The first sets of writings typically considered as criminology are labelled as classic criminology and date from the late eighteenth century. This was the period when the basic principles and concepts of the classical model were developed and institutionalised for the first time in Europe.
In this essay I am firstly going to explain the underlying principles of what classicism is, mention the two main scholars of classical theory and then in conclusion, determine its impact on the current criminal justice system.
Pre-enlightened Europe was in dire need of reform to its criminal justice system. Punishments had not been reviewed since Roman times and barbaric and unjust sentencing methods were rife.
“The power of the sovereign-the divine rights of kings-church and aristocracy” were far too prevalent that no individuals rights were existent. (Criminology, Jones S, Reed, 1998)
Criminal acts were not defined and in court there was no standard procedure set down and no allowance of representation.
Classicism was a movement derived from a combination of both fear and optimism: fear of the breakdown of society, fear that there was no longer a God around which to centre ideas, fear of the mob, and of the poverty stricken masses that were drawn to the cities of Western-Europe.
Optimism in the terms of the standard belief that, “as modernity unfolded it would bestow social science with the enlightened knowledge about the human condition.” (Criminology, Oxford University Press, 2005)
Classical scholars put their faith in theses new ‘sciences of man’ in the belief that they would help create greater social stability.
Underlying social conditions of crime were deemed to be unimportant and instead the importance was bestowed on administration; ordered systems that would free’ society from arbitrary authority and open it up so that the basic forms of human condition would become... [continues]
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