Case Study – Criminal Justice, American Law

THREE PART QUESTION regarding behavior in american law please include references 


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Explore the Keen Family case study (attached), considering the psychological factors at play. Then respond to the following in 600 words:

● How do the following psychological factors account for the criminal behavior in the case study? 

o Mental disorders

▪ Psychopathy and other personality disorders

▪ Major mental disorders characterized by mood disturbances and periods of psychosis 

o Substance abuse 

● How do  social, behavioral, and cognitive factors interact with the psychological factors listed above to create a cumulative effect on the criminal behavior in the case study? 


Respond to the following in 250–350 words: 

● To what degree do genetic and biological factors lessen or exempt a criminal offender’s responsibility?

● Should some genetic and/or biological factors qualify offenders for lighter sentences compared to other genetic and/or biological factors? Why or why not? 


Explore the Keen Family case study (same attachment), considering genetic and biological factors at play. Then respond to the following in 500–750 words: 

● How do the following factors account for the criminal behavior in the case study? 

o Genetics

o Biology

● How do the social, behavioral, cognitive, and psychological factors interact with the genetic and biological factors listed above to create a cumulative effect on the criminal behavior in the case study? 

case studylawCriminal Justice

Sandra Keen AGE: 46 years old

FAMILY: Sandra is married to Joseph Keen with whom she has two children: Shawn (17 years old) and Tracey (22 years old). She drank heavily during both pregnancies, and her children display some symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. As a parent, Sandra is emotionally unavailable and has ignored her children for much of their lives, except when they supply her with drugs and/or alcohol.

EMPLOYMENT: Sandra’s employment in the human resources (HR) department of a local hospital was recently terminated. As a result, Sandra receives assistance from the state for housing and food. She also currently works part-time as an evening custodian at a local school.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Sandra has been addicted to opiates for the past 5 years and has been an alcoholic for most of her adult life.

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: Sandra is currently on probation after colluding with a nurse to steal opiates from the hospital to “manage her pain” from a car accident that occurred 5 years ago.

JOSEPH KEEN AGE: 53 years old

FAMILY: Joseph has been married multiple times and is currently married to Sandra Keen.

HEALTH: Joseph is prone to severe mood swings and periods of impulsivity and irrational behavior; however, he refuses to see a mental health professional for help.

EMPLOYMENT: Joseph is currently unemployed because he is in prison. He used to be a long-haul truck driver and spent long periods of time away from his family.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Joseph is an alcoholic who becomes very violent when he has been drinking. Prior to being put in prison, Joseph often frequented bars—where he picked up women whom he ultimately conned, manipulated, and physically intimidated to give him money to support his drinking habit. Joseph frequently brags to his fellow prisoners about how much money he has conned out of women, remarking that it is not his fault that the women are “dumb enough” to give him money.

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: After a long night of drinking and fighting with Sandra, Joseph attempted to strangle her. As a result, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison. He does not think the attempted strangulation is a “big deal” and often jokes that, if he were not so drunk that night, he could have “finished the job.”

SHAWN KEEN AGE: 17 years old

FAMILY: Shawn is fiercely loyal to this family and feels that he is the protector of his mother and sister, in the absence of his father.

SCHOOL: Shawn is an average student but refuses to follow directions or rules. He becomes very combative when asked to do so. He has also been suspended from school multiple times for fighting. The most recent suspension occurred when Shawn punched a classmate in the face after the classmate accidently bumped into him in the hallway. When asked why he is aggressive with his peers, Shawn replied that his peers are conspiring against him and intentionally provoking him to get him into trouble. Shawn regularly skips school to be with friends. Despite receiving multiple phone calls about Shawn’s absences from school, Sandra does not attempt to discipline Shawn.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Shawn drinks with his mother and uses marijuana with his friends—a few of whom sell drugs.

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: Shawn is a member of a local gang whose crimes are petty, including shoplifting and vandalism. In most cases, Shawn has not gotten caught for these crimes and does not have any remorse for committing them because, technically, he is “not physically hurting anyone.” Currently, Shawn is on probation for truancy and theft.

TRACEY KEEN AGE: 22 years old

HEALTH: Tracey has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She currently takes medication and sees a mental health counselor at the community clinic one to two (1–2) times weekly to manage her symptoms.

FAMILY: Tracey currently lives with her mother and brother. She also has a 3-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. Tracey’s boyfriend, Victor, is “self-employed” (i.e., sells drugs). Victor often beats Tracey with his fists or a belt when he has been drinking or when she “provokes him.” Tracey often waits for Victor to pass out and steals opiates to supply her mother’s drug habit.

SCHOOL: Tracey dropped out of high school during her junior year, after being expelled for attacking a teacher.

EMPLOYMENT: Tracey is receiving disability payments due to her bipolar disorder. She also receives state assistance for childcare.

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: Tracey is currently on probation for writing bad checks to banks. She initially engaged in this behavior because she believed it was the only viable way to make enough money to support her daughter—asserting that state assistance is “not enough.” She also argues that the banks “won’t miss the money” and that banks “steal money from people all the time.”


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