Reflection on Your Choices

Reflection on Your Choices

Dear Writer Please use Criminological Theory context and Consequences by J Robert Lilly Francis T Cullen Richard A Ball as one of your references: Chapters 14-16 M5 – Discussion: Reflection on Your Choices
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Look back on your own life, have you ever been in a situation or at a point where it would not have taken much for you to behave in a criminal manner? (If you did behave criminally… um… pick another example… or turn yourself in… after you submit the last paper.)

Discussion Tip:

Participate in this discussion by first posting a logical and thoughtful response to the questions posed by your instructor during the first week of this module. After posting your discussion to this topic during the first week of the module, you should return to this discussion area and post at least two responses to posts made by your fellow classmates during the remaining week(s) of the module.
A posting of at least 125-words is usually sufficient.
You should post fresh ideas that are thoughtful and well written while being sure to use correct spelling and grammar. Be sure to cite sources when putting forth opinions and facts of others.
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M5 – Overview and Reading Assignment
Topic Overview
You Are Born With It: Biological Theory of Crime

In this section we further explore the idea of victimization. Is the victim without fault? How can we seek justice without being able to place blame. Further, how can we as a society extract justice from a situation in which the actor was predisposed to his or her action? In the first discussion the student is asked “Can we be predisposed to behavior?” and then the student is asked to read Criminological Theory text to find out the answer. In addition the student is asked to synthesize the Controversies in Victimology text in order to revisit the determinism discussion. Finally, the student is asked to draw it all together in a written assignment exploring biological, psychological and genetic predispositions to crime.

Bringing It All Together: Development and Integrated Theory

We will consider the life of an individual in context of the theories we have previously covered. We will integrate these theories into the individual and examine the possible flow, from beginning to end. In addition, we will weave into the life course perspective the fear of victimization. A possible question arises, if we can understand the possible causes for individual behavior, and those behaviors are the result of events or situations beyond the control of the individual, how than can we restore justice at the individual level? How can one prevent the formation of behaviors, where can we intervene, and how can we as a society correct? In the first discussion the student will be asked to address exactly these thoughts: “when could you have become a criminal?” After reading the Criminological Theory text and Controversies in Victimology text, the student is asked to consider what prevented him or her, and can those preventions be applied to others? Finally, the student is asked to synthesize the readings discussions and outside research in a written assignment concerning possible steps in preventing crime.

Criminological Theory: Chapters 14-16
Commentary – Biological Theory
You Are Born With It – Biology
conceptual drawing of the human brainBiological theories were the dominant theories of crime in the 1900s, and Lombroso’s theory was the leading one. Biological approaches in criminology focus on individual-level abnormalities to differentiate offenders and non-offenders. Such approaches focus on a variety of issues related to genetic and other biological bases of criminal behavior, including neurological dysfunction (brain damage) poor nutrition, genetic composition, and the heredity nature of criminality. Although these researchers tend to be in genetics, neuroscience, and other disciplines, their findings have implications for criminology.There has been a recent resurgence of interest in biological theories of crime. However these theories contend that biological factors influence crime by affecting the processes by which individuals learn to behave and by affecting the development of traits conducive to crime. Most biological theories also recognize that the impact of biological factors, or what you are born with, is influenced by the social environment. The social environment can shape or terminate the development of certain traits which may lead to crime.In the context of biosocial criminology, “behavior genetics tries to tease out the ‘heritability’ components from the environmental contribution to various traits and behaviors, such as IQ or violence (Lilly, et al., 365).” That said, “what an individual inherits is not a specific behavior but rather a tendency to respond to certain environmental forces in terms of general predisposition” (Lilly, et al., 365).

An emerging area of study that describes how our genes are expressed is known as epigenetics (“epi” meaning “above” or “in addition to”). As our text points out, “epigenetics is based on the startling new discovery that environmental factors tend to alter gene functioning without affecting the molecular structure of DNA at all by activating or deactivating particular aspects” (Lilly, et al., 2011, 367). According to epigenetics research, a gene can express itself in a number of ways, controlled by a series of switches that turn certain characteristics on or off; it is these switches that relate to epigenetics (Dewaal 2013). “Epigenetics therefore refers to how genes are controlled by a series of switches: the food we swallow, the air we breathe, or even the affection we receive from our parents have the power to turn gene activity ‘on’ or ‘off’.” (Epigenetics 2013). As such, environmental factors determine whether a particular switch is turned on or off (Dewwal 2013). Curiously, “one of the most potent of these switches is the affection an infant receives from his or her parents in the early months of life” (Dewaal 2013).

It is generally accepted that the eating/drinking habits of pregnant women affect the fetus. This is not, as our text points out, “because these substances alter the basic genetics, which are passed on by a combination of the DNA of both parents, but because the expression of these inherited predispositions is altered through an ‘imprinting’ process” (Lilly, et al, 2011, 367). In addition to affecting her own children, the diet of a pregnant woman can even affect her grandchildren and great-grandchildren because epigenetic effects seem to linger. “Epigenetic research has now shown that factors such as poverty, parenting, and environmental toxins also have a significant effect by altering the expression or ‘behavior’ of the inherited genes over several generations” (Lilly, et al, 2011, 367).

How might epigenetics relate to criminality? Consider one such 2013 study in the article Chronic Aggressive Benauior in Boys: Epigentic Sources? that highlighted the relationship between epigenetics and aggressive behavior.


Lilly, J.R., Cullen, F., & Ball R. (2011). Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences (5th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Dewaal, A. (2013). The Epigenetics of Peace: The Hard Science of Peaceable Human Behavior. Retrieved from:
Meaney, M., Turecki, G. (2013). Epigenetics: when the environment modifies the genes. Retrieved from:

Commentary – Development and Integrated Theory
Bringing It All Together: Development and Integrated Theory
a young boy aiming a pistol like object
Andrew Golden is shown holding what appears to be a pistol in this undated image from a home video provided by ABC News “Prime Time Live.” According to The Jonesboro Sun, Golden and Mitchell Johnson,13, allegedly lured classmates out of Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., Tuesday, March 24, 1998, with a false fire alarm, and then began shooting. No further information is available about the apparent pistol. (AP Photo/ABC) In general, psychological approaches in criminology focus on differentiating offenders and non offenders on the basis of individual psychological processes. Some scholars in this area focus on personality characteristics; others focus on issues related to intelligence or to psychological abnormalities such as psychoses, and still others work in the psychoanalytic tradition. Developmental theory integrates many of the theories that have been discussed so far into an individual’s life course. It is a perspective that criminality is a dynamic process, influenced by social experiences as well as individual characteristics. The question that these theories attempt to answer is how does one develop into a criminal over their lifespan? Even though this theory is becoming increasingly popular, it is challenged by the idea that human development is controlled by a master trait that remains stable and unchanging throughout a person’s time. No matter how the individual decides to behave, he or she is always guided by a master trait, such as low self control.

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