Vol. 3, No. 2, 1997 Page 2


"The history of one's universe is not written in the genes inherited from the sum of one's ancestors. Nor is one entirely the product of temptations and opportunities created by the environment in which the whole of one's self is expressed. It is becoming more and more obvious that we all occupy slightly different positions along a free-will/determinism continuum… influenced in varying degrees by a host of factors—one of which is quite possibly our genes.

"Nevertheless, we continue to ignore the role of behavior ecology in criminal acts, content to believe that all transgressions are essentially the result of moral lapses and flaws, entirely curable by punishment. Even at the present stage of genetic and behavioral research, we already know enough to conclude that certain individuals are statistically at risk for certain types of behavioral traits strongly correlated with criminal activity. The fact that not all individuals are equally 'wired' to exercise the will necessary to resist temptation or impulse, highlights that human beings are neither totally nor equally free agents. From various etiologies, predispositions to certain types of behavior exist; and as behavioral research progresses, we are likely to discover even more evidence of why some human beings respond to, and interact differently with, their environment than others."
Judge Richard L. Nygaard, U.S. Court of Appeals, in
"10 Commandments: Behavioral Genetic Data and Criminology,"
1996 address to the American Criminology Society

"Most clinicians and researchers are reluctant to speak of psychopathic children, yet it is likely that the personality traits and behaviors that define adult psychopathy begin to manifest themselves in childhood. If so, early intervention is essential if they are ever to have any hope of influencing the development and behavioral expression of the disorder."
Robert D. Hare, in
Criminal Justice and Behavior, 1996

"Most people consider brain disease to be a rare phenomenon. It is likely, however, that more than 10 million Americans suffer from an obvious brain disease, and the brains of perhaps another five million have been subtly damaged. We do not mean to say that all of these brain-diseased people are violent. What we are saying is that an appreciable percentage of the relatively few individuals guilty of repeated personal violence are to be found in this five to 10 percent of the population whose brains do not function in a perfectly normal way."
Vernon Mark and Frank Ervin, cited in
Violence!, by John Langone, 1985

"If delinquency, learning disability and emotional illness are labels actually reflecting biological reality, they must have consequences measurable in terms of blood chemistry, immune reactions, and psychoneurological styles. If these styles exist it is unlikely that they are unitary, or that 'delinquent' is an adequate biological label. If some components of delinquency are biogenetically mediated then it is very probable that distinct biological patterns exist within the overall classifications. These patterns will not likely respond to identical interventions and it becomes a matter of utmost concern reliably to diagnose the particular biological style associated with each subgroup."
George von Hilsheimer, in
"A Psychobiological Study of Delinquents," 1977

"Most aggravated forms of criminal behavior—acts of violence against others—may have physiological origins. Obviously, these biological drives can, in most individuals, be successfully tempered by socialization. Equally obviously, they often cannot. In either case, it is important to understand the true origins of the violent behavior, to understand that it originates in an organic not environmental source. In finally recognizing the true causes of the problem, perhaps the solutions will become more readily accessible."
Lawrence Taylor, in
Born to Crime, 1984

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