Criminological Theories

Topics: Criminology, Crime, Sociology Pages: 5 (1551 words) Published: October 8, 1999
There are many different aspects of criminal justice policy. One in particular is the different theories of crime and how they affect the criminal justice system. The Classical School of criminology is a theory about evolving from a capital punishment type of view to more humane ways of punishing people. Positivist criminology is maintaining the control of human behavior and criminal behavior. They did this through three different categories of Biological studies, which are five methodologies of crime that were mainly focused on biological theories, Psychological theories, which contains four separate theories, and the Sociological theories, which also includes four different methods of explaining why crime exists. The last theory is about Critical criminology. Their goal was to transform society in a way that would liberate and empower subordinate groups of individuals.

The Classical School of criminology was founded by "European legal authorities that thought crime was caused by supernatural forces" (DeKeseredy & Schwartz, 1996, p.155) preceding the 1700's. The catch phrase "The devil made him do it" was very popular because of the thought that people who committed crimes were sinners or people who didn't follow God. Those who didn't follow God were known as heretics and this following led to the connection of church and state where torture or execution could happen to anyone that the government thought to be evil or a part of witchcraft. Since the Middle Ages didn't have equal rights for all, women and the poor were usually the ones being prosecuted. With all of the problems of the times, the government found and made scapegoats out of these people, and blamed them of the troubles that were occurring. As DeKeseredy and Schwartz (1996, p.156) stated, "the most common way of determining guilt was through torture. It was a simple system: if you confessed, you were executed: is you did not confess, the torture continued until you died." This system of killing people was a well-respected way of running the criminal justice system. As time passed, the punishments turned away from inflicting pain on the body and turned more towards inflicting pain on the soul. This meant that imprisonment of long periods of time was going to take place of executions.

A very important theorist in the Classical School of thought is Cesare Beccarria. He was a modest man who wrote an essay called On Crimes and Punishment. It was published as an anonymous essay at first that was so successful, that a second printing was done and he then put his name on it and it became an even greater success. It was so great that the publisher translated it into many different languages, and was distributed to top public officials and government throughout Europe, Asia, and America. It became very influential in the fight to reform and develop new laws. Another theorist, Jeremy Bentham, had a major effect on criminal law through his writings and design features. Some of the ideas for the designing of prisons that he did were adapted to some of the American prisons being built later on.

The Classical School of the modern times still plays a major role in the criminal justice system. The "Get tough on crime" policy is still around today because of theorists view to keep punishments to the least amount of punishment as possible to try and prevent crime. Yet today, critiques still exist with this theory as with any other theories. The first is that of the cost/reward analysis and deterrence. In a study done by Ken Tunnell, he concluded that criminals do not evaluate the negative consequences of their actions. The act of getting caught never crosses their mind because the threat of committing the crime is enough to keep them from thinking about the consequences. Therefore, those criminals that commit crimes that are under the influence of drugs or any other substance are even less rational about the consequences than those who...

References: Barlow, M. H. (1999). Class Notes. Crime and Criminal Justice Policy.
DeKeseredy, W. S. & Schwartz, M. D. (1996). Contemporary Criminology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Essay about Criminological Theory
  • Individual Theories Essay
  • Theories of Punishment Essay
  • Personal Criminological Theory Paper
  • Applying a Criminological Theory on a Reported Crime Research Paper
  • Accounting Theory Research Paper
  • Essay about Criminological Theories
  • Essay on criminological theories

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free