Criminal Behavior and Biological or Environmental Factors - Essay Example

Published: 2024-01-26
Criminal Behavior and Biological or Environmental Factors - Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law Criminal justice Behavior
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1268 words
11 min read


According to data from the FBI, over one million violent crimes were committed in 2018; the alarming number of criminal activities is attributed to society's unfortunate state. However, the notions cannot be accepted without scientific support through the study of criminology. Therefore, based on the argument, every crime committed has its uniqueness with factors contributing to criminal behavior. Among the numerous contributing factors among the most debated is the possibility of either biological or environmental risk factors (Fox, 2017). When addressing the biological aspect of criminal behavior, scientists work under the assumption that humanity has no control over numerous biological processes, for example, brain chemistry. Based on the argument, people are born predisposed to various conditions from birth (Fox, 2017). It may range from epilepsy to clinical depression, among others. Researchers argue that criminals are not born with the intent to commit criminal acts, rather their biological compositions coupled with other influencers incline them to commit criminal acts (Watts & McNulty, 2014). The argument is supported by sufficient empirical data collected from various studies.

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The second possibility is environmental risk factors; unlike biological risk factors, a new approach to understanding criminal behavior, the environment has been a long-known factor in attributing criminal behaviors. Data from the BJS (Bureau of Justice Statistics) environmental factors are the leading contributors to criminal behaviors by juveniles and adults (Fox, 2017). In numerous studies, the BJS has correlated violent crimes with a history of violent upbringing, unstable neighborhoods, and delinquent peers. (Fox, 2017). In other words, criminal behaviors are learned from primary exposure to actions such as family violence or physical abuse. One assessment by Fox (2017) attributed approximately 40% of all juvenile criminal behavior to exposure to unsuitable environments. It is critical to note that the term environment is used to address social and economic settings.

Social Influencers and Criminal Behavior

During the development process of a child, parental behaviors have strong correlations with the latter risk of juvenile behaviors. Crimes committed by parents have been studied and accredited to the increased prospects of children attaining similar criminal behaviors. However, according to Hagan (2018), the parental influence on criminal behavior is problematic as it involves other factors such as environmental, genetics, and parental modeling approaches. For example, children brought up in violent homes where the parents mistreat them tend to have a significant probability of inclining them to become criminals (Hagan, 2018). The family's effect is stated to have the most significant impact during the early stages of development and reduces as the child grows. It is speculated that during infancy, children are susceptible to change compared to when they are older.

Nevertheless, social influencers are not limited to parental care but also inclusive of education, economics, and community development (Hagan, 2018). When addressing education, it has been attributed to have a positive impact on how children appreciate society. The majority of students partaking in education assess the various flaws of society and attempt to solve them. Non- participating students, on the other hand, are not afforded the relative opportunities provided by education (Hagan, 2018). As a result, they are subdued by criminal intent, thus resulting in Juvenile behaviors. Alternatively, economic factors play a critical role in criminal behaviors; they directly affect community development and child development. According to Freedman et al. (2018), economic factors have a close relationship with the crime rate in various regions. The balance between disparity and violent crime is evident, with low-income minority races having the highest violent crime rates compared to the high-income majority race (Freedman et al., 2018). The notion of economic disparities mainly affects the minority races, thus the high crime rates in black low-income neighborhoods.

Intervening Crimes Involving Neurochemical Disorders

Data from () identified that over 25% of individuals aged 18years and above are diagnosed with a neurological disorder yearly. In other words, one in every four adults has a mental disorder. The statistics on individuals suffering from more than one disorder is also increasing. Additionally, through the influence of the media, the public has the flawed notion that individuals with mental illness are more prone to commit aggressive and violent criminal acts (Parrot & Parrott, 2015). However, empirical data from decades of the study state the contrary by claiming that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime. The outcome of societal assumptions on mental illness and criminality has extended its effect on the criminal justice system. Today individuals with mental illnesses are discriminated against and get treated as delinquents (Metzl & MacLeish, 2014). When arrested, they tend to serve longer incarcerations compared to the general population.

However, from a personal perspective, the need to handle individuals with mental illnesses is core to rectifying the various problems facing society relating to crime. The study by Metzl and MacLeish (2014) identified that mental illnesses are also on the rise in correctional facilities. It would be unethical to sentence individuals with mental disorders to correctional facilities without addressing the issue's root. The outcome would be compounded mental disorders, further increasing their probability of being rearrested and sentenced to longer terms (Metzl & MacLeish, 2014). Interacting in the sentencing of individuals with mental disorders for proper medical assessment and rehabilitation can lessen the strain on correctional facilities and improve society. Through psychological evaluations, the criminal justice system can aid society while preventing the reoccurrence of numerous crimes.

Individuals Exposed to Predisposed Criminal Behaviors

Individuals that express predisposed criminal behaviors should not receive special treatment from the legal system. Though the notion supports the proper application of the law, it also reinforces the need for effective psychological evaluations. The strategy is to offer alternatives to such individuals rather than assuming they are all criminals. For example, if an individual is predisposed to criminal behaviors and commits a crime, the proposed approach would be psychologically analyzed. The psychiatrist must offer a full assessment of the individual to understand the scope of their crimes. The information is then sent to the legal system, which determines a suitable sentence. The procedure is promoted for various reasons; Metzl and MacLeish (2014) supports the notion that many individuals are criminalized, yet they cannot differentiate between what is wrong and right according to the law. Rehabilitation is encouraged for such individuals; in other words, the criminal justice system should work with the healthcare system to adequately address the rising cases of mentally ill individuals being incarcerated.


Overall, it is evident that crime is more dynamic than appreciated by the criminal justice system; for decades, individuals with mental illnesses have been incarcerated. The dynamic nature of society requires the criminal justice system also to adopt diverse strategies for addressing crime. Based on the brief evaluation of criminal behavior and mental illness involvement, it is evident that crime is not based on personal decisions; rather, it is influenced by external factors.


Fox, B. (2017). It's nature and nurture: Integrating biology and genetics into the social learning theory of criminal behavior. Journal Of Criminal Justice, 49(1), 22-31.

Freedman, M., Owens, E., & Bohn, S. (2018). Immigration, Employment Opportunities, and Criminal Behavior. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 10(2), 117-151.

Hagan, F. (2018). Introduction to criminology (10th ed.). Sage Publications.

Metzl, J., & MacLeish, K. (2014). Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms. American Journal Of Public Health, 105(2), 240-249.

Parrot, S., & Parrott, C. (2015). Law & Disorder: The Portrayal of Mental Illness in U.S. Crime Dramas. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 54(4).

Watts, S., & McNulty, T. (2014). Genes, Parenting, Self-Control, and Criminal Behavior. International Journal Of Offender Therapy And Comparative Criminology, 60(4).

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