Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso considered an atavistic form as the justification for criminal behavior. The criminal man theory, developed by Lombroso, proposed the use of phenotypes to recognize criminals. Among the observable visible traits when identifying criminals are hawk-shaped noses, dark eyes, dark hair, and a slanting forehead (Miller, 2009). Lombroso also made a contribution to atavism, which is the idea that inherited traits can resurface and lead a man to behave erratically. Since the phenotype was not solely to blame for criminal proclivities, the application of these metrics would have been racially and discriminatorily biased. The features suggested by Lombroso are the default observable traits for several races and ethnicities, which means that everyone would be labeled as a criminal without due process.
The author proposed in The Criminal Man that there was a separate biological type of persons who had atavistic traits and were predisposed to crime. He contended that these atavistic features indicated that criminals were at a more basic stage of evolution than non-offenders (Phillips et al., 2017). Lombroso’s idea of racial biases is flawed since he did not compare his subjects to a control group in his study. As a result, while he discovered physical patterns among his large sample of offenders, he was not comparing them to a group of ‘normal’ controls. As a result, it is more likely that certain physical characteristics are coincidental and may be found in any people group of that size (Rafter, 2018). The author’s hypothesis exhibits biases since it lacks the kind of rigor that people expect from scientific investigations. The author interpreted the presence of certain physical characteristics as the cause of criminal behavior. However, criminal behavior can be influenced by other social factors and interactions.
Miller, J. M. (Ed.). (2009). Criminology and the justice system. In J. M. Miller (Ed.), 21st-century criminology: A reference handbook. Sage.
Phillips, C., Bowling, B., Liebling, A., & Maruna, S. (2017). Ethnicities, racism, crime and criminal justice. In A. Liebling, S. Maruna, $ L. McAra (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of criminology, 190-212.
Rafter, N. (2018). Cesare Lombroso and the Origins of Criminology: Rethinking Criminological Tradition 1. In S. Henry $ M. M. Lanier (Eds.), The essential criminology reader (pp. 33-42). Routledge.