Why do people commit crimes and
what is a ‘typical criminal’? There is little doubt that some commit a crime
such as shoplifting out of desperation, especially when food is concerned. Yet
the same crime also attracts the attention of organised gangs who steal to
order and cost stores hundreds of millions each year. The same crime but
carried for different motives; one for survival, the other to make as much
money as possible for as little work as possible. If caught, should each be
treated the same as they committed the same crime?
Various people have forwarded
theories to explain why some people became criminals.
The oldest known explanatory model
of behaviour is that of demonology. It
used to be thought that criminal behaviour was the result of a possessed mind
and/or body and the only way to exorcise the evil was usually by some torturous
means. The key was a focus on the individual rather than his or her environment
or any social forces.