Sociology

How People become Criminals



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A victim of circumstances, or perhaps a victim of an unfortunate birth; it is a fact that people become criminals through a combination of choices, circumstances and opportunity. Human predilection for wealth, fame, power, physical and emotional satisfaction drive individuals in a unique way where some people seem less likely to live their lives and achieve their goals by working within the system of laws in a given society.




Opportunities sometimes tempt the strongest into taking a chance when presented, for example a hard working cleaner in a bank notices a $100 bill under a desk. It is late at night, nobody else is in the building and the wages of the cleaner are not among the best. The right thing to do is pick up the money, either put it in an envelope with a note or use some other method to leave it in a place it can be found by the bank staff. Chances are the $100 bill fell unnoticed to the floor and was not missed; this is a tempting opportunity and not an uncommon one. Many people find themselves facing the courts because they fell to the temptation of opportunity. A wallet left on a desk, an open door through which an item of value is in sight temptation an a moment of weakness, thoughtlessness and irresponsible action too often result in a criminal conviction.




A recent newspaper report suggested the current downward trend in global economics linked to an increase in crime with more frequent break and enters, robberies and muggings. Job loss combined with high consumer debit present circumstances where some people seem unable to make ends meet. Debit collectors, final notices and summonses are a stress that impact on many hard working folk experiencing the true consequences of corporate mismanagement. With executives reaping huge bonuses among the ruins of bankrupt business the workers find themselves with nothing. This is a huge motivation that clearly leads some people into crime. People whom would otherwise be productive citizens working hard to make an honest living.




Power without adequate checks and balances frequently lead to corruption as those addicted to the perks and privileges stop at nothing protecting their positions. Far to many seemingly well-intentioned politicians find themselves unable to resist the tantalising baubles of high life mixing with power elite. Driving ambition to progress and become more powerful and we have institutionalised a form of corruption that characterizes most democratic systems of government. We cynically joke that all politicians lie' and accept the fact our elected representatives feed off our taxes, squander opportunities and fawn over those considered most likely to advance their careers. Arguably we could consider these as criminal acts!




Career criminals comprise elements of all nations and society where numerous factors and circumstances combine to create individuals with no desire or intention of living with a system of laws. Mafia groups, the Chinese triads and ethnic gangs plague most cities where the streets are battlegrounds, no-go zones or perhaps the private hunting' grounds where pickings comprise innocent (or maybe not so innocent) victims who wander into the scene. Drugs, prostitution and pornography for example often lure people wanting a taste of forbidden' pleasures. Crime begets crime and while the market' exists there are criminals willing to cater for almost every desire, wish or need.




There are of course infinite combinations of circumstances that lead to one becoming a criminal but the underlying cause really comes down to choice. Nobody can truly argue they had no choice but to commit a criminal act irrespective of circumstances because there are always alternatives. It is also a fact that some alternatives are considerably less damaging than others and this is why circumstances play a crucial part in the likelihood that such a choice is to commit a criminal act. Consider a person given the choice of stealing food or starving to death: the act of stealing is a criminal act but the circumstances are determined by the individual's desire to either live or die.

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