Criminology plays a significant role in the current world which is surrounded by criminal offences both locally and internationally. It helps us understand crime, the efforts of the law in improving the crimes and the necessary procedures to follow in the treatment of the crimes. By applying criminological theories which are related to sociology, biology, economics, psychology, and political science among other fields, gaining an understanding of criminal behavior and also preventing it and its social patterns is expertly done (White et al., 2017). According to crime, there is no specific cause of crimes as the phenomenon changes across different cultures. For instance, what a country terms as a criminal offense may not be legal in another country. To add on that, as cultural behaviors change with time, some actions which the law initially regarded as crimes may become legalized. That is why criminological theories role in explaining crimes is significant. This paper seeks to analyze the application of both biological and sociological theories in Charles Manson’s case stating their effectiveness in the understanding of the crime.
Charles Manson criminal offense marked a significant mark in the American’s law system. Manson was charged with murder and conspiracy after he formed a group which was known as Mansion Family (Altman, 2015. According to research, Mansion started acting in a violent and manipulative manner as early as he was in school and at the ages of fifty, he spent most of his life in and out of jail. Mansion had developed an experience of petty crimes which landed him in and out of prison for many crimes including forging government documents. From the description, it is evident that Mansion’s criminal behaviors started in his childhood and extended to his adult life until he suffered a life sentence in prison.
Charles Mansion established the Mansion ‘Family’ towards the end of 1960 after which he became a cult leader of the group which committed many crimes such as a series of nine murder cases and conspiracy which resulted in the murder of seven people under Manson’s instructions (Altman, 2015). As a result, he was charged as the first-degree murderer, but he was later convicted. History explains that Manson was a musician and a songwriter before he committed the murders even though he spent almost half of his life in correctional institutions due to the numerous offenses he committed.
In attempts to analyze the history of Mansion’s criminal life, it is evident that the violent and manipulative culture and behavior around him developed from his childhood lifestyle which was surrounded with crimes. It is therefore correct to conclude that the manipulative crimes he committed as the leader of Mansion Family were an influence of his past behavior. As a result, both biological and sociological theories of criminology can effectively apply to his criminal offenses. Such theories of criminology can be well used to the explanation of Mansion’s crimes with the aim of understanding his behavior clearly.
The biological theory of criminology assumes that criminal behavior is ‘in-born.’ According to the method, criminals are physiologically distinct from non-criminals. Cesare Lombroso suggested that the actions of criminals are evolutionary and their brains are not fully developed. He concluded in this manner after surveying prisoners who seemed to share some common physical attributes and biological characteristics. This suggested that criminals were born that way and this behavior is more biological than influenced by social factors (White et al., 2017).
By considering Charles Manson’s criminal behavior, it is clear that he started committing crimes at a young age as early as when he was in school. Research explains that he began to intimidate some students to fight those he did not like when he was in school. It is also evident that his mother was a drunkard who also had criminal records and the petty crimes Manson committed led him to become a murderer. From this information, the behavior is more biological than learned. The illegal attributes are biological and inherited since it is rare for a child to be influenced as a criminal by the environment as much as biological factors. Biologically, it is possible to identify criminals from non-criminals or anyone else. Therefore, it is correct to argue by the assumption of biological positivism that Manson’s behavior was inborn.
Behavior Theory of Criminology
According to sociology, criminal behavior external factors such as family, peer and the surrounding societal activities shape an individual’s behavior. For instance, research shows that crime rates are higher in areas which are characterized by poverty regarding housing, health, infrastructures, etc. as compared to areas with no poverty. Therefore, crimes may result from the surrounding dynamics rather that individuals attributes. Crime can also be facilitated by ethnic diversity which is likely to break down social norms and competing traditions making the law system weak and therefore unable to regulate the behaviors of people. Family and the bringing up of children can also affect them by influencing them into criminal acts.
Mansion was born of a young woman who was alcoholic and had criminal records. According to research, Manson grew up in the absence of his biological father, and regardless of his young age, he spent most of his life in and out of boarding schools and foster homes especially when his mother was charged with armed robbery and imprisoned for five years. From his family conditions, there is a high probability that his behavior criminal behavior was influenced by the immorality nature of his mother and also by his exposure to criminal offenses through his mother.
The sub-cultural theory is also a significant theory in the understanding of crimes such as Manson’s case. According to the method, status frustration may influence the young people to participate in crimes. For instance in school, some students may feel frustrated by not achieving other students’ goals, and as a result, they end up creating their subcultures with unique values. In attempts to meet their status, the members of such groups may end up developing some crimes such as truanting, acting up in class and smoking (Akers, 2013). The young people’s behavior of using crime as a source of income, gang violence and engaging in drug abuse may be influenced by status rather than biology as sociobiology theory argues. From research, it is clear that Manson’s violent behavior was evident when he was in a school where he manipulated other students to fight. This behavior also reveals itself after he establishes the Mansion’s family and influences some of the members to commit murder. Therefore, it is correct to conclude that Manson’s behavior and the criminal offense was as a result of status frustration.
Social Control Theory
Social control theory explains the reason why people obey and conform to the law. By the explanation of the argument, it is possible to understand the causes of crimes as related to the disobedience of the law. The theory argues that the more a person is bonded to the social legislation, the more the conformity (Akers, 2013). Individuals’ attachment with others, commitment to a given lifestyle, involvement in the law system and the beliefs related their upbringing determine the level of compliance. For instance, Mansion was brought up in a family where the law is not complied on. His mother was a famous criminal who practiced different crimes including armed robbery. From the status of his upbringing, we can conclude that his criminal behavior developed from his from there. Social Control Theory is therefore useful in explaining illegal actions.
To sum up, understanding the nature of crimes becomes difficult because there are many factors attributed to the causes of crimes. Also, crimes vary from different cultures and explaining them using one theory can be ineffective. Therefore, criminological theories should be employed in the explanation of criminology. They are the only valid means of determining the cause, the extent of crime and the necessary punishment to be employed by the law.
- Akers, R. L. (2013). Criminological theories: Introduction and evaluation. Routledge.
- Altman, R. (2015). Sympathy for the Devil: Charles Manson’s Exploitation of California’s 1960s Counter-Culture.
- White, R. D., Haines, F., & Asquith, N. L. (2017). Crime and criminology.