There are offenders whose criminality is based on biological factors. This may or may not be known to the offender prior to a deadly incident like the examples in this assignment. Biological anomalies are not common, but in many cases, the results are catastrophic. The cases outlined for this assignment are some of the most notorious. This assignment will help you to develop a better understanding of mental illness and physiology as factors when measuring criminality.
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Choose a criminal offender from the list below, or one of your choosing, whose criminal behavior was connected to a biological abnormality (physical, psychological, or chemical):
- Andrea Yates and the documented evidence of psychiatric issues, including postpartum depression and psychosis, prior to murdering her five children.
- Jeffrey Dahmer and the documented evidence of psychiatric issues prior to murdering 17 men.
- John Wayne Gacy and the documented evidence of psychiatric issues prior to murdering 33 young men and boys.
- Charles Whitman murdered 16 people, including his wife and mother. An autopsy suggested Whitman had a brain tumor pressing on his amygdala, a region of the brain crucial for emotion and behavioral control.
- Summarize the case.
- Discuss the genetic or physiological evidence that supports the notion that biology played a key role in explaining the offender’s criminality.
- Research the behaviors that constitute psychopathy, and discuss in detail the specific behaviors demonstrated by the offender that align (or not) with behaviors indicative of a psychopathic individual.
- Identify if the positivist perspective applies to your chosen example. Explain your answer.
- Identify if the punishment rendered in your chosen example best supports the classical or neoclassical perspective of crime. Explain your answer.
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