Classical Approach to Crime Grew in the 1970s

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  • Topic: Crime, Criminology, Criminal justice
  • Pages : 2 (753 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 2008
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There are many theories to why crimes are committed, the classical approach has been around for centuries but it was not until the mid-1970s that it was renewed and formed was is now known as choice theory. That being said there are different types of choice theories and I will discuss one which is rational choice theory and this has different concepts that make it up. The classical approach to crime originated in the late 1700s, where philosopher Cesare Beccaria implied that intelligence and rational thought are fundamental characteristics of people and the principal basis for their behavior. In other words, people have free will, make choices and pursue their own interests. Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham also applied these ideas to crime, arguing that people freely chose to offend. According to Beccaria and Bentham, people's decisions to offend are guided by calculations that weigh the pleasure they hope to obtain from criminal acts against the potential pain they would receive if they were caught and punished for their crimes. This perspective, known as the classical school of criminology, maintains that people's calculations involve their knowledge of the law and their perceptions of the likelihood of punishment (based on their experiences and knowledge of the experiences of others). It proposes that crime can be most effectively deterred by punishments that are certain, swift, and proportional to the harm caused. Punishments that met these criteria would discourage offenders from re-offending and would encourage others to be law-abiding. This "deterrence" philosophy was the preeminent explanation of crime for over a hundred years; yet, by the start of the twentieth century its popularity was eclipsed by positivist explanations arguing that offenders differ from non-offenders in important ways (e.g., socialization).

The classical approach to crime was revived in the mid-1970s when the rehabilitation of known criminals came under attack beginning the...
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