Criminal psychology, also referred to as criminology, is the study of wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals and all the part takers in the criminal behavior. The study has concentrated a focus on what makes someone commit the crime, but also how they react after they commit the crime, on the run and in the courtroom. The medical side of why people commit crimes is sometimes overlooked and has factors like, if people are born to be criminals and the mental health conditions people have that make the likelihood to commit a crime higher.
Crimes are committed throughout the United States every day and we have several theories and studies that have been created to help us understand and figure out why people break the law.
A person’s psychological makeup relates to the elements that motivate actions and cause reactions. The neurobiological factors refer to a wide variety of neurological influences the brain can have during its life cycle, that may cause high levels of of aggressive and violent behavior.
There are many factors that define someone to be labeled as a criminal. Socialization factors refer to those processes through which a person learns patterns of thinking, behavior and feeling from his or her early life experiences. For example, someone is more likely to become a sex offender if he or she was raped or sexual mistreated as a child growing up; not because they want “revenge” or they want to conflict pain, but because they simply may not know any other way.
Situational factors refer to the characteristics of the environment, such as stress or aggression in others, that encourage violent behavior.
A kid who grows up in a neighborhood with gun violence, drug and substance dealing is more likely to start being active in that field because everyone they know are doing it. “Criminal peers; Individuals with this trait often have peers that are associated with criminal activities. Most are often involved with substance abuse including drugs or alcohol. Peer influence often persuades the individual to engage in criminal behavior.” (Hegger,2015,p.1) People in this environment not only commit crime so they can make money, but do so to survive feel safe and support their families. In theory, people are born to be criminals. “A thief, for example, could be identified by his expressive face. A majority of thieves have been described by their expressive face and have manual dexterity, and small, wandering eyes. Habitual murderers meanwhile had cold, glassy states, bloodshot eyes and big hawk-like noses, and rapists had ‘jug ears’.”(History Extra,2016,p.1)
The general population has offenders that vary widely in their background experiences and their needs. Treatment should be individualized and mandatory so we can recognize the differences that take place. For example,prisons should mandate programs to the inmates who are elderly or very young, female inmates who killed their abusers, sex offenders, psychopaths and inmates who have the death penalties are some examples of people who need to receive constant treatment so when and if they go back into society they are no longer a threat. Substance abuse offenders in correctional facilities recognize the need for treatment. “Nearly half of drug dependent inmates are in some type of substance abuse program, peer counseling or self help groups, like Alcoholics anonymous or drug education is more likely to be available” (Bartol,2018). Violent behavior has been defined as the intentional and malevolent physical injuring of another without adequate social justification.
Psychological services to inmates who have committed violent crimes or have demonstrated violent behaviors is extremely common in correctional facilities. Programs address topics like, why they committed the crime, how it made them feel while commiting the crime and how they feel after committing the crime. Correctional officers have a high priority in controlling violent behavior in prisons and trying to reduce the likelihood of it happening once the inmate is released and while the inmate is still in the community amongst other prisoners. Whether a crime that was committed was violent, a felony, or a misdemeanor, there are reasons to lead someone to break the law. Drug and alcohol addiction is one reason of many as to why people commit crime. “Alcohol is often a factor in violence where the attacker and the victim know each other.
Two-thirds of victims who were attacked by an intimate (including a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been involved, and only 31% of victimizations by strangers are alcohol-related. Nearly 500,000 incidents between intimates involve offenders who have been drinking; in addition, 118,000 incidents of family violence (excluding spouses) involve alcohol, as do 744,000 incidents among acquaintances.” (NCADD,2018,p.1) People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol sometimes commit crimes to feed into their addiction. A lot of domestic violence cases involve one of the spouses having an alcohol addiction. An alcohol problem can lead someone to attack and be violent towards someone, especially someone they know. Victims of domestic violence most likely know the person that assaulted them. Alcohol addiction is one of the top reasons why a spouse would assault another spouse.
Family upbringing is another main reason as to why people commit crimes. Someone who does not live in a stable household will often have social problems outside of their house in society. People without loving and supporting parents growing up may feel jealous by their peers who do have a loving and supporting home life. There is a huge connection between broken families and crime. Mothers and fathers are responsible for how their children will grow up to be. The lack of care and guidance by parents starting at a young age will lead to many social consequences for the children. Children who feel unloved and unwanted might join a gang to develop some sort of family, which will soon lead them to commit crimes. Their gang might become the closest thing to a “family” they will ever have. They will start to feel supported for once in their life, even if they have to break the law.
The lack of a mother or father for a child is heartbreaking because of the effect it has on the child. “Over the past fifty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in violent in families abandoned by their fathers. High crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentration of families by abandoned fathers. The future criminal tends to be an individual rejected by other children as early as the first grade who goes on to form his own group of friends, often the future delinquent gang.”(Marripedia, 2017, p.2) Children who grow up in broken families start receiving a poor education at a young age. Their school work and success is not often achievable because their parents, or parent, are not supporting them and helping them with their work. Children who grow up without support from parents often will not succeed or feel wanted. If they are not exposed or have any guidance it may lead them down a negative path and force them to make poor decisions. Children growing up in a unsupportive and unloving family are more likely to commit crimes.
Environment is another reason as to why many people commit crimes. For example, growing up in a high crime, neighborhood can lead children to doing something illegal. If a child wants to be accepted socially in that neighborhood, they are forced to do illegal things if they live in a bad neighborhood. Often, kids feel obligated to join a gang if their neighborhood is dangerous. Joining a gang might help a child feel wanted, safe and accepted if they live in a dangerous environment. Living in a bad environment teaches kids that delinquent behavior is acceptable to do. The family environment is critical to the upbringing of a child and if problems exist then the child is most likely to suffer
the consequences. A poor environment will lead to children having a poor education as well. Their peer groups that children hangout with often affect their behavior. If a child wants to be accepted socially, he or she will do whatever someone says to feel like and wanted. Family upbringing and a person’s environment relate because someone who comes from a broken family most likely live in a poor environment. Someone who lives in a poor environment do not learn the differences between right and wrong. They believe that aggressive and violent behavior is normal. “Studies have been conducted that test for the criminal behavior of the adopted-away children, if their biological parents had also been involved with criminal activity. In Iowa, the first adoption study was conducted that looked at the genetics of criminal behavior. The researchers found that as compared to the control group, the adopted individuals, which were born to incarcerated female offenders, had a higher rate of criminal convictions as adults.”(Jones, 2005, p. 1) This research is giving us an example as to why people become criminals. People are born criminals and if their biological parents are criminals, they are more likely to become a criminal as well.
Mental health conditions can sometimes draw a person to commit a crime. Schizophrenia is a long term well known mental disorder that involves the breakdown of a relationship of thought, emotion and behavior. This leads to inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships turning into a fantasy and delusion and lastly a sense of mental fragmentation. Psychosis is a big part of schizophrenia, and is when the person starts to drift away from departure from reality and is when a person starts having hallucinations and delusions. When a person starts having delusions and seeing things that are not there it can cause them to do violent things. For example, a person experiencing the phase of psychosis might see someone running after them with a weapon, so they may go back after them with a weapon and may end up killing an innocent person. Most of the time, people who have schizophrenia or have symptoms of the disorder might be hearing voices in their head telling them to do violent and inappropriate things, that someone without this disorder is wrong to do.
The voices might be telling this person to hurt people to commit a crime or even kill someone. Psychotic behavior may refer to hallucinations or delusions or to the unusual behavior or accompany them. “The study found that individuals with schizophrenia were more likely to have committed an offence, an association which was strongest for violent crimes, but which pertained also for sex- and drug- related crimes. This was consistent with previous evidence, although the authors pointed out that there are relatively few previous studies.” (Bhavsar,2015,p.1) A person’s psychological makeup in some cases influences criminality and people are not born criminals. Environments, family upbringing and drug and alcohol abuse are subjects that factor into why people commit crimes. When people have specific physical characteristics its been proven that they commit crimes. Crimes are committed throughout the United States everyday and we have several theories and statistics as to why people commit crimes.