Woman Criminal in Focus

The law governing society ensures an ordered and peaceful civilization. Any act which can disrupt this orderliness is therefore punishable by law. Such acts can be traced back from anti-social behaviours. This can then lead to delinquent activities, arrest, conviction and finally, incarceration. This behavioural pattern is what is called as criminality. (Morley & Hall, 2003). It is the objective of this paper to review the concept of criminality and to enumerate the possible origin of this kind of behaviour. Specifically, this aims to focus on women offenders and the psychology behind their unlawful acts.

A specific criminal will be assessed, and that is, Christa Pike. The crime, the circumstances behind the crime, the punishment for the crime, as well as the facts in relation to the life of the perpetrator, will also be examined. Finally, the theories relating criminality and the causes of criminality will be used to analyze the researched facts surrounding Christa Pike. The Factors Associated with Criminality For years, psychologists had tried to explain the ultimate root of criminality in the world. Several factors were cited as the determining factors for these unlawful acts.

One is concerned about the genetic predisposition of an individual to perform criminal activities, and the other one lies on the concept of environmentally-related causes. Criminality as Determined by Genetics If a person possesses the genes that can code for aggressive and psychologically disturbing behaviour, then it can be predicted that this particular individual will perform criminal activities some time in his lifetime. This line of reasoning was the basis for sterilization of criminals, such as rapists, imbeciles and the like in the early times of society (Miles, 1997).

This is what is called as the genetic theory of criminal behaviours. Studies which support this theory involved studies concerning twins. The tendency of monozygotic or identical twins (an egg fertilized by a single sperm and divides to produce two cells which have the same DNA profile) separated from birth, to participate in criminal activities were confirmed. In a study conducted by Joseph in 2001, he showed that childhood, as well as adult anti-social behaviours, if evident in the subjects, will be observed in both of the siblings. This implied a high correlation of criminality and genetics.

The study was done through searching the criminal records of thirty-two monozygotic twins who were adopted by non-relatives and were raised apart from each other (Joseph, 2001). Another study to support the theory of genetics in criminal tendencies was concerned about children who were given up for adoption by their incarcerated mothers when they were born. It was shown that criminal mothers had a high tendency to give birth to criminal children, even if these mothers did not raise the children themselves (Tehrani & Mednick, 2000). Thus, this implied that the predisposition to act against the law can be directly inherited.

Personality disorders also play an important role in shaping criminals. Some of these traits were shown to be heritable (Holmes, et al. , 2001). Children with such behaviours like Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder would have a high chance of developing Antisocial Personality Disorder. Adults which then developed this trait have an increased chance of participating in criminal activities (Morley & Hall, 2003). Environmental Factors for Criminality Experts also agreed that the environment is as important as the genetic factor for criminality.

Some of these environmental factors are poverty, education, peers, family and family structure (Schmitz, 2003). Neglect of family members have been shown to be correlated to an increased chance of an individual’s participation in criminal activities (Holmes, et al. , 2001). Peer background, on the other hand, was also shown to be directly related to one’s development of antisocial behaviours, which can lead to criminality (Garnefski & Okma, 1996). Women Criminals and the Factors Associated A study from the Australian Institute of Criminology extensively enumerated the factors associated to criminality and women.

These factors were shown to have a higher impact on women than in men. Some of these factors are family-related problems such as alcoholism and drug-addiction of family members and the women criminals themselves; social-related problems such as lack of available work; physical, emotional and even sexual abuse experienced during their lifetime before the women commit any crime; and mental illnesses such as anxiety states, depression and somatisation disorder (Willis & Rushforth, 2003). The correlation of anger to crimes committed by men and women was also studied.

It was determined statistically that men had a higher level of control for anger than women; and that women had a lower willingness to control their anger (Suter & Byrne, 2000). Christa Pike: The Murders Committed The first crime committed by Pike can only be described as heinous. The facts are as follows: Pike, along with other two accomplices, stabbed, tortured, slashed and killed Slemmer, a fellow Jobs Corps student from the University of Tennessee on January, 1995. The main reason for this act lies on Pike’s assumption that the victim had a romantic inclination towards her boyfriend.

After the district attorney presented convincing evidences to the jury, Pike was sentenced to die by electrocution. She was only 18 years old at the time (Kern, 2001). After years of being incarcerated, Pike’s criminal activities continued inside the prison walls. In 2001, she was charged with first degree premeditated murder when she choked another inmate. As an additional punishment to her electrocution verdict from her previous murder, the state added another 25 years to Pike’s incarceration (Wyatt, 2006). Christa Pike: The Justification for the Crimes Committed

There are two counts of crimes that were attributed to Pike: the original murder committed when she was still a teenager; and the other one when she was already in prison. For both instances, there were reasons presented by the defence to justify her anti-social behaviours. For the former, the defence argued that Pike suffered a number of damaging abuses as a child that can help explain her violent behaviour. One; Carissa Hanson, Pike’s mother, testified in court how her daughter was raped and molested when she was a child and also when she was a teenager.

Two, she also testified how she was not able to provide Pike with a caring and safe home (Lakin, 2008). For the latter crime committed, Pike reasoned that she was only acting on self-defence. She argued that she was helping another inmate to defend herself against the victim, who was harassing the other prisoner. Given the background that Pike had as a young woman, it can be seen that the environment had an important role in shaping her antisocial behaviours. The lack of a supportive family to mould her into a reasonable individual was evident.

The sexual abuses that she experienced, twice in her lifetime, is also worthy to be correlated to the person that she became. It can also be seen that anger had played a vital role in Pike’s crimes. For both instances, there were reasons present to evoke Pike’s anger: jealousy and intimidation. It can be seen that Pike had appropriate justifications for every crime that she committed. But what she failed to acknowledge were her own faults in taking another life. Numerous individuals had poor upbringing and troubled childhood, but not all of them turned to criminality.

In the end, Pike’s actions can be linked to an unhealthy environmental background and lack of self control. References Garnefski, N. , & Okma, S. (1996). Addiction-risk and aggressive/criminal behaviour in adolescence: Influence of family, school, and peers. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 503- 512. Holmes, S. E. , Slaughter, J. R. , & Kashani, J. (2001). Risk factors in childhood that lead to the development of conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 31, 183-193. Joseph, J.

(2001) Is crime in the genes? A critical review of twin and adoption studies of criminality and antisocial behaviours. The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, 22,179-218. Kern, W. (2001, April 22) Angel’s Face, Devil’s Heart. The Strait Times, p2. Lakin, M. (2008, April 10) Pike weeps as she relives her murder confession. Knoxville News Sentinel Co. Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group. Miles, D. R. & Carey, G. (1997) Genetic and environmental architecture of human aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 207-217.

Morley, K. & Hall, W. (2003) Is there a genetic susceptibility to engage in criminal acts? Australian Institute of Criminology: Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, 263, 1-6. Schmitz, M. F. (2003). Influences of race and family environment on child hyperactivity and antisocial behavior. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 65, 835-849. Suter, J. & Byrne, M. (2000) Female Offenders are different from male Offenders: Anger as an Example. Women in Corrections: Staff and Clients Conference convened by the

Australian Institute of Criminology. Tehrani, J. , & Mednick, S. (2000). Genetic factors and criminal behaviour. Federal Probation, 64, 24-28. Willis, K. & Rushforth, C. (2003) The Female Criminal: An Overview of Women’s Drug Use and Offending Behaviour. Australian Institute of Criminology Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, 264, 1-6. Wyatt, J. R. (2006) In the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville Assigned on Briefs December 21, 2005 State of Tennessee v. Christa Pike. No. M2005-00738-CCA- R3-CD.