Theories of Offense | Introduction

There are numerous theories of offense which fit into four the latest models of each explaining criminal offenses through varied strategies, in this essay I am discussing the weakest of the theoretical explanations of offense and the strongest. The weakest theory of offense is Biological Positivism which is area of the Predestined Actor Model which is a positivist model describing criminal behaviour predicated on technological factors beyond a person's control. Biological positivism has been closely criticised by many criminologists because of their explanations that the internal factors of a person is what causes criminal offenses, this will be explored further and proven to be the weakest theory throughout the article. The strongest theory of criminal offense is Kept Realism, which can be an integrated reason. This theory considers elements of other techniques and realises that there are multiple factors behind crime therefore which makes it one of the strongest theoretical explanations, this will be elaborated on in the body of the essay and will be further proven why it is the strongest of all theories. Throughout the essay I will be addressing the main points, the main element thinkers, their explanations of offense and just why it was chosen for each and every theory, which will then conclude to get my state of the weakest and strongest theories.

Lombroso was the founding dad of biological positivism and his theory advised that individuals were born criminal; this description was influence by Darwin's work on development and atavism. Although he was a biological positivist his work gradually converted towards environmental factors therefore recommending that biological factors as the cause of criminality had not been enough of a conclusion and poverty for example also became influential. Lombroso was enthusiastic about criminal behavior and grouped criminals as created criminals, insane criminals, occasional criminals and criminals of passions. He placed the scene for all those positivist work and other biological positivists structured their work on Lombroso's studies. However Lombroso's work has been criticised, as it used out-of-date methodology that was very basic therefore he was struggling to create any important conclusions. Furthermore he did not consider female offenders, any criminal acts that have been completed by women he disregarded and mentioned that the men were responsible for the female involvement, therefore lacking in validity (Burke, 2009).

Matza in 1964 went on to say that a criminal is a specific kind of person, that is different to the ones that aren't criminals and that crime occurs anticipated to factors outside of their control. However, this then ignores the aspect that humans have free will to commit crimes therefore disagreeing with theories in the rational actor model like Classical theory, which claims that people choose to commit offences. There are several theories in natural positivism which all state that individuals are compelled to commit criminal offenses as it is part of the natural make-up, such as physical factors, theories related to the body, chromosomal anomalies, etc. however these have be criticised as you will notice below.

Physical type theories were the first ever to come out and this was predicated on the theory that criminals stick out predicated on of the look of them. Lombroso do research on atavism as mentioned above, that criminals are created unlawful and show signals of criminal throwbacks for example long ears and sloping foreheads. Because of this, people speculated that people that have physical atavistic characteristics were criminals and used it as a elimination technique. However this only related to a small amount of criminals and for that reason is not very reliable and many with these characteristics could be wrongly accused of criminality. In today's culture Lombroso's work is considered outdated and discredited because of the theory a person's physical appearance increases the probability of them being a criminal, this is seen as absurd and meaningless, hence regarded as a weakened theory.

Phrenology, which is the study of skulls was also used to clarify crime, Gall explained that by looking at the condition and bums of an skull can suggest a person's personality and specified that the region above the right ear canal establishes how violent that person is. This theory has been criticised hugely along with physiognomy, which tells a person's identity through facial featured, because of its lack of reliability. There is not enough substantial research to prove this theory amongst a vast human population because people are people with an individual biological make-up (Maguire, 1997).

Sheldon did some similar focus on linking body shape to behavior, (his theory of somatypes) and identified three forms of body types which relate with certain personalities. He established that offending behaviour and crime is linked with mesomorphs, who are muscular and athletic with an intense personality. However it will not consider that these types of folks may be targeted by the authorities more than the other two body types therefore is helping his theory as those athletic built folks are getting caught, while other body types are not. These physical ideas are very poor as they are 'ignoring different aspects of the interaction between your physical characteristics of the individual and their sociable circumstances. ' (Burke, 2009:74) Folks from poor families and areas may have a poor diet therefore triggering those to be small, while young people working manual careers are more likely to be muscular. These people are over-represented with criminals, that could be explained by socio-cultures not via natural factors (Burke, 2009).

Furthermore, to support the statement that biological positivism is a poor theory, Sheldon's work was follow up by way of a Cambridge Research in Delinquent Development and found there is no physical difference between offenders and non offenders, therefore recommending there is absolutely no reliability because of the inconsistency. Further criticisms of this theory derive from its technique, as the sample of offenders and non offenders aren't representative to world as stated above it generally does not account for individuals who do not get caught, it disregarded the sifting process in the legal justice system. It also disregards relationship with the environment, as those individuals with physical stigmas may retaliate against their cultural environment and product labels directed at them therefore living up to the expectation resulting in a self applied fulfilling prophecy (Taylor, Walton, Young, 1973).

Chromosomal Anomalies is another group of natural theory criminologists have used to make clear crime, it talks about the hyperlink between unusual chromosomes and unlawful behaviour. A standard female supplement is XX and men is XY, an unusual complement is when there are chromosomes lacking or there are way too many including the XYY. Brown in 1962 discovered that those with love-making chromosome abnormalities had higher rates of delinquency than his other patients. Casey et al (1966) implemented on from his work and performed the first major studies at a secure medical center and found encouraging results for men with an extra Y chromosome as well as them being taller and having low intellect (Taylor, Walton, Young, 1973).

The limitations for this theory are similar to that of the body type category, for example those with a supplementary Y chromosome may be taller and well built therefore targeted and cared for harsher by providers of the legal justice system like the police and judges. Further restrictions which makes this theory the weakest, is that we now have many individuals that are normal and don't behave criminally in modern culture that have extra chromosomes, therefore suggesting that others factors have to be involved. In addition this theory also overlooked the actual fact that those young men with an extra Y chromosome originated from a working category background, which means cause of criminality could be due to their exploitation from the ruling class not because of chromosomes. Marxist theory would agree that the reason for criminality was a result of capitalist society and not chromosomes that are not identifiable and unable to predict criminal behaviour.

Biological positivists also described criminality as genetically inherited; they advised that a unlawful gene can be passed on through the family exactly like physical characteristics. To test this theory they used three resources of data, studies of unlawful households, studies of twins and studies of used people. All three options claimed that unlawful behaviour was inherited rather than environmental, however family studies didn't considered the result of the absent parent loaning to criminality. In twin studies they could not identify whether criminality was influenced more by environmental or natural factors however performed mention that natural theory alone to explain criminal offenses is insufficient, therefore is a vulnerable theory to bottom criminal explanations on. This is also reiterated in adoption studies emphasising that environmental factors are likely involved and add to the reliability of the theory, therefore displaying the weaknesses of the biological theory when it is employed to explain criminal offense alone (Wiley, 1996).

There are numerous weaknesses in the categories within natural theory, from the methods employed by criminologists with their shortcomings in disregarding certain aspects like the three data sources that discussed inherited legal characteristics. The main limitations in biological positivism occur throughout all the categories even biochemical explanations such as hormone imbalances and substance abuse which has not been discussed in detail. The reason why this theory was chosen as the weakest is due to it many constraints; criminologist largely discredit this process as it is nowadays viewed as outdated rather than relevant, therefore there a wide range of better explanation to crime that can be proven. Biological theory only looks at criminality from one approach which sometimes appears as an extremely over driven view of real human actions and a far more integrated approach would explain crime better including the more recent socio-biological justification of criminal offense. It only talks about criminal behavior effectively in a minority of offenders and has somewhat more limitations as mentioned above. This weakest theory also cannot describe the variation in crime rates and will be offering no reason to why and exactly how laws arise. A further reason it was chosen as the most severe, was due to the unethical and tough treatments to avoid crime which in america, even results in death, hereditary selection and sterilisation.

The strongest theoretical justification of criminal offense is kept realism. This theory is chosen as the strongest because unlike biological positivism it can consider other factors and is an built in model which recognises that we now have many factors behind crime possesses essential parts from all three models of crime.

Jock Young had a major turnaround which transformed criminological thinking to the introduction of kept realism; when crime rates were meant to decrease scheduled to economic restructuring and advanced conditions and instead actually increased, with the increased awareness of victims of crimes and crimes that were previously invisible, and lastly a growing open public demand and disapproval in efficiency of general public service (Newburn, 2007). This new criminology from the remaining politics view, with criminologists such as Young, Lea and Matthews believed crime is a real issue rather than socially constructed therefore it must be addressed. Still left realism is the strongest theory as it 'needs into account the immediate concerns that people have and seek to deal with them' (Burke, 2009:264), such as block offences in high offending areas as those living there are trapped right in the middle of it.

As mentioned above this theory sometimes appears as theoretically strong as it recognises various causes of offense that are acknowledged. The relationship individuals have with the police could be a cause of criminal offense, if the authorities are harassing people therefore causing them to retaliate or feel helpless; this will drives these to offend. This theory is recognized by labelling theory which makes it stronger because rather than theories disagreeing with the complexities it agrees therefore creating validity. The police can also cause moral panics in contemporary society which can lead to further criminal behaviour; this could be a distraction by capitalist so the working class have no idea of the real issues that they should be concerned about, this power allows the individual to be aware of the capitalist system and the exploitation by the ruling category therefore can avoid criminal offense.

A key aspect of still left realism is comparative deprivation as a cause of crime. People measure their situation for example what they have, (money and jobs) contrary to the expectation that population creates. When individuals are struggling to reach that expectation they may turn to criminal offense in order to accomplish it, this is the theory of anomie recommended by Merton. This explanation increases the strength of this theory as it highlights economical and social factors of criminal offense.

Another key aspect is subculture, Lea and Young's subcultural model explains how subcultures are used as a reply to problems. Those who find themselves unable to adapt to middle class values create subcultures which include people that show their norms and worth so they can be no longer frustrated. This therefore can be considered a response to the problem for the working category individuals; however this subculture may create norms and principles to match the group which might include criminal serves as a means of rebellion against the machine (Lea, 2002). The final key factor is marginalisation, as certain communities resided on the margins of society and are not accepted by others, consequently turning to criminal offense. All these explanations of criminal offense are among the better from other ideas and today under one theory therefore this is the strongest theoretical description of criminal offense.

An additional reason this is chosen as the strongest theory is basically because it provides a remedy to criminal offense and not simply the complexities, this is shown with the square of criminal offenses. Left realists state that criminal offense is a gathering of the following four factors and the relationships between the four factors determine the effectiveness of that romantic relationship to preventing criminal offenses. The first of the four factor, is the state; where the providers of the system label individuals as offenders which is a major factor of recidivism, the second is the sufferer; who may encourage unlawful behaviour due to insufficient defence or through repeated lifestyle (routine activity theory), the third is population; where formal and casual social controls occur and the fourth is the offender; how often they commit crimes and the sort of offences, etc. (Burke, 2009).

To prevent criminal offense, you have to interfere at each point of the square. For instance, in the state of hawaii the police should have more effective policing and the courts shouldn't make preconceptions. The sufferer should be more responsible for their protection and maybe change their daily exercises regularly. The public (society) to ensure that the required socialisation is taking place in major years and finally the offenders should exercise their free will and make a decision not to offend.

A criticism of still left realism, is the fact that the theory is mainly based on prior approaches. However this can be considered as a good factor, as the idea is hard to criticise due to the fact they have elements from all modules therefore accounts for many explanations and was chosen as the strongest theory. Further advantages includes how it seeks realistic policies to tackle crime problems and exactly how left realism is approximately prevention not control, therefore still left realists think that if you punish it'll lead to marginalisation, so therefore prevention is better.

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