In my reading, I stumbled upon an interesting article written by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D called The Real Root Cause of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of the Family. As the title suggests, Dr. Fagan places blame for crime in America squarely on the shoulders of absentee parents, generally fathers. He suggests that the rate of crime in America can be reduced through the rejuvenation of the family unit and strong, caring communities. In doing so, he attempts to dispel competing theories, namely that poverty causes crime and social programming reduces it.
"Since 1965, welfare spending has increased 800 percent in real terms, while the number of major felonies per capita today is roughly three times the rate prior to 1960...History defies the assumption that deteriorating economic circumstances breed crime and that improving conditions reduce it. America's crime rate actually rose during the long period of real economic growth in the early 20th century. As the Great Depression set in and incomes dropped, the crime rate also dropped. It rose again between 1965 and 1974 when incomes rose. Most recently, during the recession of 1982, there was a slight dip in crime, not an increase."
Dr. Fagan then acknowledges that race is another factor commonly linked to crime, but dismisses it citing research which suggests that "illegitimacy" better explains crime in all races. From this, Dr. Fagan concludes, "It is the absence of marriage and the failure to form and maintain intact families that explains the incidence of crime among whites as well as blacks." He offers evidence for this theory in the form of a 5-stage developmental pattern commonly experienced by violent criminals that begins, and is characterized throughout, by abandonment of the father, child neglect and violence. Note that stage theory seems only to be applicable for boys as Dr. Fagan uses the pronoun ‘he' throughout.
In theory then, the child born to this criminal will relive the same life pattern, grow up essentially fatherless, become a criminal and perpetuate the cycle. This is not to say that single parents, mothers in particular, raise criminals, but that criminals tend, among other factors, to have been raised by single mothers and abandoned by their fathers. Click here to see Dr. Fagan's article and learn more about each stage.