Lombroso's Theory

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  • Lombroso's Theory
    • Facts
      • Italian criminologist
        • Born: 6 November 1835. Died: 19 October 1909
      • Believed there was a link between physical characteristics and criminality.
    • Claims
      • Argued that the physical shape of the head and face determined the "born criminal".
      • You can tell what kind of crime someone will commit by the way they look
    • Components
      • Examined facial features on 383 dead criminals, 3894 living criminals.
      • Concluded 40% of criminal acts could be those with Atavistic features
      • Criminal= long arms, hard shifty eyes, flattened/upturned nose
      • Thief- small/ wandering eyes. Murderer- cold, glassy stare. Women offender- more wrinkled.
    • Credibility
      • The theory had a scientific test.
      • His work heralded beginnings of offender profiling.
      • Deterministic and reductionist theory.
      • No group of non-criminals
    • Analysis
      • Theory could apply to Fred West and Luis Garavito, not Ted Bundy.
      • Prisons= 'criminal universities'.
      • People will leave prison more violent then when they went in.
      • For serious crimes, the average prison sentence is now 58.3 months- over two years longer than in 2006.
    • Refuting Evidence
      • Theory assumed we are born bad- can't change.
      • No control group.
      • Not everyone with atavistic features are criminal and not all criminals have atavistic features.
      • Scientific racism- some features are those linked to race/ethnic groups.
    • Supporting Evidence
      • Charles Goring (1913) found a low-order intelligence in convicts- suggesting there is some genetic base to criminality.
      • Attractive people more likely to be treated better in court- Butcher and Taylor (2007).
      • Chinese University showed that A.I. can identify criminals using facial recognition software.
        • 1856 photos fed into the programme, half were convicted criminals.
        • 83% of criminals were identified, 6% of innocent people wrongly identified


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