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One of the biggest issues in America today is crime. It is a large problem that continues to erode our country economically as well as morally. Because of the vastness of the problem, many have speculated what the cause for crime may be in hopes that a solution will be found. Many believe that a bad family life, location of residence, and poverty hold a few of the answers to why an individual becomes involved in criminal activity.
Crime has been a major problem addressed in every presidential campaign for about three decades. This is because the American people are sick of the ever growing problem and seem to be voting for whoever claims to do the most about it. Major criminal justice functions such as correctional facilities, the FBI, and the Judicial branch have all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, had increasing budgets for the past 15 years. The problems persist and we still scream for more crime prevention. Why does America experience such problems? There are many theories.
The theory that holds the most validity is that many criminals have had a bad family life in one way or another. They have had few positive role models while growing up. John J. Dilulio, Jr., a scholar on crime policy, summed it up in one of his articles:
[b]ased on my own reading of these studies plus about fifteen years
of observation and interviews inside scores of prisons all across the
country, I would posit that the hair-trigger mentality, the gang-related
behavior, and the murderous violence itself emerge from the same source,
namely the simple fact that inner-city teenagers have had few, if any, adults in their lives who gave them unconditional love, taught them right from wrong, and reared them accordingly (6).
Dilulio's article states that Seventy-five percent of the most violent incarcerated juveniles are children who were abused by a family member (6). Dilulio also went on to say that half of all youth in long-term juvenile facilities have had immediate family members incarcerated (6). Almost all other theories can relate to this one.
If individuals grow up in an abusive home there is a greater chance that they will develop a defiant individualist character (Jankowski 23). The main authority figure or figures in their life have mistreated them, which leads the individuals to question everything that all authority figures say. This includes moral standards. Authority figures have not looked out for the individuals' best interests in the past so the individuals develop a mistrust of authority. They are not convinced that anybody besides themselves knows what's best for them. These individuals become self reliant at quiet an early age and decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. They also learn how to think quite rationally so they can calculate what they are sure will be the best for themselves at that point in their life. They may have been brought up in a family that did teach them right from wrong, but because that family failed miserably in other ways, the individuals
question the morals they were taught and may decide for their economic and social wellbeing that crime is the best route to take.
Place of residence can also make a big difference in the degree that the individual becomes criminally involved when coupled with an abusive family history. If in the event that an individual does decide that crime is the best way for them to get ahead in life, it is a lot easier to get criminally involved in an area that possesses a high crime rate. The tricks of the trade, so to speak, are much more readily available in a city where most crime occurs than in a far off suburb. For example, even if one does figure out how to hot-wire a car on their own, where are they going to take it after the fact? The car is hot (it has either been reported stolen, or soon will be, to the police, who will put out an APB on the stolen car) so one doesn't have much time to get rid of it. The longer one is on the road, the higher their chances are
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Criminology, Criminal justice
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