Biological Positivism Theory of Crime

Chapter One: Introduction

"Our society has made the decision that man is a creature delivered of free will. At the same time, our system recognises that attitudes may be affected by environmental factors. " (Taylor, 1984: 9) Adults who engage in criminal conduct have emerged as having worth that are distorted by undesirable environmental conditions. "Guilt then is premised upon the idea that everyone who commits an take action does indeed so out of an exercise of free will. One is fully capable of not committing the work, should she or he so desire. " (Taylor, 1984: 10) This approach is referred to as the 'classicist way'.

Classicists have achieved near-total win in the modern times resulting in our legal justice system being founded upon the idea that criminal behaviour is the complete result of environmental influences, that it's nurture that designs conduct. It has caused our cultural institutions to attempt to correct deviant behaviour through changes to environmental influences - through jail and rehabilitation programmes.

The volume of offences registered by the police in the UK between June 2012 and June 2013 is 3. 7 million (Office for Country wide Statistics, 2013). It requires to be questioned whether this crime level is the consequence of a troubled world or the result of a malfunction in the unlawful justice system? Recidivism continues to be occurring with an increase of than one in four criminals reoffending inside a 12 months of release (Ministry of Justice, 2013). A possible reason for this could be that the whole premise which we bottom our unlawful justice is faulty.

If this classicist premise is incorrect then it is not a question that recidivism is carrying on to happen which as a population we are failing to eradicate crime. When the actual cause of crime is determined then you have the potential of getting rid of criminal offense, easing pain, and instilling common trust and security.

Stephen Mobley got all the qualities of an all natural created killer. At the age of 25, he strolled into a pizza store and taken the manager in the throat after robbing the right up until. Nobody could blame his upbringing - he originated from a white, middle-class American family and was not abused as a child. In 1995 he was ready on loss of life row in Georgia to listen to whether his session with the electric seat was established. His lawyer tried to plea that his murder was not the evil result of free will however the tragic consequence of an genetic predisposition. His aunt, a witness for the defence, testified that various participants of their family within the last four generations have been very violent, aggressive and legal. She advised the court how the Mobley family acquired had murder, rape, robbery, and suicide. His attorney therefore argued that there surely is no legal defence to Mobley's offense. Mobley's genealogy is an obvious mitigating factor and his actions may well not have been something totally of free will (Connor, 1995).

To date, there's been little agreement a person's biology has an influence on criminal offenses. Early biological theorists such as Lombroso have been broadly discredited mainly on the basis of a flawed technique however the recent and more contemporary natural explanations of criminal offense have been proven to more credible.

This dissertation will explore modern day natural ideas on crime - the role of genetics. Imagine if there are people who are genetically predisposed to commit offences? Should they be organised to take into account their actions that may have been completely beyond their control? In light of the clear failures of our own current unlawful justice system, it is now increasingly difficult to ignore the real factors behind offense. Can we find the money for to ignore the possibility that unlawful behaviour could be credited to genetics?

There is also the issue of how world should offer with the offender whose criminal offense was genetically inspired? Society has chosen that no person should be presented accountable for functions performed when they're mentally incapacitated. We've the defence of insanity when people who have a 'disease of the mind' commit crimes. It needs to be looked at whether hereditary aberration is highly recommended in mitigation of, or as a defence to, a criminal charge.

Some would say that to accept the notion that criminals are blessed alternatively than made would be starting a gateway to a moral minefield triggering other factors including world, unemployment, and upbringing to be ignored (Connor, 1995).

General Research Aim

It is the purpose of this dissertation to examine the relevance of natural positivism in the present day contemporary society through way of books analysis. I will briefly explore early biological theories such as those of Lombroso and his idea of a 'legal man', shifting to discuss modern-day natural ideas - the effect of a person's genetics on criminal behaviour. The study will explore the effectiveness of punishment and how natural ideas may have affected punishment by placing emphasis on the treatment of offenders. Finally, the honest implications surrounding the procedure model will be considered.

Aims and Objectives

In order to effectively answer my research purpose, a number of sub-questions must be considered:

  1. How does modern culture view criminal offense?

This dissertation begins by describing why further research into the topic is vital. The primary body of this dissertation will be unveiled with a debate of how our contemporary society currently views criminal offenses - could it be something of a person's biological affects, environmental influences, or a combination of the two?

  1. What is natural positivism?

In order to examine the relevance of biological positivism in the present day society, I have to first clarify what natural positivism happens to be. I am going to explore early biological theories leading on to a discussion of contemporary natural ideas. Relevant case studies will be regarded to inspect the usefulness of these present day ideas in explaining criminal offense and criminal behavior.

  1. How has natural positivism affected punishment?

The dissertation will move to evaluate how these ideas, previously reviewed, have affected punishment. In order to do this I'll first look to why we punish and what varieties of punishment are currently used in the united kingdom. Using reoffending reports I am going to critically analyse the effectiveness of these current kinds of punishment, leading to a talk about an alternative to punishment suggested by natural positivists: The role of treatment.

  1. Is the procedure model effective?

The success of the treatment model will be evaluated. Subsequently, emphasis on treatment over punishment carries huge honest implications. These moral implications will be mentioned with a detailed exploration on the incorporation of the Western Convention of People Rights into home legislations through the Human being Rights Work 1998.

  1. Are there any proposals for change to the present legal justice system which implies a move towards the treatment of offenders?

Finally, any proposals for change in the unlawful justice system put forward by the federal government will be mentioned - if they are of relevance to key points highlighted in this dissertation. Suggestions for future changes in the criminal justice system made by biological theorists will also be argued.

Chapter Six: Conclusion

Despite the in-depth research there is still much issue on the true causes of crime. The central importance of identifying the causes of criminal offense has been talked about through this dissertation. With both crime rates, and reoffending rates, being substantially high (Office for National Figures, 2013 ; Ministry of Justice, 2013) it is essential that the causes of crime are recognized, and individuals are therefore dealt with accordingly, in order for these figures to diminish.

After researching into biological positivism, the use of biological theories in the current criminal justice system are identifiably lacking with more emphasis on environmental factors being seen as the causes of crime. A biosocial, multi-factor, strategy has been shaped over the recent years incorporating environmental, sociable, and natural factors (Hopkins Burke, 2009) nevertheless there appears to be an ignorance of biological factors.

The goal of this dissertation was to identify the relevance of biological positivism in the modern society through an examination of existing books. The main emphasis of the research was to recognize contemporary natural ideas, and then analyze how they affected abuse in the legal justice system in Great britain and Wales. Theses influences were then analysed in terms of success, with moral issues later being questioned.

Biological positivism is pertinent in today's world. The research will not suggest that biological factors will be the sole cause of criminal behaviour for every individual offender, but that this can produce an influence on a person's susceptibility to commit a criminal offense (Hopkins Burke, 2009). Environmental and interpersonal factors also later contribute to shape the offender.

Early biological theories stemmed from the task of Lombroso. Although his work is basically discredited, he laid the foundation on which a lot more plausible explanations could be produced. Research into modern biological explanations, including twins studies and human hormones, has led to the conclusion that criminality in a minority of offenders is solely caused by natural factors (Hopkins Burke, 2009).

Although these more modern day biological ideas have been proven to be credible, this trustworthiness does not seem to be mirrored in today's unlawful justice system. Biological positivists have favoured treatment over consequence as way of working with offenders (Cavadino and Dignan, 2007). This dissertation has recognized that emphasis happens to be placed on consequence, and largely, imprisonment. There have been many attempts through the years to adopt cure approach however, credited to both financial and time-related limitations, these efforts have been limited considerably.

This limitation means that sex offences will be the only offences seen as a result of a biological defect in the offender. The explanation behind treatment on offer only to intimacy offenders however, is quite noticeably the result of various other reason: making love offenders are the most despised group of offenders, even among other offenders and for that reason there can be an increased pressure on the criminal justice system to ensure these offenders do not re-offend. Specialised treatment techniques such as substance castration have therefore been developed to cope with them (Miller, 1998).

An implication of the findings, a person's biology has an effect on their susceptibility to commit criminal offense, is that biological defects should be studied into account for all offenders and in turn, treatment should be offered to every specific offender despite costs. Although jail is used most commonly to punish offenders, and it is probably cheaper than treatment, long-term costs are large. This shows that it is more good for the unlawful justice system to purchase something that works to rehabilitate the offender preventing them from reoffending, than to incarcerate them stopping them from offending only on a short term basis. It's important that the reason for crime in each individual offender is recognized and then handled accordingly.

There have been numerous analyses of the treatment model in terms of ethical issues however writers of these analyses have either concluded that treatment violates all the offenders fundamental rights, or none of them (Miller, 1998). The research of these honest issues through this dissertation has led to the final outcome that the existing forms of treatment, offered over a voluntary basis, are not in breach of offenders' protection under the law under the Western european Convention on Human Rights. There is an underlying problem of discrimination however, under article 14 ECHR, as it can be argued that treatment offered only to love-making offenders is discriminating - it is discriminating for sex offenders, and also discriminating for those offenders that are not offered treatment.

By offering treatment to all offenders it'll ensure that any natural influences to criminal offense in offenders can be dealt with, and then treated. It's been earlier determined that not absolutely all offenders have a natural predisposition, but also for those offenders that do, it may rehabilitate the individual preventing reoffending. In response to this, article 14 ECHR and the prohibition of discrimination may well not be as a lot of a concern. To offer treatment to all offenders will be a step towards getting rid of this reason behind discrimination. Other honest issues encircling treatment, including enlightened and valid consent, and off-label drugs, have also been dealt with in this dissertation, and also have been seen to be justified.


  • It has been identified that research into twin studies, in particular monozygotic twins, is the most credible in conditions of ascertaining the effect of genetics on unlawful behaviour. It is therefore suggested that if it were possible to locate a representative sample of monozygotic twins who satisfied experimental conditions, being segregated at delivery and growing up in different environments, then the true scope of how much affect our genes have on unlawful behavior can be driven.
  • The unlawful justice system must recognise that other offences, not only love-making offences, could possibly be the result of a genetic defect and therefore treatment should be offered to all offenders.
  • Treatment given should be appropriate for the offender, and offered over a voluntary basis to avoid potential honest issues. To ensure consent is free, enlightened and valid, offenders should be assessed to ensure they have the mental capacity to provide consent, and to ensure they know about all risks engaged. Although permanent effects are mysterious, as long as the offender knows the uncertainty then up to date consent is no problem. Drugs should also be licensed for the purpose of dealing with offenders. More demanding testing is necessary using double-blind randomised tests along with full medical tests prior to, during and after treatment (Harrison, 2008).
  • Genetic aberrations is highly recommended as a mitigating factor with awareness given to natural affects on the offender when sentencing.
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