Criminal Behavior

Criminal Behavior

Criminal Behavior

Criminal Behavior


Criminal Behaviorexplores crime as a developmental process from birth through early adulthood. It further examines the role that legal, political, and criminal justice systems play in the development of criminal behavior. Criminal Behavior:

  • takes into account biological, genetic, developmental, familial, social, educational, cultural, political, and economic factors correlated with crime;
  • references actual cases and events to serve as examples of the principles introduced;
  • critically examines the roles of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and methods of punishment in the development of and response to criminal behavi∨
  • explores the effects of crime on victims and looks at correlations between crimes and victim characteristics and behaviors;
  • examines the role of childhood and adolescent behavioral and mental health disorders in the development of criminal behavi∨ and
  • investigates the differences between criminals and the rest of society, and the differences and similarities between and among criminals.

Chock-full of personal anecdotes, this engaging text is unique in that it combines the experience of Doug Bernstein, a clinical psychologist and a successful textbook author, and Elaine Cassel, a practicing attorney who regularly teaches psychology and law. Organized around five dimensions related to the causes, characteristics, and consequences of crime, the book summarizes the programs that research suggest offer the best hope for doing a better job of dealing with crime in the 21st century. The authors argue that prevention is the key to dealing with crime, and present comprehensive suggestions for crime prevention.

The new edition features the latest criminal statistics available, as well as the most current research on the causes and correlations of crime and violence. Other highlights include: discussion of the latest brain-imaging research in psychopathy - how psychopaths' brains are different from "normal" brains; the latest on gang activities and how their venues have migrated to suburban and rural areas; terrorism and its roots; Internet crimes, especially sexual predator crimes; the latest research on how media violence, especially violent interactive video games, contributes to criminal behavi∨ the examination of drug and mental health courts as alternatives to punishment; and recent Supreme Court rulings eliminating the death penalty for juveniles and the mentally retarded.

Intended as a textbook for upper-level courses on criminal behavior, psychology and law, and developmental psychopathology taught in departments of psychology, criminology, criminal justice, law, and sociology and/or criminal justice training academies.


In Florida, a 12-year-old boy kills a 9-year-old girl with moves he learned from watching wrestling on television; 19 men hijack four airplanes and use them as flying bombs to damage the Pentagon building and destroy the World Trade Center, killing almost 3,000 people; a brilliant Harvard-educated scientist, Theodore Kaczynski (who became known as the “Unabomber”) kills and maims victims by sending explosives through the mail; a man and a teenage boy terrorize the Washington, DC area by killing people at random with a highpowered rifle fired from the trunk of a car; someone sends anthrax in the mail, causing the death of several postal workers and sickening many more; a man in Washington State admits to killing more than 30 women; a doctor performs a late-term abortion on a woman whose life is in danger; a nurse gradually ups the dosage of morphine given to a dying patient to relieve her pain; a man who knows he is infected with the HIV virus has unprotected sex with many women; a woman consumes enough drugs and alcohol during her pregnancy to give her newborn a cocaine addiction and fetal alcohol syndrome; gay and lesbian couples engage in consensual sex; a pedophile uses Internet chat rooms to entice young boys to sexual encounters; a chemical company dumps carcinogenic waste on its property, contaminating groundwater for miles around and contributing to the development of leukemia in dozens of nearby residents; media mogul and homemaking queen Martha Stewart sells certain shares of stock after receiving inside information that the price is about to fall; executives manipulate energy markets and falsify corporate accounts for personal gain, ultimately bankrupting their company and costing its employees and stockholders their jobs and their money; tobacco company scientists make cigarettes more addictive by increasing their nicotine content; bank officers knowingly make bad loans that cause the failure of financial institutions; and high-level employees at Wall Street firms manipulate stock prices, costing investors billions and shaking public confidence in equity markets.

Which of these events do you consider the most loathsome? Before you answer, keep in mind that some of them are crimes and some are not. Some things that most of us would consider morally reprehensible are neither prohibited nor punishable by law. Why are certain acts crimes, whereas others—as at least as horrible— are not?

Also, how many perpetrators of the criminal acts just listed do you think could have been identified as likely criminals at birth? At the age of 2 years old? At 5 or 8? At 15? At 21? There are few, if any, parents who think that their babe in arms, their toddler, their school-aged child, or their teenager will become a serial killer, a terrorist, a child molester, or a stock manipulator. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, some parents of criminals are . . .

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