TURNING TO CRIME SUMMARY

Summary of Turning To Crime

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Upbringing

  • In considering the influence of upbringing, we have looked at how families are clearly influential in a person's chances of becoming criminal. It seems clear that disrupted families with criminal parents give an individual a high risk of following them into crime.
  • We can also assume that early intervention programs may migrate the risk.
  • If the young person belongs to a deviant peer group the risk factors increase as criminals acts become norms of behaviour. Each groups will make their own defintion of the rules they will adopt and those they will ignore.
  • If the family lives in an area of poverty or disadvantage, the risks increase as they feel alienated from the mainstream of society and its values of an honest work ethic based on a good education leading to a job or a career.
  • There may be individuals with characteristically high-risk behaviours who adopt a permanently criminal lifestyle while others are more influenced by situational factors and therefore are potentially easier to rehabilitate.
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Cognition

  • Research by Yochelson and others has suggested that criminals think differently from law-abiding people. They have certain biases in their thinking which means they see themselves existing apart from the mainstram of society without obligation to others, lacking empathy and seeking excitement. Their decision-making is poor and they lie habitually.
  • A criminal's moral development is restricted to the lower levels of Kohlberg's hierachy, reflecting the biases found by Yochelson. In stage one and two of Kohlberg's theory a person does what is right to avoid getting into trouble or gor a reward or personal gain. A criminal may believe that becuase the chances of getting into trouble are quite slim and the rewards for crime are quite substantial then there is little moral pressure on them to behave within the law.
  • Criminals make attributions about thier crimes which allow them to reduce any feelings of guilt they may have. Gudjohnsson has found that they attribute blame differently for different types of crimes, with sexual crimes creating the most guilt. It was also found that attributions are affected by the social context and social pressures surrounding the criminal.
  • Understanding how criminals think offers potentially the greatest opportunity to change faulty thinking and reduce reoffending.
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Biology

  • The biological influence on criminality covers many seperate strands as researchers work in small areas of the different fields. One criticism of this is their tendancy to promote their own particular body of their own particular body of evidence as though it existed seperately from others. However, reviews such as Raine's are drawing together several variables to complete the picture.
  • It is unlikely ever to be possible to find a single biological cause of criminal behaviour, becuase crime exists in many forms.
  • The attraction of a biological explanation is that it offers the possibility of screening for the future.
  • Against this is the danger of labelling individuals before a crime has been commited and ignoring the possibility of free will being able to override any predisposition to criminal behaviour.
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