The Born Criminal

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Many people have made their own observations about what a criminal looks like and how they are so different from the common folk, Cesare Lombroso is no different. In 1876 he published The Criminal Man after researching Italian prisoners and soldiers. He theorized that criminals have a certain amount of physical abnormalities and that you can tell the criminals apart from common folk by there abnormalities. He believed that if you are a male with five or more of the following traits: ?an asymmetry of the face or head, large monkey-like ears, large lips, receding chin, twisted nose, excessive cheek bones, long arms, excessive skin wrinkles, and extra toes or fingers?, then you were a ?born criminal.? This was used as a tactic for fighting crime by law enforcement from the 1870's to the 1920's.

I believe that his test was flawed and that people were put into jail for no reason besides what they can?t control, their genetic looks.

Lombroso didn?t take into account each of the ?criminal?s? backgrounds. Environment plays a large part as to what you will be like when you grow up. Whether you were poor or rich, your parents were married, divorced, or never married at all, if you got an education, or how you were deciplined, many of these factors make a person act out they way they do and they all shape a persons personality into the criminal or the millionaire.

I feel bad for the people who were born with birth defects. Would you like to be classified as a criminal as soon as you were born because of an extra finger or toe? What about if you had a cleft lip? You are obviously a criminal by Lombroso?s ideas. This in unfair to all of the good citizens who were unfortunately born with something wrong. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century smoking and drinking were not known to be bad for a pregnant mother, but now we know that these cause birth defects. Many wealthy people would smoke, I imagine that their children were not studied because if you were wealthy you weren?t a solider or in prison in most cases.

There were many problems with Lombroso?s theory and it needs to stop being used to find criminals. It is not fair to good people who aren?t able to control their unfortunate looks. Lombroso I am sure ruined many peoples lives because he could not finish his entire experiment.