Penn professor says violent crime is biological

Adrian Raine Credit: Candace diCarlo
Adrian Raine Credit: Candace diCarlo

Adrian Raine has crime on the brain.

The professor of criminology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania has spent the last 36 years studying whether violent behavior is biological.

Raine released his book, “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime,” on April 30. He spoke with Metro about his research from the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University where he’s on sabbatical.

In his book, Raine says it’s practical to scan the brain of criminals or those with anti-social or violent behavior against “normal” brains and see the difference. He argues that environmental and social factors don’t tell the whole story. Some men may just be wired for a life of crime, he said.

He discussed two new studies that have emerged since he wrote the book. The first shows men whose emotional region of the brain is undersized, “are three to four times more likely to commit a violent act in the next three to four years,” he said.

The second study showed that imprisoned men with reduced functioning in the front part of the brain are twice as likely to re-convict in the next three to four years.

“So far, nobody is using biological data, but these two recent studies are showing that biological data predicts over and above the usual variables we use to predict future violence,” he said.


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