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Father Steals Best: Crime in an American Family Essay

This particular story is about a family of criminals in Oregon and received attention throughout the United States and has been cited by politicians, law enforcement agencies, and researchers in criminology, and psychology. Dale Vincent “Rooster” Bogle, taught his children to steal, so that by age 10 his sons were already breaking into liquor stores or stealing tractor-trailer trucks. His daughters turned to petty crimes in order to support their drug addictions. By the time of his death in 1998, 28 of the Bogle clan had been convicted of crimes, including several of Rooster’s grandchildren. Tracey Bogle, the youngest of Rooster’s sons, is quoted as saying, “Rooster raised us to be outlaws…There is a domino effect in a family like ours…What you’re raised with, you grow to become. You don’t escape.” The Justice Department’s statistics show that approximately 47 percent of inmates in the state prisons have parents or other close relatives who have also been incarcerated.

The Justice Department believes that ignoring this family cycle of criminality may be very difficult, and end up costing tax payers an expediential amount of money. It is astonishing that given all the research that is done about other issues on criminals, there is either no research or very little research regarding this subject of family criminal activity. This I’m sure is due to the limited availability of records that contain the criminal records of multiple generations of families. It is possible that with the proper research and funding, that reducing crime today may also reduce crime in the future.

Moreover, research may underestimate the effects of policies that treat or deter criminal behavior by not taking into account the effect on future generations. Although there are studies that provide some evidence of intergenerational criminal correlations, there is no real focus on identifying why this relationship exists. Criminal behavior has always been a focus for psychologists due to the age old debate between nature and nurture. Is it the responsibility of an individual’s genetic makeup that makes them a criminal or is it the environment in which they are raised that determines their outcome? There has been limited research regarding this debate which has resulted in a conclusion that both genes and environment do play a role in the criminality of an individual.

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