Many doctors and researchers in thefield of genetics have searched for a answer to thisquestion. During 1989-93 one such researcher named Dr. Sullivan foundsome interesting points about genetics and crime. Sullivan while working for the Bush administration ssecretary of health and human services during 1989-1993 wasappalled by the epidemic of violent crimes he saw takingplace in American cities. According to Dr. Sullivan, more than 26,000 Americans were murdered,and six million violent crimes were committedwith young men and minorities falling victimmost frequently.
Sullivan also reported that about one in every 27 black men,compared to one in every 205 white men, died violently also1 in 117 black women met a untimely end as compared to whitewomen which only 1 in 496 were killed due to violent crimes. This is not surprising that young males commit most of theserious crimes. According to an article in ScientificAmerican, only 12. 5 percent of violent crime in the U. S. in1992 was committed by females. What is also surprisingaccording to W. W.
Gibbs the author of Seeking the CriminalElement, in Scientific American,(1995 March) pp 100-107,is that a very small number of criminals are responsible forthe majority of the violent crime. Sullivan who is now the president of the MorehouseSchool of Medicine in Atlanta wanted to try and address theviolence as a public health issue. In an interview after heleft office in 1993, Dr. Sullivan explains that his rationalfor this was that the higher increases in violent crimes andspecifically homicide in the young male population in largecities. Which was higher than any other social group inAmerica at this time.
Dr. Sullivan then began to organize his department sresearch resources under the banner of the so called Violence Initiative as he put it. With the predominantthought of looking at unemployment, poverty, the use ofdrugs and any other factors that might help to contribute tothe likelihood of causing violence. Primarily Sullivans research was directed towards the psychological andsociological point of view. Sullivan primarily working withthe before mentioned points and only worked lightly with thebiological aspects, such as race, gender, brain chemistryand genetic make up.
Dr. Sullivans research, did find some links betweenaggressive behavior, and disturbances in the level of achemical called Serotoin. Which is directly related tocertain genes. Although there was no conclusive proof thatthis abnormal gene was completely responsible for aincreases in violence, Another study in 1993 also found alink between genes and violence. The X chromosome mutationwhich was discovered in a certain Dutch family was found to be associated with mild retardation and aggressive,sometimes violent criminal behavior.
The mutation causescomplete deficiency of the enzyme monoamine oxidase alsocalled (maoa), which metabolizes the neurotransmittersserotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. According to David Goldman, a geneticist at theNational Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse pointsout, men who possess this abnormal gene may typically engage in impulsive aggression, but the time, place, type, and seriousness of their crimes ( which include exhibitionism, attempted rape, and arson) have been diverse and unpredictable.
Although these are examples of gene related violence,genetic information so far has been fairly unpredictable. Finding a defect such as the maoa mutation is anexceedingly rare event. Also according to Margret McCarthyof the University of Maryland School of Medicine, whatmatters in not whether someone possesses a gene, but whetherthat gene is expressed. Although seems that genetics is unlikely to tell usmuch of practical value about crime, other aspects of humanbiology may be more useful.
Adrian Rain of the University ofSouthern California at Los Angeles, showed cat scanscomparing brain activity in 42 murderers with that of anequal number of normal controls. The murderers tended tohave less prefrontal activity, was consistent with Raine sHypothesis that a damaged prefrontal cortex can lead toimpulsive aggressive behavior. But murderers, like the restof us, are a heterogeneous group of people, Rain cautionedstrongly against regarding such scans as diagnostic.
Andthat you can t do brain scanning on everyone and tell ifthey will commit murder. In short applying this kind ofresearch to crime control often raises ethical and politicalissues and the same can be expected of genetic scanning andother aspects of biological research when it s related tocontrolling crime. It is possible that genetic research may eventuallycontribute something to our knowledge of crime, and perhapseven to its control. But the contribution will most likelybe indirect.
And any aspects of genetic disorders or otherbiological factors, most likely will be contributed to otherthings such as alcoholism and addictions rather than genesbeing blamed for the violent behavior. Diana Fishbein, ofthe US Department of Justice states that, criminologistsneed to call for more research into behavioral disorders andattention disorders and certain other temperamental traitslike impulstivity that might be more likely to turn upbetter results in the fight against crime.