Friday, December 25, 2009

Causative factors of Crime and the Programmes for Crime Preventions/Role of Economic and Environmental Factors in Crime Causation

The main causes of crime are-(1) Social (2) Economic (3) Physical and developmental, (4) Geographical and (5) Political.

Please consult the answer to the preceding question for an exposition upon the social and economic causes of crime.

Physical and developmental causes

Physical defects also make a man criminal because due to deformities he lags behind these fellow beings in many activities and it is order to remove this difference that he turns to crime. Criminals have usually been found to be extremely ugly. On examining prisoners in the Parkhurst prison, Charles Goring found most of them to be inferior, from the physical viewpoint to the common individual. Mental defects are just as much causative of crime as are physical defects. Among them feeble-mindedness has particularly been found to be a cause of crime. The percentage of feeble-minded criminals among 948 criminals who had committed crimes of various sorts and were studied by Goring was as follows-

Those who set fire to a heap of wheat 52.9 percent

Those who set fire to other forms of property 16.7 percent

Those who robbed and murdered 15.6 percent

Those who committed unnatural sex crimes 41.3 percent

Those who were dacoits 10.0 percent

Gillin calculated that 12 percent of all prisoners are affected with mental diseases. Besides feeble-mindedness, individuals are also led to crime by epilepsy and emotional disturbances. Of the 1000 young men of Chicago who had repeated their crimes, seven percent were afflicted with epilepsy. The reason why crimes orginate in physical and mental afflictions is that such people are the objects of social derision and mockery because of their impeded and disease-hampered progress and this social degradation spurs them to engage in anti-social activities. A person who, being very ugly, fails to win a woman’s love, tries to gain ascendancy over her by time power of money, which he amasses by illegitimate means or by sheer dint of physical power and rapacious activity.


Heredity, according to some criminologists, is one main cause of crime. This view is no longer regarded as scientific but there can be no doubt that lineage and descent have some influence upon crime. Early sexual maturity, mental defects and nervous instability etc. are abnormalities an individual inherits, which help in making him a criminal. In a study in Chicago; Healy went into the family history of 668 out of 1000 juvenile delinquents and found that in all 245 of the families were afflicted by one or another mental defects. In 125 cases their ancestors were also found to be criminals, 61 percent of 823 families which were sampled were found to be suffering from some affliction. But these statistics show the influence of environment at the same time as they indicate the effect of heredity. Some people become criminals due to the influence of psychoses. In this way people indulge in criminal activity in order to make up for mental and physical shortcomings. Elliot and Merrill express this by saying that his criminal tendency may be the reaction aiming at remedying short comings.

Besides physical defects, factors concerning physical development may also sometimes cause crime. As a general rule it can be said that it is between the ages of 17 to 24 that the greatest number of crimes are committed. In old age rape and other sexual crimes increase in number. Murderous crimes are usually committed by young men. Embezzlement, fraud, vagrancy, alcoholic excesses and murder, etc. are peculiar to middle age. Girls who mature early are more prone to become involved in clandestine affairs. In adolescence the aggressive tendency grows.

Geographical Causes

Many Geographical causes also stimulate crime. According to criminologists the geographical factors influence crime indirectly. Lombroso has collected evidence and shown that crimes of rape are more common in plains than in the mountains or plateaus. In Italy where malaria is to be found in excess of every other disease the crimes most common are those that are against the individual. According to some criminologists, in hot countries there are more crimes against the person while in cold countries more crimes are committed against property. Lacassagne had formulated a calendar on the basis of seasonal fluctuations in crime. According to this the greatest numbers of cases of infanticide take place in January, February, March and April, of homicide and fatal assaults in July, of patricide in January and October, of rape upon minors in May, in July, August and most of all December, of rape upon young women in June and January. All criminologists do not agree to such a view of the influences of seasons and climates upon criminal activity but the least that can be said that crimes are susceptible to climatic and seasonal variations in the same degree in which human relationships and tendencies are influenced by them.

Political Causes

Many political causes also encourage crime. Now-a-days many criminals go scot free with prepared legal advice because there is opportunity to prove truth false and falsehood true. This encourages them to engage in further criminal activity. On the other hand, the innocents, who are prosecuted and convicted in their place, also become criminals as a reaction. The ill treatment to which the prison inmates are subjected also hardens the softest of criminal. Crimes are further encouraged by the inefficiency, immorality and corruption of the police department. People connected with political groups also unobtrusively assist criminals and make use of them to inflict injury upon and to defame members of opposing groups.

Means to Prevent Crime

Roughly speaking the way to prevent crime is to counteract the various causes that have been mentioned above. Even new suggestions are being made in this connection. Some important means are-

1. Probation – Probation is the postponement, on certain conditions laid down by the prosecuting authority, of punishment due to a criminal by law. These individuals are kept in the guardianship of some one instead of being imprisoned. According to the Probation Act 1938 of U.P., first offenders below the age of 24 who have committed crimes not punishable by death or life imprisonment may be placed on probation. The decision to place a criminal on probation is taken after due consideration of such factors as his age, his way of life, his conduct, physical and mental condition and others. All criminals placed on probation live under the probation officer’s care. Mostly, it is the minor offender or the juvenile delinquent who is released on probation.

The probation officer performs the following activities for curing the criminal-

1. To keep criminals in his own care.

2. To try to improve and reform criminals.

3. To compile the life histories of criminals and to try to trace their tendencies through them.

4. To send relevant information to courts regarding the criminals.

5. To render assistance to criminals in getting employment.

6. Solution of family problems of criminals such as solving domestic strife and contracting marriage of their daughters, etc.

7. To make efforts to make them good citizens by every conceivable method.

8. To send the criminals to prison once again if they show no signs of improvement.

In this way, the probation officer is both the assistant as well as the saviour of the criminals and tries to put them on the right track by convincing and cautioning them.

2. Parole – Parole is also a means of reforming criminals. Under probation the criminal is given over to the protection of the probation officer without being punished but criminals is placed on parole after he has served a short prison sentence. He is also placed under the parole officer. The parole officer maintains contact with the criminal, keeps an eye on him and tries to reform him. Probation is more popular than parole.

3. Reformatory – In 1876 the Elmira Reformatory was established in New York, U.S.A. Since then this method of reforming criminals has been gaining favour in all civilized countries. Reformatories are of two kinds-

(i) Juvenile Reformatories – The oldest of this kind of reformatory is in India. In this efforts are made to reform criminals, to educate them and to make them successful citizens. Previously, only those who had been given a life sentence were confined in them but now criminals serving shorter prison sentences are also allowed.

(ii) Adult Reformatories – Only adults who commit some specific kinds of common crimes are confined to the reformatories. They receive education in military discipline, physical exercise, religions, the principles of citizenship etc. There are very few reformatories of this kind in India at present. Their success depends mainly on those who run them.

4. Borstal Schools – Another means of reforming juvenile’s offenders is the Borstal schools. Only criminals between the ages of 16 and 21 are kept in these schools. There are many institutions of this kind in different states of India. Here the juvenile delinquentic are educated and efforts are made to turn them into good citizens by providing adequate care.

5. Prison – Prison is a universally accepted means of preventing crime but now-a-day efforts are made to reform rather than to punish criminals in jail. A model prison has been constructed at Lucknow, U.P. where the inmates are provided with all the opportunities to develop their personalities and provision is made to make them able citizens. An important experiment has been made in this direction in U.P. The name of this experiment is Sampurananad Camp. In 1954, 2000 criminals were employed to build a dam across the river Chandraprabha in Banaras district. There was no police to look after them. The warden of the prison was their guide. The criminals lived in tents on open ground like ordinary labourers. All arrangements and facilities such as canteen, hospital, reading room, radio, library, cinema, etc. were provided for them. Teachers and welfare officers educated them. They were paid wages, a part of which was retained to be given to them on release in order to enable them to start business. This experiment was a complete success and it shed new light on the problem of preventing crimes.

Actually, these means are to reform criminals and to prevent them from subsequent criminal activity. These cannot prevent all those factors which must be eliminated from the social, economic and political life of the community in which crimes originate.


1 Responses to “Causative factors of Crime and the Programmes for Crime Preventions/Role of Economic and Environmental Factors in Crime Causation”

Anonymous said...
December 25, 2009 at 8:52 AM

Many people say sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. However, the Texas State Auditor in 2007 released a report showing that sex offenders who completed the Texas Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) were 61% LESS LIKELY to commit a new crime. That seems to show promise.

After all, in 2002, the US Dept. of Justice reported that only 5% of sex offenders released in 1994 returned to prison for a new sex crime.

Yet we spend millions on registration of more than 650,000 sex offenders in the US based on information available in the early 1990’s when research on sex offenders was poorly funded–if it was even considered.

Treatment works. The research shows this.


“An Audit Report on Selected Rehabilitation Programs at the Department of Criminal Justice.” Texas State Auditor. March 2007. Report No. 07-026. Retrieved Oct 20, 2009.

US Dept of Justice Report on Sex Offender Recidivism

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