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Explanations and Theories of Crime

One of the other new hires IM'd you with a request. "I promised Dr. Junger I'd take the intake interview with Jim Moratis the new prisoner that just transferred here from Chicago. I forgot that I made a prior commitment with Dr. Roberts to assist him with his research. Do you think you could take this interview for me? I'd owe you one."

You IM your colleague and agree.

You meet with Jim Moratis. Jim is 6'6" tall and 350 pounds; he has many tattoos, a severe overbite, and is a three-strike car thief. You ask Jim why he stole cars.

Jim explains, "The first couple times it was fun and it was easy money. Even though I got caught, I just couldn't stop. Why do you think I did that, Doc?"


---Discuss the major biological, psychological, and sociological explanations of crime
---Compare the relevance of sociology and criminology for each other

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Let's take a closer look at the first objective first, which is followed by comparing the relevance of sociology and criminology for each other. You can then draw on this for your final copy.


1. Objective: Discuss the major biological, psychological, and sociological explanations of crime. Compare the relevance of sociology and criminology for each other.


Generally, biological theories assume the following:

o The basic determinants of human behavior are, to a considerable degree, determined by genetics.

o One is genetically predestined to be a criminal.

o These basic determinants of human behavior may be passed from one generation to the next; criminal behavior is genetically inherited.

o Human DNA, environmental contaminants, nutrition, hormones, physical trauma (especially to the brain) and body chemistry all combine to contribute to criminal behavior.

o The claims of the biological explanation have been under development since the early 19th century by and eugenicists. They argue that mentally ill, foreigners, criminals, disabled and the economically deprived all obtain genetic imperfections that are irremediable.

o Biological Interventions: The Eugenics movement appeared, including state - mandated sterilization of "feeble minded persons" in British Columbia and Alberta in the 1950s. This was the only cure. Prevention of additional offspring would end the genetically criminal cycle.Research to find the gene responsible for crime will allow medical science to turn off the gene in question once located.


Psychological theories of crime assume that individual differences in behavior may make some people more predisposed to committing criminal acts. These differences may arise from personality characteristics, biological factors, or social interactions. The major psychological theories include the following:

o Psychoanalytic Theory: According to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who is credited with the development of psychoanalytic theory, all humans have natural drives and urges repressed in the unconscious. Furthermore, all humans have criminal tendencies. Through the process of socialization, however, these tendencies are curbed by the development of inner controls that are learned through childhood experience. Freud hypothesized that the most common element that contributed to criminal behavior was faulty identification by a child with her or his parents. The improperly socialized child may develop a personality disturbance that causes her or him to direct antisocial impulses inward or outward. The child who directs them outward becomes a criminal, and the child that directs them inward becomes a neurotic (Freud, 1961).

o Cognitive Development Theory: According to this approach, criminal behavior results from the way in which people organize their thoughts about morality and the law. In 1958, Lawrence Kohlberg, a developmental psychologist, formulated a theory concerning the development of moral reasoning. He posited that there are three levels of moral reasoning, each consisting of two stages. During middle childhood, children are at the first level of moral development. At this level, the preconventional level, moral reasoning is based on obedience and avoiding punishment. The second level, the conventionallevel of moral development, is reached at the end of middle childhood. The moral reasoning of individuals at this level is based on the expectations that their family and significant others have for them. Kohlberg found that the transition to the third level, the postconventional level of moral development, usually occurs during early adulthood. At this level, individuals are able to go beyond social conventions. They value the laws of the social system; however, they are open to acting as agents of change to improve the existing law and order. People who do not progress through the stages may become arrested in their moral development, and ...

Solution Summary

Based on the scenario, this solution discusses the major biological, psychological, and sociological explanations of crime. It also compares the relevance of sociology and criminology for each other. It provides a comprehensive overview and discussion. References provided in APA format.