifactor nature. There is no research of all human studies that has pinpointed a genetic origin that can be applied to the general population. Studies that were conducted on animals prove effective in identifying candidate gene that enables to make a conclusion. However, application of results from studies on animal to human behavior is questionable because of controlled nature of animal experiments (CIBA Foundation Symposium, 1995).

Prospective and population base studies have dismissed the syndrome of high incidence of XYY in people who have committed crime. They said that this is not the only reason for those behaviors and emphasize that development processes are responsible.

One gene and its products can be responsible for a disease state.  This is not possible when considering behavior. Behavior comes from the brain organization, and there are no behaviors that could be controlled by a single gene. There challenges show that existence of a single gene that is responsible for antisocial behavior is not possible. In addition, genetic effect of antisocial behavior is flexible over development and factors during development aand contributes significantly to abnormal behavior. Thus, genetic influence is dynamic and varying from individual to individual and with age.

Police Departments Should Dismiss Criminal Gene Findings

Many criminologists say that the major factors that force people to commit crime are environmental factors. They also add that genetic application to determine human behavior is overstated, since it plays a minor role. Despite poverty or genetics, people are able to make their own decisions. Thus, genes’ aspects should not be applied by police departments. Since it is not possible to ignore the environmental contribution in the causation of crime behaviors, the idea of genetics cannot be totally accountable.

Additionally, even if research and biological studies have supported influence of genes on antisocial behaviors, they have also showed that social factors are also significant. Thus, the above claims cannot solely give the explanation, since the result would be an interaction about their body and not of a specific gene. Moreover, the adoption studies proved both social and genetic factors.

Dangers of Suggesting that there is a Criminal Gene

Suggesting that a criminal gene exists poses dangers in executing justice. If genetics were to be hold responsible for the antisocial behaviors of perpetrators, there would be a collapse of social ethical framework worldwide. Secondly, the whole idea of rehabilitation, punishment, crime, and justice would have to be reevaluated, and, in effect, justice would be denied resulting in a totalitarian state full of revenge (Morley, Hall, & Australian Institute of Criminology, 2003).

Repercussions in the Field of Criminal Justice if the Existence of the Criminal Gene is Proven to be True

There is research advocating that intelligence can be an important tool in causation of criminal behavior. In case a criminal gene is proved to exist, there will be more responsibility and factors for police divisions and professionals in criminal justice to consider and encounter when serving in the prevention of crime.

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