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The Influence of Genes on Criminal Justice

Abstract

Criminal Justice has been highly influenced by the findings of genetic studies. Researchers have found out that the presence of XXY chromosomes in genes of human beings is responsible for their criminal behaviour. This state that criminal act of an individual is beyond self-control. Hence in many cases, there were given lighter punishments to criminals when their lawyer defended them in the name of genetic disorder. This is a hopeless situation as the society is not able to control the genetic disorders. However, recent studies from a team of New Zealand researchers have concluded that environment and upbringing plays equal importance in forming the criminal behaviour. The later finding gives us hope that if an individual is brought up in better circumstances, he or she will stay away from criminal acts.

In recent years many people who have committed crime have been defended at court on the ground that it was rather the interplay of genes which was responsible for making them commit crime. Judges were in dilemma on how to punish such offenders. The criminal justice is still under the dilemma and new laws are in the way of making. However, the discoveries of the influence of genes have made a controversy in the courts of law which will perhaps take time to resolve till the jury and the defending lawyers also agree on this. Surely the offenders cannot be let to go without punishment else the act of justice will remain unattended. However the discovery of the influence of gene on the criminal behaviour has caused big controversy. There was time when the criminal has used the cause of his mental illness or depression and escaped from the harsh judgement. The example is State vs. Davis case of the United States. The examples have shaken the faith of the common people on criminal justice.

It has been proved by researchers that though there are influencing factors like the economic, political, education, social and upbringing of the person which play a role in the social behaviour. Under same set of circumstances different people act differently. This difference in behaviour is decided from before due to the influence of genes. So the play of serotonin, which is a chemical of the brain, is responsible for the behaviour leading to commit crime. Serotonin is known to be the hijacker of the good senses. It influences to commit criminal behaviour like murder, theft, burglary, cheating etc. The chemical sparks antisocial behaviour which is largely depended on the genes.

In 2014, Lauren Marshall stated that Criminal Justice was challenged for more than a decade by the concept of the influence of genes and strong punishments had to be downplayed in some examples due to the concept of genetic influence on the commitment of crime. In many instances the death sentence was withdrawn and lesser severe punishment was given. It was because researchers have proved that a chromosome abnormality like the XXY chromosome and the mutation of a single gene which is called the (MAOA Knockout) is responsible for the abnormality in the behaviour of the criminal.

In recent studies it has been found out that along with the gene the stress factors of the environment are responsible to the cause of violent behaviour of an individual. In the year 2002, researchers from New Zealand stated that the factors of childhood environment is a deciding factor in forming the mental makeup of and individual and has equal importance with the interplay of gene. The interplay of (G x E) has been considered the deciding factor by the researcher team. This founding has brought in some fresh thoughts and influences the criminal justice in a different way. It states that the mishandling of a person during the adolescence or childhood shakes the personality of the individual who turns to violent anti-socials at later time.

Though both genetic cause and maltreatment during early years are beyond a person’s own control, at least the later theory gives some hope to the society that good up-bringing of our future citizens and ways to ensure that will give rise to lesser criminal behaviour. It at least leaves a hope for the future. Nonetheless, the research about the genetic influence in criminal behaviour has a large impact on the criminal justice defending which is not easy till date. So the topic is relevant and has earned my interest in learning more about it.

Bibliography :

Corrective Justice: Media Events and Public Knowledge of DNA in the Criminal Justice

System. (2004). The Genetic Imaginary. doi:10.3138/9781442681354-005

Marshall, L., & Connor, S. O. (2014, November 13). A Summary of the Impact of Genetic

Research into Behavioural Characteristics for the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://lawjournalforsocialjustice.com/2014/11/13/a-summary-of-the-impact-of-genetic-research-into-behavioral-characteristics-for-the-criminal-justice-system/

Loughnan, A. (2019, April 05). Genes made me do it: Genetics, responsibility and criminal

law. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from http://theconversation.com/genes-made-me-do-it-genetics-responsibility-and-criminal-law-27395

Marshall, I. H. (1980). The criminal justice system and its psychology. Journal of Criminal

Justice,8(6), 405-407. doi:10.1016/0047-2352(80)90116-6

Farahany, A., N., Bernet, & William. (2006, June 16). Behavioural Genetics in Criminal

Cases: Past, Present and Future. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=908938

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