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Criminological Theory: Crime Theories and Criminal Behavior

Crime Theories and Criminal Justice Policies

The concept of crime was created and promoted by people to evaluate their behaviors and responsibilities, as well as to maintain control and order. To gain a better understanding of crimes, it was necessary to introduce theories and follow changes through different times in U.S. history. According to Lilly, Cullen, and Ball (2018), social context plays a crucial role in theorizing crime and implementing different strategies within criminal justice policies that change because of public opinion. The relationship between crime theories and criminal justice policies within a social context is evident because both of them aim at legalizing each other and gaining the necessary meaning in regards to obtained experience.

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Society serves as a solid background for people to develop their theories and turn them into policies. However, if theories are usually clear to a certain group of people and can be hypothesized but never changed with time, policies are available for every citizen and may be removed or improved. The social context cannot be ignored in this discussion because, as Film Media Group (2008) discovers, warrior traditions made people fight, and human violence turns out to be an outcome of lifestyles, knowledge, and experiences. The findings by Pickett (2019) also prove that individual differences determine punitive attitudes that have a quality to change or disappear. It means that people like to use theories and identify new ways to explain and reduce crimes as negative behaviors. As a result, some criminal justice policies are reasonable, and some of them are irrational (Lilly et al., 2018). The main consequence of this relationship is that the social context defines the quality and essence of theories, which, in their turn, create the basis for policies within the frames of which people live and develop.

Criminal Behavior

Criminal behavior is a type of behavior of a person who commits a crime. According to Lilly, Cullen, and Ball (2018), crime is a complex phenomenon, which makes the search for criminal behavior rationalization difficult and prejudiced. It is interesting to know what drives people to commit crimes and how to control these intentions (Films Media Group, 2008). Many challenges occur when a person tries to pinpoint the root causes of criminal behaviors, and most of them are explained by the presence of multiple theories and the impact of the social context. During the last several centuries, hundreds of theories were offered to identify the nature of the crime, its causes, and its prediction. Bennett followed the demographic shifts, the American Religious Identification Survey introduced spiritual denominations, Hotton and Sheldon investigated physiological characteristics, and Alexander or Freud used psychogenetic factors (as cited in Lilly et al., 2018). All these approaches were developed within their specific social contexts and had a significant impact on human behavior and law but fail to come to the same conclusion about the possibility of predicting crime trends.

Criminal behavior is usually rooted in the human brain, as this organ is responsible for decision-making and actions. Adolphs, Gläscher, and Tranel (2018) investigated the neural causes and concluded that crimes depend on particular laws and the ways of how society interprets them. The same ideas were shared by Walters (2020), who used Bandura’s social cognitive theory to define criminal behavior as a result of observations and interactions. As soon as one direction is chosen to investigate crimes and their trends, it is easy for a person to find a number of ideas and theories and get approval for almost each of them. As well as human behaviors, criminal behaviors have a variety of causes, and much depends not on why crime happens but what society actually does to predict it.

References

Films Media Group. (2008). The truth about violence [Video file]. Web.

Lilly, J. R, Cullen, F. T., & Ball, R. A. (2018). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Pickett, J. T. (2019). Public opinion and criminal justice policy: Theory and research. Annual Review of Criminology, 2, 405-428.

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Adolphs, R., Gläscher, J., & Tranel, D. (2018). Searching for the neural causes of criminal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(3), 451-452.

Films Media Group. (2008). The truth about violence [Video file]. Web.

Lilly, J. R, Cullen, F. T., & Ball, R. A. (2018). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Walters, G. D. (2020). Crime and social cognition: A meta-analytic review of the developmental roots of adult criminal thinking. Journal of Experimental Criminology.

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