NYT: Studies Find a Family Link to Criminality

“I’m not denying the statistics,” he said, “but you should remember that most of these people come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, disadvantaged neighborhoods, where a high proportion of people will be sent to jail whether they are related or not.”

A 1992 New York Times article entitled “Studies Find a Family Link to Criminality” by Fox Butterfield reported that causality of criminal behavior was up for debate. Although more than 50% of juvenile delinquents in state institutions and more than 33% of adult criminals in local jails and state prisons “have immediate family members who have also been incarcerated,” some researchers started to point to the neighborhood, and socioeconomic status by extension, for causality of criminal behavior.

Professor Herrnstein reports that criminal behavior is “transmitted both genetically and environmentally.”

Although Professor Moffitt maintained that “[r]elatively cheap, targeted work could be done with families that would be less costly than building prisons. It would be ethically more palatable too,” it is clear that the prisons are still at maximum capacity and costing the taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

To read the 1992 article, click here.

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