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Criminology and Penology

A crime is defined as an intentional conduct that is against the law at the moment. Punishment is a legally sanctioned penalty for a crime inflicted on someone guilty of the said crime. Fear of crime is vested in the innate fear that crime will damage and harm individuals, society, and humankind p20. It is vested in the idea that if unchecked, early signs of a disorder could deteriorate into crime and eventually break down the whole community neighborhood. It is attributed to a broken window in a building with a propensity to invite evildoers (p 20). The fear of crime underpins the belief that, if left unchecked, early indicators of disorder might lead to criminality and, finally, neighborhood community disintegration. Wilson and Keeling (1982) contend that “if a window in a structure is smashed and left unrepaired… it acts as an invitation to evildoers,” which leads to other windows being broken and, eventually, a fire if left unattended.

On the other hand, fear of crime is seen as the platform that paves the way for crime management. Also, it can lead to instability because people are cautious of becoming the next victims. The result is poorer social integration, out-migration, activity limits, increased security expenses, and avoidance behavior p 20. Based on Wilson and Keeling’s (1982) ‘broken window’ argument, they argue that police should be given jurisdiction over those who may shatter more windows, resulting in more arrests, court cases, and incarceration. In a vicious spiral, society grows even more fearful as crime rates rise, and as a result, a city’s administration is frequently assessed by its crime rate. Focusing on crime data may increase fear of crime and socially construct our notions about dealing with offenders.

Some politicians seize on these popular feelings and promote the “cure” of a stronger criminal justice system. People debate how they are supposed to ‘teach’ others about a crime, and the authorities should restrict the behavior about the implication of certain acts. Because the greater the media attention, the stronger the public response while also increasing the sensitive the topic becomes (p21). If a government fails to solve such concerns to the people’s satisfaction, it may be accused of ineptitude. People will criticize the government for failing to protect them and want reform. As a result, any government is likely to be cautious regarding crime fear. Debates on this subject regularly emerge in sociology and criminology journals because no academic — and no responsible government — underestimates the influence of crime fear on governance opinions (p21). In order to reduce the fear of crime, it is vital to understand why criminals commit crimes. To cure a sickness, researchers must first determine what is causing it and then choose an effective therapy.

The current study on crime is based on criminology as being hard science and underpinning if the ’cause’ is not necessary for the commission of a crime. In this regard, the implication is that some other phenomena can be attributed to human behavior. It implies that criminologists will be based on previous experiments that are succinct as science works. Historically, theological holdings were predominant, holding that the Devil is the cause of every crime P 35. Later research was of the idea that different brain shapes and particular physiques were the determinants of who the criminal types were. Examples of such physique include the tendency to be tattooed, poor ego control, genetic deficiency, and extravert tattoo were taken into consideration.

Some researchers believe that criminology is a hard science paradigm, meaning they can test by scientific method in a laboratory p 36. Therefore criminology as a science has its basis from 300 years ago, whereby the political, economic, social, and demographic changes began in Europe, leading to the development of the science of statistics which bore criminology. Cesare Lombroso believed that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was also applicable in the study of criminal behavior P 36. Lombroso held that criminals’ physical traits differed from non-criminals because they were at an early stage of human evolution like the apes, and their behavior reflected so p36. The theory of atavism was thus developed, which meant reverting to a primitive state. Which meant Lombroso believed that those who had enormous jaws, high cheekbones, and other apelike physical attributes were deemed to be prone to do evil. He also believed that there are small evolutionary drawbacks in every population, which would be befitting to a primitive society 37). As such, he opined that they would not die through natural selection and would be fertile in urban slums producing many children who would likely be criminals. It was also Lombroso’s view that people who are epileptic and insane would depict criminal traits and were atavistic and social factors played a part. Generally, it was a ravatization of an absolute concept.

Phrenology, the study of skulls, was also part of scientific study in the united states on both ling and dead prisoners. The research was possible because the scientific investigation was not limited to the ’causes’ of crime but also included the comparative efficiency of various types of jail regimes, as Fink (1938) pinpoints (p38). There was a period of categorizing the body into endomorphs, Mesomorphs, and Ectomorphs. Criminals were considered to belong mostly to a certain body type, but in the long run, the process is inefficient and purely expensive to determine. The reason is that the relationship between body type and personality is hard to determine. Also, the existing difference in gender and culture poses the delimiting factor to its truth39.

Chromosome abnormality has been studied in the recent past, and it is true that, to one extent, males have high delinquency levels. Studies show that an additional Y chromosome makes males exceptionally tall and odd-looking. Therefore there is delinquency in a portion and not all criminals. Also, in the past, it has been proven that those with these characteristics do not become criminals, and those without do become criminals.

In viewing criminology as hard science, it is clear that genetics contributes to the study of crime, and the contribution was most perceived to determine by the late 20th century. Most criminologists now believe that crime explanation is vested in interaction among biological, environmental, psychological, and sociological variables, which culminates in creating the criminogenic type (p39). There are no solid comprehensions at the moment because criminology is yet to have a succinct scientific reliance, as was the case with Newton, Darwin, Einstein, or Kao Kuen (p39).

Neurocriminology touches on the use of DNA and neurological and biological factors to explain crime and deviance (p40). A good example is a neuropsychology, which combines biological, neurological, and psychological aspects to reshape what is known about human behavior p 40. Continuing advances in technical knowledge produce potentially useful tools for detecting, identifying, and managing criminals (p40).

Due to the boom in technology, criminal behaviors have changed and are sometimes perceived as an abnormal behavior that a reason is not likely to show. Neurological inheritance has been attributed to some of the increasing criminal acts. Clearly, a criminal’s autonomous nervous system is less sensitive to outside stimuli. Criminals find it harder to learn how to control aggression pr antisocial behavior than it can normally be done.

Raine (2011) aimed to link criminal, psychopathic, and violent behavior to physical brain traits. His study suggests that criminal offenders, who are psychopaths (typically connected with serial killings), lack fear, regret, and guilt and that brain evidence of this may be detected early in life p40. Adult psychopaths, he claims, have an amygdala (an almond-shaped group of neurons deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe) that is 18% smaller than normal controls. More evidence suggests that testosterone directly impacts people’s behavior, like sexual urges, proneness to violence, and impulsivity. In this regard, it is clear that there might be a link between crime and brain characteristics.

Neuroscience, a paradigm in criminology, gives insight into how the brain functions implicating the comprehension of antisocial behavior being defined as ‘criminal’ p41.

As such, the criminal justice policy must be changed to keep up with the latest knowledge of why people commit crimes. It is essential to know that succumbing to public interest does not outweigh the leeway to administer a less severe verdict based on science for the best interest of the general populace.

Conclusively, it is clear that criminology is a laboratory of science. The holding can be the basis to determine how crime is defined because it is a paradigm. A paradigm is a framework within which we collect our ideas and make them consistent and coherent: the conflict might be between a scientific and a sociological (or psychological) paradigm. The main reason is that Lombroso was influenced by Darwin and felt that criminals were atavistic and that their numbers would grow in the slums, but he eventually changed his mind. Chromosome abnormality (XYY) was Prominent in the mid-twentieth century but only important in a small percentage of instances and is now statistically unreliable. However, the close examination of rigorous studies of body forms from the mid-20th century is still warranted. Nonetheless, criminologists are far more ready now than in the 1960s and 1970s to recognize that some genetic basis may combine with certain social or environmental variables to raise the risk of someone committing a criminal act considerably.

Works Cited

LEM A305. Unit 1. Nature of Criminology. Major Issues in Criminology and penology. 2022.


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