Criminal tendency: innate or acquired?

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26 August 2022
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Criminal tendency : innate or acquired?

An interview of detective Nikos Pelekasis to the newspaper “Pontiaki Gnomi“.

One of the common topics of discussion after the publicity of the actions of criminals that shock public opinion is the debate between the innate or not innate tendency to criminality. This controversy is a constant concern for the scientific community, police, the judiciary, and everyday people alike. Either as observers or as victims of criminal acts. It is a fact that the heinous crimes that often occur around us worry us all.

Criminal tendency as a personality trait

But what is the point of this dispute? For the overwhelming majority of citizens, the benefit in answering the question is not so much to hold the perpetrator responsible or to absolve them. But in the investigation surrounding a criminal act, profiling the perpetrator is important. It is used to predict possible future actions of an unapprehended, released or paroled offender. If this tendency is innate, then there is a stronger likelihood that this person will reoffend. To repeat the same or similar crimes with little variation in tactics. If this tendency was created later in the individual’s life, the likelihood of recidivism is reduced. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the earlier in a person’s life the transition to criminal activity occurs, the more likely the criminal tendency is to be maintained over the years.

But when does the criminal activity start? Professional investigations of prison populations have shown that for 75% of them, delinquency is imprinted in their personality. Only 25% are people who did not have such a tendency but rather broke the law due to circumstances (e.g. homicides in the heat of the moment, out of necessity, misfortune, honour crimes). For the great mass of criminals the creation of a tendency to offending can be detected at an early age, up to the age of 14-15. Petty delinquency and systematic violation of the rights of others. Lack of remorse for these actions and conscious violation of the moral code in the early years of life reveal a path to delinquency in adulthood. Convergence is differentiated in nature, intensity and duration based on these early steps.

Criminal tendency: innate or acquired?

Criminal tendency

The family environment as a factor in the innate criminal tendency

But is there an innate tendency towards crime? Indeed, the identification of the onset of delinquency in childhood is linked to family and social environments. They often promote violence as a method of settling the two individual differences. But for a very small group of criminals, this tendency is innate. This has been documented through anthropological studies between peace-loving and non-peace-loving Central American indigenous populations. Even in peacenik societies, where the use of violence is absent to rule out the factor of influence in the genesis of the tendency to crime, there was even a very small percentage of individuals who were systematically drawn to the commission of delinquent acts.

Researching criminal trends to prevent criminal activities

But how does all this benefit a survey? Knowing the detailed profile of criminals helps to identify their possible next steps. For example, profiling individuals differentiates them in terms of the stages of their passage into criminal activity, photographing with relative accuracy the timeframe for the method of a future criminal act.

In any case, and contrary to the common trend of attribution or not, the study of an offender’s profile is not involved in the attribution of justice. It is involved in better planning tactics for the most successful version of an investigation. The result is the protection of future victims through case resolution.

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