Author Lawrence Taylor
Born to Crime: The genetic causes of criminal behavior

Born to Crime: The genetic causes of criminal behavior

The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by recidivists, “hard core criminals.” Many of these individuals act antisocially because of the inherited physiological conditions that genetically predispose them to criminal behavior. In Born to Crime Lawrence Taylor summarized recent studies in this area, then evaluates our legal system’s traditional concepts of guilt and punishment.


Taylor reviews the foundation of today’s criminal justice system and its failures, including theories of punishment and rehabilitation. He then summarizes recent theory and research in the areas such as Wilson’s “sociobiology,” identical twin studies, the XYY chromosomal deviation, premenstrual syndrome, the male hormone correlation with violent crime, biological origins of schizophrenia and alcoholism, temporal lobe epilepsy, and biochemical triggering of hostile behavior. The author then reassesses the legal system’s traditional concepts of guilt and punishment in light of this newly emerging body of scientific knowledge. He suggests that these concepts will eventually be replaced by a preventive rather than punitive approach to criminal behavior.


Born to Crime present scientific data and legal and ethical beliefs in a vital and timely work. Lawrence Taylor has limited his presentation to the emerging scientific evidence that genetics play a key role in the origins of criminal behavior. He makes no conclusions and offers no theories concerning the moral issues arising from the application of this evidence, leaving those avenues for the ready to explore. Born to Crime is important reading for practitioners in legal, scientific, and social service professions, for students and researchers in these fields, and for those interested in contemporary concepts of crime and punishment.


Contributions in Criminology and Penology, No. 2

Greenwood Press
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Jacket Design by Allison L. Birks

  • Reviews
"Taylor’s approach to the problem of crime, and how scientific developments have altered misconceptions, is both imaginative and down-to-earth…Born to Crime is informative, readable and well worth reading." - Eugenics Bulletin
"The book is a fascinating look at the scientific and psychological aspects of criminal law in a thoroughly interesting and readable fashion." - Canadian Bar Review
"Born to Crime succeeds in informing the reader of recent and exciting research in behavioral genetics, and it succeeds in raising some important questions." - Michigan Law Review
"I urge my colleagues to read this book…Taylor is absolutely right: advancing technology presents us with ethical questions that will, one way or another, be answered." - Journal of Criminal Justice