Research paper for Composition 2.

The world is full of crime. There are countless theories and explanations as to why things happen like they do. What drives young men and women to violent crime, and what are some possible solutions?

In 1990, due to police investigation, the following statistical conclusions were formed: The leading cause of murder(homicide) was due to arguments between two people, at 37.7%. 22.5% was due to other motives such as insurance fraud and many others. 10.1% occurred during a robbery, where the person(robber) became agitated or frightened, or the victim of the robbery shot or killed the robber in some way. 7.1% was due to narcotics. 6.0% occurred during other felonies, such as grand theft auto and so on. Finally, 16.5% of the murders committed did not have an identified motive. That is, either the homicide went unsolved, the killer never gave a reason, or the killer died or was killed before being interrogated. (drug library, graphs)

Murder(syn.): annihilation, assassination, big chill, blood, bloodshed, bump-off, butchery, butchery, capital murder, carnage, clap, crime, death, destruction, dispatching, dust-off, felony, foul play, hit, homicide, kiss-off, knifing, liquidation, lynching, manslaughter, massacre, off, offing, one-way ticket, shooting, slaying, taking out, terrorism, the business, the works, wasting.

Murder(v.):abolish, asphyxiate, assassinate, behead, blot out, bump off, butcher, chill, clapping, cool, decapitate, defeat, destroy, dispatch, do in, drub, dust off, electrocute, eliminate, eradicate, execute, exterminate, extinguish, finish, get fog, guillotine, hang, hit, ice, knife, knock off, liquidate, lynch, mangle, mar, massacre, misuse, off, put away, rub out, ruin, shoot, slaughter, slay, smother, snuff, spoil, strangle, take out, thrash, waste.(

Murder is a household word in today’s world. Only as little as two decades ago it was a shocking taboo to mention it, especially in the same sentence with someone's name. Do a search for "murder" at google.comtm and you come up with 5,720,000 results. The web is filled with images of bodies, anywhere from Tupac Shakur's supposed autopsy photos to "mystery homicides" that were never solved. To understand the catalyst that drives a human being to go against society's morals and end another's life, we must understand the individual's mind.

In Scotland, in November of 1998, a young man named Surjit Chhokar was coming home from work late in the evening. Three men jumped him, and Surjit was stabbed in the chest. The motive: £100. Assuming that these are GHBs, that's $157 in American dollars. The three young men had stolen Chhokar's paycheck earlier that day, and killed him in an attempt to stop him from going to the police. In Italy, a man named Giulio Andreotti was recently found guilty of murder in the death of journalist holding "sensitive information". Andreotti supposedly consorted with mob bosses to have the journalist killed to prevent her from releasing the information. Andreotti is, incidentally, a former Italian Prime Minister. In England an inmate confessed to police that he had, in fact, solicited the murder of a nine-year-old girl from his prison cell. In January, the prisoner was convicted of sexually assaulting the nine-year-old girl while babysitting her at her home. The prisoner, last-name Stuart, was overheard saying that he wanted the girl "terminated", and that he wanted to read about her body being found in the woods outside of the city. He offered an undercover agent £10,000 to do the job. He was arrested and confessed when police played audio recordings where he solicited the girl's murder. (BBC)

Many people, when subjected to poverty and hardship, resort to crime for money and food. Today's rap and hip-hop music is full of young men and women who claim that crime is the only way they know. Often crime is seen as a last resort, a quick path to food and riches in a world that seems to have no resolve. "A high crime rate will drive businesses out of a neighborhood. This eliminates both availability of products and services and a source of jobs. Further, those who do stay find it necessary to charge higher prices to offset losses due to thievery and higher costs of both security measures and insurance premiums-if insurance is available at all."(Clites) So there is an inverse relationship due to crime and poverty. It is obviously cyclic, and the solution cannot be reached by any easy means. Take the infamous city of Compton, California. Drive through Compton and look around. There's no laundromats, bowling alleys, corner stores. Nothing. In an entire zip-code, there is nothing that most people take for granted.

The general idea is that social deviance can be deterred in many cases by providing the youth of an area with social institutions, places that provide the youth an alternative to crime to occupy their time. According to the Director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Dr. Don Weatherburn, "poverty and unemployment do exert an upward effect on crime, these factors influence crime because they disrupt parenting..."

The human mind, when submitted to unusual levels of stress, reacts in many different ways. The more unusual cases, such as mental divergence, occur when the mind creates an alternate reality in which the patient can exist, free from the stresses of real-life. Such examples are schizophrenia, split-personality syndrome, schizophrenic psychosis, and dementia praecox. Others minds react with chronic depression, fatigue syndromes, and such disorders which directly affect bodily functions. Another sort of mind, one that seems to have a stronger sense of self and determination to survive, react by aggression. Robbery, rape, assault, murder, and other violent crimes can be directly linked to stress in the subject’s everyday life. Many victims of violent crime are subject to large amounts of mental stress and paranoia, which in turn can increase the chance that they will be the perpetrator of violent crime in the future.

Violent crime, namely murder, is also used as a form of so-called “expression” in some parts of the world. Such as the violent conflict in the middle east, where young men and women strap bombs to their bodies and detonate themselves in public places. These acts are condoned as martyrdom, or dying for a holy cause, by some and considered murder by others. The argument being that Islamic innocents are killed by Israeli military action. The Israelis claim that the innocent are collateral casualties, and shouldn’t be considered innocent because they were harboring Islamic militants. The Islamists then claim that they will continue these suicide bombings as repercussions to the Israeli military movements and strikes. But the question is, is killing non-military civilians justified as a counter-strike by opposing militant forces? Many westerners, including President George Bush, call it nothing but murder.

Murders are caused by many factors. Poverty, or the no way out feeling, revenge, or a way for a criminal to silence a potential threat. The simple question remains; How can a human being justify or bring themselves to take another human life.

One theory behind violent crime was first introduced in 1911 by Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso. The theory linked certain biological features in people to individuals that commit violent crime more often. Although he was continuously refuted, many scientists and theorists after his time have come up with similar conclusions. Later, during the 1940's, physician and physiologist William Sheldon classified people into three body types: ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs. The mesomorphs, people with naturally defined muscles, were the body type that was most often linked with violent crime. But the theory and logic was flawed due to the possibility that these individuals had defined muscles due to the lifestyle they lived, and that though they may be naturally inclined to be muscular, that provided more opportunity than other body types.(Gluek & Gluek, 1950). The modern theory credits inclination to crime to both biological and sociological, or nature and nurture, influences. Statistically, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that a third of all convicted adult criminals had a deviant, or criminal, parent.Also that violent crime is higher in poorer areas. These statistics support the nature/nurture view.

In Honduras, the gangs are called marabuntas, or a “plague of African ants” that swarm and consume everything in their path. In Honduras the gangs and police have a viciously cyclic relationship. The country has something called the “Prevention Police”.

“At 11:30 on a Friday night last month, he and two buddies were hanging out in the parking lot of a fast-food joint, playing music and rehearsing rhymes. According to two of his pals, the jam session ended abruptly when an officer from the Honduran Preventive Police came by with an ominous warning: If I count to three and you're still here, I'll put a bullet in your head. One. Juan went running, turning the corner as fast as he could. Two. The frightening sound of gunfire. Three. Juan was dead. “ (Miami Herald)

Most of the killings in Honduras, some 60%, are unsolved. In some cases, youths that have been arrested are removed from their cells quietly in the night, and are found dead later. This spurs the street youths and gangs to respond to police violently, and the cycle goes on.

The answers to these questions and more are tirelessly debatable, and even if defined solutions were presented the likelihood that they were universally applicable is slim. In states that assumed the death penalty for murder, the crime rate rose more sharply and was drastically higher than states with no established capital punishment. But the reason could be that criminals are held longer, and sentences are more severe in those states that do not use capital punishment. Some say allow the police more freedom to handle criminals in real-time situations, with less use of protocol. Honduras is an ugly example of this, were more often than not innocent or simply delinquent youths are murdered by the same agencies sworn to protect them. Stronger social reintroduction programs for minors and adults is a possible solution, but these programs are a live-on institution and the funding simply could not keep up with the growing population. Intervention seems to be the cheapest and most promising solution. Intervention institutions in high-crime neighborhoods that remove the youth from their deviant environment and provide them with something to occupy their time productively. Affordable institutions for higher income families backed by the court system with partial funding from federal agencies and charitable organizations. Education programs in public school systems that teach the raw truth behind living life and growing up as a deviant. Better funded intervention agencies that deal with the parents of deviant youth on a regular basis and, if necessary, remove the youth from the parent. Also, more in-depth investigations and checks that keep a close watch on law enforcement officers on a personal level to ensure a corrupt-free system, on a local level. These are affordable, sensible solutions to a problem that will ever-be-present in the world as long as humans are allowed to act of their own volition and free-will.

Works Cited

B.B.C. News Organization.(accessed 2002) "”; Internet.

Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Characteristics. (accessed 2002). “”; Internet.

Clites, Roger A . Cause and Effect: Crime and Poverty.(accessed 2002). ""; Internet.

Drug Library.(accessed 2002). “”; Internet.

Handprint Media. (accessed 2002). “”; Internet. Graphic.

Public Affairs & Development.(accessed 2002) “”; Internet.

Frances Robles. For youths in Honduras, the streets prove fatal. The Miami Herald; August 27, 2001. (accessed 2002). “”; Internet