Learning Disability And Crime : Associated With Criminality

Learning Disability And Crime : Associated With Criminality

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Learning Disability And Crime : Associated With Criminality

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Learning Disability And Crime : Associated With Criminality

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Discuss about the Learning Disability and Crime for Associated with Criminality.

Learning disability has often been associated with criminality. This is due to the fact that criminals have often been found to possess a lower level of intelligence as compared to the general population.  The lower level of intelligence is often responsible for making a person unable to understand the difference between good and bad and this is what makes the person undergoing mental deficiency highly susceptible to criminal activities. In order to understand this subject in a better and effective manner we have to first understand learning disability (Cleaver et al. 2011).
There is a lot of confusion which exist regarding the appropriate definition of learning disability and it various from one country to another according to the perspective on which it is being utilised which could be social, medical and educational. Not so long age, the people with learning disabilities were known as mentally retarded and they needed special medical care and attention in order to lead a normal life which has been described in the Normalisation Theory of 1980s. Learning disability can be considered to be neurological disorder which hampers and affects the logical reasoning and processing capabilities of a person. A person suffering from learning disability generally has to undergo a lot of problem in learning basic skills such as reading, writing and performing mathematical calculations. In certain cases, the learning disability can also have a detrimental impact on the higher level skills of a person such as attention, reasoning, time planning, organisation and long/short term memory (Roulstone et al. 2011).
Learning disability affects the cognitive systems in an individual and thus it reduces the perception, attention, linguistic and mathematical abilities in that person. Thus, the people suffering from learning disability often have problem in differentiating the good from the bad and thus they are more prone to criminal activities. An American psychologist named Goddard was of the opinion that the people with learning disorders could not be held accountable for their criminal behavior as they are unable to understand the consequences of their actions due to their low intelligence levels. Goddard studied the family tree of Kallikaks who were a clan of people who were considered to be mentally incompetent. They lacked the necessary intelligence to distinguish between what is considered to be good and what is considered to be wrong and thus they did not have the sufficient power of judgment to do what is considered to be ethical and righteous in their actions. Goddard has opined that almost half of the people languishing in prison are suffering from what he termed as “feeble-mindedness” and the rate of defectiveness in among individuals in different prisons varied from 28% and 89% (Emerson & Hatton, 2008).
People having an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of below 100 are considered to be having less than average levels of intelligence. It has been found that people with learning disabilities have had a history of offending behavior and these people have been found to have an IQ level of 85 which was way below the average IQ of the general population. In cases of people who suffer from even severe learning disabilities (people having IQ less than 50), they are not charged or held responsible for their criminal actions as the legal establishments finds them lacking the criminal intent to commit the crime in the first place. The mental condition of the people with severe learning disabilities is responsible for clouding their better judgment and thus the laws show a certain amount of leniency in handling out a strict punishment to these types of offenders by keeping in mind their mental condition. This shows us the humane side of the law and makes us realise the importance of treating these patients with care and sympathy rather than hatred (Søndenaa et al. 2008).
Research has also suggested that people with learning disability might commit sexual offences inadvertently without their knowledge and this generally happens due to their misunderstanding about sex. The cognitive distortions occurring in their minds affect their level of thinking and they are unable to realise that their actions is totally wrong and inappropriate. Their lack of sexual knowledge is also one of the main reasons which might prevent them from realising the consequence of their actions and the life-long impact which their action is going to have on their victims. Rachel Fyson of Ann Craft Trust has found in a research that the people suffering from learning disabilities are also more likely to become victims of sexual abuse and they would also be unable to report the incidence of sexual abuse which had been undergone by them (Reynolds et al. 2010). Those individuals who have been sexually abused might abuse others in future. The cases of inappropriate sexual behavior are a very common trend in special schools which a high prevalence of rape and sodomy among the inhabitants. However, there are certain challenges which are being faced in this context as mentioned by the normalization theories. There is a fine line which exists between inappropriate sexual behavior between two consenting adults and what in legal terms is considered to be sexual abuse and this is one of the main reasons which there is underreporting of such cases. They law needs to clearly demarcate between the two and this will help in providing the necessary medical and psychological intervention which is necessary for the victims of sexual abuse (Fyson, 2009).
Roulstone, A., Thomas, P., & Balderston, S. (2011). Between hate and vulnerability: unpacking the British criminal justice system’s construction of disablist hate crime. Disability & Society, 26(3), 351-364.
Cleaver, H., Unell, I., & Aldgate, J. (2011). Children’s Needs-Parenting Capacity: Child Abuse-Parental Mental Illness, Learning Disability, Substance Misuse and Domestic Violence. The Stationery Office.
Fyson, R., & Kitson, D. (2010). Human rights and social wrongs: Issues in safeguarding adults with learning disabilities. Practice, 22(5), 309-320.
Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., & Ou, S. R. (2010). Preschool education, educational attainment, and crime prevention: Contributions of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(8), 1054-1063.
Emerson, E., & Hatton, C. (2008). CEDR Research Report 2008 (1): People with Learning Disabilities in England.
Fyson, R. (2009). Independence and learning disabilities: why we must also recognize vulnerability. The Journal of Adult Protection, 11(3), 18-25.
Vacca, J. S. (2008). Crime can be prevented if schools teach juvenile offenders to read. Children and Youth Services Review, 30(9), 1055-1062.
Søndenaa, E., Rasmussen, K., Palmstierna, T., & Nøttestad, J. (2008). The prevalence and nature of intellectual disability in Norwegian prisons. Journal of intellectual disability research, 52(12), 1129-1137.

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