Causes Criminal Behavior There Is Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

What seems clear is that while not all criminality is stable, those people who begin offending at relatively young ages are generally those who are lifelong offenders. In this way, it can be said that some criminality is stable over time.

The stability of criminal behavior can have a significant impact on criminal justice policy. When rehabilitation efforts proved largely unsuccessful, there was a conservative swing back towards incarceration to drive down crime rates. While incarceration does not have the blanket effect of reducing crime rates, it does reduce crime rates when high-rate offenders are incarcerated. "Moreover, the incarceration of high-rate offend-ers is cost-effective, meaning that the financial cost of keeping them locked up off-sets the costs of the crimes they would commit if free. The same cannot be said of locking up low-rate offenders" (Wright et al., 2008). There is the idea that understanding the stability of criminal behavior is critical to ensuring the cost-efficient and practical functioning of the modern criminal justice system.

Genetic Factors Associated with Criminal Propensity

One of the interesting things that researchers have uncovered is that there are genetic factors that are associated with criminal propensity. Individual traits are heritable, and some of these traits are associated with criminal propensity. This does not mean that people are born criminals, but genetic factors can affect how people respond to their environments. This has been demonstrated by scientific research revealing that "certain genotypes seem to be more, or less, at risk for criminality. Molecular studies have shown that specific genes are associated with traits linked to crime and offending, such as impulsivity, low self-control, and hyperactivity" (Wright et al., 2008).

There are two concerns with the idea of a genetic component for criminality. First, there is the risk that such theories will remove the idea of personal responsibility from the crime; genetics may influence propensity, but they do not cause criminal behavior. The second concern is that any discussion of genetics and criminal propensity has the risk of coming to the conclusion that certain ethnic groups are more likely to be criminal than other ethnic groups, and the Holocaust serves as a stark warning of the dangers of that type of classification.


There does not seem to be a single cause of criminal behavior. Instead, criminal behavior seems to be the result of many factors. Moreover, while it is possible for people to engage in isolated incidents of criminality, there is support for the idea that young offenders are likely to go on to be habitual adult offenders. All of these factors have implications on the design of the criminal justice system.


Wright, J.P., Tibbetts, S.G., & Daigle, L.E. (2008). Criminals in the making. Thousand Oaks:


Sources Used in Document:


Wright, J.P., Tibbetts, S.G., & Daigle, L.E. (2008). Criminals in the making. Thousand Oaks:

Sage Publications Inc.

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