Eugenics focused on the idea that the heredity was everything. How relevant is such a perspective in relation to criminality today?
This paper focuses on aspects of eugenics as an element that has for a long time in history been considered as paramount in controlling human reproduction. The paper addressed the various eugenic practice in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as well as in the contemporary world, particularly in the western hemisphere. The main reasons why certain human racial groups embrace the use of this practice are also addressed. The relevance of eugenics to the various societies used, in relation to criminality today, are widely discussed in this paper.
Eugenics is a scheme that is widely used to enhance an improved human race through a controlled reproduction. This is a practice that became common, reaching much popularity between the late 19th century and the Second World War (Glass 1999, p. 89). A good example of the wide use of eugenic principles was when the German Nazis carried massive sterilization and genocide. Other eugenics forms have been practiced across the universe and are effective in contemporary China, where the population is strictly limited. Major advancements research in medicine such as the human genome project, the society, is still striving to resolve various issues of ethics emerging from eugenic theories (Glass 1999, p. 89).
Eugenics is the practice and theory that has been used to improve the generic quality of the human population; it is a social philosophy which advocates genetic traits of humanity, by promoting higher reproduction of individuals with certain desired traits and reducing people of less desired traits (Weikart 2006, p. 57). Positive eugenics encourage higher reproduction of individuals while negative eugenics is viewed as an undermining factor to humanity, because individuals perceived to belong to such category face the risk of being killed as a way of elimination. In the 20th century, ideologies resulting from negative Eugenics led to mass genocide of the Jews during the Hitler’s regime. Elimination of individuals in regard to traits of race and ethnicity has commonly been used in mass murder of certain populations in Europe and North America (Weikart 2006, p. 57). For instance, the genocide of the native Indians in the North American regions is a good example of racial profiling emerging from eugenic ideologies.
Eugenics considered the heredity as everything and many individuals did not want certain traits to be passed to the succeeding generation. Certain traits were considered inferior by some groups and faced the risk of being eliminated. In the early 20th century, social Darwinist viewed medical care as relatively weak and an increased ability to survive, contrary to letting nature take its due course of effective elimination of people (Weikart 2006, p. 57). In Germany, fear was growing among certain individuals that the intervention of medics and welfare policies enabled weak and relatively improvised citizens to sap and survive the nation’s resources. Such ideologies emerging from particular sub-racial groups in Germany expressed how eugenics were considered as everything. Most groups who supported such ideologies felt that the weaker racial or ethnic groups, did not have any right to use the country’s resources (Weikart 2006, p. 57). From one region to another, the mode of reaching the conclusion that a group was inferior highly varied.
Support for eugenics in the early 20th century was common across various regions of the world, especially in North America and Europe. There were movements across diverse regions in support of eugenics, openly supporting more birth rates of the fittest individuals and less for the unfit (Ferguson, 2012, p. 83). People who supported the weak or unfit population groups in the society were highly criticized and the term “racial hygiene” was introduced to encourage aspects of eugenics. For instance, a movement leader in the United States, Margaret Sanger declared more children from the fit and less for the unfit as the key issue of controlled birth rate (Ferguson, 2012, p. 83). This concept by Sanger was readily accepted by communities across the US during the first decade of the 20th century.
By 1912, a total of 34 states in the US had already passed laws that rightly denied insane people the right of marriage. Nine states denied epileptic people the right of marriage while 15 states banned the mentally challenged people from marrying each other. Criminal justice of this period continued to be greatly motivated by both economic and social considerations in their arguments that, various feeble minded citizens would not be allowed to pass their undesirable traits to the generation that followed (KüHl 2002, p. 49). Eugenic ideologies became more common throughout the period before the Second World War. Western Europe was characterized by similar eugenic ideologies with criminal justices of various European countries completely in support of such eugenic reasoning. The criminal justice systems of various countries during this time, supported groups thought to be fit by the authorities (Turda & Weindling 2006, 107). The unfit groups were not protected by the judges and did not have the rights of marriage in most cases.
The proponents of eugenics commonly played a major role in nationalistic fears of diluted stock of race. In Europe, issues of race were used in eugenic profiling barring various sub racial groups in the region from multiplying. The US mainly held eugenic ideologies in regard to common disabilities such as mental and physical challenges. Prior to the Second World War, leading physicians and biologists welcomed an idea by Hitler, one race at the epitome of the new state of Germany (Marrus 1989, p. 90). This resulted into concentration camps as well as genetic research on human beings that defined the Holocaust.
The contemporary eugenic ideologies
The early 20th century foresaw hundred thousand of Americans who were considered unfit, forcibly being sterilized for what was dubbed as a process of improving the human race. The Criminal Justice in one of its darkest historical chapters sanctioned the process declaring that three generations of unfit Americans were enough. It was not surprising for many Americans during this time to deem the communities they considered unfit or weak, as nothing of the kind. Such communities lived as the most vulnerable group in the region. This is one of the darkest chapters of the United States, which was prevalently characterized by major offensive of the community as well as the Criminal Justice (Thomson 1998, p. 102). The west coast state of California had higher cases of eugenic laws showing higher levels of racial profiling in the America’s History.
In the last few decades, eugenic ideologies are still common among individuals and criminal justice of the US, though at a mild rate. According to revelations by a new report compiled by the Centre of Investigative reporting, it was found that between 2006 and 2010 elements of eugenics took place in a health care Centre, in California (Bauman 2013, p. 44). In this report, doctors working under contract at the Californian Correction and Rehabilitation department were alleged to have sterilized at least 150 female inmates without any approval from relevant authorities. In order to sterilize such people, it required approvals from the top medical official in the Sacramento, as required by the Californian state law. These are shocking revelations at a time when most people thought issues of eugenic did not matter anymore (Bauman 2013, p. 44). The revelation is a true testimony that, in the contemporary America, eugenics are still considered as highly important among certain individuals.
Issues of controlled birth rates are highly popular in the western societies. Although issues of eugenic ideologies are not much rampant in the region, there are groups that are racially discriminated and face the risk of being sterilized contrary to their wish. Many health professionals in the western societies argue; the cost of being sterilized is relatively small as compared to the cost of rearing a larger number of children. Doctors in the United States are occasionally reported having been engaged in sterilizing procedures of prisoners, especially female inmates (Bauman 2013, p. 44). In most cases, these doctors inquire about the size of inmates’ families before performing sterilizing procedures.
Most targeted prisoners were pressured to have various tubal ligations. Inmates with numerous children were sterilized as medics expressed their procedures was only meant to empower the prisoners to have manageable families. In the United States, individuals with many children find it difficult financing the upbringing of the large number of children. For inmates, having a large number of children is seen as a burden to the society, as children need somebody to take care of them (Hasian 1996, p. 68). Issues of eugenics ideologies on the inmate communities are commonly reported across different states of the US. Most of these medics do not seek approval of the state as it is taken as a noble act. More plausible explanations by various professional doctors who have been performing sterilizations, state sterilization as a procedure is commonly done to many people who volunteer to have themselves sterilized. These doctors feel taking the collective responsibility of ensuring that people have lesser, and easily manageable number of children would be ideal for quality life (Hasian 1996, p. 68). For such reasons, inmates with a big number of children should face similar procedures to ensure children are offered the best quality of life.
The North American region, particularly the US, has for many years been characterized with forced sterilization. Cases of a continued eugenic genocide in the contemporary America are not a surprise to the majority of people living in the US and abroad. In the modern day society cases of eugenic ideologies, only lack the brutality the Nazis exercised in Germany, before the Second World War. Although today’s societies lack the brutal elements experienced in the early 20th century, there is a war against the weak, which is operated at milder conditions. Horrors of racial hygiene and cases of forced sterilization of inmates, the mentally ill and the poor, have been common in the state of California for decades. In other states, this practice was legal until in the 1970s (Mazumdar 1992, p. 81).
Throughout the US, most states made this practice illegal and did not eliminate it. The view of children as a gift from God was no longer applicable in these scenarios. California was the first state in the US to prohibit the sterilization of individuals viewed as weak in the society. Similar to prisons in other parts of the US, the practice, was not eliminated and inmates perceived to be weak were sterilized. Various groups from different parts of the world have been protesting sterilizing of weak communities in today’s societies, all in vain (Hasian 1996, p. 68). This is because most practices taking place across different prisons in the US are not timely detected and most of the inmates falling victims do not disclose their ordeal.
In the 21st century, social progressives view eugenics as an ideal tool for both social improvement and reform. Conservatives view eugenics as a tool that has for long been used to limit groups of lower income and reduce their caring cost. There are various ideologies overlapping these political agendas. For example, in the Great Britain and Scandinavian movements of eugenics, the aspect of race played a relatively minor role. This is simply because the majority of people living in this region belong to similar racial groups (Bauman 2013, p. 44). In the North American region, the Anglo Saxons were the majority group and viewed the other groups from either southern Europe or Africa with great suspicion and occasionally blamed them for various social problems like crime, poverty and prostitution.
The world may have forgotten the famous steps of Hitler in his dream of creating a super race, but similar practices are still in the contemporary world societies. Cases of eugenic practices in the modern societies are relatively mild, unlike eugenic procedures in the early 20th century, which were commonly brutal (Hasian 1996, p. 68). In today’s society, eugenic practices are considered as important as they were in the past. The recent cases of sterilization of prisoners in the US are good examples of eugenics practices in modern societies. Eugenic of the modern day society are secretly evident unlike in the twentieth century, when social policies widely embraced elements of eugenics to groups that were considered as weak or unfit (Bauman 2013, p. 44). Although major cases of eugenic practice are commonly reported in the United States, most of these incidences happen on extremely discreet occasions.
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