The founder of positivism in criminology in general
and the biological direction, in particular, is Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909),
who published his work “The Criminal”
in 1876. C. Lombroso, during his observations, concluded that criminal behavior
is causal because a typical criminal can be identified by direct physical
characteristics, such as a beveled forehead, elongated or, conversely,
undeveloped ears, massive chin, wrinkles on the face, large superciliary
arches, deeply set eyes and the like. He developed a classification of
criminals: natural criminals; insane criminals; criminals for passion, which
include political maniacs; random criminals.
For C. Lombroso, it turned out that one-third of the
convicts are people who have atavistic signs that bring them closer to savages
or animals, the second third is a borderline biological species, and the last
third are random offenders who in the future will never again commit crimes (Lombroso).
The theory of C. Lombroso has not stood the test of
time, but its objective approach and scientific tools have begun to apply
precise methods in criminology. Later, he revised his theory and included in
the causal explanation of crime social and economic factors and the environment
of the individual (Lombroso).
Even during the lifetime of Charles Lombroso, the
theoretical propositions he advanced were refined and supplemented by his
pupils E. Ferri and R. Garofalo.
Enrico Ferri distinguished three types of
predisposition to crime:
· anthropological (physical structure of the
body, mental state, gender, age, marital status, upbringing, education);
· physical (climate, soil characteristics,
air temperature, seasonal fluctuations);
· social (population density, morality,
religion, and state of the industry, political order, and the like).
Biological reasons he combined with social, economic,
and political factors considered that the state should become that basic tool
by means of which it is possible to achieve improvement of living conditions of
people (Glick, 2008).
Rafael Garofalo (1852-1934), the disciple of C.
Lombroso believed that crime is an immoral act that harms society. He supported
psychologism in explaining crime. R. Garofalo formulated the rules for adapting
and eliminating those who cannot adapt to the conditions of socio-natural
selection. He suggested the following:
deprive the lives of persons whose criminal actions result from non-existent
mental abnormalities that make them incapable of living in society;
eliminate or expose to long-term imprisonment those who prefer a roaming
(nomadic) way of life;
correct individuals who are not sufficiently developed altruistic feelings or
who have committed crimes in an extraordinary confluence of circumstances.
Thus, the biological theory of crime already in the
works of its founder Lombroso began to transform into a biosocial theory. Even
more clearly, this transformation manifested itself in the views of Lombroso’s
disciples and associates: Ferri and Garofalo, who retained the basic theories
of their teacher’s theory and significantly strengthened the role of social
factors in crime. In subsequent years, biological and biosocial theories in
criminology received a new interpretation, for which they were given the name
Such theories include the theory of constitutional
predisposition to crime, the theory of endocrine predisposition to crime, the
theory of psychological predisposition to crime, the theory of racial
predisposition to crime, etc. The common for all these theories is that they
recognize the cause of the crime as some other physiological or psychological
characteristics of the individual, make him, although not doomed, but prone to
Studies of brain conditions and development also
provide some compelling research on the development of antisocial behavior.
Raine (1995) and her colleagues
surveyed the literature and set forth two areas of the brain that may relate to
antisocial behavior: the frontal cortex and the left hemisphere. The frontal
cortex regulates aggression, self-control, social judgment, concentration, and
intellectual flexibility, while the left hemisphere of the brain governs “functions
of language, verbal comprehension, and expressive speech”.
Studies of adults and delinquent youth show lower
verbal IQ scores, suggesting that they may have a left hemisphere dysfunction.
Based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies, scientists believe that the
brain of a juvenile is less developed than that of an adult, especially in the
front lobe, which is responsible for executive, high order functioning, such as
memory, planning, and inhibition. Bower and others suggested that this
condition presents some juveniles with difficulties in “regulating aggression,
long-range planning, mental flexibility, abstract thinking, the capacity to
hold in mind related pieces of information, and perhaps moral judgment”.
In addition to the recent findings on children’s,
apparently inherent diminished brain functioning capacity, MRI research
suggests that exposure to violent video games and television might negatively
affect frontal lobe development and function.
Because of these findings, advocates within the
juvenile justice field, such as the Human Rights Watch, are pressuring
politicians and judicial leaders to reconsider harsh, punitive measures when
sentencing juvenile violent offenders.