Biological and Psychological Explanations of crime

**Note: This report was authored by yours truly and then posted on a website. Someone claiming to want to purchase the rights did rightly so….for a month. Since the person flatout stole my work, I am claiming it back. 

This report contains information on two crimes, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations website, https://ucr.fbi.gov. Both crimes will be analyzed from the perspective of a citizen judging how the criminal justice system acted.

The first crime is the February 14th, 2018 multiple killing of 17 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. At around 2:00 p.m., 19-year-old high school dropout Nikolas Cruz entered the school, engaged the fire alarm, and opened fire as soon as students came out. He is now on custody.

The second crime is the 2016 mass murder of 49 patrons in the Pulse Club, Orlando, Florida. 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a husband and father who proclaimed allegiance to the terrorist group ISIL, opened fire in the club, wounding 53 people aside from the 49 killed. He was killed after a showdown with the police.

Criminal Justice System

These cases were selected because they both occurred in Broward county, FLA which means that the Broward County Sherriff’s Office (BSO), and its attached units, must have been involved in both events. The similarities in the way Broward County acted in these crimes are evident in three things. First, BSO had records and reports on both Cruz and Mateen dating back years before they committed their crimes. Second, the FBI was also aware of these men and their activities. The agency was aware that Cruz and Mateen were known for their odd and violent behaviors, and for carrying firearms. Third, both Cruz and Mateen had made public their plans in social media, for which both the state and federal justice systems should have immediately gone to investigate. They did not. However, they were quite quick in releasing memos after the facts.

After the facts

After each of the mass shootings, the FBI released memorandums admitting their lack of action. In the Cruz case, the FBI admitted that, on January 5th, 2018, they received a tip that directly linked Nikolas Cruz to dangerous and criminal behavior (FBI.gov, 2018). The FBI admitted that the protocol to investigate the tip was not followed, and that they are still trying to investigate what happened. Moreover, they have had records on Cruz dating back to 2016, which were uncovered by the investigative media. Still, nothing was done. (Comey, 2016)

A similar memorandum was released in 2016 regarding Omar Mateen. Then-FBI director James Comey also admitted that Mateen had been suspected of terrorist activity as far back as 2013, three years before his crime, and was even interviewed on grounds of suspicion. He was released after claiming that he was just upset at his co-workers when he made remarks of killing them all and hating America. Regardless of the fact that his behavior continued, and his social media contained enough evidence of his potentially criminal tendencies, nothing was done about it either. (Comey, 2018)

Reactions

This news, aside of saddening and despairing, are also frustrating. Law enforcement had evidence and information on these men but opted to not take action. The police force did not proactively engage in the frisking and investigating of these two individuals who were clearly targeting innocent people that they did not even know in social media. The local police could have at least used preventative ways to warn these people that they are suspects. Those who are supposed to protect, did not protect. The sum of all law enforcement officials in the county of Broward was not able to stop 2 deranged men who acted alone.

Criminal Behavior

            According to Conklin (2012) the psychology of killers follows a similar pattern in each case. Some of these behaviors are evident in their anger toward people that they do not know (antisocial behavior), their tendency for violence, the feelings of hatred that guide their decisions, and their fixation on hurting others. The factor that differentiates them may be age.

The behavior of accused murdered Nikolas Cruz coincides with what Conklin (2012) associates to brain structures and functions (p. 93). Conklin cites studies made by Mednik et. al (1981) and Fishbein (1990) which point at defects in the frontal and temporal lobes of juveniles who exhibit antisocial and defiant behavior. These traits are usually found upon evaluation after these individuals commit a crime. According to the FBI reports on Cruz, his behaviors included antisocial behavior, defiance, school truancy (he was expelled from school), and immature behavior. Also, in Conklin’s words, “delinquents seem to be more likely than non-delinquents to have neurological problems” (p. 94)

In conclusion, based on Cruz’s behavioral records, and on what psychological theory presents, it is arguable that Cruz’s issues may be, in great part, neurological as well as social. He has both nature and nurture issues that lead to violence, feelings of inadequacy (he cannot even function normally with peers his age in a school, and antisocial behavior. His issues were both from a social and biological theoretical construct of criminology.

Omar Mateen’s actions are mainly hate crimes. He acted on behalf of a terrorist organization, which he may or may not be a part of, but still claimed to follow. He his victims were also considered minorities: homosexuals and Hispanics. While it is unclear why Mateen disliked these particular groups, it is arguable that his actions are a result of what Albert Bandura (1977) calls social learning. The reason for this is that prejudice is a learned behavior that can only be instilled from interactions with others. Nobody is born prejudiced. Therefore, Mateen must have picked up his bias from exposure to other biased people. He may be vulnerable enough to be manipulated into feeling a specific way about a group that has nothing to do with him.

According to his wife, he had no enemies in the gay or Latino communities, for which there is no revenge associated to his decisions. His anger against this group shows ignorance and which leads him to believe that he can control the situation by eliminating them. (Conklin, 2012, p. 34) In another note, Mateen’s behavior also shows signs of immaturity. A married man and father would normally dedicate his time to invest into his home and family. There is a chance that Mateen is no different than Cruz in terms of their immature way of dealing with real life situations, and in the way that they resort to extreme measures to take care of something they have no control of. We could then conclude that Mateen acted out of a pathological bias against specific demographic group learned through social learning. He literally mimicked the ways that others have killed before. He learned to kill by exposure. His issues are mainly sociological within the theoretical constructs of criminology. (Conklin, p. 193)

Final Thoughts

A biological or sociological issue does not mean these men did not know right from wrong, or that Cruz should be hospitalized rather than jailed. They both knew that their actions were illegal and cruel. They planned their attacks ahead and acted with malice. Moreover, they boasted about their plans in social media, and they had records. The saddest part is that they both operated in the same county. This shows a fault in the preventative methods used by the police to deflect and prevent crimes.  Perhaps the state of Florida will finally take preventative action rather than allow for yet another massacre to occur.

References

Bandura, A. (1977) Social Learning Theory Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall

Conklin, C. (2012) Criminology 11th Ed Boston: Pearson

Comey, J. (2018) FBI Statement on the Shooting in Parkand, Florida. Washington,

D.C: FBI National Press Office retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-statement-on-the-shooting-in-parkland-florida

Comey, J. (2016) Update on Orlando Shooting Investigation. Washington, F.C.: FBI

National Press Office retrieved from: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/director-provides-update-on-orlando-shootings-investigation