Criminology: Richard Kuklinski

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Criminology has existed since the 18th century. However, it gained popularity in the last century due to increase in crime. It is a social institution that involves the judicial system, the police and investigators, and the prison system. Many theories have been used to explain the rising crime rate, which include rational choice, social disorganization, social learning, conflict, and strain concepts. These concepts fall under two broad categories: biological and sociological. They enable criminologists to find the best possible solutions to reduce the occurrence of crime, which is an ongoing process.

Richard Kuklinski was a prolific hitman, who was given the nickname ‘The Iceman,' because of his unique method of freezing his victims’ corpses. He did it to thwart any efforts by forensic teams to determine the period of death since the bodies would still be fresh. Kuklinski was born in New Jersey in 1955; his parents, Stanley and Anna Kuklinski, were physically abusive parents (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). At the tender age of five, Kuklinski watched as his older brother Florian was beaten to death by his alcoholic father. The actions of the father played a major role in Kuklinski’s behavior and his pathological murdering skills.

According to his statement, he had killed over 100 people between 1948 and 1986. Although convicted for the murder of only five people by the New Jersey court in 1988, the officials also believed that the number of murders exceeds the stated five. Ironically, this killer believed in God and would wait 30 minutes before killing the victim to see if God would rescue the person (Martin, 2006).

After his capture in 1986, Kuklinski willingly opened up about his personal life, family life, criminal career, and his past. The information he provided drew writers, psychiatrists, interviewers, and the media to his story. Intrigued by the facts he provided, they conducted further investigations about his actions. This information can be used to fit criminological theories, such as the conflict theory, social learning theory, and the stress theory, to explain his aberrant behavior (Martin, 2006).

The conflict theory best describes Kuklinski’s behavior as it focuses on the struggles between individuals or groups as a result of the different power levels. Scholars accredited for this model include the famous Karl Marx, Max Weber, and George Simmel. Based on a capitalistic aspect, it assumes that given the inevitable continuous change that society undergoes, social conflicts and crime are created as a result of the interactions and conflicts between the different classes (Tittle, 2018).

According to the theory, to understand crime in a capitalist setup, one must be aware that these societies are dominated by a minority group of the powerful and wealthy individuals. Thus, for these people to maintain their status, they have to exploit the powerless group economically. Weak social control, great deviant motivation, and opportunity give the powerful the leeway to engage in profitable aberrant activities such as crime (Palmer & Humphrey, 2013). Conversely, the powerless are unable to undertake in profitable deviancy.

Richard was a sane and confident person aware of his actions. The fact that he worked for the mafia and became a hired hitman for the DeMeo and Gambino families showed that he was mentally stable. During his murderous escapades, he used all kinds of weapons and ways to kill his victims, including knives, strangulation, poison, fire, and even hand grenades. He would consciously make his victims suffer to prove to his employers that he could do so, as he took pride in pleasing them. He purposefully and willingly worked as a hitman to get himself the lifestyle he wanted (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). Given that he had a wife, Barbara, and children, he chose to be a serial killer to get easy and abundant money to sustain a family. Besides, he was confident enough to justify his actions since he argued that the victims deserved it because they had either crossed him or his clients; basically, it was enough that they had acted in some way that provoked him. He took control of any situation that irked him because he felt he had the power to do so.

In general, crime theories are used as a guide in the fight against crime. They enable experts in some cases to understand the nature of the crime, prevent and stop recurrence of crime. Moreover, I found the conflict theory could help describing Kuklinski’s behavior. Basically, it explains crimes within economic social contexts by connecting social class, crime and social control, so it is based upon the idea that crimes that are committed were cause by economic forces raised within a society. In that, Richard Kuklinski had his freewill when committed his crimes. He chose to work for the mafia as a hitman, and give his family a good normal life. In other words, Kulinski chose to use illegal deviant means to provide a legit lifestyle to himself, and his family to match a specific socioeconomic class.  

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Criminology: Richard Kuklinski. (2021, Apr 09). Retrieved November 28, 2023 , from

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