Members of the criminal underworld are alienated from their societies and may characterize themselves as such not only by idiom, but by mannerisms, clothes, and a range of behavioural preferences and adaptations.
A criminal sub-culture is in evidence in most large cities in the industrialized west, and is a phenomenon of growing concern in most of the rest of the world. A recent study in the USA on convicted murderers showed that 60% had been abused children, 50% came from broken homes, 65% never finished high school, 70% lived below the poverty line, and 60% were unemployed at the time of the commission of their crime.
The criminal sub-culture in every nation is governed by rules and codes of behaviour that do not apply outside the shadows of this underworld. Children brought up in the penumbra of illicitness are exposed to all its immorality which is presented as the normative standard for values and behaviour. The ageing criminal dies among his fellows, so that crime is a way of life for many, from cradle to grave. The criminal sub-culture is much more than organized crime or the aggregate of all active or imprisoned criminals; it is also comprised of the wives, children, grand-children, friends, and places for business meetings or business entertainment. It is the people in collusion with criminals: corrupt lawyers, politicians, police; and people who turn the other way to overlook criminality in those who may be customers, patrons, or contributors to churches, charities, elections or other appeals. These are the people of the twilight; who stand on the edge of the darkness, who feed it, and eventually who are engulfed. That the underworld is indeed a sub-culture is also shown by its own idioms; and a number of lexicons of the languages of the criminal elements in the French, English and American cities, for example, have been compiled.