Intelligence and crime

Intelligence and crime

(full text only available in Dutch)


This issue of Justitiƫle verkenningen is dedicated to the relationship between intelligence and criminal an/or antisocial behaviour. In criminology low intelligence is generally seen as a risk factor for a criminal course of life, because it often coincides with impulsivity, an inability to postpone the fulfillment of needs and being easily influenced. The low IQ levels of a big portion of prison detainees seem to confirm this view. Recently professionals working in the prison system, in rehabilitation, in the police and in crime prevention programs have come to realise that a special approach is needed for individuals with a mild to borderline intellectual disability (MBID). Interventions like treatment or punishment should be tailored to the needs and capabilities of MBID offenders in order to diminish the risk of recidivism. Also police officers should be able to recognize a suspect or a witness with MBID, because this group is extremely sensitive to suggestibility, compliance and acquiescence, which increases the risk of false confessions and testimonies. The concept of intelligence, the various types of MBID that can be distinguished and how to deal with this group inside the justice system are reflected on in several articles in this issue.

The dominant view on intelligence is disputed in two articles focusing on high intelligence and crime. One is a case study of a very succesful Russian maffia leader. The author of the other contribution argues that the negative association between IQ and crime could be explained at least in part by a lack of research access to gifted adults who possess wealth, power and privileges. Asking these adults about other types of offending (e.g. white-collar crimes) than usual in selfreport studies might uncover a positive relationship between IQ and prevalence rates.

Publication data

Place of publication:
The Hague
Boom juridisch
Year of publication:
Justitiƫle verkenningen 2017/06