Criminological Theory

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Personal Criminological Theory: What Causes Crime?

April Cox

CJA/540 Criminological Theory

October 3, 2011
Angela Williams

Personal Criminological Theory: What Causes Crime?

Over the centuries of time various scientists have tried to explain the reasons behind the causes associated with crime and criminal behavior. Dozens of theories have been argued both for and against one another to address the question as to what causes individuals to commit crime. The goal of this paper is to once again attempt to address this same question. The paper will define crime, and explain some of the current theories associated with crime causation. The paper will then present an explanation regarding the occurrence of crime and why people commit crime. Then the paper will identify variables that would be considered, identify assumptions on which the theory was based, and explain the methodologies used to evaluate it. Definition of Crime:

Peoples Law Dictionary, (2005) defines crime as a violation of a law that causes injury to the public or a member of the public, and in which a term of incarceration in jail or prison in conjunction with a fine is possible. Collins English Dictionary (1991 et.al) claims that a crime is an act or omission that is prohibited and punished by the law. Finally The American Heritage Dictionary (2003) defines crime as an act that is committed or omitted in violation of the law forbidding or commanding it, and as that which punishment is set at the time of conviction. Criminological Theories:

There exist many theories that have been used to explain crime. First is the classical theory of Cesare Beccaria, which claims that crime happens when the benefits outweigh the costs or when individuals chase after self-interests in the absence of effective punishments. Thus crime is seen as a free-willed choice. Second is the Positivist theory of Cesare Lombroso, Adolphe Quetelet and Andre Guerry, which is grounded in the concept that crime...
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