Crime the Purpose of This Term Paper

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Many people using illicit and illegal drugs often have no impulse control and may turn violent or to another form of crime. Once an individual's mind is altered from the constant use of drugs, he or she will often steal, lie, and cheat to make the next dollar to obtain more drugs.

Many people could share family related drug stories that have led to criminal activities. About 10 years ago, several acquaintances under the influence of cocaine robbed a pharmacy and stole thousands of narcotics. The man and women then stole a car and cocaine from a dealer and drove across the country; several days later they were both apprehended and sent to jail for a long time. This example illustrates that one impulsive behavior after another can lead to a series of crimes committed. Freud's Psychoanalytical Theory offers a rationale to why individuals would use illegal drugs -- impulse - and this is a criminal act in itself but also can often be the trigger more criminal behavior.

Non-Psychological Theory

James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein developed a Constitutional-Learning Theory that integrates biological and social factors together to explain criminal behavior (1985). The Constitutional-Learning Theory is based on the idea that criminal and non-criminal behavior has a weighted system of gains and losses; for example the need for money (gain) outweighs the loss (punishment for theft) and when this occurs the individual does not consider the consequences of his or her misguided behavior (Wilson & Herrnstein, 1985). Wilson and Herrnstein argue that physiological arousal is a major component of classical conditioning; thus, people who cannot associate negative feelings with committing crime will not be stopped from committing a criminal act (1985). The argument also supports the notion that impulsive children who lack socialization skills are at the greatest risk of becoming criminals (Wilson & Herrnstein, 1985). Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional-Learning Theory works well with both the classical and positive theories of criminology; positive in the fact that it emphasizes free will and choice and the positive theory because of social deterrents acting as a factor.

Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional Learning Theory makes a strong case for individuals making choices based on a weighted system of gains and losses. The Constitutional Learning Theory supports the notion that an individual is bound by free will to make his or her own logical choices. In the criminal activity of using illegal drugs Wilson and Herrnstein believe that individual choose the ills of drugs after weighing the pros and cons.

When individuals make weighted choices to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs they generally have an idea of both the positive and negative consequences. Choices involving the personal use are typically to gain a high or a pleasure off the illegal drug and weighted against the notion that being caught and paying a fine or going to prison is not a deterrent. Other choices like possessing, manufacturing, and distributing illegal drugs have a different set of positive or negative influences. When individuals choose freely to possess, manufacture, or distribute illegal drugs the gains are financial and the increased standard of living outweighs the loss that would be imprisonment and major fines.

Most individuals who decide to use, possess, manufacture, and distribute illegal drugs are doing it on his or her free will. Everybody has seen drug dealers and drug lords in the movies or on the news. A well recognized example in this case is the fictional movie character Tony Montana from the movie Scarface. In this movie, Tony Montana creates a better lifestyle for himself by making choices based on free will; the choices made were criminal. Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional Learning Theory was on display when Montana decided to make a Weighted decision; he decided that doing dishes was not a good avenue for him and his friend, so he choose a lifestyle of drugs knowing he could be filthy rich and had no worries about going to prison. Unfortunately, in this case the loss was not prison, but his life as the life of being a drug dealer has tremendous risks


An analysis describing the better of the two theories in explaining the crime of illegal drug use is delved and the reasons are explained, while discussing the implications of this theory in terms of how it could influence a crime-control policy. Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalytical Theory and James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein Constitutional-Learning Theory both make strong cases.

Freud's theory is positive and Chicago and emphasizes an individual displaying antisocial and outward impulses that is a good fit for the criminal act of illegal drug use. Freud's Analytical Theory described an individual's disconnect with his or her parents, and this may or may not be the case with illegal drug use. So the hypothesis on Freud's Analytical Theory is does work with explaining illegal drug use as a criminal act, but the parental component would need more in-depth research and statistical analysis to prove.

Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional-Learning Theory is classical and positive and emphasize biological and social factors together to explain criminal behavior. The Constitutional- Learning Theory is based on criminal and non-criminal behavior via a weighted system of gains and losses. A system of weighted gains and losses demonstrates that individuals make choices based on his or her own free will for the actions concerning illegal drug use. The hypothesis on Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional-Learning Theory is an excellent fit with the criminal activity of illegal drug use because people are free to make rationale choices on a daily basis and may be a basis for a stronger crime controlling policy for illegal drug use. When individuals make rationale choices to commit drug-related crimes a stronger deterrent must be created. Many economic and sociological experts believe that if illegal drug use became legalized and controlled through pharmacies the crime resulting would go down considerably.


When studying the crime of illegal drug use elements of all three major criminal theories (classical, positive, and Chicago) are applicable. Psychologically, Freud's

Psychoanalytical Theory combines ideas from both the positive and Chicago theories and offers the concept that outward impulses are contributing factors to an individual displaying to criminal behavior (in this case illegal drug use). Non-psychologically, Wilson and Herrnstein's Constitutional-Learning Theory is supported by both the classical and positive theories of criminology and its principle belief is too integrate biological and social factors as one on the premise that criminal and non-criminal behavior has a weighted system of gains and losses. With globalization and technology advancing human societies at a rapid pace it will be harder to apply one theory, whether psychological or non-psychological, to the study of criminal acts.


Bureau of justice statistics- drug use and crime. (2009, October). Retrieved from

Crime. (2011, June). Retrieved from

Freud, S. (1961). The Complete Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19). London: Hogarth.

Lerner, L., Lerner, B.L., & Cengage, G. (2006). Criminology. World of forensic science, Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Preliminary Estimates from the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (Rockville, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996).

Wilson, J.Q. & Herrnstein, R. (1985). Crime and Human Nature. New York: Simon and Schuster.


Appendix A: Drug Arrest Chart

Source: FBI, The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)

Appendix B: Arrests in 2009

Total Number of Arrests


Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter


Forcible rape




Aggravated assault



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