There are myriads of reasons involved behind why a person tends to commit crime. Some people take it very simple and think in a linear way that there are two types of people; good and bad. The good people always keep on doing good deeds while the bad deeds like crimes are done by the bad people. But in real life that is not the case. People with very good attitude and behavior sometimes get into a situation wherein they find no other choice but to do a crime. Moreover, there are certain theories that suggest that the criminals are basically criminals by nature. They are born, according to such theories, to be criminals; even some of them have suggested finding the criminal genes within human beings that compel the people bearing such genes to commit crime. However, such a perception is nothing more than negligence of the entire social system and social science. In that case crime basically becomes a disease that should be handled by a doctor who would be able to remove such genes through some sort of surgery or kill them through antibiotics or may be “anti-criminalogenic”!
Most of the scientists believe that the newly born babies are innocent and do not have the tendency to commit crime, only if they are mentally retarded, which happens only in very rare cases. Even in those rare cases such babies during their childhood and adulthood may react awkwardly but not necessarily as criminals. In fact, the newly born babies have empty minds that are afterwards filled through the process of socialization. Most of the habits, thoughts and behavior that the children adopt are because of their social circumstances. It is their families and other social groups that teach them most of what they do. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau had mentioned in his article A Discourse on Moral Effects of Sciences and Arts that it is modern sciences and arts that corrupt human morality and nature.
A person’s social status and role also play tremendous role in defining his personality. The people who belong to the lower strata of society face myriads of problems in their lives, among which poverty is the most dominant one. Studies have revealed that poverty compels many people to commit different sorts of crimes that range from minor stealing to the biggest crimes like murder and theft. It is very difficult for a person, who is suffering from hunger and deprivation and sees his dear family members to suffer from the same sorts of pain, to be very law abiding and honest member of society.
Consider the countries that are suffering from poverty; there are many examples wherein people commit crimes as a result of intense destitution. Take the example of our own country Afghanistan; there are many people who have joined the terrorists and take the lives of innocent people because they find no other means of supporting their families. There are many people who steal pity things from the markets so as to fill the stomach of their children who have not found anything to eat for many days. And there have been some examples wherein people have sold their children because of poverty as they find no other way of making both ends meet.
Though poverty is one of the basic reasons of why people commit crimes, it is not the only reason. Basically deeper studies in social psychology depicts that human as social animals are not always determined to do what the society dictates them to do. They have a certain level of choices to choose from. Though they may vary from bad to worse or good to best, there are always some alternatives. Human beings have the capacity to think and to take decisions; therefore they enjoy a certain level of free will.
The actions of humans in society are not just reflection of the happenings around; rather they are the decided actions by them in response to what they understand from the happenings. It is really important to understand this process. Human beings do not merely react to the circumstances they, in fact, respond to them. From their frame of reference and their level and type of perceptions they perceive things and happenings in the society, which may be very much different from the reality of that particular thing or happening. They, as a matter of fact, add their subjectivity to the objective truth and then form their perception. In addition, depending on the same perception they think of a response to that particular phenomenon. This may not, again, be the perfect response to the situation, but this is what they think to be the best response.
So, the psychology of human beings; in fact their social psychology plays a role as well in choosing the way to crimes. Nonetheless, it should be kept in consideration that human social psychology is developed within a society and there are impressions of social circumstances. There is a saying that a society prepares crimes and criminals commit them. This saying, in reality, describes the role of society in the crimes. But, the choice of an individual may also play a role. However, the concept is not that simple and there are many complications in understanding the concept. Therefore, it is also important to note that the number and types of choices available for a social animal is highly dependent on the status of the individual as well. Mostly, the people who are economically weak, they have the choices between bad and worse; while the people who belong to the rich strata of the society they have better choices to make but it does not suggest that there is no crime committed by them. There are many crimes committed by them; unfortunately many of them go unnoticed or they are ignored completely or the system is not able to make them accountable for them.
Whatever may be the reason of the crimes, their effects are very disturbing and have the capacity to bring serious disturbances in the society; therefore, measures must be there to curb them. There are two strategies to control the crime. The first one is the short-term strategy and the other one is the long-term strategy. The short-term strategy is basically carried out by the law-enforcement system in the society that works through the institutions of courts and police.
Law-enforcement system within a society basically works on the principle of identifying the criminals, bringing them to the justice and punishing them. Every society in this regard has a criminal law that defines and explains the crimes, the criminals and the practices and procedures regarding bringing the culprits to the justice. The societies that have strong courts, police and detentions, they are able to control the crimes to a certain extent. However, as mentioned above this could prove to be only short term.
At the same time, the modern concept of law-enforcement system suggests that the system must never be too much strict and must keep in consideration the basic human rights. They emphasize on the concept that the crimes are basically the outcome of the society and the law-enforcement system must strive to amend the criminals and turn them into useful members of society. On the other hand, they also want to make sure that the system must not punish those who are guiltless.
The countries with weaker law-enforcements systems suffer to a large extent in providing justice to the alleged criminals. There are many instances wherein the police are not able to stop the crimes and there are many other instances when they are not able to catch them. Moreover, there are many instances wherein the police, though know the criminal, are not able to take any action as the criminal belongs to an influential strata of the society. And then there are many possibilities of corruption within the police among which bribery is the most dominant one.
Such societies also suffer from lack of providence of timely justice. The system of courts is not very efficient. There are many cases that take many years in courts and yet remain undecided. The people who are influenced by such cases experience a complete change in their lives, which is from bad to worse and by the time they reach to justice, their lives are already destroyed. It has been also observed that the cases that belong to influential people are pursued immediately while the ones that involve the ordinary people are kept in files and they never reach to the courts. And then there are detention centers that, in fact, do not transform the criminals into useful citizens, which is the basic philosophy of them. They, on the other hand, turn them into bigger criminals and if unfortunately, which mostly happens, there is a person who has been punished wrongfully; such a person becomes a true criminal after leaving the detention center. Unluckily, Afghanistan is one of the same types of countries that suffer from weak law-enforcement system. Though there has been much development in this regard, serious concerns still prevail and raise questions about the system. The police force in Afghanistan is still in the preliminary stages and it really requires years of attention and support to reach to a truly professional stage. There are many areas in the country where the police do have enough penetration and where they cannot reach to crimes and criminals. Then there are many areas wherein the people still go to traditional courts, which are dominated by religious and tribal leaders instead of going to the courts that are established by the government.
There is a great margin of tireless efforts for the improvement of detention centers as well. The basic facilities that the prisoners get are in no way enough and the environment is not very much healthy. Even within the detention centers the criminals are able to keep their communication with the outside world and are able to lead or to participate in their unlawful activities.
It is really imperative to keep in consideration that the law-enforcement system can provide short-term solution to the crimes. If a society is really interested in controlling them there should be a long-term strategy that must deal with the basic reasons of the crime and try to nip the evil in the bud. There should be efforts to work on efficient administration, better economic condition, political stability, good governance, providence of basic human rights and control of corruption. Justice should reach to all the people of the society alike and the citizens must not feel alienated from the society. Moreover, there should not be discrimination as far as practical implementation of the criminal law is considered. Law should not serve the rich alone as is happening in many societies of the world; rather all should be treated equally in this regard.