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Causes of Crime

Physical Abnormalities

In the nineteenth century criminologists focused on the physical characteristics and sanity of an individual. They believed it was "predetermined" or that people had no control over whether they would lead a life of crime. For example, criminologists believed people with smaller heads, sloping foreheads, large jaws and ears, and certain heights and weights had a greater chance to be criminals. Race was also a determining factor. Some criminologists believed criminals were more like savages or primitive humans, and somehow less human than law-abiding citizens.

Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), who believed some people were simply born criminals, published a book in 1906 called Crime: Its Causes and Remedies. Though many of his theories about visible physical traits were not supported by other criminologists, Lombroso did identify some traits still considered important in the twenty-first century such as the occurrence of head injuries. Later research showed head injuries often limited a person's ability to control violent outbursts.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawCauses of Crime - Explaining Crime, Physical Abnormalities, Psychological Disorders, Social And Economic Factors, Broken Windows, Income And Education