? Essay, Research Paper
A crime as defined in the New Expanded Webster s Dictionary is a breach of law, divine or human. Given this definition a criminal is a person who perpetrates actively breaking the law whether be positive law or natural law. The criminal code of Canada is prescriptive in the actions of the individuals in the society and the formation of the criminal code of Canada comes from the social norms and standards of society. Any person who violates these social norms and standards codified in the criminal code of Canada is labeled as a criminal. The causation of individuals becoming a criminal is predominantly attributed to environmental factors that the individual has been exposed to rather then the genetic disposition of the individual.
Clearly, environmental factors contribute largely to a person’s nongenetic behavior, due to the mass amounts of risk factors that exist in society. Ronald L. Akers, director of the Centre for Studies in Criminology and law at the University of Florida completed a survey of delinquency prediction models and found that these risk factors are the most closely associated with delinquency:
+ Drug Use
+ Family Dysfunction
+ Childhood Behavior Problems
+ Deviant Peers
+ Poor School Performance
+ Inconsistent Parental Supervision and Discipline
+ Separation From Parents
In the United States in 1996 it was found that over 33% of all jail inmates reported some physical or mental disability and 25% of jail inmates said they had been treated at some time for mental or emotional problem. To dismiss the fact that there are criminals that have innate genetic disposition to commit crimes is simply ludicrous but given the statistic above over 66% of all jail inmates have no physical or mental disability or either it is not reported and the other statistic that 75% of jail inmates have needed or have not been treated for mental or emotional problem these statistics display that environmental factors are a more predominant factor to the causation of criminal behavior. For further evidence on the stance that environmental factors are the predominant causation of criminal behavior one can look at the relationship between economic activity and criminal offences. In 1994, Canada s economic activity in terms of (Figure 1.1) GDP was 767,506 (millions) and number of total offences 2 840 725 (Figure 1.2) that year but in 1998, Canada s economic activity in terms of GDP was 895,704 (millions) and the number of total offences 2 561 155. This shows that economic activity is negatively correlated to the number of total offences in Canada but also that when economy is prosperous the number of total offences decreases and that over 4 years the number of total offences dropped 279 570 or 9.8%. This is conclusive evidence that over just 4 years the number of total offences in Canada dropped 9.8% and that this is primarily attributed to the environmental and economic conditions of the society. Another ideal example of the concept that criminal behavior occurs by environmental factors is to look at the African American community and criminal behavior in the United States. In the United States the African American community is around 34 million or 13.4% of the total population of the United States yet African American males occupy 40% of male prisons. At first glance one can make the brash decision that African American males are genetically prone to criminal behavior but that is not the case. The primary causes for this high rate of criminal behavior is due to the family structure of African American households and poverty. In 1997, the number of poor African Americans was 9.7 million about 28.5% of the total number of African Americans in the United States. In 1997, there was 11 369 000 African American children under the age of 18 and 5 888 000 of those children live in a single parent home with their mother this means that 51.7% of African American children under the age of 18 are living with there mothers. The total of African American children under the age of 18 living in single parent homes is a staggering 6 469 000 or 56.9%. The fact that 28.5% of African Americans in the United States are poor and that 56.9% of African American children under the age of 18 live are in single parent homes illustrates that poverty and the lack of dual parental role in young African American male s life can be detrimental to his success in later life. Criminal behavior as shown is predominantly effected by environmental factors rather then the genetic disposition of the criminal element.